Publishing good content is not enough.

Publishing good content is not enough.

To be successful in 2022, you need to be consistently pushing your quality level in order to stand out from an increasingly competitive pack.

Siege Media is a 115-person, SEO-focused content marketing agency that’s used to staying ahead of the curve. As part of our research, we consistently study the world’s best websites to see what qualities the top performers share.

In this post, we’ll break down the new content marketing trends that websites generating $90,000,000+ in traffic value share to differentiate themselves, that the losers don’t.

1. Content With Low Time to Value

Google wants to reward websites that give users the answers they want in the lowest amount of time possible. This is made clear by their answer boxes that provide quick solutions to questions without ever visiting a website.

Beyond Google, this is a signal that this is what users want, too. It’s somewhat backwards to give an answer in quick fashion as that could lead to users leaving, but it’s increasingly obvious that in order to be successful on Google (and in the mind of users), that’s the decision tree we need to follow.

Some great examples of this are the calculators from Bankrate. They provide answers for users almost immediately, defaulting to common answers that allow users to get to a solution with the fewest amount of inputs possible.

On the other side of the equation, NerdWallet gets users credit card information in their peripherals in the shortest amount of time possible. By minimizing scroll time, they improve user experience and indirectly, rankings.

2. Smaller Hero Images for Sitespeed

In 2021, Google rolled out Core Web Vitals. As part of this, their Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift initiatives both took aim at big images.

Large, bright heroes were frequently used in the late 2010s, but as the web moved towards site speed and now as Google has emphasized Core Web Vitals, it’s less probable that you can build a performative website with a huge image upon load.

Websites such as The Balance Small Business have addressed this, creating pops of color above the fold that are still valuable without creating overwhelming images that drain on performance.

For those businesses where the hero still makes sense, another option is the narrower hero. This balances the design without overwhelming and allows developers to minimize filesize.

3. Users Shouldn’t Leave to Trust

Reflecting the time to value trend above, not asking users to leave the page to trust your brand is another attribute the best sites, particularly in Expertise Authority Trust (E.A.T.) verticals, share.

This is most commonly addressed through trustworthy site design and elements you’d historically have to visit another page to see, present on-page instead. For Investopedia, this comes in the form of their author bios which reveal on hover.

For NerdWallet, their advertising disclosure also reveals on hover, while many other websites decide instead to ask users to view another page to get that information.

In a perfect world, users won’t need to go to your about page to know they can trust your information. That’s made possible by “hidden” but available information that’s more common on top websites.

4. Use of In-Post Table of Contents

In-post table of content sections are being used more frequently. These have easy, natural port over to a mobile experience where users can quickly jump to their preferred section of the content that’s harder to do with a left or right-aligned table.

Additionally, it’s a great place to add long-tail keywords that Google will often pick up in search results. This creates a 1-2 UX+SEO punch that performative websites such as Healthline are using more and more.

5. Quick Answer Areas Above the Fold

Relating to time to value, it’s more and more required to have quick answer areas above the fold to be successful. Hitting users in the face with their main question in large font is going to be the optimal experience for doing that.

This is commonly done through a subheader that allows writers to fill in a definition or answer if needed, although some sites get even more creative with “Q&A” structure as Policy Genius does on some of their content.

What’s Next? Incremental Progress

Each of these improvements effectively come down to incremental improvement around the borders in order to make content faster, easier to read and better for overall user experience.

You could copy and paste that sentence again in 2023 and still be right, it just so happens that the above list of five trends happen to be the things that are not-so-marginally ahead of the pack as we head into 2022. The key is to keep on that path in order to stay ahead of it in years to come.

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