SEO Case Study Content Optimisation

SEO Case Study Content Optimisation

SEO Case Study Content Optimisation is the second part of my SEO Case Study. The first part was concerned with Site setup and infrastructure optimisation.

In the week since writing the first article, I scored a major victory with a piece of new content. Read on to discover how this was done.

Aims

If you missed the first article in the series, I thought it would be useful to repeat the aims of the site here because everything follows on from that statement.

The site we’re working on for the Case Study is my own fine art photography site. Currently, the site offers prints for sale and like most photography sites contains galleries of photographs arranged in categories.

At the beginning of the project, the site was getting around 700 visitors a month.

There are two commercial initiatives that we are trying to bring to market in 2022.

  1. Online Photography Courses
  2. Photography Workshops in Spain

Other sites may have different aims and ambitions and so their strategies will be different too. The important thing is that the content strategy supports the commercial aims of the site.

Once we had a strong, reliable platform for the site we started to look at the content.

Content Analysis

I was quite happy with the content on the website until I started to analyse the traffic. Pretty much all of it was going to a single post. The bounce rate was low, very low, in the region of 5-10% which was the good news.

The bad news is the article in question, although of great interest to photographers wasn’t really helping the site apart from boosting the figures. I’ve learned two things since then. The first is that if you want to build a community of regular readers, you need to have more than one interesting post.

Look at it from the reader’s perspective. They Google a search term, visit your site and if they are happy with the content, either read another article or bookmark the site and revisit later.

You can see this behaviour in Google Analytics.

User Retention

If all the squares are grey, you have a problem. The darker the blue, the higher the retention rate.

Compare this diagram with the Bounce Rate. It’s possible if you have content that answers very particular questions ie. long tail keywords, that your readers may depart the site immediately. This would show as a high bounce rate (over 70%) with dark blue squares in week 1.

If you’re seeing 100% bounce rate and no returning traffic then there is a big problem with your content.

Gap Analysis

The great benefit of doing a gap analysis is that it changes your perspective on the content you have already written.

When I started blogging, it was a different world. Posts were more or less opinion pieces. We wrote for ourselves, our family and friends. If we managed to get an audience that was a plus.

One of my first forays into content marketing was way back around 2000. I built a website for a friend who ran a fish restaurant in Edinburgh. I thought the site was a little static so I started to write recipe articles. It took off.

I had emails from delighted readers who had tried the recipe for a dinner party in Dublin. I was offered a book deal by a New York Publisher.

The problem was I couldn’t cook. The recipes were taken from cookbooks and other websites, adjusted slightly and put out there once a week. I turned down the book deal – it would have been fraudulent to accept it!

It was a lot easier in those days to attract people’s attention on the internet. I had build a pretty unique site and filled it with interesting content. The site was reviewed in a number of magazines and is actually still going today, 20 years later although I no longer have anything to do with it.

The lesson though was clear. Provide content that people will find useful.

The first task is to research topics.

Topics

Why do I suggest researching topics? Surely its obvious?

Four reasons.

  • Topics help to reveal potential titles for individual posts
  • Topics generate multiple posts
  • Multiple posts generate multiple internal links
  • Google understands what your site is really about through analysing internal links

If I have one article with five other articles pointing to it, then Google understands that the first article is important to the site.

So we need to analyse the topics covered on the site with one eye on originality and another on coverage.

My site, chriswright.photography is about photography, specifically travel, landscape and street photography.

When I looked at the topics I’d covered by working without a deliberate strategy I found this in the first year:

  • An opinion piece about life in general
  • An Accessory review
  • 2 technique articles
  • 2 Project writeups
  • 1 Discussion piece about AI processing
  • 1 Camera Review
  • 1 Black Friday deal summary
  • 1 Service review

I’d ambled into this, no strategy, no guiding plan. The one article that hit paydirt was the Service Review – Is Picfair worth the money? I’m affiliated with Picfair (I use the service myself and like it a lot) and the article ranks on the front page of Google and has resulted in well over 100 subscriptions for Picfair.

But, this was the only article other than the Accessory review that generated any real traffic.

Lesson learned – write useful content that people might actually search for!

Human

Humans are the only traffic worth having! So let’s see what they like to read about in photography.

The top five blogs about photography are probably:

  1. Petapixel
  2. Digital Photography Review
  3. FStoppers
  4. Digital Photography School
  5. The Phoblographer

What do they have in common?

Reviews and Technique.

That’s what people want to read about and if you’re aiming to attract an audience to your photography site, this is where you go for an audience.

You still need to break it down into topics and make sure that the stuff you review is relevant to your overarching theme, well written, and serving at least one niche interest if you want to attract repeat visitors.

Search Engine

I was joking when I said the only traffic worth having is human – Search Engine Crawlers are very welcome too! More about that later, but for a taste of what this looks like let’s talk about content strategy.

Content Strategy

The Content Strategy I have devised for my website looks like this. Regular posts, once a week in one or other of the following categories.

Evergreen Content – What makes a good Photographer

Hardware Reviews – The Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Review

Software Reviews – DxO PhotoLab 5 Review

Instructional Material – Photography Guides

These articles have been written over the last six weeks or so and have literally doubled the traffic on the site. A well considered content strategy works if it is actioned properly.

What’s the Strategy?

The rationale here is that I’m not a magazine site, I want to get to a point where I can credibly offer photography workshops and sell courses under my own brand.

So Hardware reviews are always interesting, but expensive unless you can borrow, beg or steal the hardware in question. Also, they go out of date. Fortunately, I’d recently bought this lens and so this article ties in with some material I’m planning about astrophotography.

Software Reviews are a view magnet, especially if they are timely.

Unless you want to be a slave to your writing schedule you need evergreen content that will bring a steady stream of viewers to your website. Typically with reviews you get a big peak that tails off over a few weeks. Think of content that will be relevant in a year.

Candidate Articles

I do my topic research in two ways. I use my own common sense and Google. I look for my competitor’s sites and see what they write about. Is there a flavour of their recipe that will work for me?

When I say competitor, I mean the sites that are ranking front page in Google for a collection of broad queries.

The second way is to use software to do the heavy lifting. AHrefs keyword tool is good,

A Hrefs Keyword Explorer

This will give you article ideas straight out of the box. Look for keywords with low difficulty but significant volume. These are easier to rank for but keep an eye on the coherence of your site as well.

Another useful tool, and a free one at that is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest

Once your happy with your topic, look for questions with AnswerthePublic and use the Google predictive text to figure out what people are actually searching for around that topic.

Currency

Currency is massively important. A timely article can be worth hundreds of visitors, so keep an eye on the industry news sites.

Here’s a good example.

I was a beta tester on DxO PhotoLab 5 and I knew the release was imminent. I wrote the review before it was released and edited it afterward. This meant I was able to get my review out within days of the release.

Quality

Quality is increasingly important in Search Engine Ranking. This manifests in a number of ways.

  • Originality – don’t be a “Me Too” site and don’t ever plagiarise content.
  • Is your content useful, does it add anything different to the pot?
  • May sound obvious, but this was a real problem for me. I think faster than I type and that means typos! I use Grammarly now to proofread my copy, It’s worth every penny.

Check your content and check it again.

Content Creation

Surfer SEO

For content creation I like to use Surfer SEO. This software analyses the top ten articles in the niche I’m writing about and makes helpful suggestions about the number of words I need, headings, phrases, pictures etc.

The theory is that if your content is as good as but not better than your competitors, they will rank by virtue of being there first. To avoid the Google graveyard you have to write better quality content that adds value.

Surfer SEO is like Rank Math on steroids. Check out my Surfer SEO review.

Conclusion

Traffic at the end of Week 2

So traffic doubled over the period 23 -28 October. With increased traffic based on niche keywords, bounce rate also increases. To around 60% which is still perfectly acceptable.

I learned the value of currency and of devising a coherent content strategy.

It’s important to have an aim in mind when creating a content strategy. “Blog about Photography” is not an aim, it’s a recipe for aimless meandering.

Marketing a Workshop in Six months is an aim and it helps to keep the content relevant and focused. Relevant, focused content will attract repeat visitors which is what we all want!

Next week I’ll be looking at Links as they appear in the content I’m writing.

See you there – and if you haven’t seen it, check out last week’s post on optimising the website set up.

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