Brands with content marketing programs have a big problem.
Changes to SEO and search algorithms rank as the top issue among technology companies creating content, according to research from Content Marketing Institute.
That’s no surprise to us.
At MarketMuse, we routinely see even sophisticated brands struggle mightily with search rankings. It’s just plain difficult to build a content program that performs consistently well and also adapts to the constant changes in the search landscape.
As a result, lots of people come to us with a familiar problem:
“My website doesn’t rank well.”
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you can do something about that.
1. Don’t just focus on technical fixes.
Making sure your website is technically optimized is all well and good. But technical fixes alone won’t lead to long-term SEO results.
Why? Because just chasing technical fixes can lead to disaster.
In April 2019, we documented on our blog some cautionary tales of sites that had seen major drops in search rankings.
One was a well-known health publisher that tried to break up a large site into multiple smaller sites in a bid to re-engineer the smaller sites for better SEO.
The fix worked for a time, but then traffic cratered in March 2019, largely because they only focused on re-engineering the sites, not on content quality or quantity.
The truth is, technical fixes alone won’t help you get the best SEO performance possible. To rank better, you need to consider a lot of different factors.
2. Publish more and more often.
Some people say you should publish only high-quality content, in favor of publishing content more often.
We also studied a large tech publisher that stopped publishing content frequently, so they could focus on quality. They may have better content today, but their traffic has also dropped 16% in 2019.
Turns out, you need quality and quantity.
But beware trying to only ramp up your content production, as our next example shows.
3. More content on its own isn’t always better.
A third publisher we analyzed went all-in on only publishing as many listicles as possible. The articles weren’t higher quality, there were just a lot more of them.
Again, this strategy worked for awhile. But then traffic fell by a whopping 79% when algorithms, rules and weighting factors changed.
4. Balance quantity and quality.
Obviously, the answer to better SEO lies in a great balance of content quantity and quality.
A tech review site we studied seemed to nail this balance. They committed to publishing more and better content that perfectly aligned with user intent.
The result? They’ve doubled their organic traffic in the last year.
So, what’s the answer?
We’ve seen that a singular focus on technical fixes, content quality, or content quantity all fail spectacularly.
So, what’s the answer here?
The point here isn’t to provide a silver bullet for SEO. There are a ton of best practices and a lot of great strategies that can work. But they don’t always work, because search engines change all the time.
Change isn’t the problem. The problem is that human marketers can’t cope with the changes fast enough. With every algorithm change, we struggle to either react to our traffic getting slaughtered or to take advantage of new rules.
This is a flawed approach. And it’s flawed because we are. We just can’t keep up with all the data, and we don’t even know all the rules behind the algorithms.
The answer isn’t to keep changing strategies or guessing at ranking factors. It’s to build a more intelligent way of doing SEO.
Artificial intelligence makes this possible. AI can actually analyze content and search optimization data at scale. By parsing billions of pieces of content, it can compare how content performs against other brands.
Those insights translate into the best optimization strategies and opportunities right now, using real data on how content pieces perform in the wild.
It’s a completely different approach to how most brands do SEO—and it works. AI-powered optimization means you automatically know what keyword optimization and content creation will get you higher rankings. No guessing or gut checks or crazy time-intensive manual labor.
At MarketMuse, we can actually show you how AI-powered SEO improves your content performance.
Click below and we’ll analyze your content—for free—with the same AI-powered technology one of our customers just used to triple traffic.
Jeff Coyle is a data-driven search engine marketing executive with more than 18 years of experience in the search industry managing products and website networks. Jeff is the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for MarketMuse, where he is focused on helping content marketers, search engine marketers, agencies and e-commerce managers build topical authority, improve content quality and turn semantic research into actionable insights. Before joining as Co-founder at MarketMuse, Jeff owned and operated his own inbound marketing consultancy and managed the Traffic, Search and Engagement team for TechTarget, a leader in B2B technology publishing and lead generation.