I don’t consider myself to be much of a SEO expert. I can’t tell you much about semantic search or structured data. But I did help my company increase its organic traffic from under 500 pageviews to over 7,000 pageviews per day (with some help from these folks).
And we did this without any clever hacks or fancy tactics. Just good old fashioned content marketing.
In the process, I learned a few things about SEO, especially for B2B tech companies. If you want similar results in 2019, here’s what you need to know.
1. Delete content that doesn’t add any value
Like so many other tech companies, Workamajig had jumped on the blogging train back in the early 2010s. And like so many other tech companies, our blog lacked both rigor and focus.
As a result, we had hundreds of blog posts of varying quality. Some were intelligent thought pieces. Others were a little more than 100 word article summaries.
At the start of 2018, we decided to clean house. We crawled through our entire blog and pruned any page that:
- Was too short — under 200 words
- Focused on a topic that had been covered better elsewhere
- Was irrelevant or did not offer any valuable insight to our audience
- Had almost no traffic
We used 301 redirects to send traffic from these pruned pages to newer, more relevant content.
As of this article, we are still cleaning house — our total index pages has been steadily falling throughout the year.
Surprisingly, as we deleted content, we also saw a boost in our rankings. This goes against the advice of a lot of content marketers to “create more content”.
Yet, we found that removing content and redirecting them to better URLs leads to better rankings and, for the lack of a better word, a more “cohesive” user-experience.
2. Focus on your top 20% content
The Pareto Principle applies as much to SEO as it does to most things in the world: your top 20% content will account for 80% of your traffic.
In our case, our top 10 pages gathered 962,728 of our 1.4M pageviews for the year.
All of these pages targeted high-traffic, broad keywords. These keywords not only send a lot of traffic to our blog, they also help us acquiring backlinks on autopilot. One of our top trafficked pages, for instance, has acquired over 50+ backlinks by virtue of other people referencing our content.
This is something you need to keep in mind as you chart your SEO strategy for 2019. It’s easy to spread your focus too thin and scatter your efforts across multiple keywords.
But in reality, it pays to zero-in on a bunch of high traffic keywords and get them to rank.
3. Update older content instead of creating new one
It’s no secret that Google has a “freshness” bias. And for good reason — information seldom stays evergreen. Ideas and strategies that may have been viable in 2016 might be out of vogue in 2019.
This is why your top priority in 2019 should be to update your existing content instead of creating new one.
For instance, we updated one of our articles in August 2017. Back then, it was getting under 100 pageviews/week. The traffic jumped almost immediately after the update and continued climbing to nearly 600 pageviews/week.
You don’t have to update all your content, of course. Instead, make a list of all your content that ranks on pages 2 to 5, i.e. pages that are getting some traffic but not reaching their potential.
Update these pages with more and newer content. Your aim should be to reach around 1,000 words.
4. Produce longer content
I know a lot of you might have seen this image circulating on marketing blogs:
This was back in 2016. Few things in SEO remain true for more than a few years, but apparently, this one has.
We made it made it a point to ensure that all our new content was at least 2,000+ words. We also published at least one 3,500+ word article every month.
I don’t know if it was the content length or other factors, but it certainly helped us get our results. We often outrank sites with more authority mostly because our content is longer and more detailed than our competitors.
Of course, longer content doesn’t necessarily mean better. There are certainly cases where you’d want to create a punchy 500 word article and not a 2,000 word meandering essay.
But for most broad keywords — the kind we target — Google seems biased in favor of word count and freshness. If your focus is on such keywords (and not super long tail keywords), you will see good results pursuing this strategy.
For a sample of our content, check out some of our greatest hits:
- How to Keep Employees Happy at Your Agency (Backed by Science)
- 8 Collaboration Habits of the World’s Most Effective Managers
- How to Create a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion Your Agency
5. Strong content and targeted links always work
This is the strategy we used to scale our traffic nearly 15x in one year:
- Pick a broad keyword with at least 1,000+ searches/month
- Create long, highly-focused content that targets the broad keyword as well as multiple related keywords
- Build targeted backlinks to this content via manual outreach and guest posts on industry-focused publications
There are few guarantees in SEO, but this strategy works most of the time. For one, it plays nice with Google’s rules. You’re creating content people want, and you’re promoting it organically.
If you pick the right keywords, you’ll find that this strategy has a multiplying effect. Content that ranks for high-traffic keywords tends to pick up backlinks automatically from other sites. This improves your overall domain authority, making it easier for you to rank for other, similar keywords.
Plus, this is a strategy anyone can follow — with or without any help from a SEO firm.
I’m not saying that our results are typical; we certainly had a lot of help. But our results also show that you don’t need any fancy strategy to make SEO work. Producing high quality content consistently, improving your existing content, and building targeted backlinks is about as much of a “guaranteed” success strategy you can have in SEO.