At a WordPress KC meeting, a presenter on SEO answered the question, “If you had only one hour to spend on SEO, what would you do?”
His answer was the same as mine when I was asked: create some good content. That answer tripped off both our tongues without any need for deep thought. Search engines look for content first. More good content means better rankings, better user experience, greater authority, and all the rest of the good things that SEO has to offer. There is simply nothing that will improve the results at your website as well as frequent, good, new content.
But as an answer, it may not be much use to people not as intimately involved with SEO and content.
What’s an hour’s worth of content?
After all, what can you do in an hour in the way of content? If it takes you four hours to write a blog post, should you spend that hour writing one quarter of a blog post? If you have to pay someone to write for you, might it not be just as beneficial to pay for advertising instead? Is multimedia faster than text?
First, let’s look at that hour. For me, a blog post can take from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the amount of research, thought, and polishing that particular post requires.
Add in multimedia, and you increase the time significantly. An infographic, a video, or a slideshow will take hours. Involve more people, such as a committee that needs to have input or another layer of oversight, and you must multiply the time involved. And these estimates are based on my work with professionals. Have any or all of these things done by amateurs, and the time will increase significantly even though the quality will usually be reduced.
How can you increase the return on investment?
- Mix it up. Post white papers once a month and highly detailed blog posts once a week, and fill in with faster, lighter content. We’re working with a roofing company on their blog. We’re having them post a snapshot with a two-sentence caption on most days. With judicious use of keywords and pictures of those things only roofers get to see, they should have something people will find interesting, with minimal time investment. Combined with occasional fully researched posts, these will add up to frequent, good, new content.
- Microblog. Twitter doesn’t improve the content on your website, but it can send traffic and do many of the other things good content does for you. If microblogging works best for you, hook up Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other similar site you use, post at the one you feel most comfortable with, and push the post along to all the others, plus your website.
- Get the most out of the content you create. All bloggers do the occasional top ten list. One client posted his on ten successive weekdays, getting two weeks of fresh content from one post. A post with a good conversation going on in the comments can do the same thing, with the extra advantage of crowdsourcing. An infographic or video introduction can be pricey if you consider how long it takes to create 600 square pixels of image or five seconds of video, but you can use them again and again, so they can be a very good investment. We had Chad Taber create video intros for us both here at Haden Interactive and at FreshPlans, and they’ve been great investments. A good infographic can be used not just on your website and as inspiration for multiple blog posts, but in brochures and other documents as well.
- Hire judiciously. Our people produce good results in a short time. That’s why we hire them. There are certainly people who charge less per hour, but the ROI isn’t nearly as good when you have slower, poorer work at a cheaper rate. Creative workers vary a great deal in what they charge, but going for the lowest possible price rarely is your best strategy. The problem is that it’s hard to determine the best price for the work you need done when your don’t have the skills yourself. One option is to hire someone for a smaller job and see how they work out for you, but you can also ask for referrals or look at portfolios.
- Use what you have. One of our current clients responded to my report that “free DotNetNuke modules” would be a good keyword for him with a brisk assurance that he had some hanging around that he’d be happy to put online. We happen to have good musicians in house, so we’re able to add music when appropriate — it’s just good luck for us. Maybe you have someone on your staff with undiscovered creative talents who can produce excellent content without giving up too much time from their regular job duties. Unless they’re volunteers, though, or have some products lying around gathering dust, don’t kid yourself that “in house” equals “free” –you’re probably paying benefits on those hours, too.
- Go for novelty. When people expect a certain type of content, they also expect a certain level of quality. Poorly written blogs used to be able to squeak by, but now there are just too many good ones. Tinny midi files used to be fine with web users, but not anytime in this century. Poor quality video is still often acceptable to viewers, but people are beginning to comment on production quality and soon they’ll demand good video. However, your clever but amateurish humorous flow chart or comic strip will still be okay. Your unexceptional pdf file with a cut and put together desk toy will still charm people. Your fun but useless phone app can still go viral. If you have something you slapped together for fun and no one else has done it yet, it may be effective linkbait. Post those things quickly, though, since the window may be closing soon.
Sure, your best bet is frequent, high quality, original content. If it’s not practical to do it yourself, the smart move is to hire someone like us to do it for you. You can eke it out with other ideas, though, and get much of the benefit within your budget and your time frame. Just take that hour and get creative.