Towards the end of 2012 one of the projects we manage, the Ulwazi Programme, had plateaued in terms of new visitors to their website. At around 15,000 visits a month (all organic traffic), it was still doing well for a local (niche) content website with no promotional budget. Yet part of our brief from the eThekwini Municipality (the project’s funder) was to keep growing traffic to the website and to generate consistent user-engagement with the website’s content.

We decided to run a content strategy exercise to see if we could increase traffic to the website and, at the same time, provide users with specific content they were looking for. Content strategy is a process whereby you analyse data generated by visitors to your website and social media platforms and use this information to identify what types of content users are interested in and what content generates the most engagement. Basically, we are looking at what people are searching for online and what they are responding to on Facebook and Twitter.

Our first point of call was Google Analytics, where we took a sample of twelve months of statistical data for the Ulwazi Programme website. We focused on two sections of this data, namely Organic Search and Site Content. We isolated the most popular search terms used to find the website as well as the pages that had been accessed the most during this time period, creating a list based on these results.

We then conducted an analysis of the project’s social media accounts. Looking firstly at the Ulwazi Programme’s Twitter account, we isolated the Tweets that had been re-Tweeted or Favourited and noted what content items they referenced. We then looked at the Insights section of the Ulwazi Programme’s Facebook fanpage, identifying the posts that had generated the most user-engagement (Likes, Shares, Comments) and the website content these posts referenced.

With now had a list of pages that users were interested in and could identify certain content trends across pages. We grouped these content items together into categories, ending up with five main types of contest. Using these categories as a guide, we commissioned articles based on these popular subjects.

The results were impressive. Likes on the Facebook fanpage grew, as well as interactions with Facebook content. However, the big news was the increase in visitors to the website through search engines, increasing to  21,759 visits in January and a whopping 27,314 in February.

The best thing about this exercise? We were actually providing users with content they were looking for.