Content Strategy

Content Strategy, in my opinion is the most important component of a solid SEO strategy. I don’t downplay any of the other components, particularly the technical aspects of SEO, but without a solid content strategy whatever you are doing may or may not be doing anything for you.

When we look at and advise on content strategy, we take a very broad view of what you are trying to accomplish. This view has to include the full competitive landscape, after all, you are not publishing content into a non-competitive vacuum. Today, the Google index contains 30 trillion documents and this was as of 2013. I’m confident that this number has not declined in the last 3 years and won’t in the future. In order to stand out and use your resources properly this broad view should be considered as part of your online marketing strategy.

When I was the head of Traffic at a major Technology News company we grew our monthly visit universe from 25 million up to 130 million during a span of 4 years. Now, some of this did come via acquisition, but the lions share of this growth came from a solid technical SEO foundation with a great content strategy that supported the overall goals of the company. You shouldn’t take my word for it, but Glen Allsop put together a piece called “16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results“. What is stated in this piece is merely the fact that these 16 companies dominate key search results, not HOW¬†they dominate them. This is where High Peak Media comes in.

As the architect of our demand-centric approach to content development, we keep a keen eye on what is important to users and most importantly, how they are thinking and constructing their search queries. We feel that this is a key element in both your content strategy as well as sound business advice. If you are not creating interesting and compelling content on a subject that people/users are interested in, then you need to rethink some things.

<p>Much of our research has been centered around the Consumer Decision Journey, a study and research paper conducted by and published by McKinsey. Prior to this study, most marketers were working within the decision funnel world illustrated below.

Consumer Purchase Funnel
Consumer Purchase Funnel

The above view of how the consumer behaves is obviously a very linear view of consumer behavior. The consumer would start their process with a set of brands and individual products, reduce the number and eventually purchase a product. The McKinsey study came up with a very circular description of what the perception was back in ’08-’09 during the time of this study. They illustrated this updated view by publishing the infographic below.

The Consumer Journey
McKinsey Consumer Journey

This study was really a major breakthrough in how the consumer thought process was viewed and continues to be the center of how we think through dealing with consumers. While the McKinsey work is in the process of being updated by a LOT of different people, our focus has been on how the online world interacts with this thinking and how consumers behave. We’ve modified our view on what this cycle looks like based on some observations that we’ve made over the last few years.

High Peak Media Consumer Journey
The High Peak Media View of the Consumer Journey

 

The cycle is very similar to how McKinsey envisioned things. When a consumer decides that they want to purchase a product, they typically start with some kind of core research to find out what is available, what features exist and how the product can help solve a particular problem. Once a preliminary decision is made, price hunting begins, then the consumer purchases the product. The next 2 steps within the cycle — ‘Enhance Use’ and ‘Help/Fix This’ are really important in determining what the consumer is going to do next. If the consumer is very satisfied with the product, they typically start down what we call the ‘Renewal Cycle’. The renewal cycle essentially bypasses the basic research phase and just starts price shopping for the latest product. Think about consumers looking to replace their iPhone 5 with the latest iPhone. If the consumer is not entirely satisfied with the product they purchased, then when it comes time to replace the product, the other path is taken — the ‘Replacement Cycle’. In the Replacement Cycle, much of the core research will get repeated and a new set of decisions will be made. A simple example would be someone purchasing a Samsung Note 7, it catches fire and decides to start the decision cycle all over again.

The research that we did here is incredibly detailed and the outcome of this research was fairly consistent with how consumers research products across a wide array of product categories. What has to be understood is that every consumer, while they typically do all of these steps, they don’t do all of them using online content and tools. Many steps are typically done “live”, like asking their train buddy what lawn mower to buy — and then doing price research online before heading to Lowe’s to make their purchase. Every site and content category is different, however what is consistent is that understanding the demand of the consumer and where you can fit into the competitive space is the key to a successful growth strategy from a content perspective. This is an integral part of how we engage with our clients.