This question was recently asked on a list I’m on:
The big boss shared today that a consultant casually mentioned (in a situation he couldn’t get clarification on), ’search engine traffic to press releases with a video included get 50 times the traffic. What’s this mean?
It took me about a minute to google the “study” this came from and surprise! It’s from a company (PRNewswire) that sells press release broadcast services, with an upsell for those that have videos.
I don’t doubt that this factoid is true, but the consultant that lobbed this bomb into this nonprofit was engaged in an act of “drive by analytics”. He or she was using a bit of analytics data without any insight into the context of the client or what makes them successful.
This much is true: if you release a press release and a video for it, and they both are indexed by google, when someone googles a phrase they both rank for, you’ll get two hits in the search engine results page. One, you’ll show up with the press release as an organic result. Two, the video will show up somewhere between results #2 and #8. This is a good thing, but the consultant missed one really important detail in this episode of DRIVE BY ANALYTICS:
- do you care about search engine traffic enough to expend extra effort to cut videos for it? Does it provide you any tangible benefit?
Nonprofit search engine traffic data that I’ve studied tends to fall into a couple of categories:
- Traffic that comes from a wide variety of search phrases, looks around for a page or two, and then leaves;
- Traffic that comes from a wide variety of search phrases, generates a few email subscribes; or
- Traffic that comes in on your brand name (“Safdar analytics”), and generates a a few gifts from people who were using google as a complicated bookmark service.
You have to be able to understand the reason why you’d want search engine traffic in the first place, to understand whether press release traffic is valuable to you, and therefore worth the time to invest in an increase. You may find that press releases generate nothing but 1 page web visits, but “blog posts from champions” generate 2 page web visits and the occasional email subscribe or gift.
If you have to choose what kind of content to work on generating, why would you generate more content that’s performing badly? Hopefully this consultant won’t engender a wild switch in resources for content strategy for you, but if changes are afoot, try and get your boss to go through all the performance metrics of your content and rebalance your resources.