10 Growth Hacks to Drive New Search Traffic From Your Content

Data and programmatic media opportunities aside, content is the single biggest focus for many of the smartest brands for 2015.

The challenge, however, is tying any significant increase in investment to performance and making it possible to win budget not just from the “brand” pot, but also from the wider marketing budget.

Proving the true value of content is never easy and the biggest challenge of all is setting expectation, especially around the period of time against wish return on investment will be measured.

Many marketers will have seen this chart before, but it is a useful tool in helping to educate purse holders on that timeframe before you start thinking about the kind of tactics that will provide that return, preferably well within that time frame.


The expectation of setting the final stage is to create the strategy itself and that means focusing in on the most profitable channel of all (for the majority of businesses online) – organic search!

It also means working not just harder, but smarter, and using the masses of data at hand to inform your decision-making as well as shaping your understanding of the audience.

Below we walk through 10 top tactics for 2015 to help you build a successful case for expanding content creation and distribution budgets with data at its core.

1. Long-Tail Opportunity

It is possible to write an entire post around this, as I see it as one of the biggest opportunities for 2015. The reason is simple and it’s all to do with how Google is changing the way it displays results for search phrases.

Traditionally, the search giant would display results for a search like “London Underground Stations” by listing 10 high-authority sites that share detailed Tube maps.

This is useful, to a point, but what is much more valuable is to understand the implicit part of the query. For instance, if I am standing in London close to London Bridge tube station, a more useful result for me is to get a map to and from that station.

Google is able to do this thanks to its new “engine” Hummingbird and its efforts to collect more and more data from us (often by getting us to log in).

This has a huge effect on traditional “head term” volume of course and the type of pages that are more likely to appear for such searches now are very specific, detailed pages – often best delivered within an article, for instance.

The result is lots more traffic for those sites that pour effort, and time, into creating brilliant content which picks up on and then answers those critical questions that your audience wants to know.

Tool such as Keywordtool.io and SEMRush can really help you understand what those related and phrase match terms are. An example of one for the content marketing space, which we are in, can be seen below (taken from Keywoodtool.io) and you can clearly see how you could use some of these as potential article titles.


2. Reverse Engineering Competitor Strategy

One of the best ways of working out what is most likely to drive traffic is to analyze competitive strategies. To do this you really need the support of a tool like SEMRush and its Top Keywords report, as you can see below.


Here we can see Search Engine Watch’s top organic traffic driving terms and within it are a number of very interesting areas of opportunity for anyone who might be looking for smarter ways to compete.

Terms such as “Google in 1998” are phrases you may never discover without this kind of data-driven insight and it is then possible to refine that concept by looking at the Phrase Match Report within the tool to understand the potential for a piece of content around that subject matter.

Below we can see what other, related, terms there are to work with:


One other great tool within the platform is the Domain V Domain view. This allows you to compare what two (or more) sites rank for and how much crossover there is.

Here we can see SEW against Search Engine Land and how many keywords they share versus how many they have uniquely.


If you are a challenger brand looking to grow market share, it is very easy to select the keywords you do not rank for and use that data to build out your ongoing content strategy.

3. Paid Social Amplification

If you are investing in content, it is very important to ensure that your (not insignificant) investment is maximized and that means putting paid budget behind the best pieces.

And when it comes to the question of where to put that spend, while we will use native ad platforms such as Outbrain we will ALWAYS choose Facebook and Twitter first, supported by Stumbleupon and Reddit.

While this clearly has wider benefits from a brand awareness perspective it also helps search. We spend a lot of money each month on behalf of our clients amplifying the content we create and there is absolutely a correlation between the number of targeted views you can attract and the number of social shares and link you ultimately see over the longer term.

Social shares come in “real time,” so it is easy to track this as part of campaign reporting, but it is also key to ensure you have a monitoring process in place to keep a check over the months following the campaign to see how many people may be linking to you.

From experience it pays to monitor closely for the next 12 months to get a fuller view of link volumes from the activity.

4. Digital PR

Clearly, to get any kind of traction from a search perspective that content strategy should also cover “off page” as much as it does “on” and how that is approached is, again, subject of an entire article series.

One important point to make, however, is that your resource should focus on two specific areas:

  1. Digital PR relationships
  2. Blogger engagement

We split our distribution team across these two areas, as well as “paid” and social, and the two “roles” are well defined.

Digital PR focuses on relationship building with editorial teams that work across major sites and publishing brands. The process here is to work on selling in ideas and then creating them based upon specific feedback from a specific site.

The blogger engagement team, on the other hand, focuses on sharing great content that already exists but is highly relevant for the blogs in question. And blogs can be just as authoritative as those larger sites. The differing processes is created based on the required approach and based on their ways of working, as opposed to metrics or any other SEO measure.

5. Share Business Data With Your Readers

Unique content always fairs best and some of the most “PR-able” content is that which has been created off the back of unique data, or insight. If you have the ability to survey customers then do so and work hard on the campaign around sharing, and visualizing that data.

In experience this kind of output will attract links faster than most other types of content and is one of the easiest to place externally, because of its uniqueness.

6. Rotate Between Evergreen and Trending Content

A lot of brands make the mistake of simply creating content that resonates now and jumps on the back of trending topics. While this is useful, it is also imperative to focus resource on the creation of much more in-depth content that answers those core audience questions.

A great example of this for e-commerce brands are those fantastic buyers guides you come across as part of your research phase. To share one random example from cycling, a long-form piece that helps the reader decide which is the “Best Bike to Buy for Less Than £1,000” would fit nicely within this category.

By mixing more “throw-away” pieces in with this kind of resource intensive content you will create the variation required to form a great content strategy.

7. Pay Attention to Referrers and Work With Them

This is a great way to build on “already warm” relationships. If, for instance, you can see that a lot of traffic is coming from a certain site, it is very important to reach out, share that information with them, and look to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

This extends to social also, as this kind of data can help shape your social sharing, or even paid amplification choices. Often if we see Stumbleupon or Reddit in the referrers list it will guarantee their use in any larger content campaign promotion.

8. Reference Others and Link Back

The days of hogging your link juice are, thankfully, gone and it now pays to link out. Google looks at those citations as content-enhancing now, especially where you link out to truly authoritative sources. The search engine has a long-held patent called the Hilltop Algorithm, which assigns Expert Document status to those sites seen as truly authoritative in any particular niche.

Linking out also creates reciprocal behavior in the same way the concept of “paying it forward” works/ If you do a good deed for a site they are more likely to return the favor when relevant.

9. Social Optimization

It may not be immediately obvious when building a search-focused campaign, but the value of ensuring that the content you create is well optimized for social sharing is huge.

As we have already discussed, there is a tight correlation between the number of social shares (and ultimately traffic a post receives) and the number of links it gets.

A great example of this is a recent post on our own Zazzle Media blog. The piece in question on responsive design got a lot of traction and has attracted well more than 1,000 shares, which is a lot for our site.

If we then look at the number of linking root domains we can see it has 14 (at the time of checking). Compare that to a “normal” site and that number would be a lot lower (typically around two to four) and we can see how social sharing can help.

To give you the best possible chance of maximizing that kind of sharing it pays to invest time in setting up sharing properly. By running the URL through the following tools you can ensure it is shared in the way you want it to across all key social platforms.

10. Use Microdata and Rich Snippets

The final tip is to ensure you are maximizing the use of any microdata opportunity there is. Exactly what this is dependent upon what kind of business you have and what type of content you are creating, but adding things like review schema or Person mark-up as well as the obvious opportunities around rel-publisher and rel-author, will help Google link your brand and authors better.

All of these mark-ups, and many more besides, have been written about in detail and will give your content greater visual impact in search.

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