We've all been there: The shimmer of some high-traffic, super broad-match keyword catches your eye, and you go to town creating a blog post about a related topic without thinking too deeply about how tailored the content is for your target audience.
A few months later, SEO kicks in and traffic starts showing up to the page, and you begin climbing SERPs for related queries at breakneck speed. Maybe your post is even starting to show an impact on your reporting. Congrats, you've got some vanity metrics to show off!
But when you start to dig a little deeper on posts like that, you'll typically notice a negative trend: No one's engaging with your CTA or clicking through to other posts. Bounce rate is high. Exit rate is high. Conversion is low, super low.
So much for vanity.
With the benefit of hindsight, it's often easy to see the flaws with past content ideas: Maybe you're a B2B content marketer, but you wrote about a topic that—in hindsight—is obviously B2C; or maybe you wrote about a problem that your company has no solution for, so people start showing up on your site but it's nothing but a dead end for them because there's no obvious place to send them.
Defining the Problem: What's So Wrong With More Traffic?
Let's be totally clear: It's kind of snobby to be griping about getting more traffic. I get that.
But the reality is, getting a bunch of unqualified traffic is a little like having a house too big to furnish. It looks great on the outside, but it's hollow on the inside; ultimately, it doesn't do much for you. Oh, and you've got to maintain it.
So, it may be nice and big, but what does it do for you besides offer shelter?
Similarly, big, hollow blog traffic is little more than shelter for a content marketer: "Look, boss: I know how to get people to the website."
Retracing Content-Ideation Steps: How'd We Get Here?
I work for CallRail and we produce a call tracking and analytics solution for marketers looking to better understand attribution and how calls fit into the sales cycle. When I joined the company, and started looking at content performance, two posts, in particular, stuck out. Each was driving thousands of unique visitors to the blog every month, but together they had earned just seven leads since being published in 2013. (Compare that with a post that we published earlier this month about a product update that has already gained six leads.)
With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that those posts weren't exactly answering questions that our customers had about marketing attribution. They did a tremendous job at answering broader questions—so much so, that they were ranking high on SERPs for the high-volume keywords they were targeting.
Both of those topics seem to be best suited for a B2C audience, however, and they are unlikely to benefit or impact business-level decision makers.
Today, we're less likely to take the bait on high-volume, very-broad-match keywords, instead focusing our efforts on producing content that we're certain will benefit our audience, which might be more interested in how to extract data from the voicemails their business is receiving than how to delete it.
Three Options for Redeeming Value From Mistargeted, High-Traffic, Well-Ranking Posts
Although the traffic we were getting from these blog posts may have had low value, there was no need to unpublish them. Instead of sabotaging our reporting, we identified three options for extracting some more value from those pieces.
1. Add a section or two targeted to decision-makers
How close can you get to discussing a related topic that's more relevant to B2B decision-makers?
Identifying that topic might be difficult, but if you can find a way to weave it into a piece of content that's already carrying strong page authority, you've got a good shot at immediately ranking well for the more targeted topic.
In our case, a related, more relevant topic to the verbal communication skills article we mentioned above might be sections on the importance of verbal communication skills for various careers, such as salespeople and customer service professionals. Those sections could be targeted to relevant decision-makers, such as sales managers, and we could parlay them into information about how call tracking helps boost sales performance and close leads more efficiently.
2. Embed video to increase time on page and build brand awareness
We can confidently presume that most visitors to our "how to recover from a bad voicemail" post weren't really looking to solve a business problem, but a personal one. And if they were looking to solve a business problem, CallRail probably couldn't help them.
But, we were getting a ton of traffic to the post. And we were, presumably, helping readers to solve whatever problem they were facing. It wouldn't hurt to take a second to tell them about what we do, in the event that they're marketers, or work closely with the marketers at their company.
That's kind of like using a big, empty house for a house party with strangers: Who knows, you might end up making friends with some of them.
That's the hypothesis here, with brand awareness. If we embed a video that provides a high-level overview of our product—like this one—we could spread our brand name and service offering to a broader crowd while, hopefully, increasing time on page for the post.
3. Link out to high-level content with parenthetical CTAs
Parenthetical CTAs are a great tool for content marketers to help navigate readers to the content they'll find most useful. (If you're not familiar with these, don't worry—we give an example below.)
At the end of a section, offer readers a jump-off point to a piece of content that might be more helpful to them. Try to make it value-based and somewhat related to the content they're already reading.
We use parenthetical CTAs a lot to help guide readers to an optimum destination for their session on our site.
Deploying these in posts that are generating unqualified traffic is a worthwhile experiment. Just try to keep the value proposition broad. On the voicemail post, we might serve up something like: "Your company's marketing strategy might be working better than you think. Learn more about where your leads are coming from >"
We would link to a piece of content about multichannel attribution, or the importance of call conversions, to better educate the readers on that topic. Because, maybe, they're call- or appointment-dependent small business owners who have started to spend money on Facebook Ads, or in-house marketers tasked with proving ROI to upper management.
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Creativity is important to redeeming unqualified traffic. Shake some bushes to flush some value out of the content that's driving the traffic; you may well capture some conversions.
Jules Tompkins is a Content Marketing Manager at CallRail, a call tracking and analytics platform for data-driven marketers.
CallRail provides call analytics and lead tracking tools to more than 65,000 businesses in the U.S., Canada, and internationally. See how advanced call tracking and analytics can deliver a serious boost to your marketing ROI: Try a no-obligation 14-day free trial of CallRail. (No credit card required.)