What a year! Forge and Smith had the immense pleasure of working with dozens of clients over the last 12 months. We built websites for brand new businesses, crafted website redesigns for companies seeking a refresh, and we partnered with multiple clients for ongoing digital strategy reporting and support.
Behind the scenes, we had a serious goal: improve our own digital strategy. One of our top initiatives this year was to create more content, and do a better job of amplifying it. Not just any old content — stronger, more relevant, more engaging, and better optimized content.
Did it work? Well, here’s a look at our total website traffic for 2018 compared to 2017:
The effort paid off! Daily traffic slowly and steadily increased, whereas our traffic in 2017 had plateaued and even dropped off by the end of the year. Although our usual primary landing pages (home and case studies) continued to see lots of traffic, our new blog posts and case studies consistently landed in the top five, every month.
Here’s the thing: we didn’t do anything technically complex or fancy. We used a handful of basic digital tools that are easy to use and available to anyone:
- Our BFF, the YOAST SEO plugin for WordPress
- Our other BFF, Google Analytics
- Answer the Public to ideate long-tail keywords from popular searches
- SEMRush to investigate potential keywords and to regularly check our search rankings
At the end of the day, we did exactly what we advise our clients to do — regularly published new, optimized content, and revisited old content for updates to improve SEO and engagement metrics. That’s good digital strategy.
Learn more about our content strategy and test our our free content audit template! Read How to Update, Repurpose, and Retire Content.
Since this year was all about the content, we felt it was fitting to wrap up 2018 by celebrating our best-performing content of the year. Without further ado…
Our Top Content of 2018
From blog posts and case studies to social media, these are the pieces that resonated most with our audience and thus were the best contributors to our digital strategy.
New Blog Posts
As mentioned, 2018 was about creating useful new content. The focus was on quality, not volume — poor quality content published for the sake of hitting a number can hurt rather than help your goals.
- These were the top new blog posts we created this year:
- Website Navigation: UX Best Practices
- How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Business
- 5 Reasons Organic Traffic Matters (and How To Get It)
Reading times are an important metric to measure your content’s value. If thousands of visitors find your 2000-word blog post but spend less than 10 seconds on the page before bouncing, something’s not right. Each of these blog posts had average read times of over four minutes.
Repurposed Blog Posts
Don’t just publish and put it out to pasture — your old content can continue to do heavy legwork in your SEO strategy. We have an ongoing effort to revisit our old content to make sure it’s accurate, optimized, and to add linking to newer pieces of related content.
These were the top blog posts we repurposed this year:
- Scrolling vs. Clicking: What’s the Preferred User Experience?
- How Do Social Media Algorithms Affect You?
- 9 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Web Design Agency
Through close attention to our Google Analytics, we noted that these and other old blog posts were still getting lots of organic and referral traffic. We knew that these posts needed to be every bit as good as our new content if they were the first interaction someone had with Forge and Smith. All have an increased average read time, and significantly more pageviews.
Case studies are our strongest conversion tool. We use them in proposals, and they have great user engagement numbers in Google Analytics. We could honestly talk all day about the awesomeness of case studies but we won’t — you can read our blog post about case studies as digital strategy tools if you want to know more!
Here are our top performing case studies of 2018:
Overall, our case studies have lower bounce rates and drive more pages per session than any other type of content on our website.
Our Year on Social Media
A huge part of any good digital strategy is social media amplification — after all, social media integrates with your SEO strategy. We recognized a need to revise our social media strategy, hone our messaging, and focus in on the platforms most relevant to our target audience.
As a B2B company, Forge and Smith sees more traffic with stronger engagement from Twitter and LinkedIn than other social platforms. Here are some of our Twitter highlights from this year.
Our top tweets
We had some great blog post submissions by guest bloggers from other businesses this year, which performed well on Twitter.
It can be difficult to know if your content is being found on social media. Tweets like these made us feel extra special.
Our fave mention
This tweet quoting Forge founder Shawn Johnston’s presentation at CIMC was an awesome surprise.
Twitter love from our clients
Last but certainly not least, tweets like this one from our clients celebrating the work we did together give us all the feels.
Forge and Smith hadn’t published a post on Instagram for a long, long time. With our remote team and busy client load, our own social media efforts were focused on the channels driving the most traffic. But we couldn’t ignore the brand awareness driving power of Instagram forever — and we’re glad to be back!
That concludes our content round-up of 2018! Thank you for helping us achieve our digital strategy goals, and create even bigger goals for next year.