Podcast: SEO content and the 80/20 rule (with Daniel Falk)

By Doug Bolton

Podcast: SEO content and the 80/20 rule (with Daniel Falk)

I invited our SEO expert Daniel Falk to discuss search-friendly content and the 80/20 rule in this episode. Many businesses that regularly publish online find that around 80% of the traffic to their knowledge hubs comes from only 20% of the content.


I've noticed this phenomenon on sites I've worked with, and it sometimes surprises content creators. Even with careful keyword identification and search engine optimisation, it often seems that the content that performs exceptionally well on search isn't always what you would expect.

Daniel has worked with SEO in one way or another throughout his career, so I thought he'd be a great guest to have on the pod this week. In our discussion, we discussed:

  • Why this traffic pattern is so common in online publishing, and is it a problem?
  • How can marketers and content creators make the most of this type of content? If the traffic or leads that the content brings aren't relevant to your business, what other benefits can high-traffic pieces of content get?
  • The million-dollar question - how can content creators ensure that the content that performs best on search is the content they actually want to take those top positions? What do you need to do in your content planning and creation to ensure you're not surprised the following time traffic starts pouring in from a single article?

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Doug Bolton: Hi, Daniel, welcome to the pod.

Daniel Falk: Thank you.

DB: How are you doing?

DF: I'm doing fine, thanks, and you?

DB: Yeah, I'm not bad, but I'm not bad. We have another SEO related episode planned, so that's why I thought you could join us today. I was trying to think what even the topic of today is, and it's a bit hard to put into words, but something about relevance and SEO. Sp maybe I can just give an example from Zooma that kind of gave me the idea for our discussion today. We have a content offer on our site, which is a social media calendar for 2022. So it's just a big excel with a row for every day of the year. And the idea is you can use that to kind of plan out your social media presence for the year. And if you're a company who wants to work actively with social media, you know, it does the job that it claims to do. And we would usually recommend that if you want to work very actively with SEO, with social media, or you should use some kind of planning tool like this. And the thing is, it's become quite popular, it's kind of going downhill a little bit now just because we're three months into 2022. So, you know, as the year goes on, the interest cuts down a little bit. But you know, we still every day get a few conversions. I think since the start of the year there's been like hundreds of downloads of this content offer, which is much, much higher than any of our other content offers. And the issue is, well, it's not really an issue, I guess that's kind of our discussion today, but some of the leads that we're getting, you know, or a lot of them really aren't so relevant for us just because it's become so popular. You know, there's all kinds of different companies and people downloading it, like this, some driving school in the Philippines that's downloaded and made use of it, or like a university in South America, you know, these kinds of companies probably aren't going to become customers to us.

DF: Yeah. And we are probably ranking quite well for search terms related to social media calendar, so that's why we're getting leads from all over the world.

DB: That's where it's getting found. So that was the introduction. But onto the topic, I was just wondering if, if you think this is something that is common, do a lot of companies experience this? You know, that you maybe have one or two bits of content that draw an awful lot of traffic, but then maybe not the piece of content that you would want to get that attention?

DF: No, no, exactly. Yeah. I would say that I think that's quite common. Maybe we can kind of say that it follows the 80/20 rule, that 20% of your content generates 80% of the leads if you look at it over a longer period of time. So I mean, you're always, especially, if you have produced content for a while and you have a lot of different content out there, some of these content pieces will perform better looking at the volumes. But the thing is that, as you've noticed with the social media calendar, the quality of these leads are probably not as good as the more specific topics, but it still has the volumes coming in. So I mean, working with the inbound and if you have a strategy, it's still good to keep to get these leads into your database, even though they are not maybe exactly the correct one right now, you can filter out some of them to maybe become more interested in your specific offer. So but I would say, yeah, that's, that's, that's quite common. This thing that we have noticed and usually when, when you plan your content, you of course look at search volumes and you want to kind of select the keywords or the content based on that because you usually want some volumes. So I mean, there is a balance between volume and kind of the quality, but I mean, having some volumes coming in will also give you other interesting things to work on regarding to optimization, etc. and learning. So yeah.

DB: Yeah. It's good you mention that actually because it is good to have somewhere at least where you get a little volume. We realize that because recently we were talking about A/B testing and that kind of thing. You know, you have two, maybe two versions of some landing page and you do something different on each one and figure out which is the best version, whether it's something to do with the copy or the form design or something. But the thing is, with a lot of our content offers, maybe we'll get like ten downloads a month or something. So in order to get enough data to draw a conclusion that, "OK, this version was better than this version," we might need to wait for like a year or something to get the volume that we need. So I guess if you have one like super performing bit of content like this, you can at least use it as a platform to experiment.

DF: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like if you, if you have some, if you want to make some UX updates, for example, and if you have questions about whether your CTAs are working as opposed to you need to have this volume at least if you want to draw a conclusion in a shorter period of time. So. So that's really a good reason to have these, these content pieces live that generates more volumes. And I mean, yeah, we are working a lot with HubSpot and there is a very good possibilities there to test things like creating A/B tests and also testing different CTA elements and all other elements. And I mean setting things up in HubSpot and letting it run for a couple of months or something. It will, well, for looking at our example with the social media calendar, will give us a lot of good insights on the UX, especially important if you're maybe planning to remake your site or redesign stuff. So. Yeah. So for that, so you need to have this content because as you say, having ten downloads a year will not give you much data to base your decisions.

DB: No, exactly. So it kind of you know, when when I thought of this topic, I was presenting as a problem. But I suppose it's not really a problem, is it?

DF: No, no. I mean, the only problem would be maybe the time that you spent on creating the content. But I mean, that's something that you need to do. And I mean, a content piece that's on a more popular topic probably doesn't take more time to produce than another. Maybe you need to put in some more SEO kind of work on it, like building some more internal linking, maybe have an even link to your content because if the volume is higher, the competition is probably higher as well. It's not always correlating, but usually it's like that. So yeah, the problem could be that you may need to put in some more, like you need to create lengthy content and work a bit more with the SEO optimisation to make it rank. But I don't think you should see it as a problem. I mean, it's more like an opportunity, as we said in the previous section, it will give you more data, but it will also get you more leads. And that's that's interesting. I mean, then you can try out your kind of welcoming strategies, etc., and see how can you tweak them to, to become better. So yeah, not, not a problem at all I would say. But of course if you have limited time and money on spend on creating content, maybe you need to think about it. It depends on like how far in, in your kind of process of creating content are you, I mean, if you're more mature in that area, you shouldn't be afraid of this. But if you're maybe starting this project, maybe you need to focus more on the kind of, your core topics that you can answer. So I would say it depends how you should prioritise maybe a bit how mature your content creation and inbound processes are.

DB: I think in our case, this year's social media calendar is just an updated version of one we made two years ago. I think it probably took about 30 minutes to make, so it really was a very cheap bit of content for quite a lot of return. But I think what you mentioned though was interesting, that this type of content is a good chance to try stuff out, but it's also a way to draw people in. You know, like if someone converts, then you have them, and then after that you can try and nurture them a bit. And I guess even as it is with us, even if a lot of these leads are not so relevant for our business, if there's 1% of them that are and we have 500 conversions, then there's still five leads who are potentially fairly solid, which isn't too bad.

DF: Yeah. And you're correct about that. Then maybe if you have some targets set up or KPIs that you follow on the conversion rate, maybe these leads generated from this type of content needs to be treated differently. So you're kind of cleaning out the data or something so that you don't base it on the same kind of KPIs as for more kind of narrower content. So if you just keep, keep that in mind and have a clear division between the leads coming in from different types of content, it shouldn't be a problem. And then you can if you can analyse them separately, you can follow them all the time specifically. Maybe you need to have strategies regarding nurturing that is a bit different from the other ones. Maybe they are more, like they need to, if they are not familiar at all with your company and what you're offering, maybe they need to be introduced in a different way. So maybe that's an advice to give, try to set things up so that you can keep track of them separately and have a separate strategy for them because they may need another treatment to the 1%.

DB: Yeah, you won't be able to find them in the mass of leads coming in.

DF: Exactly.

DB: Well, I guess we've agreed that it's not a bad thing that this, this particular calendar is super popular. But I think this is common for most companies that have one or two runaway pieces of content that bring in a lot of traffic, it's rare that it's the piece of content that you really want to be super popular. Because the social media calendar is fine, but Zooma isn't a social media agency. We have that knowledge, but our strengths kind of lie in other things, I would say. So I guess the million-dollar question is if you're a content creator, what can you do to make sure that these pieces of content that really make up the 20% that bring in 80% of the traffic are the ones that you actually want to be there.

DF: Yeah, exactly. That goes back to where you kind of start to plan your content and what kind of content will you produce. And I think you should always kind of keep the search intent in mind, like for this type of content that I'm going to create now or what will people use it or how will they find it, and in what mind are they when they're looking for it? Like you usually kind of divide such intents into four types, like the informational intent, where you're looking for information. And I would say that the example with the social calendar is an informational search where people are looking for like information about how can I structure my social media postings and they are not really looking for a company that can help with that. They are looking for a template like we see here. And then there's this navigational intent where they want to find a specific website, etc. And that's also, that could be relevant in some cases. But then there is the transactional intent that's more like, I want to find this specific thing, I want to download it, I want to buy this product, and then, of course, the commercial intent, where you really are looking for exactly this type of product and then you want to buy it. But I mean, if you think about the intent already from the beginning, it will help you really to prioritize. And I mean, when we decided that the keyword '2022 social media calendar' is an keyword that we want to focus on, you can quite easily understand that the people looking for this one are probably just going to download the content. They will give away their contact information, but I mean, they would probably not after that be that interested in our company. So and for some other keywords that you select, you can always, if you think about the intent, that will kind of give you a lot of information about, about this. And also, yeah, that's kind of what you can think of with your own head like this, what type of intent we'll bring. But you can also, when you're doing your keyword research, try to just enter into Google and see what pages are or what websites are ranking. And that will also give you a lot of help on like what kind of results this gives. And I mean, in our case, if we have entered this, for instance, into Google, we probably see a lot of social media tool companies offering that kind of a guide or content. So and then from that result we can see that, yeah, we can probably decide or understand what we can expect from it. If there would be a, if you search for another keyword and there is more like agencies showing up offering their services, it's probably more of a like combination of informational and transactional. So I think like first you can kind of say a lot from what, from just your idea when you hear this keyword, but also if you try to search for it, that will also give, give a lot of hints on the intent. And use that when planning your content, because if you have that idea already from the beginning, you will, maybe your expectations will not be too high when when I mean, yeah, it generates a lot of leads but yeah, maybe it takes one year or something for you to discover that these leads are not converting. But I mean, if you have that information already from the beginning, I think it's valuable. And I just wanted to say that because I know that when when you are reporting our figures internally, you're talking about the number of leads generated, etc., but you always have this disclaimer that a lot of these leads are coming from these types of content, so that people are aware of that. And I think that's quite important when, when you report on stuff internally as well. And that goes back to what I say about it being important to keep these leads coming in from that type of content separate so that you really can report on them separately, because maybe if these leads don't kind of generate any real customers in the end, I mean, it could be that's not good for your inbound efforts. Like if you can't show the results you expected from the beginning? Yeah, I think that's an important thing to keep in mind, especially when reporting.

DB: That's true, I guess if you just want a nice big number to put on your dashboard, then it's perfect

DF: Yeah, exactly. But I mean, then the conversion rate from lead to customer will be very low. So maybe yeah, maybe that's not good.

DB: The truth will catch up with you eventually.

DF: Yeah, exactly.

DB: Great. Well, thank you very much, Daniel, for the information. And I think you've put my worries to rest about our very popular social media calendar.

DF: Yeah, I think so. So now we should go on and create more of this type of content.

DB: Exactly, more calendars. Good. Well, thank you very much, Daniel.

DF: Thank you, thanks, bye.

Doug Bolton
Doug has been a Content Producer at Zooma since 2021. Originally English, he now lives in Sweden.
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