This major content marketing benefit is worth the wait
One of content marketing's biggest perks takes a while to materialize. Columnist Kerry Jones explains why SEO improvements are worth waiting for.
If you sink enough money into most marketing tactics, you’ll see nearly immediate results. Since content marketing is often an exception to this rule, many marketers mistakenly think their content strategy is ineffective if results don’t come quickly.
Content marketing is not a quick fix. If you’re just beginning to execute on a content marketing plan or launching a new strategy, you need to be patient and know when to expect certain results. You will probably see an initial spike in traffic and social shares after publishing, but you likely will not see the biggest perks of content marketing occur until long after you’ve hit publish.
Sustained, strategic content marketing efforts can bring significant SEO benefits. This is where many businesses will likely see the greatest return from content marketing, yet SEO improvements can take months to materialize.
The good news is that once you do start seeing SEO benefits from content marketing, you’re likely to see a compounding return. In other words, your initial efforts will keep bringing value long after you’ve put the work in.
It takes time for content marketing’s SEO benefits to kick in
For your content to yield SEO benefits, it needs to rank in search. This usually doesn’t happen weeks or even months after your content is published and indexed by search engines.
After you publish something awesome, a few things need to happen that tell search engines your content is valuable and relevant to online search users. Here’s what this typically looks like in a nutshell:
- Relevant, high-quality websites link to your content.
- Your content starts ranking in search.
- People start clicking on your content in the search results.
- Site visitors send signals to search engines that they like your content (such as spending a lot of time on the page, leaving a comment, bookmarking the page and so forth).
- Google rewards you with higher rankings.
- Steps 1 to 5 keep repeating.
The above process happens gradually. From there, your content can start ranking higher in search engines, more people will see it, and you’ll see benefits such as a sustained lift in traffic, conversions and brand awareness. As you continue to publish content, this process keeps happening over and over again.
I like to think of it as an equation:
[pullquote] A lot of work up front + sustained effort = compounding SEO benefits [/pullquote]
So, exactly when should you expect to start seeing SEO benefits kick in? Based on what we’ve seen happen with our client results at Fractl (my employer), we estimate it takes between six months and a year before you see a significant change in SEO.
How a lazy blogger (me) has seen incredible long-term SEO results
The majority of marketing and advertising tactics require you to keep putting in money to generate results. Turn off the money faucet, and the water stops running.
For example, as soon as you stop spending money on paid search ads, you’ll stop getting results from paid search. This is not the case with content marketing.
I’ve seen firsthand how publishing valuable content can bring a compounding return, even when you stop putting in much effort. Within the last few years, I’ve been the Homer Simpson of blogging.
I began a food blog as a hobby in late 2010. At first, only my mom and friends regularly visited my blog. But as I published more content over months and even years, the needle started to move. People were finding my blog posts in search, and the more people came to my site from search, the more and more my rankings and search traffic grew.
I barely put any effort into my blog these days. Yet, today I’m getting tens of thousands of unique visitors a month. I haven’t written a new post in nine months. You can see just how little I’ve had to do to maintain my traffic in this screen shot of my overall sessions in Google Analytics.
I stopped putting in much effort long ago, yet I continue to reap the benefits. Heck, I don’t even have to publish anything anymore to get results. As of the time I published this post:
- 85% of my visitors come from search.
- One post I wrote a year and a half ago holds the number one spot in Google for multiple keyword phrases.
- Posts I published four years ago hold steady on the first page of search results.
The equation I shared above has certainly been the case for my blog:
A lot of effort up front (launching the blog, analyzing what my audience likes, publishing frequently at first), plus sustained effort (infrequently publishing high-quality posts) equals compounding SEO benefits (continuous uptick in search traffic and rankings).
And this is from being lazy! Now imagine what’s possible when marketers invest sustained, focused effort in content marketing, paired with SEO best practices. These concrete examples show what’s possible:
- Fanatics (a Fractl client) saw a 1,100-percent increase in search traffic and a 230-percent increase in search rankings within six months of implementing an on-site content strategy.
- Tint, a startup, grew organic search traffic by 2,600 percent in just three months.
- Recovery Brands (a Fractl client) saw a 5,000-percent increase in search traffic within two years of implementing a content marketing strategy.
Give your content the time it needs to succeed
It takes time for content marketing to bring SEO results, but patience pays off. Unfortunately, some businesses give up on content marketing right before the big reward of increased organic traffic and search rankings starts kicking in.
For this reason, I recommend marketers allow at least six months, and at most, a year, to see SEO benefits from content marketing efforts.