9 Content Marketing Growth Hacks to Drive Traffic and Conversions

By , June 9th, 2014 in Content Marketing | 28 comments
content-hacker
Content hackers know how to get the maximum mileage out of their content. Image via CoSchedule.

Two of the most popular trends in marketing right now are growth hacking and content marketing.

Growth hacking is a marketing technique designed to turn clever hacks into fast-paced product growth. Content marketing is also about growth; if you’re creating content, you’re doing it because you want to grow your traffic and reach more people.

If you’ve incorporated either into your marketing plan, you’ve likely seen promising results… so why not take it a step further? What if there was a way to apply growth hacking principles to your content to achieve fast-paced traffic growth?

Well, there is a way. It’s called content hacking.

Here are nine ways that you can apply growth hacking tactics to your content marketing efforts for impressive, fast-paced growth.

1. Get your OpenGraph tags in order

Almost every social network uses embedded OpenGraph HTML tags to generate link previews so readers can preview page content before they click through to read the post.

Link previews are generated using a small bit of meta-tag code that is included in the <head> of your HTML page. This simple snippet of code tells the social network what image, title, and description to use when a post goes live.

Configuring and testing the tags may require some technical wrench time, but it is worth it; OpenGraph tags can help improve click rates.

If you are using WordPress, the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast does an excellent job of making things work for all of the major networks.

If nothing else, you should test how your link preview looks using these handy validation tools:

2. Use microdata and rich snippets

By now, most of us know about Google Authorship, the functionality that displays the author’s profile image next to search results. These little gems have been proven to increase attention and click-through rates, but the opportunities don’t stop there.

Microdata (also called rich snippets) are the few lines of text that appear under every search result. They were designed by Google to “give users a sense for what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query.”

In other words, rich snippets provide you with a few additional characters to convince your readers that your link is worthy of their click.

Luckily, if you have some HTML skills, you can control what is seen here. This is an advanced topic, but worth exploring if you want to get the extra oomph out of your content.

Google also has two great tools for putting your rich snippets into practice. First, test your current data using the free Structured Data Testing Tool. Then, check out the amazing Structured Data Markup Helper for assistance in modifying your HTML. You might be surprised by how easy it actually is.

Bonus tip: if you want to take it a step further, take a look at Google’s In-Depth Articles markup.

3. Share your business data with your readers

Readers love stories, and even more importantly, they love sharing compelling stories with their friends. Technical support software startup Groove learned the truth in this when they re-launched their blog as a way to tell their story as a startup attempting to grow their revenue from $30k per month to more than $100k per month.

Social sharing app Buffer is another company that is making their story public with a content hack built on their company’s business data. Going beyond telling their startup story, Buffer shares every detail about their business on their website, including their employee salaries.

The Buffer Open Blog has featured content about their business on a weekly basis, including their revenue numbers, website traffic and the key metrics associated with their business. They even display their content in real-time using a public dashboard.

Content marketing: Buffer finance metrics
Buffer’s finance metrics. Click for larger image.

While some may see this strategy as extreme, others may see it as a brilliant content hack.

By sharing the data-based content that they use internally, Buffer is opening itself up to an entirely different audience and traffic source. Undoubtedly, there are mental hurdles associated with making “private” data public, but your readers will appreciate the transparency.

4. Make your content load faster

We rarely equate site speed with traffic, but they are in fact related.

Matt Cutts, one of the official spokesmen for Google Search, has made it clear that site speed is a factor that Google uses for determining search rankings. In addition to this, the average website visitor will leave your website in 10-20 seconds if they don’t feel that their needs are addressed.

You don’t want to waste that time loading your website.

A great place to start is Google’s web performance best practices guide, which outlines a number of things that you can do to optimize your site speed.

If you are using WordPress to manage your site, be sure to look into plugins like W3 Total Cache and Hammy for image resizing. Additionally, CloudFlare is a web performance and security company that can help with site load times.

Optimizing site speed can be a bit complicated, but it definitely pays off. Online retailer Shopzilla reduced page load times from seven seconds to two seconds and saw a 25% increase in page views and a 7% – 12% increase in revenue. Not bad for a little time spent under the hood.

5. Repurpose old content

A great way to extend the life of your evergreen content (content that will not lose relevance or interest over time) is to turn it into a simple autoresponder email course that is dripped out to subscribers over time.

By giving “old content” a new life in this way, we have collected thousands of new leads.

For example, we restructured and repackaged a combination of our best blog posts for our 6 Free Marketing Tips course. In the same vein, Unbounce’s Landing Page Conversion Course is an extension of their Ultimate Guide to Landing Page Optimization ebook.

The easiest way to start is to choose a common theme on your blog and find a group of posts that match your topic of choice. Next, aggregate the posts in your email autoresponder account so that they drip out to your subscribers over time.

Create a dedicated landing page for the course and start promoting it; soon you will see that autoresponder courses are content pieces that keep on giving.

6. Repost your content on Medium

Medium has made a big splash in the content world by taking a community-driven spin on content publishing. Its wonderful interface allows you to write collaboratively alongside many other quality writers.

It is also a great place to occasionally repost your content; Buffer has recently been using the Medium platform to share their content, new and old.

Curious about this ourselves, we decided to explore this technique on our own.

After trying it on one of our recent posts, we happily discovered that sharing the post on Medium resulted in an additional 144 views. Not bad for such little effort.

7. Promote your content on social media more than once

Sharing your content more than once on social media is a polarizing practice.

Some people don’t care for the continued promotion of a piece, but as is often the case, it’s hard to argue with results. A while back, I shared my startup’s strategy for promoting blog content on social media. Guess how many complaints we’ve received from the practice?

Zero.

The truth is that no one cares or even notices that you’re posting your content more than once, provided you don’t act like a spammer. You don’t want to be sending your messages out in too close succession, which is why you need to create a plan for pre-scheduling across your social media accounts. A well-executed schedule may look something like this:

  1. Social message sent when blog post goes live.
  2. Further social messages trickle out to your accounts over the next 2-3 hours.
  3. Messages are shared again on the appropriate social channels the next day.
  4. Another series of messages are pre-scheduled and sent the following week.
  5. More social messages are pre-scheduled for the following month.
  6. Additional messages can optionally be scheduled for the three-month mark or beyond.

8. Develop a guest blogging calendar

You may have recently heard that guest blogging is dead, but it’s not. It’s just misunderstood.

Guest blogging is an age-old content hack and as a link-building tool it probably is dead. That being said, as a way to build trust and awareness for your personal brand, it’s still very much alive. If you are doing it right, guest blogging is still a powerful method for promotion and professional networking.

At my startup, we’ve had an aggressive guest blogging campaign since launch and there isn’t a day that it doesn’t pay off; many of our top referrals come from guest posts.

On top of this, guest posting helps us build our influence online. For example, this post on Unbounce from just a few weeks ago resulted in thousands of tweets and shares, as well as many new social media followers and email subscribers.

Guest blogging is still a classic way to growth hack your content marketing – as long as you’re using it to build influence, not SEO.

9. Understand what content marketing is… and what it isn’t

Everyone knows that content marketing can drive traffic if it is done well, but it’s not an overnight process.

Getting the most out of each piece of content that you create is a great start, but you also have to account for the fact that content marketing takes time.

Content marketing's greatest misconception
The all-too-common content marketing misconception. Click for larger image.

Rand Fishkin of Moz recently hit the nail on the head here.

Content marketing isn’t about bringing someone to your site once and immediately converting them into a customer; it’s about bringing them back time and time again. It’s about building trust with your audience and earning their business over the long haul.

This means that one of the greatest content hacks of all time is to simply create the best content that you can – content that is better than anything anyone has ever created before.

Before you create your next piece of content, do some research on your competitors first: what are the top 10 results of a Google search for your topic?

Then ask yourself how your content can be better.

More words?

More in-depth?

More videos or images?

Content hacking isn’t all about tricks and games. Sometimes it is just hard work at the keyboard. Make sure high quality content is at the foundation of your content hacking efforts and you’re guaranteed to drive traffic like crazy, even if it is over the long haul.

– Garrett Moon

About The Author

Photo of Garrett Moon

Garrett Moon is a founder at CoSchedule, a WordPress editorial calendar that allows you to schedule your blogs posts and social media together on an easy drag-and-drop calendar. Get a free blog editorial calendar template for 2014. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.
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Comments

  1. Nate says:

    This is a great read – lots of good information. Another option that goes along with “re-purposing old content” – is you can make new posts off of that old one. For example, take another angle or update it with new techniques that are currently being used – and compare the two.

    • Garrett Moon says:

      Absolutely, there is a ton that you can with reposting/repurposing old content. I just wrote up a mega-list of 50+ places actually. There is a ton of opportunity out there.

  2. Ondrej says:

    Hey Garrett,

    Thanks for sharing tips on content marketing. I have one think that I’d like to add.

    A lot of people spending their time producing content and not promoting it. This is mistake, because people are using the technique Post & Pray.

    Nothing works better than quality content and great promotion. Even if they can’t produce that much content.

    What do you think?

    • Garrett Moon says:

      I think you’re right on. Creating a good social media sharing schedule is a big part of that. We cover that aspect of things a lot over on our blog. Good thought.

  3. Kevin says:

    Am I missing something by thinking that Google will penalize the duplicate content by reposting the same article to Medium?

    • Garrett Moon says:

      Good question Kevin. I am not the end-all authority on this, but I think don’t think there is much of an issue with occasionally reposting content. Google has primarily penalized sites that are posting large quantities of duplicate (and often stolen) content. Their goal isn’t to squash the occasional duplicate post, but to kill off the spammers. If you keep it to a basic level of duplication you should be ok. A few things to keep in mind:

      1. Google is smart, and they will know the original source when they see it. One smart strategy is to make sure that Google has indexed the original before creating a duplicate. Google Alerts are a good method for knowing how long this will take.

      2. It is ALWAYS a good idea to add a unique twist to duplicate content. I cover this more extensively on our CoSchedule blog if you want to take a closer look: http://coschedule.com/blog/repurpose-your-content/

      3. Duplicate content is NOT a link-building strategy. The #1 thing that Google has been targeting is link-building method. If you use duplication as a way to build authority and audience, you should be fine.

      4. Generally, Google has penalized the site with the duplicate content, and not the original source. Either way, you should be pretty safe. I don’t think this is risky behavior at all. Of course, that is only as long as you keep it basic. If you behave like a spammer, you are one.

      Good question. I would be interested to hear how others feel.

      • I won’t say I’m a real SEO-expert neither… But this practice does not seem like a good idea.

        Even though the repurposed article is not made for link-building, it is still the “same content” available at two different URLs and not on the same domains (not internal duplicate).

        If 1 on 3 articles posted on Medium is the same as in the original blog, it seems to me that the Medium directory [of the blog] won’t rank well as time goes by.

        What you said on the CoSchedule blog post is more subtle : “Try a different headline, or add/remove content from the original article to create an original post”

        To me, the best way would be to have a different editorial approach on Medium. And for Buffer, it seems they are repurposing mainly Joel’s blog to focus on the insights gathered through their day-to-day experience.

        Not bad. But to me, it is still duplicate content for Joel’s blog.

        • DM says:

          It’s not a matter of whether the content on Medium “ranks well”. It’s not about link SEO as much as it is about having interesting content on Medium, where people take time to read. In actuality, the duplicate content on Medium could not rank AT ALL on ANY search engines, and can still provide benefit in terms of click throughs to your site. I think this is the point Garrett (and Rand) is trying to make. Stop worrying about how it “ranks”, and instead write REALLY GREAT CONTENT, duplicate or no.

  4. Brian says:

    Garrett: Well done!!! Also looking forward to your response to Kevin’s question. Thanks, again!

  5. The load time hack is HUGE Garrett! I went with new hosting last month; day night difference in boosting traffic and conversions. Thanks!

    • Garrett Moon says:

      Thanks for sharing your results Ryan! We’ve seen huge conversion improvements as well. You should also look into Cloudflare. It is a bit technical, but has made a huge difference for us.

  6. Mi Muba says:

    Hi Garrett
    Many of your tips in this post are really cool to boost blog traffic. People don’t pay much attention to repurpose their old blog posts which pine in obscurity.
    It is a fact that during initial period of blogging we can’t write great posts and that is why they failed to get higher ranking.
    If we give some time to them to improve them and repurpose them we can bring huge traffic with them and can also make them working to boos blog traffic.

  7. Garrett Moon says:

    Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it :)

  8. Joy Ezeka says:

    Another insightful post. Thanks Garrett for sharing. Amazing what new thing I learn everyday.

  9. Avert lines says:

    Hey – good blog post guys. I like the way you talk on your blog, it’s the sort of talking I like to do. Easy understanding words for everyone to under stand.

    I’m going to end this post with a free tip i found out today.

    When asking for a CTA “call to action” don’t use a link for the user to click – use a button – it’s been proven to get a higher CTA.

    I hope this helps someone.

    Advert lines.

  10. Avert lines says:

    Hey – good blog post guys. I like the way you talk on your blog, it’s the sort of talking I like to do. Easy understanding words for everyone to under stand.

    I’m going to end this post with a free tip i found out today.

    When asking for a CTA “call to action” don’t use a link for the user to click – use a button – it’s been proven to get a higher CTA.

    I hope this helps someone.

    Advert lines.

  11. Shai Berger says:

    Great post!

    I hate to be “that guy” but…
    You’ve got a double negative in Step 9’s drawing:
    “Many who invest in content marketing fail to… give up on the practice way too early.”

  12. Neal Taparia says:

    Awesome post, Garrett.

    If you’re re-posting on Medium, are you concerned about being docked for duplicate content? Do you modify the content at all?

    • Garrett Moon says:

      I address this question more directly in the comments above, but I think it is a good thing to be thinking about. I tend to think that it is good practice to change it up a bit when posting to Medium, although I don’t necessarily think it is required.

      Google has primarily penalized sites that are posting large quantities of duplicate (and often stolen) content. Their goal isn’t to squash the occasional duplicate post, but to kill off the spammers. If you keep it to a basic level of duplication you should be ok.

  13. Content doesn’t need to be publish everyday just to be noticed and tagged as expert, it’s all about creating quality content that would benefit the audience.

  14. Josh Hunt says:

    Thanks for posting such a useful article. When so much that we do off page is becoming frowned upon, it’s difficult to know where to turn as a digital marketer these days. I think this article is great for anyone new to content marketing and looking to give it a bang.

  15. SEO minded, but posts duplicate content on Medium. Hmm.

  16. Recently heard about growth hacking and now I encounter it where ever I move on the internet. Nice tips you share here, a few I made a habit since a while. But certainly will try the “post more then once” tip, but I see this only usefull on Twitter with a little twist here and there in the Tweet.

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