June 15, 2017
SEO Content Strategy
You’ve seen 1,000 articles and guides on “10x content marketing strategies” (and that’s being conservative), and they’ve all given you the same advice:
- Use analytics to adapt your content strategy
- Write content that addresses your product pain-points
- Be intentional about your long-tail targeting
Sound familiar? Benji Hyam, founder of Grow and Convert, has a different take. Benji sat down with Autopilot to discuss how he took his startup’s blog from_ 0 to 35,000 monthly unique visitors_—ranking it among the top 30,000 sites in the US—in just 6 months.
His content strategies are not going to sound familiar to you, in fact they’re going to contradict a lot of what you read, but his results speak for themselves.
1. Always put customer analysis before content analysis
Most startups who have sustained some traction through their content ask themselves the same question: “What content is performing best, and how can we double down on that?” Benji asks a different question when he’s trying to improve his content strategy. Instead of focusing on what content has been shared the most, Benji focuses on who his best customers are. [shareable text=“Instead of focusing on what content has been shared the most, focus on who your best customers are.” shareable-text=“Instead of focusing on what content has been shared the most, focus on who your best customers are.” hashtags=“”] He asks the following questions:
- Which customers were brought in at the highest value?
- Who among your customers have you retained the longest?
- Who have been the easiest to handle in terms of customer service?
- Which customers had the shortest sales cycle?
Using these questions, Benji dives deeper into his buyer personas, narrowing his target segment more and more. Then, he formulates new content that serves those specific personas. The value in this strategy lies in the way it shifts your thinking. When you have traction, it’s easy to think in simple terms. If 1,000 unique visitors netted you 30 customers last month, increasing your content reach to 10,000 unique visitors should get you 300 customers, right? This kind of thinking gives you tunnel vision. You focus on increasing traffic, instead of increasing revenue. This leads to linear growth, where increasing your traffic by _x_ increases your conversions by a proportional amount. If you want _exponential_ growth, where an increase in traffic coincides with an increase in your conversion rate and in lead quality, you need to focus on creating content that is better targeted to your highest value customers. These are people who generate more revenue for you, require fewer resources from you, and are more likely to evangelize your product—which means even more traffic.
2. Tackle pain-points related—and unrelated—to your product
One of the staples of a good content strategy is creating content that addresses your customer’s pain-points. Most of the time, these pain-points are going to be problems that are directly related to your product. For example, Grow and Convert specializes in training companies on effective content marketing, and offering done-for-you content services. A product-related pain-point for Grow and Convert customers is how difficult attribution is for content marketers. A customer’s acquisition path may look like this:
- They discover your product while at work by reading an article you wrote.
- Two days later, they remember your product, and Google its name.
- Later that day, they finally decide to purchase, but they use their phone.
The customer _should_ be attributed to the first article they read (assuming a first-touch attribution model), but it’s incredibly hard to do that when they’ve accessed your site on different days, through different channels, and on different devices. As a result, you—the content marketer—struggle to give your boss the exact data they need to calculate the ROI of your content, meaning they can’t see your full value. This is a classic content marketing pain-point, and something Grow and Convert has written about. However, there is another kind of pain-point companies don’t frequently write about, one that is fantastic for reaching new people within your target segment. Pain-points that are not related to your product, but still affect your target buyer, are perfect topics for content. For example, Grow and Convert has no service that helps companies hire writers—but they’ve written articles about it. Why? Because their customer cares about it. If you are confident enough in your buyer personas to say that _everyone_ within your target segment would benefit from using your product, then you should get that target segment on your blog in any way possible. That means creating content that solves their problems, and not all of those problems will be directly related to your product.
3. Don’t prioritize SEO—prioritize problem solving
Organic traffic is the holy grail. It converts better, it’s evergreen, and once a post is ranking on Google, it doesn’t take much maintenance from you. Everyone agrees that organic traffic is important, including Benji. Where Benji disagrees with conventional SEO wisdom, however, is when it comes to how companies should go about getting organic traffic. Traditional SEO advice makes it into a numbers game:
- Make sure your post is longform.
- Target a very specific long-tail keyword in your headline.
- Focus on link building once the post is live.
Etc, etc. Over 1/3rd of Grow and Convert’s 35,000 monthly unique visitors came through organic traffic, but Benji never engaged in link building, never changed his posts’ length for SEO purposes, and never began his content creation process with keyword research. Benji’s guiding light in creating content was much simpler. He mapped out all the problems his ideal customer might face, and formulated articles that solved them. Once those articles were locked in, Benji would look at keywords around each specific article to optimize them for SEO, but SEO was never the primary driver behind his content strategy. As a result, Grow and Convert had articles that solved actual problems their ideal customers were searching for. This led to their posts naturally ranking with Google, generating huge amounts of organic traffic. [shareable text=“Create content that solves customer problems and organic traffic will happen, well, organically.” shareable-text=“Create content that solves customer problems and organic traffic will happen, well, organically.” hashtags=“”] The key is in making SEO simple. People use search engines to find answers to their problems. Anticipate those problems, and create content that solves them better than anyone else, and organic traffic will happen, well, organically.
What about insert other medium content?
Video content is the future. Popular podcasts are useful. Interactive content like Crew’s “How Much To Make An App” estimator are incredibly powerful. But none of them should be your first choice with content. Benji recommends that every company start with written content for the following reasons:
- The cost of entry is much lower.
- Scaling is cheaper and easier.
- Production times are faster.
Virtually all startups face one central problem when it comes to content: A lack of resources. Until you have real traction, a very narrow buyer persona, and know for certain what content will drive leads within your target segment, gambling your resources on a more expensive medium is simply a bad investment. Start by creating written content that solves your target customer’s needs, scale your production, and when you have 35,000 unique visitors each month, then think about branching out into other mediums. Do you have any counterintuitive content strategies you’d add to the mix? Let us know in the comments.