The one hard thing about search for experts
You have to take an honest look at where you sit in the competitive landscape. You’ve already decided your content is great so instead of making it better, you just make more content. This is what I mean when I say you’re doing content one way.
Do you see the problem?
Sure, big enterprises throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at content, but it’s mostly a numbers game for them. The people in the trenches are often kids punching a clock, trying to hit a deadline, working off target word counts for listicle posts from a spreadsheet of ideas thrown together by other kids.
That’s why there’s so much generic crap on the web. It’s so easy to look at that one dimension (the actual content out of context) and think, “this is crap. My content is great.”
While you eyeball compare your content to ranking content and subjectively find your content more appealing, your competition is outranking you because they’re trying in multiple dimensions in the context of the web and you’re trying in just one in the context of your own unchallenged beliefs.
Okay, let’s say your content is great. Great for what? For who? Under what circumstances? At what time?
You hear the right content at the right time for the right audience a lot. But aligning all that takes organization, consideration, and awareness of the greater context of that piece of content.
And there’s not a lot of wiggle room, either.
You could be the 10th best result for all your target topics and see 30 times less traffic than what the 1st results see.
What taking traffic responsibility looks like
Understand that your traffic is your responsibility, here are the rough steps for that process:
- For low traffic sites, look at what pages should be ranking, and for lost traffic sites, look at what pages lost the most organic traffic.
- Then determine what phrases should be or were most likely driving traffic before and who’s outranking you now.
- Be honest about what they’re doing better by investigating key dimensions in an order of likelihood:
- check content quality / relevance of content to query
- link related data
- technical issues
- authoritativeness of content/site
- Estimate what value those rankings have looking at historical data (I used to get 100 email signups a month from people landing on this page) or running projections (if I could get 15% of traffic from this 10k/month query, that would be 1500 visits I could convert to subscribers at a 3% rate for approx. 500 new subscribers each year.).
- Assuming it’s worth the fight, improve on the dimensions you’re lacking until you win on every dimension.
Some dimensions or factors can be quickly ruled out with a one time site-wide audit and punch list of fixes upfront. This is why we start with planning and cleanup. It’s so that we can rule out weird technical issue, penalties, or manual actions, or negative SEO attacks, or a hacked site.
You clear the runway. Then if you still aren’t winning, you inspect the other cars to figure out why that is.
The more content you create without:
- paying attention to your surroundings
- executing on amplification of each piece of content
- looking at what intent your content solves for and if it solves for it
- frustrated you’re going to get
- you’re going to fall behind competitors
- you’re going to dig holes in the wrong places
- you are going to generate 2nd and 3rd page rankings that result in no meaningful traffic
The net effect is you won’t reach the level of impact you could. And who knows, the effort required to get all dimensions to a good point of rankability may not be that high.