How related content algorithms improve your website’s search, conversion and UX metrics
One of the big challenges a lot of brands face when rolling out a content marketing strategy is producing enough content.
In our content marketing survey published earlier this year the resources required to get good quality content created and published on a regular basis was identified as one of the most common hurdles.
That’s no surprise when you consider the different skillsets required to do content marketing well. You need the creative talent to put your editorial, graphics or videos together; strategists to plan, optimise and promote your content; and technology to get it all published and driving conversions for you.
But if you can manage to get regular content production up and running for your brand one of the benefits over time is the chance to recycle some of your best content ideas.
Sweating your content assets
We call this “sweating your content assets”. When you have a really strong piece of content – a blog post that nails a recurring topic in your niche or a how-to video that perfectly captures what it is that sets you apart from the competition – you need to maximise its potential value.
A simple but really important example of this in practice is using a related content algorithm on your blog or around your website to show visitors other pieces content from your archive that they might enjoy.
Related content algorithms can be super simple, like the free plugins available on any open source content management system. But they can also become proprietary technology that provides a source of competitive advantage.
Dumb data and smart algorithms
One of the best examples of these more sophisticated algorithms is Netflix, the popular movie streaming service. The company, which finally launched in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, has invested heavily in the technology suggests content users might like.
Using a combination of computer code and human “hand-tagging” Netflix recommends up to 80 per cent of what its customers end up watching.
“We know what you played, searched for, or rated, as well as the time, date, and device,” the company’s then engineering director, Xavier Amatriain, told Wired Magazine in 2013. “We even track user interactions such as browsing or scrolling behaviour. All that data is fed into several algorithms, each optimised for a different purpose.”
Creating and improving content algorithms is big business in itself. Netflix has up to 80 algorithm projects running at any one time and has a full-scale crowd-sourcing operation to support its developers.
At a regional level, algorithms designed to improve customer experience and drive more sales are powering projected growth in IT spending.
“Data is inherently dumb,” said Peter Sondergaard of Gartner, a respected tech research business. “It doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it; how to act with it. Algorithms are where the real value lies. Algorithms define action. Dynamic algorithms are the core of new customer interactions.”
Gartner expects IT spending to reach AUD $80 billion in Australia and NZD $11.7 billion in New Zealand next year, representing year-on-year growth of 2.8 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. Investment in new and existing algorithms was identified as a key driver of this growth.
Content algorithms on your blog
When it comes to your content marketing efforts you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget or Netflix’s army of hand-taggers to get related content working for your business.
Using a free plugin or lining up your blog and product categories can be enough to start displaying more-like-this-style content around your website.
That, of course, assumes you have the content. Without regular updates on your blog that hit all your categories or a rolling plan for creating deeper layers of sub-landing pages it won’t matter how smart your algorithm is.
A strong archive of good quality content gives you assets you can re-use – whether that’s re-spinning them in a different format, re-sharing them through your social channels or displaying them on relevant pages around your site.
Second tier conversions that can pay dividends
You should think of related content as a second tier conversion opportunity. The main purpose of your site might be to sell your products or to generate leads for your sales team, but you’ll also have secondary conversions – actions you’ll settle for as a consolation.
Clicks on your related content give you second chances to achieve a more valuable conversion as users move around your website. Presenting more of what your visitors like will make your brand more memorable and give them more reasons to come back in the future.
And if you can improve indicators like page views, dwell time and bounce rate you’re likely to start seeing a upturn in visitors from search, as there is an increasingly strong correlation between Google’s organic rankings and positive user engagement metrics.