Data rounds off the digital marketing world.

Those who commit can ride, while those who don't take the risk of being left behind.

By analyzing data to determine where you have momentum, you can focus on the content and keywords that offer the best chance of increasing your website's authority and organic visibility.

I think we've all got enough information from enough experts on the subject by now.

The key to a successful content marketing strategy that generates targeted, high-conversion traffic is to create and distribute relevant, high-quality content.

It's no longer good enough to simply post and share a ton of random, keyword-filled content through your website, social media, or other channel in the hopes that your target audience will find, read, listen, or watch it on, like it and share it.

Too often the approach is to simply start creating “content” without a clear strategy, goals, or method of measuring success in mind.

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This type of approach has led to the current deluge of content.

This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.

Our websites, social feeds, and email inboxes are littered with confusing clickbaits, misdirected messages, bloated blogs, and downright terrible articles.

We all read about focusing on quality over quantity, but still seem trapped in the latter in a race for dominance.

A Backlinko / BuzzSumo study analyzed 912 million blog posts (most, if not all, created on the internet in 2018) to "better understand the world of content marketing right now".

The figure of 912 million should be staggering enough.

However, the study shows the enormous challenge that marketers face.

For example, 94% of the examined content received no links and only 2% of all content contained links from more than one website.

I repeat: 2%.

And yes, links are still an important factor in Google's organic search results algorithm.

There is just too much noise these days, regardless of the topic, so your content needs to stand out.

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In addition, it must take into account the information needs and intentions of your desired audience.

Much has been written lately about creating appropriate content for each stage of the buyer's journey – from awareness and deliberation to decision / conversion.

Consumers will ask different questions in different ways at each stage as their knowledge and understanding of what they want and need develops.

Who wants pizza?

Let's say you want pizza for dinner. Who does not?

However, there are a number of different ways to ask questions about pizza.

So what questions could you ask depending on how your pizza needs evolve?

  • What is pizza
  • How do I make pizza?
  • Where can I buy pizza near me?
  • Who makes the best pizza?
  • Who makes the cheapest pizza?
  • Where can I order a gluten-free pizza for vegetarians right now?

As a business owner on the other side of the counter, you need to make sure you have the correct answers for each of the questions that you can authoritatively answer.

Effective content marketers use data to identify:

  • Who is your target?
  • Where you are.
  • What they like.
  • How to create the types of pizza content they are most likely to consume at each stage of their journey (pun fully intended).

A popular approach is to identify or develop a pillar content and then create grouped content that is grouped by common topics and related subtopics.

All content is networked for easy access so that searchers can find all relevant information with just a few clicks, regardless of where they started their trip.

This strategy provides the ability to cover a given topic in full, and every possible intent a user might have in finding the topic, since a single search often leads to several other questions that require full answers.

In other words, you become an authority on the subject.

To start with, there are four main types of data on which to base your content and keyword pillars strategy.

Four sources of data to help you focus your content and keywords

1. SERP data (Search Engine Results Page)

When it comes to determining what content to focus on, there is no better place to start than SERPs for the primary keywords you want to be found for.

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There are a few things you can do with SERP data to identify and take action:

What, if any, content do you already have authority / visibility on which to build momentum?

In other words, which of your existing content (web pages, blog posts, PDFs, images, videos, etc.) will retain positions in the top 20 search results.

Once identified, there are a number of best practice steps you can take to keep the momentum flowing:

Perform an audit

If the content is a webpage or blog post, do a technical search engine optimization, usability, and keyword page check to make sure it's optimized as completely as possible.

In particular, visit:

  • Title tags, heading tags, meta descriptions (including the addition of relevant calls to action, if applicable).
  • Image alt tags (where images are central to the content).
  • Schema markup (if applicable).

Remember, just because a page is ranked well doesn't mean it's fully optimized. A validation serves to strengthen your position.

Create additional content

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Create more, keyword-rich, and varied content to complement or associate with.

This has the effect that his authority is strengthened and / or expanded.

Make sure the piece is up to date

Update and / or expand the original piece with updated information, images, videos or other large components to increase its value and attractiveness.

What types of content are good for your keywords?

Are the top 20 dominated by product pages, blogs, videos, pictures, social posts, or something else?

This will obviously tell you something about the types of content that is deemed relevant, and yours should reflect that too.

If you see social posts in your search results, it can be a strong indication of where it would be wise to share the content you've created.

Gary Henderson, in his article in the Search Engine Journal, suggests a six-step process for activating your organic search traffic on Facebook.

How much and what types of competition do you have?

Before you focus on being found for a keyword or group of keywords, you should determine the following:

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  • What level of competition are you facing?
  • How good can you be to effectively compete for visibility?

For example, if you're playing in a B2C product category whose top 10 organic search positions are dominated by product lists for big box stores, you should probably turn your attention to partnering with those big box vendors and / or a longer tail to identify related keywords for which they may not appear.

While we're on the topic of competition, it also makes sense to reverse engineer some of the top performing pages of your main competitors to see what factors (beyond general domain authority) can affect their rank ability.

Do the same technical search engine optimization, usability, and keyword page test that you would do yourself to see what they might be doing right.

What are some possible ways to leverage the authority of other content creators?

SERPs are arguably the best source of potential links.

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If you search the search results for your primary keywords, you might see valuable content sharing places. Think of directories, industry publications, review sites, influencer blogs, etc.

The pages and domains displayed for your keywords are, by definition, authoritative link sources.

Of course, you want to find domains that aren't directly competitive, and securing storage space here may not be a simple or free process.

However, promoting or posting unique, relevant content on high-ranking pages can have the double effect of increasing both your visibility and your authority.

2. Keyword research / recognition data

We can't really talk about content and organic visibility without talking about keywords.

The content, after all, is based on keywords and is still the main method for search queries. including voice search.

However, the focus of these discussions has changed significantly in recent years.

To truly establish authority, it is important to ensure comprehensive coverage of current groups of short and long tail keywords and keyword phrases.

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Think of the above discussion about pillars of content and clusters.

Keyword research is a combination of:

  • Validating the keywords that you think are the right ones to focus on, as well as current variations on them.
  • Discovering new keyword opportunities that you may not have considered due to organic search behavior and / or competitive analysis.

There are tons of free and paid keyword research tools available.

They can help save time and provide direction by identifying potential opportunities based on metrics such as:

  • Search volume.
  • Relevance.
  • Organic traffic.
  • Click rate.
  • Competition.

Initially, search query data can be referenced from the Google Search Console to check the keywords for which you are maintaining positions and for which you are receiving impressions / clicks.

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Regardless of the tool, however, this data should be used as a relative measure of the value of your keywords.

For effective keyword research, SEOs and content creators must:

Review the data provided by these solutions.

Analyze it critically in relation to existing keywords / content.

Incorporate newly qualified keywords and phrases into new or existing content.

A key component of the analysis is to ensure that all of the keywords selected and the content they support meet the target audience's search intent (i.e., provide clear answers to searchers' questions).

3. Website analytics data

Analytics data (and we will deal specifically with Google Analytics here) can also provide instructions and / or validations for the creation, distribution and / or promotion of content.

As a starting point, you can check the organic search landing page data to identify the top entry pages of this channel.

These pages are, of course, the ones that have established some search visibility.

Refine this list of "priority" pages further by identifying those with relatively low bounce rates, high average session duration, and pages per session.

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In other words, pages that have higher engagement.

If you have goal conversions set up in GA, you can also assign a value to landing pages based on the goal achievements they have influenced.

Landing pages for organic search in Google Analytics

Landing page data is also available through the Google Search Console (GSC), including impressions, clicks, click through rate and average position.

GSC sometimes displays content elements (such as PDFs or images) that are not typical landing pages as tracked in Google Analytics, but also represent visibility opportunities.

As explained using the SERP data, any landing pages reported here, or at least the top pages, depending on the size and resources available, should undergo a thorough technical review, usability, and keyword review to ensure that they are as optimized as possible.

4. Incoming connection data

Another way to focus on content with potential authority is to identify the pages of your website (s) that other relevant websites are pointing to.

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These pages, by definition, have some degree of authority, at least in the eyes of those who have chosen to link to them and, more broadly, the search engines, if they have been indexed.

Not all links are created equal.

So you want to know which links are following and which are not, and which domains are both relevant and authorized.

If you have 100 inbound links to a page, but 99 of them are from poor quality spam websites, you will get little to no value.

Conversely, an inbound link from a highly relevant, authoritative website is worth its weight in gold.

As with keywords, there are many options for determining where links already exist. However, the top linking sites on Google Search Console and referral data from Google Analytics are a good place to start.

Google Search Console top linking sitesGoogle Analytics Referrals

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Build on your momentum – deliver the pizza

We all agree that much, if not too much, data is available to those who take the time to use it.

In an increasingly chaotic world, finding quick wins and easy ways to get our attention is more important than ever.

My humble suggestion is to build on and around your strengths first.

Use readily available keyword, analytics, and link data to identify your authoritative content based on the keywords you want to be found for.

Update or create your columnar content items around these primary keywords and supplement them with comprehensive answers to all sorts of questions your target audience may have beyond their original query.

Give them the best fucking pizza they've ever had!

More resources:

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Photo credit

In-post picture: As good as new
All screenshots by the author, August 2020

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