Thanks to everyone who replied to Tuesday’s email with thoughts on my predictions and with words of encouragement. It’s good to be back from holiday and I am looking forward to continuing the discussion about building and growing media businesses in 2020.
I want to spend some time getting really tactical. I believe that will help grow audience and get your newest visitors really engaged. But first, share and subscribe!
Now let’s jump in…
The enhanced category page
I’ve always found Google to be a more predictable source of audience compared to social platforms like Facebook. While the ranking algorithm is a black box, I find the quality of audience to be far greater because there is some user intent backing the visit and rankings are not drastically changing. Unless there is some sort of major algorithmic update, if you’re doing well in one month, you’re probably going to do okay in the next month.
That said, there are best practices to help turn low quality pages into high quality ones; creating opportunities to grow audience with keywords from which you might not otherwise get traffic.
I call this the enhanced category page, but it’s basically taking any page that lists stories and enhancing them.
Let’s first look at a simple page. The keyword we’ll be discussing is Lockheed Martin News (which gets some searches, but not a ton). When I search for that, the first three results are Lockheed webpages. After that, it’s BreakingDefense and then Politico.
Both of these pages just list stories. If I were to look at a different company on BreakingDefense or Politico, they, too, would just list stories.
What we understand from Google is that having unique content on a page contributes heavily to it ranking for target keywords. A category page, on the other hand, only includes headlines and excerpts. There’s nothing unique about it.
How could you spruce it up?
Add something unique to it. The Verge does a great job with this. Let’s use the Disney page. Every story that they publish about Disney is listed there. But when a user comes to this page, the first thing they see is this:
It’s a short, unique, catchy blurb about Disney. They also have one about Hulu, Netflix and HBO to name a few.
Now you’ve got a page that has something unique. Theoretically, Google should pickup on this and give you a little more influence in the result pages. Obviously it’s not a guarantee. Going back to BreakingDefense and Politico, they’re both probably strong sites with a ton of domain authority and link equity. If Politico added 200 words about Lockheed Martin up top, could that be enough to jump the rank?
Backlinko has a great chart that shows the number of clicks depending on your ranking:
Obviously, moving up one or two positions can have a real impact on your traffic.
What makes these searches useful for publishers is the user’s intent is to read news. If someone searches for Lockheed Martin News, it’s possible they’ll read multiple news stories on your site. This will either earn you additional ad revenue or, if you’ve got a reg wall, the user will hit it faster.
It’s not just company news either. I also think that this works nicely with people. Up top, put a short biography about the person.
How do you decide what to prioritize, though? There are two ways.
The first way is to look in your analytics and identify which category pages are already sending traffic to you. Whichever ones are sending the most traffic should be the ones you prioritize first with one caveat. If the top ranking ones don’t have a ton of news, the traffic that comes to the page will bounce, which isn’t helpful. I would find pages that have traffic and news.
The second way is to pull a list of all the companies that you report on and use a tool like SEMRush for keyword research. You’re looking for a blend of low keyword difficulty and high keyword volume.
And that’s it.
Get Started Page
I hadn’t thought about this kind of page until very recently. Although I’m not a hunter, I wound up on MeatEater the other night. In their top navigation, they’ve got a link where they basically call out to the newbies on the site. Here’s what it looks like:
Clicking the link takes you to a page that is all about MeatEater, but it’s delivered in a way that is very user friendly.
With an easy scroll, the user gets a quick understanding of what MeatEater is all about, a list of newsletters with easy sign up, all the podcasts in the network, social links with a CTA to follow, a section for shopping and, finally, the latest events. MeatEater, in one page, shows the user the various ways to engage with the platform.
When I was first getting started in internet marketing (pre-media), a common piece of advice I received was to optimize the About page of any site I worked on. Why? For people new to your brand, the About page is how they learn who you are.
With so many people hitting the page, it’s a great way to get new people engaged with the brand through various channels.
I believe there is another way to capitalize on this page, but it really only works for niche publications. Let’s keep using MeatEater.
Right now, the page talks all about MeatEater and the ways a person can engage with MeatEater. But how many people come to the site who are completely new to hunting, fishing, etc.? Create a clean, useful page that has a ton of great information for people who don’t have experience. The call to action in the navigation would now say “New to hunting? Get started” or something like that.
On the page, you collect the most important information that’s already been published on the site, but aggregate it in a format that is useful for someone brand new. Throughout the page, you can put similar calls to action to sign up for newsletters and listen to podcasts, but now you’re doing it along the user’s educational journey.
I can’t help but believe that a page like this sprinkled with product reviews could result in a boost in commerce revenue. If someone is new to hunting and wants to get involved, they’re going to need to get gear.
If you’re a larger or generalist publication, a “New to the site? Get started here” page would make a lot of sense. It gives new users easy information on various ways to engage with the site. If you’re a niche publication, both methods work, but I would wager that a page targeted to newbies would be better.
Here’s the thing… It works for all sorts of niches, consumer and business. At some point in our lives, we were all new to an industry. Imagine if the publication of record for your industry included a “New to the industry? Start here” on their website. Very quickly, I can get up to speed on what’s most important. That creates a loyal reader and helps you get early people into your funnel as their careers are growing.
Two simple pages
Both the enhanced category and getting started pages are simple and easy to create. The good thing about the category page is that the content is evergreen, so you don’t have to worry too much about maintenance. And the getting started page is a great way to get people into your funnel across your various products.
Do you have examples of these pages on your site? Hit enter and let me have a look.
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