When we’re young, we’re told the same thing over and over: “Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing, you just focus on you.”
That’s good life advice, but it’s not really very good marketing advice.
When you want your marketing campaigns to be competitive, you absolutely need to know where you stand compared to everyone else in your industry. Are you meeting content marketing best practice? Is your content matching up in value? Do you know what your audience is looking for?
It can be difficult to track down content marketing trends that are both accurate and that actually work for large percentages of business. At SEMrush we went ahead and took on that task ourselves, running a case study that focused on how our industry is writing about digital marketing. We analyzed more than 6,000 texts, and we’re ready to share the findings with you.
In this post, we’ll go over the findings of our case study, discuss what they mean, and how you can replicate these studies for your own industry.
Why we did the research
We wanted to take a look at not only theoretical best practices in the world of content marketing but how people were actually creating and optimizing their content. This can be even more telling than content marketing best practice.
We chose digital marketing specifically because most of these agencies are up to date on best practices and, understanding the importance of content marketing, have tested out different strategies on their own blogs and articles. These businesses are often at the forefront of content creation, so it can give us a good idea of what’s working in content marketing as a whole.
How we got our data
We utilized our SEO Writing Assistant Tool to analyze 6,000 blog posts online to look for standard practices, common topics, and frequently-used hashtags.
The SEO Writing Assistant Tool is a Google Docs add-on and a WordPress extension that can quickly analyze any text online and give you information about keywords targeted, how well the post is optimized for them, the number of words within it, readability score, and plagiarism hits. It helps content creators to ensure their texts are unique and written in an SEO-friendly style by providing recommendations for content optimization.
We also looked for the top searches that people made regarding digital marketing, searching specifically for the most frequently asked questions. We found this information using our Keyword Magic Tool’s “questions” feature, which allows you to search only for keywords used in question form.
What we learned
We learned a lot during our case study, and we’ve broken it down into two different sections: statistics of standard practices, and questions most commonly asked by users interested in learning more about our industry.
Here’s what we found…
8 Key statistics about digital marketing content
We knew we wanted some cold, hard facts about how people were writing about digital marketing, and specific statistics were the way to go. We looked for specific qualities about how exactly writers were crafting their content to look for trends and best practices.
Here’s what we found:
- The average length of user texts is 810 words. This is interesting because there’s always a lot of debate about how long content should be, especially in the digital marketing world. The key thing to keep in mind is that your article needs to be long enough to be valuable, and typically 750 words is about the shortest article you can write that still offers significant value.
- The average amount of time that users spend optimizing their articles is 2 hours and 32 minutes. Keyword research and the subsequent article optimization takes some time, but it’s well worth the effort when done correctly.
- 76% of headlines contained at least one targeted keyword. Using a keyword in your headlines is a quick and easy way to improve your chances of ranking well for it, so this is a best practice that makes sense. It’s also exceptionally easy to implement.
- Users targeted an average of 2 keywords per article. Optimizing your article for more than just one keyword means you can appear in searches for more than just one query. This is a smart move, essentially since so many articles easily address several queries.
- The average number of keywords that are recommended for use in articles is 15. Focusing on one target keyword is a good practice, but ensuring that your article has 15 relevant keywords can help maximize visibility.
- The average readability scores for articles that weren’t optimized was 39. This is much higher than the average, which can ultimately hurt readership and SEO potential.
- More than 85% of content was successfully optimized. Content optimization is a relatively easy and straightforward part of content creation, even if it takes some extra time, and that’s made clear by the fact that the vast majority of content was optimized correctly.
- The hashtag #socialmedia was used more often than any others when discussing digital marketing on Twitter. The hashtags that are used most frequently will show you what people are discussing and emphasizing most. Social media is only one small part of digital marketing, so seeing it be the predominant hashtag is telling of its importance in the industry.
The 10 questions asked most often about digital marketing
In addition to wanting to know how brands were writing about digital marketing, we also wanted to look for what users wanted to see.
The best way to do that is to look for what questions users are searching for most often on Google. This gives you a clear indication of what questions your audience has and what they’re searching for, giving you a chance to reach a wider audience by creating content answering those questions.
These were the ten questions users searched for most frequently on Google:
- what is digital marketing
- what is affiliate marketing
- what is network marketing
- what is inbound marketing
- what is marketing mix
- what is seo marketing
- what is social media marketing
- what is a marketing plan
- what is vector marketing
- what can you do with a marketing degree
How we can apply what we learned
We now have a lot of data and fast facts about how the digital marketing industry is writing content and what users are asking about digital marketing.
What exactly can we learn from that?
As a brand that writes about digital marketing, we can apply this to our own campaigns immediately. If you’re in a similar industry (and even if you aren’t), you can, too.
When looking at the statistics, do you meet close to the averages that indicate best practices? How does the length and standards of your articles measure up to the average? Is your readability too high, or your number of targeted keywords too low?
When it comes to the top ten questions people are searching for on Google, you could also leverage that information immediately. Businesses in the digital marketing industry can create content by answering those questions in-depth and focusing on the questions as long-tail keywords. For best results, make sure that it has its own subhead, and answer the question in a sentence or two for a shot at having your answer displayed in Google’s featured snippets.
It’s worth acknowledging, too, that most of these questions are all pretty basic, top-of-the-funnel questions. Anyone with entry-level marketing experience will be able to answer most of them thoroughly and without needing to do any research.
How you can do this, too
Are you interested in optimizing your own content? You can take the general best practices that we’ve observed from our case study and apply it to your own content.
If you want to learn more about how people are writing about content in your industry and want to see what and how they’re writing it, you can use the SEO Writing Assistant Tool.
In addition to getting instantaneous feedback about how to better optimize your content for your target keywords, you can also choose to download extended recommendations from the SEO content template. This template will show you the top competitors and top texts utilizing that keyword. You can quickly see what your competitors have written, and look for new ways that you can offer something a little different or a little better (or both).
You can also search for the top questions asked within your industry and start creating content quickly, capitalizing on those keywords and leveraging those searches to create great content. Use the Keyword Magic Tool’s questions feature to locate the questions most frequently asked, and you can utilize that question as an H2 headline.
When it comes to content marketing, you should always fall back on two different things if you want results.
- Understand what your audience wants, and give it to them.
- Focus on meeting best practices for content creation and keyword optimization.
If you’re able to do these two things, you’ll have a solid starting point for what content to create and how exactly to write it. This will help your articles be both valuable and competitive, helping you improve your SERP rankings and getting more traffic to your site.
What do you think? How does your content measure up against the averages in our case study? Which statistic did you find most interesting? Share your thoughts and knowledge in the comments below.
Guest author: Tanya Vasileva is a Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush — a leading digital marketing toolkit for SEO, PPC SMM and content marketing professionals worldwide. She writes about marketing, analyzes SEMrush data and interested in marketing strategy.
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