Does content marketing even work anymore?
Do you feel like you’ve been keyword-researching, brain-storming and blog post churning for a while now - and yet to see the kind of bountiful growth promised to you by all those marketing posts suffocating your LinkedIn feed?
Why aren’t people reading my content? Can people even find what I’m writing? Am I writing about the right things?
The problem may be that our entire strategy for defining what we write about and how we structure our sites around them is wrong - or at the very least, outdated.
Search Engines Have Changed - Because We’ve Changed.
People are no longer searching keyword-esque phrases into search engines anymore. We’re being much more conversational with our searches - as if we’re asking questions of a good friend.
Where’s the best place to eat right now? What’s the weather like outside? Hey Siri, play something I’d like.
And our best friend (and loyal confidant) Google, reliable and trustworthy - will give us the answers we need.
We expect Google to understand the intent of our search. And it does.
Google takes into account a number of factors; location, time, device type, previous search behaviour etc. and uses them to provide context to your search.
This context, coupled with your search query, then enables the results to be accurate and tailored to you and your query.
The Evolution of SEO Strategy
The parameters search engines are using to determine a page’s authority and relevance have become more complex — so, we need to adjust our SEO strategy accordingly.
What does this mean?
It means we need to stop focusing on targeting keywords with our content and begin to take a much more topic-focused approach to content.
Gone are the days when Google would simply scan the contents of a web page for queried keywords and return results based on their presence on a page.
The age of Hummingbird and RankBrain have brought to the forefront a sophisticated analysis of how those keywords fit with the content of the page, how cohesive that page is with the rest of the site and how authoritative that site is relative to all the other similar sites crawled on the web.
This is how authority and relevance are now determined.
The Topic Selection Revolution
This new criterion for ranking demands a new approach to SEO. It demands that we move away from the traditional keyword-centred approach and focus much more on a topic-based approach.
Here’s a high-level rundown of how this works.
Select a core-topic. Identify a bunch of sub-topics. Build links between the sub-topic pages to the core topic page (or pillar page as it’s known) and then link back from the core topic page back to the sub-topic content pages.
It can be. You just need a solid understanding of:
- Your industry
- Your buyers/personas
If you have that - you’re at a great starting point.
Select your core topic based on industry and buyers, then use traditional keyword research strategies to identify your subtopics.
You see, long tail keywords still have a place in this brave new world - they’re just being used in a more strategic and structured way.
How Does This Help My SEO
Why do content clusters work for SEO?
When we build the linking structure, we allow search engines to understand two things.
The first is that there is a relationship between each of these sub-topics.
The second is an understanding of the nature of these relationships. In other words, it provides context to the content - demonstrable cohesion between it and the rest of your site.
With these relationships in place and recognised - some magical things start to happen:
- Any authority we build on one sub-topic helps garner authority on all the other subtopics
- Because of point 1 - any authority we build helps build the authority of the topic cluster as a whole
- Once we have built this authority, we are then in an even better position to rank for pages when creating content for additional sub-topics
It’s a bonfire that will keep getting bigger and bigger so long as you don’t run out of quality wood.
A Sign Of The Times
Yes, content marketing still works.
But, if you haven’t already, you will need to employ a content cluster strategy to continue to reap the rewards of your efforts.
If you’d like to see exactly how hard you need to run your marketing engine to achieve your revenue goals, try our funnel calculator tool.