Fresh off of Mozcon, attendees definitely walked away saying, I better get on this content marketing train. We've been on it for a while, and the hard part is getting ideas funded, so I figured I would share with you one way I've been trying to get clients on board with some success. Lately my presentations have had a similar theme, SEO's need to earn our seat at the marketing table. In this post I acknowledge that building content is hard, but I want to make selling it in the enterprise easier. I think SEO's have an issue making arguments for content marketing investments, leaving us with "tricks" or lower quality link opps, like article marketing or directories. Many of us want to aspire to something bigger and better but need help convincing clients and bosses who for too long didn't have to make those investments, to make some real investments in success.
The concepts below can work for two sides of the SEO coin, the SEO who has gotten rankings with low quality tactics who wants to get the company to change or for the SEO who wants to compete with other sites and wants to win on content and quality links. I hope using this approach helps all of you to get the content you so desperately need to win.
Step 1 - Identify the Head Terms vs Competitors
Take a head term, something you are ranking well on that drives good traffic and conversions. If I am Marketo, the head term I am ranking for might be lead nurturing, where you can see them ranking quite well.
See how much visibility they have?? If you want to compete with them, lets lay out the argument.
So your boss is asking you when they're going to rank top 5 for lead nurturing here's what I would do... lets take Hubspot as an example, since they rank around #9 ish. I would take the top 5 sites and show how much content they are writing in a quick glance for my target keyword.
I used 3 BASIC measures to see what I am up against, numbers don't need to be exact (they will be off) as were just looking for relative differences (I'm not the strongest advanced query guy, but I think these should work)
- Site content using the keyword in the title (ex: allintitle: "lead nurturing" site:www.eloqua.com, keep the www. in there especially if you are in B2B, I'll explain later)
- Blog content with the keyword in the title (ex: allintitle: "lead nuturing" site:www.leadformix.com/blog/ , keep in mind you may have to use the -mydomain.com to strip out the blog content in the above example if the blog is on the same domain for example ex: allintitle: "lead nurturing" site:www.leadformix.com -site:www.leadformix.com/blog/)
- Blog content produced in the last 12 months with the keyword in the title use the same queries above, just click on "year" in the show search tools link
Ultimately you end up with something that looks like this:
The takeaways should start to stand out.
If I'm Eloqua, who is #1 for lead nurturing, I should be shaking in my boots that Hubspot is trying to kill me on content in the last 12 months. Or if I am working for Marketo, I might want to up by blog game a bit more or at least keep an eye on Hubspot. If I'm Hubspot, even though I am ranking below Manticore, I am kinda licking my chops, when I see they USED to spend a lot more time on content in my space, but haven't blogged about it much recently. Before I panicked, I would consider looking into Google Analytics, placing a value on those top spots, and then determining if it is worth getting would dictate how much time I recommend we spend writing content geared to the long tail.
B2B sites that produce a lot of content often have subdomains that you may not catch in the scorecard (it can also THROW OFF your research, something as simple as using www.domain.com vs domain.com vs .domain.com could all cause different results), so do a check in reverseinternet.com, click on subdomains, and you'll find all kinds of goodies, especially the pages on domain report which will let you quickly scan for pages that include your target keyword that your competitor may have put on a subdomain somewhere.
Protip: Clicking on Backlinks in reverse internet will give you even more insights into what your competitor has been up to, well beyond what we are discussing for this example, its great for getting a look at some old campaigns / landing pages tested, etc.
For now I am keeping quality of pieces out of the strategy, this is purely activity and content produced for now, I find introducing the concept of Domain Authority vs Page Authority vs PageRank can confuse execs, so keep that convo as brief as possible. You could definitely pull down their major linkable assets and compare those as well, which I reviewed in my Mozcon presentation on how to do the quick scan. Again B2B people remember if the blog is hosted on a subdomain, you'll have to enter that into Open site explorer or Majestic SEO, and not the root domain to see the blog posts, which are attracting links in addition to the big assets on the root domain.
Step 2 - Illustrating the opportunity ahead of us...
Once you have that keyword, drop it into Ubersuggest - see what the results look like below
I would recommend pulling some mid/longer tail keywords one you have found 10-15 keywords that represent multiple touchpoints in the funnel. Drop the keywords into a rank checker, for quick checks I like to use SEOBOOK's rank checker. Drop your competitors in and watch it work its magic. In the typical form this doesn't do much to create a convincing argument.
Lets use some basic excel pivot table magic to bring this to light!
Again I hope this illustrates some obvious points. Marketo has more first page visibility across the mid/long tail for all derivatives of the keyword, meaning they blanket a range of keywords related to "lead nurturing" that are not just the head keyword. So even though they are not #1 for the word lead nurturing, when you illustrate the mid/long tail, they are actually doing a better job than all competitors with half of the words I selected being on page 1. Manticore can see that 30% of the selected keywords are in the 30's and 70% are nowhere to be found!
This illustration may help to get the boss past the head keyword obsession that so many have and start investing in content to work on the mid/long tail a bit to start getting some traction there.
Step 3 - Compare your request to other channels they spend much more budget on
If they are still not convinced to get you some budget, you got one last option...
Take it to PPC data, pull a search query report for the root keyword and the derivatives it matches to. Remember, if you can get the root keyword and the costs to target the root keyword, along with the derivatives you can start trying to push a revenue target, which always helps align goals. Now this is a bit risky, but you should be confident that you can crack rankings by doing a strong competitive analysis and setting attainable goals if you get what you need.
So if I am Manticore's SEO I might say, to produce enough content to make this work, the cost might be $5,000 (making that completely up). Illustrate for the team that taking even for one of the most popular derivatives (lead nurturing best practices) and make the case that QUALITY content can rank for 3-4 years, as you can see. A one-time investment can get you visibility for 4 years or longer, that means every year when thousands of people seek best practices for lead nurturing you can show up again and again, but the pieces need to be quality.
When illustrating this fact, you want to remind your execs that after the production of the content piece, variable costs are minimal year to year, the clicks are basically free (I'd recommend updating it regularly, as you can see people want fresher content):
Make sure when you show the client how much they are spending every month for PPC to phrase match on that keyword (to get all the derivatives) that you show this as a cost that gets amortized over 3 years for SEO vs the 3 year cost of targeting the same keywords in PPC.
Hope this helps, best of luck!