Episode Overview: Optimizing content is a challenging aspect of SEO, as the path to optimizing and executing successful content strategies differ for each brand or company. Join host Ben as he concludes his MarTech case study with Searchmetrics’ SEO Strategist and Advisor Jordan Koene on how to create a winning content strategy optimizing existing or creating new content.
- Google’s free tools Google Trends and Google AdWords are the perfect tools to dive deeper into your content’s search volume.
- Google rewards content that encourages user engagement whether it’s content that provides a transaction, reveals new information or links to a reputable website.
- Creating new utility pages with new experiences and assets on the site indicate greater value to your community.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
- Jordan Koene: Website // LinkedIn
- The Voices of Search Podcast: Email // LinkedIn // Twitter
- Benjamin Shapiro: Website // LinkedIn // Twitter
Ben: Welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. And today, we’ll be wrapping up our SEO case study by talking about how to put together a content strategy. Joining us is Jordan Koene, who is an SEO strategist and advisor for Searchmetrics. And so far this week, Jordan and I have talked about how to evaluate your site from a technical perspective, how to understand how much influence your site has. And today, we’re going to talk about building a content strategy.
Ben: Okay, on to the show. Here’s my conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategists and advisor for Searchmetrics. Jordan, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.
Jordan: Hi-de-ho, Ben.
Ben: I’ve been dying to talk to you. I need your help.
Jordan: I know.
Ben: So far this week, we’ve been going over my other podcast site, the MarTech podcast, and the problem is I’ve got this great podcast, gets a lot of people listening to it. I get no organic traffic. We don’t have a site speed or technical problem. We’re using Squarespace, and we’re just okay. Yesterday we talked about the big problem. We don’t have a lot of authority. We really have to build our linking profile. I want to talk to you a little bit more about that today. I have a content strategy I think that’ll help, but really that’s what we’re going to dig into today. Content. I can’t just sit around and wait for people to link to me. I don’t want to bend the rules and go buy links. So I have to spend my time, if I’m going to be building organic growth, on building content assets.
Jordan: Absolutely. Ben, I think that we’re chipping away through the process that most SEOs have to go through to evaluate things. And now we’re at, I think, one of the topics that is most relevant and most challenging, is figuring out where do you start with your content? What do you do with the content you have and what do you create new?
Ben: So that’s an important part of the strategy is figuring out what I have. What should I optimize? What should I create? And there’s a couple different flavors and formats. Let me throw some ideas out at you. We talked about linking strategy. That was the big thing. And that’s probably the biggest thing I need to work on for the MarTech pod, is we just don’t have a lot of domain recognition. I think we have 2,000 links coming into our site. We need to up that.
Ben: So one of the things I was thinking about is creating a profile page for each one of the people that’s been on my podcast that has links to the episodes that they’ve done and sharing it with them, asking them to post that page as a link in LinkedIn and maybe posting it to their personal websites or domains. And essentially, we’re going to position this to be some sort of a counsel. “Hey, you’re a MarTech council member. This is your profile that has a link to your audio. We’d love for you to share this page with your audience.”
Ben: First off, how do you feel about creating that content? What should I put on the page? And do you think that’s a good way to not only create content, but also help my linking strategy?
Jordan: Absolutely. Think about it. You’re a new site. You’ve got a few months to half a year under your belt in terms of this domain.
Ben: Two years, buddy.
Jordan: Well, two years in terms of the podcast, right? But I think we discussed in the last episode that there’s a domain change here.
Ben: Yeah. The domain is about three months old.
Jordan: Right. So we’ve got a path that we need to go through with Google to create this authority and this awareness, and this is a great way to do it, which is leverage the community you have. So you’ve got all these great guests, they’ve got profiles, they’ve got amazing episodes that have been on over the past two years. And how can we get them to link to your site and build up that authority and awareness and that frequency through crawl that Google’s going to have because they’re seeing these links.
Ben: Okay. So we’re on board with building profile pages that not only gives me pages for their interviews, but also personal pages. So now we have an episode and a profile page. Great. We’ve doubled the content on the website, and we have a linking strategy. There’s a couple other things that I’ve been thinking about, and that I really want your advice.
Ben: We have our existing episode content. We can optimize those pages. Right now, it has a little bit of information about the episode’s show notes and quotes. It’s got a little bio for the speakers. It’s not a super rich page, but it’s got our episode player. Most of the time, people are using those pages as a supplement to the audio they listen to in the podcast app store environment. So we can go back through and update our old pages.
Ben: I was thinking about creating directories, like a list of every company with all of their reviews, all of their marketing team, maybe putting their org charts. So building company profiles. We were thinking about putting together a job board that we have updating our existing content. I can create these directory type products. We can always create a blog and start writing new content listicles, top 10 things about MarTech you should know. Sort of click-baity type content. We’ll want to make a good, provide value. And the last thing I was thinking about is we should be creating these sort of not tail terms, but really the belly terms. What about our category pages? Shouldn’t I just be saying, let me aggregate the content I have and build a better page for all of that stuff to link together.
Ben: There’s a million different things we can do. I have four different options out in front of you. Help me think about whether I should be thinking about my old pages, category pages, new pages, directories, what do I do, Jordan?
Jordan: Ben, this is exactly what it sounds like. Every time I have this conversation with someone who’s trying to really think about their content. It’s a difficult thing to understand. It’s difficult to prioritize because there’s a ton of different emotions and thoughts and ideas that are just spewing. And it all comes out, and it’s hard to really know where to begin.
Jordan: But what I can tell you is that we can prioritize things in a few different ways. We can prioritize them based on kind of how we started this episode, talking about what you have versus what’s net new. So I think that’s one area where we can start with. Then the other area is how do we look at the order of impact and prioritizing the order of impact of these different types of content to ensure that the starting place is one that can give you clear signals and data on either doing more of that or expanding it and moving on.
Jordan: And then the last thing just really quickly is what are the resources you have? You mentioned things like blog. A blog is a very challenging thing to do unless you’ve got a strong commitment and perseverance to maintain and keep that going. So what is it that you are capable of accomplishing as an organization?
Ben: I guess my reaction to that is okay, great. It depends. That’s wonderful. And I’m sure for everyone, it depends. There has to be some data or some resources or some tools that can tell me whether I’m better served updating my existing content, creating category pages to try to summarize that content and aggregate it, or whether I’m missing the mark with my old content, and I should be creating net new content, whether that’s a directory or a blog, both of them take effort. Obviously, it depends what talent you have on your team. Fortunately, we have a talented team, we have a good researcher. We could put together listicles. And we have a good writer in house, so we can put together blogs. I still don’t get a sense of where do I look in terms of the data to figure out what are the keywords that I can rank for? What’s the volume that I can expect? What is worth the effort?
Jordan: Yeah. That’s where you go straight to the data. So let’s start with what you do have, right? You have some category pages that are already on the site. You can take a look at what is working and not working for these category pages. You can see, do any of these pages rank already? Do any of these pages get any traffic already? The other thing you can evaluate on these pages is what is the quality of the content on these pages? Do I actually have anything that’s unique, useful, engaging on these pages? So those are two instant checkpoints that you can do without having to go anywhere else. You have that data, and you have those resources already.
Ben: You say I have the data and the resources. I know I already have that content created, but it’s not ranking for anything right now. So I don’t know how to estimate what the potential value of that is.
Jordan: Great. So now we’re pivoting well here. So not working, not ranking, not doing anything, it doesn’t have any unique content. So what do we prioritize? One of the greatest things that I think a lot of people miss out on is the free tools that Google provides us. Google’s already giving us a ton of free information. And one of them is Google Trends. Another is Google AdWords and many of the keyword tools. And then you can go even further and deeper into this and use tools like Searchmetrics and other keyword tools to get insights into search volume, demand, location, region, and start to really understand what of these pages should I be prioritizing. So all these pages already have a theme or a topic. Let’s take a look at the themes and topics here and really start to see, can I make a material impact on these pages, based on the volume of search that’s taking place?
Ben: So you mentioned Google Trends, and I’m sitting here saying, okay, let’s just go into Google Trends and figure out what the keywords are that are popping up. And ironically, the related topic number three is podcast. I’m assuming that we’re already winning that one.
Jordan: Yes, I would hope so.
Ben: So Jordan, I get that we can go into trends, and we could look at keyword data, and we could see volume. And to me, I guess there’s a … Part of this is calculus, which is volume times difficulty or competition for keyword.
Ben: A lot of the content that we’ve created is not targeting a specific keyword. We’re creating podcast content, not thinking about what topic we’re creating, and that’s why those category pages, I think, are relevant. If I’m trying to get a category page to rank, I’ve got 15 different episodes talking about MarTech uses of data, for example. I want to put all those podcasts on one page. Right now I have that page. It’s not doing anything. I need to add content to get it to rank. That seems like it’s got good potential value. How much should I prioritize editing an individual episode, as opposed to that category page?
Jordan: Well, the utility on these pages is going to be radically different. The individual podcast page has this direct connection with that episode and what happened on that episode, the guests that were relevant on that episode and the topics that were addressed, but on the category page, you have this ability to really engage with online users in a totally different way. You have an ability to engage with users who may be in a discovery and trying to understand, where can I find podcast content about this topic? Where can I find a resource that I can listen to, once we all go back to a normal world, and we’re commuting every day? So there’s a way to use the category page that is much more in kind of the browse path. And you’re now thinking about the funnel of your user and how you can actually produce a resource that’s helpful to them at that particular point in their discovery.
Ben: So what I’m hearing is that the utility of the page really matters. The category pages are great, if you can get people to look for content related to that category. And my idea for this was let’s create a blog post or sort of a longer form piece of content, talking about what data means in MarTech. And at the footer of that page, give examples of the type of speakers we’ve had with a link to enable somebody to sign up for the newsletter that will only send them episodes related to data in MarTech. Thoughts?
Jordan: Yeah. I think that that is the starting place. So how do you take that data and MarTech topic and concept, build useful content around it that can help build the authority that you need for that topic, and then there has to be that engagement tracker, something that forces a user to do something. And I think that that’s the one piece that you need to think about because what is it that the user’s going to do? Are they going to download an episode? Are they going to sign up for an email? What are they going to do on that page?
Ben: Yeah, but we’re talking to SEO. Does Google care if somebody signs up for my newsletter, do they care about what words are on the page?
Jordan: Radically, I know this sounds crazy, but they do care about what the user’s going to do on that page. And now, what exactly that is, there’s things that you shouldn’t do. But I don’t think as long as you’re doing something that’s above board here, absolutely, Google does care. Google wants to know that you are not just some sort of static piece of content that’s stale. They want to know that there’s an expectation, that there’s something that you’re providing consumers. It could be providing them more information. It could be providing them a transaction. It could be providing them a way to discover new things. And all of these things do matter in a variety of different metrics that are all performance-based metrics. But in reality, at the end of the day, it’s just about how do you create some sort of engagement on the page?
Ben: So walk me through the idea of … You talked about, hey, you can amend your existing content. I could update my episode pages if I think that there’s value there. And I could look to see what my performance is. I’m not getting a lot of performance. I don’t know how much value I’m going to get out of updating those pages without putting in a lot of work. Category pages sounds like I could write 25 articles for my 25 categories and add a little bit of utility there in terms of newsletters or something along the lines that’s going to filter and provide value. And there’s a little bit more meat on the bone, in terms of that category structure, then going back over 300 old pages. What about creating net new content? I can go into search metrics. I can go into Google Trends, and they’re going to tell me the topics that are interesting to the MarTech community. And I could just go write blog posts about it. Why wouldn’t I be doing that? Or should I focus on the listicles and the databases, a job board, all these other things that I could be doing?
Jordan: Part of this is going back to what are core assets you have. So in many of these content conversations, and I think this is probably the most important piece to this whole episode, is understanding what assets you have available to you. And in this particular conversation with you, Ben, we’re talking about a podcast that has access to ginormous wealth of information, a network of contacts and guests and businesses who have influence and knowledge in the space. And so thinking about the assets and connections and resources you have at your disposal is often the most important thing to do, because if you don’t know how to leverage that, if you don’t know how to leverage what you already have, to create something net new, the process of creating something net new is going to be very time-consuming and challenging.
Ben: Jordan, we’re buddies.
Ben: Let’s pretend like nobody’s listening, cut the shit and answer the question. What should I do?
Jordan: Fair enough. You should really focus on building assets and resources that users can engage with and utilize and that your community can contribute to. So job listing. You already have a huge list of guests, and I’m sure many of them may be looking for jobs or have jobs that they want to fill. Get them on a job board. Building out some other types of assets or resources. Again, tap into that community. Maybe some of those people are even willing to partner in the production and co production of assets or resources that could be downloaded, like white papers or other types of resources. And so I think that going that direction will pay off in the long run, as you build up your community around the podcast. And then it also becomes something very easy to plug and mention in certain episodes. So now you’ve got an audience that’s listening to your podcast. You can say, “Hey, you know what? If you’re looking for a job, we’ve got a great resource on our website. Come look at that resource.”
Ben: What I’m hearing is at the end of the day, you need to build utility for your users. You need to start thinking about the experience that they’re going to have. The more engagement you’re getting with those pages, the higher the value Google is going to assign to them. And again, like I said before, I’m confused. Is it the words on the page? Or is it what people do on the page? Because I could drive people to a job board that only has one job on it. And that job is going to get filled at some point. Or I could go create this huge database of jobs that maybe nobody ever looks at. Is it the conversion rate? Is it the content on the page? This feels very confusing to me.
Jordan: Yeah. There’s no silver bullet in the content journey, whether it’s optimizing your own content or producing new content. What I do know and can say wholeheartedly to answer your question, is that iteration and being very consistent in that iteration is what’s going to win you success. That ultimately is the number one thing you’ll have to do in order to continue to grow your traffic.
Ben: So I started this conversation saying there’s four things that we’re going to do, excluding the link building strategy, which is the personal pages, the council member pages. One was updating the existing content. Two, create category pages. Three was create a blog, write lists and articles. And four, create utility-based databases, a job board, a company directory, something along those lines. Which of those strategies should I prioritize? Which one of them should I ignore?
Jordan: Yeah. So let’s start with the ones that I think you should ignore. Let’s start with the blog. And part of this is opinion. I will be very candid with you, Ben. I think the reason you ignore the blog is that a blog is a very time consuming journey, and you have a very new website, and it’s going to be a whole new set of content that needs to be maintained, and it’s heavy lifting. And it’s going to take quite some time before it creates traction. In sharing this, I recognize that there are many podcasts that have been born out of blogs, and it’s not a crazy idea to think that a podcast and a blog can’t be a successful combination. It can be. In this particular case, I just don’t see the organic search utility in the blog.
Jordan: What you should prioritize. Let’s go from most important to least important. The list isn’t very long, so we should be able to get through this quickly. Most important hands down is building out these new utility pages. These new utility pages and experiences, like having a job board and having other assets on the site, are going to show a tremendous amount of value to your community and your guests and build up the authority that you have. They’re also quick wins, going back to our second episode, around building more links and exposure to your site. So there’s a multifaceted benefit behind having those types of resources on your site.
Jordan: Secondly, to the category pages you already have, I would really invest in a subset of those pages. Prioritize the ones that you feel have the strongest podcast connected utility. So what are the topics that are out there that have really strong affinity to podcast searches, build out that content on those pages in an engagement factor, like a newsletter sign up or some other sign up, to ensure that users have some sort of way to engage on the content.
Ben: Okay. So you’re basically saying that the existing content we have, optimizing our old episodes, just leave it alone.
Ben: It’s not ranking, it’s going to be too much heavy lifting to get those 300 pages to start to carry weight. And you’re better off trying to aggregate them and write 25 posts instead of 300. That I totally understand.
Ben: The idea of not wanting to write a blog, as opposed to creating these directories that you constantly have to update, I don’t know if I necessarily agree with you. And maybe it’s because I’m thinking about this, not necessarily from a how do we grow the podcast perspective, but more of how do we create value for a community? And I think that the community will want fresh, up to date content, like what they’ve seen with the podcast, in blog format.
Jordan: Well Ben, the best piece of advice I can give you there is test it and try it. Invest some time and money in it. But I would definitely put a cap at it and make sure that you know when and if you want to pivot away from that strategy, if it’s not producing the value you expect it to.
Ben: All right. So we’re putting together a job board. We’re putting together our top 10 articles. We’re going to do 10 blog posts, see if we start to get some SEO traction. We’re going to be putting our category pages together. We’re going to ignore our old pages. God, Jordan, I got so much work to do. I got to go.
Jordan: All right, then get on it.
Ben: All right. And that wraps up this case study episode of the Voices of Search podcast. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’d like to get in touch with Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is JTKoene, that’s J-T-K-O-E-N-E. Or you can visit his personal website, which is Jordankoene.com.
Ben: Just one more link in our show notes. I’d like to tell you about, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can send us your topics suggestions, your SEO questions, you can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is Voices of Search on Twitter. And my personal handle is BenJShap.
Ben: And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.