If you are like most small business owners, you are aware of the benefits of a content generation program for your business and website. Adding articles or blog posts establishes you as a thought leader, spreads your site virally through social and professional networks, and provides SEO fodder.
Consistent content generation plan is vital – but only half the battle
A content generation plan is hard enough to implement consistently – but I'd like to add one additional concern to your list: are these content pages merely dead ends on your website?
The ideal content page piques a visitor's interest, contains target SEO words in its URL, title, and body copy, and has a catchy title to entice visitors. But, have you ever measured the effectiveness of these pages, above and beyond merely tracking the social shares and page views?
Most visitors briefly scan a page searching for things that interest them. Precious few will actually read the content, or engage further by navigating to another page on your site.
How can you tell if your content pages are just worthless dead ends? The answer is simple: bounce rate. Check your analytics tool and look at the bounce rate of your content pages. The bounce rate tracks the percentage of visitors who view only a single page on your website – in this case, each individual content page.
Getting someone to your content pages is only half the battle. If they immediately leave, your content generation program is likely not yielding any results for you. If you have a bounce rate over 50%, you'll need to take a close look at optimizing these pages.
First, make sure the content isn't the problem. If your page has a misleading title or poor content, the bounce rate is justified — you're just wasting people's time. But if your pages are solid, there are some simple things you can do to analyze further and better optimize your pages.
Bounce rates can give you some clues to overall effectiveness of your content pages, but it doesn't tell the whole story. You'll also need to inspect the average time visitors spend on each page, which will tell you if they are actually reading the content. And, make sure to inspect the click path to see what pages visitors typically visit next.
Common mistakes – and some easy fixes
If your content pages are showing a high bounce rate, low page view time, and few subsequent page visits, you need to make some changes.
- Break up content. Use headlines, images, pull quotes, charts, tables, lists, etc. Remember, visitors will scan, not read. Make sure to provide them with lots of goodies for their eyes to feast on.
- Break up long articles. If your content is long, you may want to consider pagination. This has the added benefit of helping you track how many visitors actually read your content: is the content intriguing enough to get them to click on the next page?
- Author bio. Make sure the author is listed, with name and photo, linked to a bio page. If the visitor likes this particular article, they may also like other articles from the author.
- Clear next steps. Provide a list of related content, suggested next content, related products, and a strong call to action, such as a contact form or free downloads (remember, visitors love free stuff).
- Don't forget the sides and bottom of the page. Visitors will scroll as they scan and read. The column should contain opportunities which may draw their eyes, and once they have reached the bottom, give the visitor a clear alternative to clicking the back button.
- Encourage Comments. Allow your visitors to interact with you about your content. Be sure to check back regularly and respond. This engages both the commenter and future visitors who visit and read your content.
Regular monitoring is key
Since you've already made the commitment to generate content for your website, make sure to take a few extra seconds to regularly analyze its effectiveness. A few minor adjustments can mean the difference between content that pays for itself and dead ends that do not.