Turning Static Print Pages into SEO-Friendly Digital Content that Earns Subscribers
Content creation just isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Back in the pre-digital era, print publication features served a handy dual-purpose. Explicitly, they were a platform for unique journalism. Implicitly, they were the primary value driver that converted and retained subscribers and newsstand buyers. The better a brand executed content’s explicit purpose, the more that content’s implicit purpose was realized. Poetry in motion.
The relationship between those explicit and implicit purposes worked seamlessly for so long because the entire ecosystem took place within its native environment: storytelling built for print did a predictably good job of attracting high-value print consumers and advertisers. Words fit into columns (with some pictures and charts), the reader’s expectations were firmly met, and a conversion would take place when it was time to renew. The amount of effort editors and designers had to put into content’s implicit purpose — driving subscriber conversions — was minimal.
But for traditional print publishers, digital storytelling broke that framework completely. The main culprit? The complexity and saturation of the digital content market, which forced the time-honored approach to print-first content’s implicit purpose into a sticky transition.
In years past, the quality of a magazine’s on-page content got the job done on its own (and frequently still does). But when converting content to a digital medium, that presentation methodology -- both in focus and design -- is often out of sync with modern consumer behavior. It’s too static, and it’s not aligned with a concrete SEO and conversion funnel strategy. Fixing those problems is foundational to digital success, and too many publishers are still avoiding solving them. In other words, it’s time to elevate your digital game.
Change the Way You Think About Your Website’s Purpose
Shifting the presentation of your brand’s tentpole journalism to a uniquely digital experience when it’s published online is essential to consistent traffic and conversion. You’re often serving an entirely different audience online and they’re not visiting your site in a traditional “cover-to-cover” fashion. They don’t care what date your content was printed in the magazine. They may not even know you have a magazine.
They’re merely looking for something, and they’ve landed on your site because you have implied (through marketing or search) that your site contains it. As long as the page they land on is up-to-date, fast, and contains the answer to their query or the content they expected to see when targeted, they’re now more likely to remain engaged with your brand. Similarly, your content should cross-link in a way that shows readers clear paths to both related, impactful pages and conversion -- and, by segmenting your analytics by reader location, your success can be measured accordingly.
Implement A Clear SEO Strategy for Your Online Content
Today’s click-and-run digital environment leaves little room for content to be implicitly valuable, like it used to be in a magazine. Like any digital commodity, it must now be compellingly sold to the consumer and the search engines that the consumer is using. Work with an SEO specialist to pinpoint the content that’s already driving the majority of your search traffic and start publishing it with digital-first intent. A simple change to your site’s content structure can be the difference between stagnant and growing page traffic -- and a crucial step to optimizing your content’s implicit purpose.
Recently, the Twenty-First Digital team encouraged a client to adopt a single page for their “/things-to-do/” content rather than publishing a new URL each week. This small change in publishing took their “things to do” traffic, which was struggling to recognize its inherent strength-in-numbers advantages, up 83% in Q3 over Q2 and up 961% over Q3 2017.
This is just one example of many ever-evolving engagement methodologies that can be applied by publishers to make their print-born content more discoverable and valuable online. But such methodologies require thoughtful planning and measurement.
Related story: 5 Ways Publishers Can Take Advantage of Affiliate Commerce
Melissa Chowning is the CEO of Twenty-First Digital, where she guides her clients’ digital strategies and audience development efforts to drive traffic, engagement, and retention. Formerly the Audience Development Director of D Magazine, Portland Monthly and Seattle Met, Melissa understands that the key to audience growth is also monetization. When she’s not immersed in the digital world, you’ll likely find her reading, listening to podcasts, and keeping busy with her two children, both under the age of 6.