5 Quick Tips for Creating Data-Driven Content

Content Director
Published 12/23/14
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Ever feel like you’re just guessing what content is going to resonate with your audience? In an era of Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and other SEO-assisting programs, you shouldn’t be!

When creating a content marketing plan, it’s important to make sure you’re focused on producing content people are actually looking for — all of the on-page optimization (good meta descriptions, H1s, image tags, etc.) in the world won’t slice you off a piece of the search pie if no one wants what you’re serving. You might rank in first place for “best destination for underwater basketweaving,” but if only one person a month searches for that, you’re not making a big impact on your site’s organic traffic and engagement.

These quick tips can start you in the right direction toward creating articles, videos and slideshows people want to see:

1. Let your own site tell you what’s popular

Dig around in your reporting to see what pages get the most visits for any kind of content (a listing, a landing page, an article, a video, etc.). Whatever it is, create more content on that topic — if a listing for a spa gets more views than any other listing, write a few articles about spa treatments, spa amenities and the best spas in the area.

2. Keep an eye on internal search terms

Here, people will literally tell you what they’re after. Believe them! If you don’t have good content on terms that are most often searched for, put those near the top of your list to invest content in.

If you have access to Google Webmaster Tools, they’ll tell you the top-searched terms that brought traffic to your site from the last 30 days. It’s a short window of time to grasp a real big picture, but you’ll probably see some of the same culprits popping up month after month.

3. Give underperforming pages a boost

Find pages that get lots of views but have high bounce rates. That could mean you’re ranking well on a specific set of keywords (yay!) but that users aren’t getting what they want from your content (boo!).

Find other angles to cover on that same subject and add strong calls to action to see if you can keep visitors around for a few more pages. Say you have a story about waterfalls in a state park that has a high bounce rate. Add content about waterfalls in other state parks and link to listings for them; or add a story about the best hikes in state parks and link to it from your waterfalls story.

4. Do what the in crowd does

Google Trends is a free little tool that can tell you how popular keywords are over time; plot several topics you’re considering against each other to determine which you think might be the better direction to point your limited content resources in. They’ll also give you related terms that are popular, which might send you down a new road all together.

5. Hook up with a resource that has the capability to estimate search volumes

Before you ever start writing, there are tools you can plug keywords into that will give you the number of searches on that topic over a certain timeframe. I might be considering an article on “Italian restaurants in Destination X.” A search-volume estimator might tell me that keyword phrase only gets 10 searches a month. Since that’s not a whole lot of eyeballs, I’ll enter related terms to see if I can find ones with more traffic (e.g., Are people are mostly searching for those kinds of restaurants in a certain neighborhood I could focus on? Are they looking for the best ravioli in town? Are they actually more interested in the best Mexican food in a specific area?).

Paid and free tools — BrightEdge, Moz, Google AdWords, WordStream and Ubersuggest, to name a few — can give you an approach that’s rooted in actual data.