Without changing a word, you can make your content easier to consume.
Don’t expect a thank-you note. But do look for signs your audience appreciates the effort (more frequent visits, views, and listens, for example).
The six tactics in this article make content easier to consume by helping manage time expectations, offering shortcuts, and letting people choose the format they prefer or need.
1. Belly up to a reading bar
Many content destinations (including this website) show a reading time estimate at the beginning of each article. You can see the time estimate at the top of this article next to the byline and published date.
Here’s another recent CMI example showing a reading estimate of about 11 minutes:
Estimating time to read helps people decide whether to read the article now or save it to read later. They also can use it to assess at a glance whether the piece covers the topic in detail or offers a brief overview.
Other tools support the audience throughout the article. Epsilon, for example, includes a progress bar for its written content as well as the estimated reading time:
Progress bars help audiences with long-form content. They let readers glance at the progress bar to see how much more time they need to finish the piece instead of scrolling to the top to remind themselves of the reading estimate. (This trick also works well to keep people taking surveys from giving up with only a question or two to go.)
I don’t know what specific tool Epsilon uses. But multiple plugins exist to provide this feature. For example, the WordPress plugin Read Meter analyzes text and images to calculate time and progress.
2. Create chapters for your videos and podcasts
Ever watch a how-to video where you wished you could skip over the sections you understand and easily find the steps you need to see? Or maybe you’ve listened to a podcast that recounts details you already know and found yourself wanting to skip to another section of the story.
Your audience likely feels a similar desire with some of your content. Timestamps and chapter markers put them in control of the viewing or listening experience.
YouTube lets you use timestamps and visuals to designate video chapters. For example, the YouTube Creators video explaining the feature includes three chapters:
- 0:00 An intro to video chapters
- 0:23 How to set up video chapters
- 1:07 See video chapters in action
The how to do time stamps video only lasts 80 seconds, but the chapters help viewers get to the exact spot they want:
If you publish videos on @YouTube, it makes sense to help your audience by including timestamps and chapter markers, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
YouTube offers step-by-step instructions for automating chapters or doing them manually.
You can also use podcast time stamps to help listeners go directly to what they want to hear. Each hosting platform is slightly different, but most let you note the timestamps in your show notes or episode description. In some cases, the platform’s tool will let you link the time stamp to that moment in the episode.
This video shows how to do that with WordPress or Captivate podcast sites:
3. Create a linked table of contents
A table of contents at the top of text-based content lets you lead readers through your text, just as timestamps and chapters guide your video viewers and podcast listeners.
Create a linked table of contents to lead readers through your text, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent.
This tactic works well for content that covers several tips or subject areas. You could create a traditional table of contents or publish the key points detailed in the article.
You don’t need a separate tool to create a linked table of contents. You can create one using HTML anchor links. Here’s an example of a linkable table of contents, giving readers the option to jump to sections in the article on the table of contents (yes, it’s a meta example), such as bullet styles and how to create a clickable link:
Another approach is to list the article’s key points right at the start. For example, Atlassian’s award-winning Work Life blog includes a five-second summary box at the top of each article. (Each post includes a progress bar, too).
The summary for the 2,000-word article Could a Shorter Workweek Be in Your Future? offers these points:
- The “four-day workweek” label has become shorthand for any effort to make the standard workweek shorter.
- Companies, political parties, and labor unions are exploring shorter workweeks in several countries, mainly in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
- But that Iceland experiment everyone got so excited about? Don’t believe the hype.
4. Get specific with your links
Have you noticed that some Google search results take you directly to the relevant section of an article? That feature saves you from searching through the whole article to find what you’re looking for.
@GoogleChrome #LinkToTextFragment extension allows for linking to arbitrary text on a page so your readers don’t have to search through the entire article, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
5. Let people listen
The Washington Post lets readers consume some of its content in audio form. A headset icon and text, “Listen to the article,” appears at the top of pages that include audio. The module also shows the estimated time to listen.
You can do the same with your content. Sure, accessibility tools help those with hearing difficulties transform text into audio, but why not solve the problem for them? At the same time, you also can help your audience who might want to listen to your content on the go.
6. Show me the text
You should provide transcripts to help your audience members who have hearing challenges consume your content in ways other than captions on screen. If you’re not doing so already, it’s time to start.
Companies such as Rev, Otter.ai, and Happy Scribe (freemium) offer transcription services. To use them, you upload the video or audio file. Then, depending on the service, you can select an AI-only transcription or a human-created version.
TIP: If you record a video on Zoom, make sure to save it to the Zoom cloud, not your computer. You can then request a free automated transcription.
Go easy on your audience
All these tactics make content consumption easier. As it turns out, each one is easy to implement through plugins, automated services, or simple HTML coding.
Best of all, they present big opportunities to attract and retain an audience with little additional effort.
Are you using any of these approaches? Let me know in the comments which ones work best for your audience.
Editor’s note: No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools (from your company or ones you have used) in the comments.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
How We Increased a Client’s Leads by 384% in Six Months by Focusing on One Topic Cluster [Case Study]
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Content marketing is an essential part of any SEO strategy. Without it, how are you going to attract customers looking for answers to their questions, and who are potentially in the market for your products or services?
At Tao Digital Marketing, we’ve recently generated some great results for one of our clients operating in the business financial space, The Insolvency Experts, mainly by focusing on just one “cluster topic” that was a huge money maker for them.
When looking at six month comparison stats (August 2021-January 2022 to February-July 2022), we’ve achieved the following:
Leads: 95 to 460 (384%)
Clicks: 4,503 to 23,013 (411%)
Impressions: 856,683 to 2,033,355 (137%)
Average position: 33.4 to 23.6 (increased almost 10 spots)
This was mostly achieved by absolutely hammering one topic area: company liquidation. In this case study, we’re going to explain how we did this step by step, so that hopefully you can generate similar results for your own business!
If you really break it down, the objective of all SEO consultancy work is essentially the same: increase the number of leads for a business. This was our ultimate goal.
It’s not just as simple as that, though. We all know you can’t get to number one on Google overnight. So, like other SEO geeks out there, we tracked our successes through additional factors such as clicks, impressions, and average position, to show our efforts were worthwhile.
In January this year (2022) our goals for the next six months were as follows:
Leads: Just over double from 95 to 200 (110%)
Clicks: 4,503 to 13,500 (around 200%)
Impressions: 856,683 to 1,700,000 (around 100%)
Average position: 33.4 to 25 (around eight spots)
Insolvency Experts’ audience is primarily directors of UK businesses that are going insolvent, closely followed by business owners looking for financial advice. The majority of Insolvency Expert’s cash flow comes from formal insolvency processes, such as liquidation, administration, and CVAs (Company Voluntary Agreements), so it was really important for us to push these areas.
1. Research “company liquidation” search volume and related queries
We first picked this client up in November 2020. Initially, our focus was on the basics: updating all the top level pages (such as service pages and guides) to make sure they fit the intention of the user and clearly explained the services that Insolvency Experts offer.
Researching what works well at present
One of the pages that our content team updated was their company liquidation guide. After updating, the page started to perform very well in the SERP, and ranked at position #4 for “company liquidation”. Clearly, this sort of content was working, and we wanted to hit it even more.
After pulling some research together, one of our strategists proposed the idea of a “Company Liquidation Content Hub”, as the company liquidation guide was ranking for a lot of long tail questions:
After cross referencing with the monthly search volume for these questions, she added some of these as H3s within the guide to see how they would perform. They resulted in so much more traffic that she decided they warranted their own individual guides, hence the idea for the hub. This would mean we weren’t putting all of our eggs into one basket, and that we could also internally link all of them together for users wanting to read more.
Users that are further down the marketing funnel don’t want to scroll down a huge guide to find the answer to their specific question, and we were certain that this would positively affect bounce rate. We therefore made sure that nine times out of 10, the H1 contained the question that was being answered.
In order to further target those at the bottom of the marketing funnel who want to speak to someone quickly, we placed regular “Contact Us” CTAs throughout the content so that they don’t have to scroll right to the bottom of the page to get in touch with Insolvency Experts.
Undertaking a competitor analysis
We also conducted a competitor analysis on this topic, focusing on three key players in the industry that were all ranking well for the phrase “company liquidation”. We found that the key competitors had the following:
Competitor A – 38 indexed articles on liquidation
Competitor B – 23 indexed articles on liquidation
Competitor C – 47 indexed articles on liquidation
Insolvency Experts only had six indexed articles on liquidation at the time, so it was clear we needed to be on their level – this was an obvious content gap.
Pitching the content hub to the client
We suggested this idea to the client alongside a forecasting spreadsheet created by our founder, in order to justify the resource that was needed to push the client as high as possible in the rankings for company liquidation.
This spreadsheet broke down a huge list of keywords alongside monthly search volume, average click through rate for positions 1-10 on the SERP, domain authority of competitors who are currently ranking for these keywords, and average conversion rate on the site at the moment.
This unique formula would then allow us to explain to the client that for X amount of work, we predict we can get you to position X in X timeframe, and this would result in approximately X annual revenue. After pitching this to the client alongside infographics and current performance statistics, they told us they loved our ideas and agreed to let us go ahead.
2. Plan the content after client approval
After the client gave us the go-ahead, the next step was to plan all of this work based on search volume, and therefore priority order.
It’s easy to get lost in all the data within SEO, so it was incredibly important for us to have a solid plan and timeline for these changes. Topics were going to range from How to Liquidate a Company with No Money through to Administration vs Liquidation.
How we communicate planned works to our clients
In order to orchestrate clear communication between ourselves and our clients, we create a Traffic Light Report, which is a live Google Sheets document detailing all work to be undertaken for the current and next quarter. This is split into sections for technical SEO, content, and digital PR/link building (the three pillars of SEO).
This includes justification for each change we make, as well as a link to any live changes or documents. It also details when this will be done and if the action is with us or the client. The tasks are coloured in green for live changes, yellow for action needed, orange for in progress, red for anything on hold and clear for not started.
Here’s an example of what the content section of Insolvency Expert’s traffic light report looks like for their current quarter (July-September 2022):
Scheduling the tasks
We then scheduled these topics for our various content writers to work on using our project management software, ClickUp. Within each task we placed a link to a skeleton document consisting of H1s, H2s, and H3s, as well as a title, meta description and keywords to include.
3. Write the content while implementing technical SEO
By this time it was around April 2022, and it was time for us to fully attack the content portion of our task list. Since then, we’ve written 18 pieces of content around company liquidation, and still have quite a few left to go before we consider this area of focus complete.
Analyzing as we go along
Once we covered the big topics in the first couple of months of writing, we started to use Low Fruits to find smaller queries which are estimated at around 10 or fewer monthly searches. We’ve had a lot of success targeting lower search volume phrases, as these users seem to be more focused and lower down the sales funnel, so are more likely to be better engaged and convert better. A lot of the time they are pleased that you have answered their very niche question!
The below is a screenshot from a keyword analysis. We trawled through hundreds of keywords to pull out the ones relevant to the client.
We then used Low Fruit’s Keyword Extraction and SERP Analysis tool to give us further details on a select few key terms.
These terms are shown as having a search volume of either 10, less than 10 or 0. Of course, we know that this is still hugely important to cover, and targeting these will bring in a very niche reader who is much more likely to convert due to the nature of the long-tail queries.
Finalizing the hub
Our plan is to finalize the hub this fall, and ensure that everything is internally linked. There will also be a menu change to make the addition of the hub very clear. See screenshots below for the current hub vs. how it will be presented once all content is ready (screenshot taken from their staging site in Kinsta, our hosting platform where we make design changes so that the client can approve them before they go live).
Current ‘hub’ in the menu:
How the hub will look once all content is complete:
As part of our content process within ClickUp, we have a recurring task to check a new URL in Google Search Console two weeks after upload. This allows us to see if we have the “Google Spike of Acceptance”, which is a sharp incline of impressions/traffic indicating that the content will do well, before it falls then slowly rises again.
If we don’t see this spike, we carry out multiple checks, including: Is it an orphan page? Are there any technical errors? Is it indexed? If it is not indexed, we push the URL through Index Me Now.
If the issue is just that the piece isn’t getting picked up, we will take another look at the content to see if there is something else we can do to improve it, e.g. tweak the H1 or expand the content.
4. Build links to the relevant pages and homepage
We wanted to really hone in on generating links for our company liquidation page. The page has 36 backlinks, many of which were built through link building efforts. This was largely done by working with business site publications and creating natural anchor text that would help with certain keyword rankings.
As well as building links specifically to the company liquidation page, we also built links to the main URL in order to boost overall domain authority. This was done through answering queries through platforms such as HARO and Response Source, as well as working with the client to create relevant, time-specific thought leadership pieces. Here’s an example of a HARO request we responded to, the topic being “Recession-proofing tips for small businesses”:
Although the site’s domain authority tends to fluctuate between 30-33 depending on links lost and general algorithm updates, the links to specific pages have still resulted in an increase in rankings, detailed further below.
Results compared to objectives
Although we knew that our strategy was going to work well based on our experience with our other clients, we were very pleasantly surprised by the huge positive effect our work has made, which enabled us to smash the targets we set!
Goal: Increase from 95 to 200 (110%)
Result: Increased from 95 to 460 (384%)
As a result of creating incredibly useful, lengthy content and placing regular CTAs throughout the content, we managed to almost quadruple the amount of leads coming through to the client in the space of just six months.
In the six months before our liquidation project began, our Leads Dashboard within WhatConverts shows that Insolvency Experts had five liquidation leads via phone call and 10 leads via their contact form on a liquidation-focused page.
In the six-month period since we’ve been working on the content hub, they have had 38 liquidation leads via phone call and 52 leads via contact form on a liquidation-focused page.
Result: 660% increase in phone call leads and 420% increase in contact form leads.
Previous six months:
Goal: Increase from 4,503 to 13,500 (around 200%)
Result: Increased from 4,503 to 23,013 (411%)
By creating highly relevant content that matched the user’s search intent, we managed to almost quadruple the clicks over the space of six months, doubling our original 200% goal.
The site has received 29,400 clicks overall across the past 12 months. Below, you can see the huge spike in clicks and impressions from January onwards when we really started to focus on the liquidation content.
Goal: Increase from 856,683 to 1,700,000 (around 100%)
Result: Increased from 856,683 to 2,033,355 (137%)
Again, by creating highly relevant blogs, Google started to understand the relevancy of our content, so the number of impressions hugely increased. Along with the 137% increase above, over the past 12 months (August 2021-August 2022) the site has received 485,000 impressions for the query ‘liquidation’ alone.
The main company liquidation guide that we updated had a total of 732K impressions over the past 12 months, too, with a huge spike from February onwards, when we updated the guide.
Goal: Increase from 33.4 to 25 (around 8 spots)
Result: Increased from 33.4 to 23.6 (increased 10 spots)
This increase is due to the relevancy of our content and the amount of keywords each piece ranked for. As mentioned, the main company liquidation guide has worked incredibly well, ranking for 181 keywords, 67 of which are page one (37%). It now has the number one spot for the term “company liquidation”. See below for an example of queries the page is showing up for.
The page also shows up for six featured snippets as a result of us implementing FAQ schema.
335 clicks and 93,663 impressions have come from the FAQ rich results alone.
In the six months before we updated the guide, it pulled in around 650 clicks and 227K impressions. In the six months following, it brought in around 1,180 clicks and 382K impressions. We’ve practically doubled clicks on one single guide.
As mentioned, this particular piece of content has 36 backlinks, and actually ranks ABOVE the official UK government company liquidation guide, which has a domain authority of 93 (about 60 higher than ours). Clearly, we’re meeting the searcher’s intent and giving them what they are looking for.
In the six month period before we started work on liquidation, Insolvency Experts had an average click through rate of 0.5%. Over a six month period of us working with them, this more than doubled to 1.2%.
Another success worth noting is that 3 out of 6 of our latest articles have an average page view duration of between 9 and 10 minutes! The other half are averaging around 5 to 6 minutes, which is still very good. Clearly, users are wanting in-depth information on this topic.
The “What happens to a director of a company in liquidation?” guide, which went live in May, is now the fifth most clicked page on the site. when filtered on GSC by the term “liquidation”.
Overall, we’re extremely pleased with the results we generated, and so are Insolvency Experts — the company liquidation department is now inundated with queries and they are rushed off their feet!
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