It seems everyone these days is talking about content marketing, and for good reason. Think of content marketing as the net that captures the attention of your audience and entices them to visit your site in the hopes of converting them into a customer. So how do you go about devising a content marketing strategy that will drive all these searchers to your site?
As you aim to create easily discoverable, relevant content, it may be difficult finding the right balance between customer-focused content and search engine optimization (SEO). In this blog, we will share insights on how to implement an effective content strategy powered by search data and insights.
The content marketing pyramid
A successful content marketing strategy takes into account all stages of the customer’s journey (the sales funnel), and maximizes return on investment (ROI) by distributing and repurposing that content for various marketing channels. The easiest way to envision this is encapsulated below:
These diagrams help explain the three types of content you should have on your site (hero, hub, and hygiene), how much of each type you should invest in, as well as where each falls in the sales funnel.
What is hero content?
Let’s start at the top. At the top of the content pyramid we have hero content, which falls at the top of the sales funnel and targets broad topics related to your business. This type of content tends to be used the least and is far more expensive than the other two types of content.
You can think of hero content as the flash and sparkle of your content strategy, making it perfect for digital public relations (PR). These pieces of content are reserved for the large-scale, ‘go big or go home’ moments designed to be seen by the large audiences, with the goal of increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic and growing the number of new website visitors. You can see them in a variety of forms including videos, games, quizzes, infographics, and more.
Hero content tends to be extremely shareable and enjoyed by the masses, so they can be extremely beneficial to gain SEO authority through backlinks. Link building will help you land higher up on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and be much more discoverable by users.
What is hub content?
The middle of the pyramid is where hub content resides, and it aligns with the top and middle of the sales funnel. Hub content tends to make up the bulk of most brands’ content marketing efforts.
You can utilize hub content to position yourself as a thought leader and establish authority for a broad topic, by providing users with answers to the who, what, when, where, why and how of the topic at hand. These pillar pieces of content can show up as anything from ultimate guides on a subject or a website category page to an interview, webinar or ebook.
Hub content is typically used for non-brand keywords, and are for your marquee keywords, or the lowest common denominator keywords that often have a high search volume.
As hub content is quite regularly incorporated into brands’ marketing strategies, this type of content can help keep your website fresh and up-to-date, which can ultimately benefit your website’s SEO. While hub content is typically geared towards subscribers, it also draws in audiences from SERPs by providing comprehensive answers to their queries, making it important that you truly understand your audience and their interests.
What is hygiene content?
Finally, hygiene content lives at the bottom of the pyramid, but falls at the middle and bottom of the sales funnel. It plays a very functional role in answering very specific brand questions about your service or product that will help the consumer gain a better understanding of your brand’s offerings.
The ultimate goal with hygiene content is to draw in users who are searching for queries similar or relevant to your brand. These pieces of content are very helpful in securing organic visibility for mid- to long-tail keywords that are not particularly competitive queries. While they tend to be used for both brand and non-brand keywords, they are leaning towards brand keywords as customers are increasingly looking to compare brands with competitors and gain answers to key questions they might have.
Hygiene content can be instrumental in helping users navigate through your website, as it serves to support hub or category-level content. Product pages, how-to videos and frequently asked questions (FAQs) are all examples of hygiene content – their main function is to convince the user to convert.
For instance, our client, Audible, offers users access to an abundance of audiobooks and podcasts that are organized in a way that’s user-friendly and great for SEO. While their ‘Romance’ category would be considered hub content, there are a number of subcategories within ‘Romance’, such as ‘Romantic comedy’ and ‘Romantic suspense’ – these would be considered hygiene content.
Goal of content marketing and SEO
We’ve now established what comprises a comprehensive content marketing strategy, but how does it specifically relate to SEO? To answer that question, we must first acknowledge that as SEO marketers, we are optimizing our sites FOR search engines. This might be raising red flags for some of you who may have seen advice that content should be written FOR users – not search engines.
For those who understand the goal of search engines, the two are not mutually exclusive. When we ask ourselves “what is the goal of a search engine?”, the answer is to make the most ad revenue possible. Perhaps it’s not the first answer you thought of, but it’s true nonetheless.
Now you might ask yourself, “what does ad revenue have to do with SEO?”. Well, if the goal of a search engine is to increase the amount of ad revenue spent via the platform, then the best way to entice advertisers to use your platform is to have the largest user base possible. So how do you acquire and maintain the largest user base possible? And here’s the answer you’ve been waiting for – to provide the best user experience possible. Now do you see why writing for search engines and users are two peas in the same pod?
So what does all this have to do with content strategy? The three core pillars of SEO are relevance, accessibility and authority, so it means that as marketers and brands, we must understand that any content we write needs to provide answers to questions in the user’s journey.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO and how it relates to content marketing, or if you’d like to speak with someone on our team, please get in touch!