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10 Reasons You Need A Long-Term Content Strategy

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10 Reasons You Need A Long-Term Content Strategy

It’s no secret that content is time-consuming.

However, some marketers are so focused on whittling down that time, on cutting corners just to “get something out,” that they ultimately end up losing out.

What do they lose?

The power inherent in high-quality content helps you:

  • Rank in Google.
  • Build trust with consumers.
  • Earn leads.
  • Convert leads.

Rushing content, meanwhile, gets you the opposite.

Marketers who view content marketing as a sprint rather than a marathon think they can write 20 short, low-quality blog posts, slap them online, and call it done.

Unfortunately, this is a recipe for major content failure.

For content to succeed – truly succeed, with the rankings, engaged readers, and conversions to prove it – you need to play the long game with your content marketing.

You need to come to terms with the realization that it may take anywhere from six months to a year (or even longer, according to one study) to get your content ranking well.

You need to understand that your target audience is comprised of humans who need to be nurtured and respected continually over time if you want their trust and, ultimately, their buy-in.

You need to fully own that good content cannot be created in a rush. Great content takes even longer, but great content gets results.

Let’s get deeper into why you should be playing the long game with content.

Why Focusing On A Content Marathon, Not A Sprint, Is A Good Thing For Your Marketing

Think about a footrace for a moment: It’s pretty brutal, right?

To win a footrace, you don’t necessarily need technique or style; you just need speed (at least until you become a professional track athlete, at which point style and form are critically important).

Because of this, the winner of a footrace isn’t necessarily the best runner in the group. Put that same winner into a 10 km and he’d likely burn out at the beginning, right? I bet you see where I’m going with this.

The same thing applies to content.

While anyone can sprint in a general direction towards the finish line with crappy content and poorly thought-out content strategies, not every marketer can devise an effective, long-term strategy for actually consistently ranking well with content.

This is the main reason that the long-term content strategy is so much better than a short-term content strategy.

In addition to being more sustainable, the long-term approach is also wiser and more fully thought out.

In the words of Tim Ferriss, “There will always be a need for high-quality, and there will always be a need for long-form.”

While short-term content strategies seek to produce instant and short-lived results, long-term content strategies allow marketers to bond with their audiences, build their voice, provide real value, and rank in an authentic and sustainable way.

Because of this, marketers who create long-term content strategies often publish more effective content, build bigger audiences, and garner more shares across the board.

10 Reasons Long-Term Content Strategy Is Better

1. It’s A Better Use Of Your Money And Resources

Imagine going on a diet to lose weight. For two weeks, you eat only whole, clean foods and you exercise for two hours a day.

You feel great and – hey! — you lose weight. At the end of that two weeks, however, you stop exercising and go right back to your old diet habits.

What happens?

Of course, you gain all of the weight back, and your guise of physical fitness takes a nosedive.

Not surprisingly, the same thing happens with content. Regardless of what you’re doing, content marketing takes money and resources.

If you’re paying someone to flood your accounts with content for two weeks and then laying off your strategy entirely, you can bet not only will your strategy be ineffective, but it will also be a waste of your money and resources.

Instead, you’re much better off allocating your resources to a long-term content strategy that will build readers over time and help you maintain steady levels of traffic and clicks over months or years.

Instead of wasting your resources, this funnels them right back into your company and ensures that you’re building value while also establishing a solid foundation of lasting, relevant content.

2. Long-Term Content Engages Readers

To keep readers interested and engaged for an extended period, you need to offer them comprehensive, in-depth content that helps them address their concerns and solve problems.

And that means long content, in terms of word count per article.

Don’t think just because we live in an age where attention spans are short that long-form content won’t do well. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

An Orbit Media survey found that bloggers who write longer posts (anything over 1,500 words) get better results.

Why does long-form content perform so well as part of a long-term content strategy?

In addition to providing outstanding value for readers, long-form content also allows your company to build authority and establish dominance by showcasing your knowledge on relevant topics in your industry.

3. Content Changes All The Time

As search engines and readers progress, the demand for quality, informed, relevant content increases all the time. Because of this, a long-term content strategy is the best possible weapon.

Designed to insulate marketers against change and help them maintain their traffic and readership despite changing SEO, content, and marketing requirements, long-term content marketing allows space for the strategy to absorb and adapt to changing trends. This ensures more effective content and a more adaptive strategy that doesn’t have to scramble to keep up.

4. Long-Term Content Is Synonymous With Cornerstone Content

Every good house needs a solid foundation, and every good marketing strategy needs cornerstone content to provide long-lasting value and relevance to readers.

Cornerstone content is long-term content that might not draw a huge number of clicks right off the bat but remains valuable for months or years after the publishing date.

Think of it as a down payment toward your own business.

In fact, if you look at the aforementioned Tim Ferriss’s blog, you’ll notice most of his most popular blog posts were written up to two years ago. How’s that for an effective long-term strategy?

In contrast, short-term content strategies are largely aimed at ranking well for a specific keyword or phrase, so they all but neglect cornerstone content entirely.

Unfortunately, this leads to a less valuable and less relevant website for users of all types.

For attracting long-term clicks and ensuring that a website’s readers are engaged, entertained, and consuming value at all times, cornerstone content becomes more of an essential than a luxury.

5. Long-Term Content Doesn’t Turn Off With A Hard Sell

In today’s marketing environment, there is virtually nothing customers hate more than being hard-sold.

Nobody wants to know why they can’t live without your product or why it’s critical for them to “buy now!”

More often than not, these approaches simply alienate customers and make it harder for your company to sell products naturally.

Unfortunately, the hard-sell is often a tone taken by short-term content.

Because short-term content is insistent by nature, it’s tough to engineer it so it doesn’t push on your customers.

As a result, short-term content strategies run a high risk of alienating customers and making it more difficult to sell your products.

Long-term content strategies, on the other hand, do no such thing. Because they’re not designed to elicit an immediate response from readers, they seek to provide value and relevance rather than insistence and immediacy.

In other words, they succeed in explaining a problem, helping the audience handle the problem, and then inviting them to engage in a discussion about the problem.

This, in turn, is a fantastic way to nurture long-term customer relationships and ensure that your company continues to meet the needs of your clients.

6. Long-Term Content Strategy Is An Effective Way To Approach Current Events

Do you think writing about trending news and industry events makes you a short-term content strategist? Think again.

Trending content-focused blogs are extremely important, and it’s a mistake to think of this as only a short-term strategy.

In fact, trending news can be critical to your long-term strategy, and can help you establish your website as the source for up-to-date and relevant industry news.

When you focus on using trending, to-the-minute news pieces as a way to enhance and strengthen your long-term content strategy, it’s easy to see how you can improve your brand presence and boost your business overall.

7. Long-Term Content Promotes Itself

Failing to promote your content is one of the most dangerous mistakes in the entire content marketing industry and, unfortunately, it’s one many marketers make.

While short-term content needs aggressive promotion to succeed, long-term content essentially promotes itself.

When you create high-quality, in-depth, well-researched, long-term content and push it out to your followers, it’s easy to rank well for your chosen keyword.

Because long-term content is meant to garner clicks and shares over time, it’s a great way to build steady, long-term rankings that can boost your SERP placement and improve your standing over time.

8. Long-Term Content Is Good Content

One of the differences between long-term content and short-term content comes down to priority and intention.

As a general rule, people who commit to the pursuit and development of content for the long term are much more in love with content.

While all types of content are important, creating good long-term content requires a different mindset and series of priorities than creating short-term content.

Because of this, long-term content strategies often boast better content that caters more effectively to readers.

9. Long-Term Content Effectively Builds An Audience

When it comes to building an audience, you don’t want to aim for the largest audience possible. This will result in a massive but unengaged group of followers.

Instead, you want to build an audience of people who are genuinely interested in your concept and your content and will engage with it actively when it comes out.

This is one of the areas in which long-term content strategy is so powerful.

Fewer people have the attention span for long-term (or long-form) content today, and by making it a large part of your content strategy, you can build a better audience and earn more qualified leads.

10. Long-Term Content Is Best For SEO

SEO is a complex mix of strategies that companies need to succeed online.

In addition to optimizing content correctly, companies that want to use good SEO also need to ensure their content is high-quality, relevant, and useful to their readers.

While this can be difficult with a short-term content strategy, a long-term content strategy suits the goal quite nicely.

In addition to the fact that long-term content is written with the reader in mind, it’s easier to target a group of keywords with a long-term content strategy than it is a short-term content strategy.

Finally, every piece of content written in a long-term content strategy goes to boost and improve SEO, contributing to more online visibility and more clicks to your website.

The Case For Long-Form Content Strategy

Treating content as a sprint rather than a marathon may seem easier at the outset, but it’s really just a quick way to stall out with content that doesn’t move the needle.

Good, results-driving content takes thought, time, and effort. It takes commitment to a long-term strategy because, by nature, content doesn’t work in the short term.

Ultimately, the time and commitment you invest in your long-term goals and strategy will pay off with higher dividends and a higher ROI. And that adds up to time well spent.


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Everything You Need To Know

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Of all the many, many functions available in Google Ads, I have a few that are my favorites. And sitelink assets – previously known as sitelink extensions – are at the top of my list.

Why? Because they’re so versatile. You can do almost anything with them if you think through your strategy carefully.

For example, you can use the mighty sitelink in your advertising to:

  • Promote low search volume themes.
  • Push lagging products out the door.
  • Maximize hot sellers.
  • Highlight certain product categories.
  • Answer common questions.
  • Handle PR problems.

And that’s just a start! Sitelink assets can almost do it all.

Best Practices For Using Sitelink Assets Extensions

If you truly want to get the most out of your sitelinks, you need to think about your intention.

To help you with that, I’m going to lay out a few sitelink guidelines.

1. Get clear on your objectives. Before you start, you need to think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with these assets? Are you advertising products or services? Will the asset work well with both branded and non-branded keywords? Your answers to these questions will help determine if your sitelinks are versatile and useful to the searcher.

2. Use sitelinks as part of your larger strategy. Don’t think of your sitelinks in isolation. You should also consider the accompanying ad, landing page, and other assets. Make sure they all work together in service to your overarching strategy.

3. Use a mix of sitelinks. Sitelinks can serve multiple purposes, so make sure you’re using a variety. For example, you don’t want to use every sitelink on an ad to promote on-sale products. Instead, use a mix. One could promote an on-sale product, one could generate leads, one could highlight a new product category, and one could direct prospective clients to useful information.

4. Create landing pages for your sitelinks. Ideally, you want to send users to landing pages that tightly correlate with your sitelink instead of just a regular page on your website.

5. Track sitelink performance and adjust. It’s not enough to set up sitelinks. You should also track them to see which links are getting traction and which ones are not. This doesn’t mean that all sitelinks should perform equally (more on this below), but it does mean they should perform well given their type and objectives.

Why it’s Better To Use A Mix Of Sitelink Assets

Let’s dive deeper into this idea of using a mix of sitelinks by looking at an example.

In a new client account, we created four different types of sitelinks:

  • Two sitelinks are product-focused (as requested by the client).
  • One sitelink connects users with an engineer to learn more about the product (“Speak to an Engineer”). It has more of a sales focus.
  • One sitelink allows users to learn more about the products without speaking to an engineer (“What is?”).

The “What is?” sitelink is outperforming the “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink when we measure by CTR. While we need more data before making any changes, I predict we’ll eventually swap out the sales-y “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink for something else.

The fact that the educational link (“What is?”) is performing better than the sales-y link (“Speak to an Engineer”) isn’t too surprising in this case. The product is a new, cutting-edge robot that not many people are aware of, yet. They want more info before talking to someone.

Screenshot by author, January 2023

By using a mix of sitelinks, and assessing the performance of each, we gained a lot of valuable information that is helping to guide our strategy for this account. So going with a mix of sitelinks is always a good idea. You never know what you’ll discover!

Sitelink Assets Examples

Now, let’s look at some specific examples of sitelink assets in Google Ads.

Example 1: Chromatography

Sitelinks extension - Chromatography exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

Application Search: This ad is for a highly technical product that can be used in a wide variety of applications. (Chromatography is a laboratory technique for separating mixtures.) So putting “application search” in a sitelink here might make sense. It helps prospective clients find what they’re looking for.

Sign up and Save Big: A good sitelink for lead generation and potential revenue.

Technical Support: I’m not a big fan of putting technical support in sitelinks. Tech support seems more targeted to current users rather than prospective users. But who knows, maybe they really do want to help current users get tech support via their advertising.

Guides and Posters: Again, this sitelink is a bit unusual, but it might be appropriate for this product. Perhaps people are downloading branded posters and posting them in their workplaces. If so, it’s a great way to build brand awareness.

Example 2: Neuroscience Courses

Sitelink Extensions - Nueroscience courses exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

I love everything about these sitelinks! The advertising is using them to reach people in all phases of the buyer journey.

For people not ready to commit:

  • Study Neuroscience: This sitelink is broad and informational. It’s helpful to people who have just started to explore their options for studying neuroscience.
  • Get Course Brochure: This sitelink is also great for people in the research phase. And while we mostly live in an online world, some people still prefer to consume hard-copy books, brochures, etc. With this sitelink, the school is covering its bases.

For people getting close to committing:

  • Online Short Course: This is the course the school offers. It’s a great sitelink for those almost ready to sign up.

For people ready to sign up:

  • Register Online Now: This is the strongest call to action for those ready to commit. It takes people directly to the signup page.

Example 3: Neuroscience Degrees

Let’s look at another example from the world of neuroscience education: this time for a neuroscience degree program.

Sitelink extensions - neuroscience degree exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

In contrast to the previous two examples, the sitelinks in this ad aren’t as strong.

Academics Overview: This sitelink seems more appropriate for a broad term search, such as a search on the school’s name. If the searcher is looking for a specific degree program (which seems like the intention based on the term and the ad), the sitelinks should be something specific to that particular degree program.

Scholarships: Just as with the above sitelink, “Scholarships” doesn’t seem very helpful either. The topic of scholarships is important—but probably doesn’t need to be addressed until the person determines that this school is a good fit.

Example 4: Code Security

Next, let’s look at two Google search ads for code security products.

Sitelink extensions - code security exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

 

The sitelinks in these two ads look like typical assets you’d find for SaaS, cloud-based, or tech companies. They click through to a lot of helpful information, such as product plans and success stories.

I particularly like the Most Common Risks sitelink in the second ad. It leads to a helpful article that would be great for engaging top-of-funnel leads.

On the flip side, I’m not a big fan of the Blog sitelink in the first ad. “Blog” simply isn’t very descriptive or helpful.

Still, there are no right or wrong sitelinks here. And it would be interesting to test my theory that blog content is not a top-performing asset!

Sitelink Assets Are More Than An Afterthought

I hope I’ve convinced you of the usefulness and versatility of sitelinks when created with specific objectives that align with your broader strategy.

So don’t create your sitelink assets as an afterthought.

Because if you give them the careful consideration they deserve, they’ll serve you well.

Note: Google sitelink assets were previously known as sitelink extensions and renamed in September 2022.

More resources:


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AI Content In Search Results

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AI Content In Search Results

Google has released a statement regarding its approach to AI-generated content in search results.

The company has a long-standing policy of rewarding high-quality content, regardless of whether humans or machines produce it.

Above all, Google’s ranking systems aim to identify content that demonstrates expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

Google advises creators looking to succeed in search results to produce original, high-quality, people-first content that demonstrates E-E-A-T.

The company has updated its “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page with guidance on evaluating content in terms of “Who, How, and Why.”

Here’s how AI-generated content fits into Google’s approach to ranking high-quality content in search results.

Quality Over Production Method

Focusing on the quality of content rather than the production method has been a cornerstone of Google’s approach to ranking search results for many years.

A decade ago, there were concerns about the rise in mass-produced human-generated content.

Rather than banning all human-generated content, Google improved its systems to reward quality content.

Google’s focus on rewarding quality content, regardless of production method, continues to this day through its ranking systems and helpful content system introduced last year.

Automation & AI-Generated Content

Using automation, including AI, to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results violates Google’s spam policies.

Google’s spam-fighting efforts, including its SpamBrain system, will continue to combat such practices.

However, Google realizes not all use of automation and AI-generated content is spam.

For example, publishers automate helpful content such as sports scores, weather forecasts, and transcripts.

Google says it will continue to take a responsible approach toward AI-generated content while maintaining a high bar for information quality and helpfulness in search results.

Google’s Advice For Publishers

For creators considering AI-generated content, here’s what Google advises.

Google’s concept of E-E-A-T is outlined in the “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page, which has been updated with additional guidance.

The updated help page asks publishers to think about “Who, How, and Why” concerning how content is produced.

“Who” refers to the person who created the content, and it’s important to make this clear by providing a byline or background information about the author.

“How” relates to the method used to create the content, and it’s helpful to readers to know if automation or AI was involved. If AI was involved in the content production process, Google wants you to be transparent and explain why it was used.

“Why” refers to the purpose of creating content, which should be to help people rather than to manipulate search rankings.

Evaluating your content in this way, regardless of whether AI-generated or not, will help you stay in line with what Google’s systems reward.


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Seven tips to optimize page speed in 2023

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Tips-to-optimize-page-speed-in-2023

30-second summary:

  • There has been a gradual increase in Google’s impact of page load time on website rankings
  • Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics as ranking factors to measure user experience
  • The following steps can help you get a better idea of the performance of your website through multiple tests

A fast website not only delivers a better experience but can also increase conversion rates and improve your search engine rankings. Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics to measure user experience and is using them as a ranking factor.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to test and optimize the performance of your website.

Start in Google Search Console

Want to know if optimizing Core Web Vitals is something you should be thinking about? Use the page experience report in Google Search Console to check if any of the pages on your website are loading too slowly.

Search Console shows data that Google collects from real users in Chrome, and this is also the data that’s used as a ranking signal. You can see exactly what page URLs need to be optimized.

Optimize-to-Start-in-Google-Search-Console

Run a website speed test

Google’s real user data will tell you how fast your website is, but it won’t provide an analysis that explains why your website is slow.

Run a free website speed test to find out. Simply enter the URL of the page you want to test. You’ll get a detailed performance report for your website, including recommendations on how to optimize it.

Run-a-website-speed-test-for-optimization

Use priority hints to optimize the Largest Contentful Paint

Priority Hints are a new browser feature that came out in 2022. It allows website owners to indicate how important an image or other resource is on the page.

This is especially important when optimizing the Largest Contentful Paint, one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics. It measures how long it takes for the main page content to appear after opening the page.

By default, browsers assume that all images are low priority until the page starts rendering and the browser knows which images are visible to the user. That way bandwidth isn’t wasted on low-priority images near the bottom of the page or in the footer. But it also slows down important images at the top of the page.

Adding a fetchpriority=”high” attribute to the img element that’s responsible for the Largest Contentful Paint ensures that it’s downloaded quickly.

Use native image lazy loading for optimization

Image lazy loading means only loading images when they become visible to the user. It’s a great way to help the browser focus on the most important content first.

However, image lazy loading can also slow cause images to take longer to load, especially when using a JavaScript lazy loading library. In that case, the browser first needs to load the JavaScript library before starting to load images. This long request chain means that it takes a while for the browser to load the image.

Use-native-image-lazy-loading-for-optimization

Today browsers support native lazy loading with the loading=”lazy” attribute for images. That way you can get the benefits of lazy loading without incurring the cost of having to download a JavaScript library first.

Remove and optimize render-blocking resources

Render-blocking resources are network requests that the browser needs to make before it can show any page content to the user. They include the HTML document, CSS stylesheets, as well as some JavaScript files.

Since these resources have such a big impact on page load time you should check each one to see if it’s truly necessary. The async keyword on the HTML script tag lets you load JavaScript code without blocking rendering.

If a resource has to block rendering check if you can optimize the request to load the resource more quickly, for example by improving compression or loading the file from your main web server instead of from a third party.

Remove-and-optimize-render-blocking-resources

Optimize with the new interaction to Next Paint metric

Google has announced a new metric called Interaction to Next Paint. This metric measures how quickly your site responds to user input and is likely to become one of the Core Web Vitals in the future.

You can already see how your website is doing on this metric using tools like PageSpeed Insights.

Optimize-with-new-Interaction-to-Next-Paint-metric

Continuously monitor your site performance

One-off site speed tests can identify performance issues on your website, but they don’t make it easy to keep track of your test results and confirm that your optimizations are working.

DebugBear continuously monitors your website to check and alerts you when there’s a problem. The tool also makes it easy to show off the impact of your work to clients and share test results with your team.

Try DebugBear with a free 14-day trial.

Continuously-monitor-your-site-performance

 

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