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Content frequency: content analysis for a real data-driven PED

Emiliano Sammassimo

We spend rivers of words defining what is the most correct way to write SEO-optimized texts, how to distribute paragraphs, what keywords to use etc… but we talk less about Content Frequency, which is a quantification of how often a site publishes on a certain topic.

Not only that, Content Frequency actually answers several questions, including:

  • How much do we need to write to preside over a topic?
  • How much do we publish on a given topic?
  • How much do the top players publish?
  • How much do we publish?
  • How much do our competitors publish?

We will try in the next few paragraphs to answer these questions to show how a content analysis in terms of frequency is essential to achieve balanced editorial plans and to position ourselves effectively on a macro-topic.


Why is it important to monitor publication frequency?

Let’s start with the definition: content frequency measures the number of content published on a specific topic by the sites we want to analyze. Essentially, then, it is the ratio between the number of pieces of content made on a set of semantically homogeneous and related keywords, and the time frame in which they were published.

Now, the question is, do we really do content analysis as we structure an Editorial Plan? Typically we analyze keywords, positioning, related topics… but we forget the frequency, the time/density factor.

  • How do we determine how much content to create for each topic?
    How do we decide how much we need to write for all topics?

This kind of analysis makes a lot of sense when done in relation to one’s competitors.


Content frequency analysis compared to competitors in 4 steps

If our main market competitor is ranking better than us on the organic SERPs and channeling more traffic, they are most likely running a better content strategy than we are.

We can find out through an analysis divided into 4 steps:

  1. Identify the competitors we want to investigate from the content on their sites
  2. Scraping content through low-code/no-code methods-such as using Google Sheets, Chrome’s Scraper extension and the well-known Screaming Frog tool-in order to extract all the necessary information, such as Date, Category, Author, Tag of each individual article
  3. Merge the data and make it uniform, normalizing it for it to be readable
  4. Compare the data, made homogeneous, to obtain evidence, actionable insights.


What questions a content frequency analysis answers

There are several questions that will be answered by the analysis just conducted.

  • How much do we publish and how much do the most visible competitors publish?
    How much traffic do our competitors do and where, on what content/topics/topics?
    What characteristics do the competitors’ content have?
    How does our content rank relative to others
    How many clicks does the content receive, from which kw?
    What kind of SERPs is the content hosted on.

We may come to conclusions, at this glaring point, that we did not expect: for example, our competitor has three times the publication frequency of ours and this erodes our ranking and traffic space.  


Strategic conclusions on SEO-oriented content production

The issue, however, is that it is not so certain that writing a lot on a topic, that is, having a high amount of articles on a purely numerical level, is the right way to go.

According to a 2020 analysis by SparkToro on SimilarWeb data, the essential data to take into account to answer this critical issue is the CTR, particularly the so-called “Zero Click Searches,” which weigh more than 46 percent of the results from desktop and more than 77 percent from mobile.

Now, having said that the traffic now is primarily from mobile for almost every industry, when we produce content we have to deal with the fact that-even assuming it ranks on SERPs-it may not generate sessions or visits or clicks.

And these are the metrics we are used to using to measure the success of our content. Let’s take an example with the so-called “zero result”: a goal that everyone wanted to achieve as soon as it was placed on SERPs but today often registers drops of more than 50 percent in CTR. Is this bad or not?

The truth is that the user SEES that result first, and by its very nature the zero result provides an immediately obvious answer, without the need to click on it: shouldn’t we start taking that into account?

In conclusion, then, it is always good to analyze searches -our own and those of competitors- to understand what users are looking for, then we identify the topics we need to write about and how much we need to cover the topic to be competitive, and then we we multiply the content, that is, we decline the topics, unpacking them in different insights, always thinking about the good of the user, the usefulness for the end reader, regardless of those KPIs that we have learned over time to consider as basic for SEO but that, today, are evolving along with the engines, the tools available for searches and consumer behaviors.