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3 Hot Takes: Experiments in SEO, Work-Life Balance, and #FacebookDown

This week, go behind the scenes as two companies reveal what happened when they decided to change elements of their content operations. Then, use the results from Facebook’s accidental experiment to check your own content operations resilience.

For Service Direct, the proof is in the publishing

When Service Direct, a marketing business for service providers, wanted to increase search traffic, it knew it faced a long road. As the company recently shared in an article on its site, the team hypothesized its main roadblocks were its website (structure and platform) and content marketing.

So, the team established new goals, overhauled the website, and changed elements of its content strategy.

The fixes included:

  • Moving the website from an in-house created system to WordPress to ensure it followed or could be easily updated to follow best practices without using tech development resources
  • Creating a standardized URL structure, including the primary keyword targeted by the page content
  • Creating new landing pages for all high-value service categories and optimizing for primary and secondary keywords
  • Increasing article length from 750 to about 1,500 words
  • Publishing unique content specific to the page category
  • Writing content to rank for long-tail keywords
  • Including customer experiences
  • Updating all meta descriptions to put the most important text at the beginning

WHY IT’S HOT: The strategy worked. Service Direct’s efforts increased its organic search traffic by 348% and the number of keywords it ranks for by 188%. And it says organic search now accounts for 71% of new client revenue. The team also wisely captured its strategy, step-by-step approach, and results in an article that serves as a valuable piece of content marketing. And then they reached out to outlets that cover content marketing (like this one) to earn some media coverage.

@ServiceDirectHQ increased organic search traffic by 348% by tackling website and content roadblocks. Then it turned the experience into great #content to market its services via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Atlassian Work Life team treats work as a science project

Atlassian’s Work Life blog team did a real-life work-life experiment, going to a four-day workweek for three months.

They treated it like a science project – developing hypotheses, conducting the experiment, and analyzing the results.

Their hypotheses:

  • The team can be as effective working four days each week as it is working the traditional five-day week.
  • Switching to a four-day workweek will have a positive impact on the team’s work-life balance and well-being.

During the experiment, the Work Life team tried to stick to eight-hour days Monday through Thursday. They blocked their calendars and set their Slack status to out of office every Friday.

To evaluate their success, the team used both quantitative and qualitative measurements. Quantitative numbers included blog readership as measured by total page views, newsletter subscriber growth, and the number of days they worked longer than eight hours.

The qualitative evaluation included the team’s self-reported energy levels at the beginning and end of each workweek, their Monday confidence levels about their ability to get everything done, and Thursday afternoon satisfaction levels.

The results? Team members felt more motivated and confident in their ability to work efficiently throughout the week. Readership increased 5.2% compared to the same time in 2020. Newsletter subscribers grew 8% (slightly lower growth compared with the immediate prior months, though a summer slump is typical for the brand).

WHY IT’S HOT: The Work Life team isn’t continuing with the four-day workweek, but that was never the goal. They tested a popular work trend because that’s what Work Life content is all about. In the process, they got a summer of Fridays for “life” – and an engaging piece of content for their readers. They also demonstrated a sensible approach to content team operations. If you want to make a change, treat it as a pilot project. Establish priorities and detail how you’ll measure success. Let the results tell you whether to make permanent changes.

The Work Life team @Atlassian modeled how to treat changes to #content team operations as a pilot project. Set priorities and success measures before you start via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Are you ready for a Facebook-down scenario?

Facebook’s outage this week served as an impromptu experiment in life (and work) without the company’s self-titled platform, Instagram, and WhatsApp. And that experiment proved the downside of relying solely on rented land to communicate with your audience.

But that’s not the only takeaway. #FacebookDown debilitated all aspects of Facebook’s operations. According to media reports, employees couldn’t use their swipe cards to enter the building or conference rooms. And its tech engineers couldn’t quickly access servers to rectify the problem. It seems every aspect of Facebook’s operations is connected to Facebook’s systems.

WHY IT’S HOT: It’s more like a hot potato – one that content marketing teams can dodge with adequate preparation. Create a communication crisis plan. First, review every platform used to connect with your audience – from your CRM and CMS to your websites and social channels to make sure they can work individually even if they’re usually interconnected. For example, if your email newsletter software went down, would you be able to access the email addresses in your database to reach your audience (even if it’s in a more time-consuming, less automated way)?

Second, document a plan for what to do if one mode of audience communication goes down. Take that e-newsletter example. If you couldn’t access your standard templates, would you still send the newsletter? If so, how? What are the steps, and who’s responsible for each one?

The questions and details will be unique to each brand, but the outcome should be the same: You aren’t beholden to a single software, tool, platform, etc. as the only way to connect with your audience. And if a disruption occurs, you’ll have a plan ready to work around that challenge.

Intrigued, puzzled, or surprised by an example, news, or something else hot in content marketing? Share it with us by completing this form. Your submission may be featured in an upcoming Hot Take.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute