Interview with Marcus Miller: Focus on Quality While Keeping Content Up-To-Date
Running a site that ranks well on Google and constantly attracts new visitors isn’t all fun and games. It requires not only a high-quality, fresh content you publish frequently, but a detailed content strategy and careful blog planning. In other words, you need to make quality your number one priority while keeping content up-to-date. In this interview, Marcus Miller, the experienced SEO professional and managing director of the digital marketing agency Bowler Hat, shared some amazing tips on boosting traffic and improving the user experience. Also, he addressed some of the biggest challenges in maintaining websites and offered solutions that bring the results. Learn why quality always wins over quantity and discover what things you should always have in mind when analyzing the success of your blog posts.
How do you manage to keep up with the latest changes in marketing and simultaneously make sure you’re keeping content up-to-date?
To some degree this is organic. We help many companies and monitor their results. If something goes south then we have to understand why. So, being in the trenches with SEO, Google Ads and Facebook Ads are pretty much the best way to stay on top of what is happening in the world of digital marketing. Of course, I also follow all the big blogs, read books, listen to podcasts and just generally keep my ear to the ground. As a team we also all tend to identify the most important change or news from our own industry each week. We collate these into an internal email and talk about them during our daily team meeting on Friday morning.
Keeping content up-to-date just requires work. I like the idea of separating evergreen content like guides from more news-type content that is best suited to a blog post. This way the blogs exist in a date based hierarchy yet you can keep your guides and cornerstone content up-to-date. You can’t avoid the fact that there is a lot of work to do here but having some separation here certainly helps.
What are your favorite tips for improving the user experience on WordPress websites?
Speed. Speed’s what we need; we need greasy, fast speed. Maybe I am biased by being a huge fan of the Rocky movies but this tip from Rocky’s trainer certainly rings true when looking at WordPress websites. Does anyone like slow sites? Ironically, whilst trying to find that exact quote the first site that I clicked on was slow to load – after about 30 seconds I bounced back to the search results. All that work to get a click and then a user bounces because your page is too slow. Well, that breaks my heart.
This is particularly relevant with WordPress sites as the combination of cheap hosting, bloated themes and too many plugins can create slow, lumbering sites. To have a fast site you need to look at all of these issues:
- use blistering fast hosting that is optimised for WordPress
- use lightweight themes or page builders that are optimised for speed
- don’t install a gazillion plugins just because you can – keep it lean
A fast site improves conversion rates so has a positive effect on all marketing activities and can even help improve rankings in search engines so this is just a no brainer.
What are the most frequent mistakes marketers make when they try to improve traffic?
Quantity over quality. More is not always better. In fact, getting lots of low-quality traffic can impact the quality of your analytics so ensure you focus on the right kind of traffic. Focus on quality and ensure your analytics are 100% on point so you can accurately measure the impact and quality of all traffic sources.
What are your biggest challenges in maintaining your website?
Keeping content up-to-date is really the biggest challenge as things can move so quickly. This is what led us to create structured guides like our Google Ads PPC Guide and Website Design & Planning Guide and separate these from the advice we put on our digital marketing blog which can often be of the time.
What important metrics do people often miss when they analyze the success of their blog posts?
Time on-page is the big one for me but it requires some context to really understand why. The main issue here is that if a user visits only one page on your site Google Analytics reports that as a 0-second visit. Reason being Google only knows time on page A as the difference between when you land on page-a and then click on page-b. So, all traffic to a blog post that only reads that one page is viewed as a zero second bounce. As an example – you promote an article on Facebook. Get 1000 visits. You review the analytics and see that 95% of visits were a zero second bounce. Wowzers. What a misfire!
The reality is you may have some people that are on the page for several minutes. To truly understand how users are engaging with blog content you have to make some small edits to your Google Analytics installation to more accurately record how long a user is on the page for single-page visits. We tend to implement a heartbeat that beats every 10 or 15 seconds. We can then get more accurate time on page so can better assess results. We also tend to class a visit over a certain time (1 min maybe) as not being a bounce so we can get more accurate stats. In our example above we now see that the average time on page was a couple of minutes and the majority of users did not bounce.
Same campaign. Same real-world results. But relying on standard analytics simply is not going to work here. I talk about how to improve your analytics for content marketing with WordPress here.
As an online marketer, how did you get involved with WordPress?
I think a better question would be – as an online marketer how could you not get involved with WordPress? At BowlerHat, we primarily work with small businesses so there is really no better or more flexible web platform out there. Great for search engines. Easy to maintain. Fast. Secure. It would be hard to avoid!
What kind of businesses will find your services valuable the most?
We tend to work with smaller companies and specialise in a few sectors so any small, local business would benefit from our approach that is tailored to their specific needs. We also work with many trades, financial services and a few industries where we have proven the success and know we can generate results. We also tend to work with franchises and multi-location businesses as we are probably the most experienced Local SEO agency in the UK (blows own trumpet).
What differentiates Bowler Hat from other marketing agencies?
Gosh. This is cheesy, but I guess it is that we care. We are experienced. We are also a small business so we know how important it is that your marketing spend delivers results. Having lived through almost 20 years of SEO and algorithm updates I have seen people’s website content hurt by the many penalties that have come and gone. Everything from the Florida update in 2003 through Penguin & Panda to the more recent Medic and YMYL updates. We use our experience to try and help people look at the long game in SEO – not always easy but we certainly try!
How does your usual working day look like?
I have a fairly structured routine Monday to Friday:
05:20 – alarm
05:30 – get up
05:45 – meditate
06:00 – exercise
07:15 – arrive at work & do the coffee thing!
07:30 – writing or the most important job of the day
09:00 – emails + asana organisation
09:30 – team meeting
10:00 – help team
11:00 – sales
12:00 – lunch (usually a 45 minute walk + eating)
13:00 – main job of day (3 hours)
16:00 – leave to do my various father taxi duties for my three kids
19:00 – emails + asana organisation for the next day
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I am a family man so spending time with my wife and three kids is my main priority. I also like to exercise so I ride my mountain bike, hike, run & lift weights. I am a big fan of films so we often go to the cinema as a family. I like to eat out and to cook. I also am a big fan of video games but don’t get so much time now for that but I do love to play a board game. Anything from Dungeons & Dragons to more traditional games like Scrabble. A perfect day for me would be to go for a hike with the family, get some food and finish up the night playing a board game – this gets us all of the phones and screens and away from the overly digital world we live (and work) in.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!