“I don’t want to change anything because it’s doing so well.” That’s a common hesitation when optimizing a good-performing piece of content. But optimizing a good performer means that you’ll get even better results.
How do you determine what to optimize? How soon should you optimize content? Why should you bother? And how much should be changed?
John Reinesch, founder of Exponential Growth, and Jeff Coyle, co-founder of MarketMuse answer these questions and more during their conversation. Listen in to gain a deeper understanding of:
- Why you should use content briefs for optimizations
- How to leverage new sections, SEO tags, and fact-checking
- What to do if something goes wrong
Click to view the entire conversation.
The #1 Mistake B2B Tech Teams Make
According to Jeff, the most common mistakes for this team, which applies to those who are in the middle stage of maturity in content and SEO, is “they start believing that only bottom of the funnel content and some middle of the funnel content is all they actually need and is only type of content worth anything.”
The way John approaches the issue is to deal with it upfront in the content planning and strategy phase where you’re mapping out content, typically by stage of the funnel. At this point he likes to work in a mixture of content across all stages of the funnel.
As John says, “you’re in a much better position. And the sales team is in a much better position to actually be able to get that person to close” if they’ve been exposed to your content early in the customer journey. He goes on to explain, “If you only focus on bottom-funnel (content) that can end up actually being counterproductive because now the only time people are seeing you is through those searches and they’ve never heard of you before and they probably have seen your competitors in other scenarios. So your competitors already have a leg up now.”
It’s important to understand that every piece of content has its unique purpose and the goals and KPIs will reflect that. John points out that “prospecting ads can be pretty expensive when you’re going after a cold audience. So if you can get that traffic organically, and now you could shift your ad budget to maybe more the bottom funnel or mid funnel type ads and you’re not, you don’t have to go after this big cold audience. That can a lot of times be a lot better use of your ad budget, where you’re now supplementing it with organic traffic at the top.”
Search is About More Than Just Ranking
It can be hard for many SEOs to grasp but, leadership teams don’t care about ranking. It’s more about business impact and pipeline. In John’s experience they’re more interested in “generating contacts from this channel, organic search, MQLs, SQLs opportunities, depending on how they have things defined.”
By itself, ranking doesn’t pay the bills. So for him, it’s a pretty easy sell to say, “Yes, the rankings and traffic are good, but if we’re actually doing this right, and we’re thinking about making the content better, making sure we have the right offer on each page, that should translate to leads and the quality of the leads coming in. That’s usually what we lead with and we can get people on the same page by looking at it from a business perspective.”
Deciding What Content to Update
There are a few ways that John uses when deciding what content to update. He likes to look through the data first, grouping pages according to the tactic he’s going to use. Those tactics depend, in part, on the current position of the page.
If the page already ranks well, in the upper half of the SERP, he may just optimize the title tag and meta description. “Almost like ad copy testing”, as he puts it.
But if it’s on the second or third page of the SERP, “that’s where we go to our full optimization process – going back to building the brief, figuring out the keywords, the intent, and then trying to make the content better.”
If it’s not ranking at all (or worse than 10th page of the SERP), “that might be a scenario where we need a new piece of content and we actually start from scratch and actually create something new for that.”
On The Value of Content Briefs
Having well-defined standard operating procedures (SOP) is key to scaling content with consistently good results. In John’s experience, “It’s hard to get results at scale consistently over time without having a process.” As he sees it, “The beauty of having a brief is really then you have your process basically outlined.” The brief functions as a sort of framework that allows writers to “bring their perspective to it.”
Where People Go Wrong With Content Briefs
It’s rare to have a brief that has too much detail. The more common situation is that the brief is, well, too brief – it’s just not thorough enough. In John’s experience, “We often see briefs that just have a few keywords and maybe one or two notes for the writer. And then all of a sudden that gets sent to the writer and all they’re given is maybe three keywords and we’re asking them to go produce something.”
A well-defined content brief provides a writer with everything they need to create an outstanding piece of content. With that brief, John knows “it’s already on track and we know it’s gonna have a good potential to rank well.”
Google’s Helpful Content Update
John believes that people focused “on actually making the content good, making it unique” shouldn’t be concerned with this update, in fact they “probably will actually see an improvement.” He feels that we’re “probably gonna see the biggest decreases on mostly people that probably shouldn’t have been ranking in the first place. Maybe the content wasn’t really good enough to rank in the first place.”
Jeff points out that “Historically Google has topic site section level granularity, the ability to have that level of granularity with their authority. And they’ve also obviously have site level. So it’ll be, I think it’s gonna be really interesting to see how the haves and have nots is an entire section of a site being degraded or is it the whole site? Are you throwing the entire person out with the damage?”
John is the founder at Exponential Growth. Exponential Growth provides white label SEO, Google Analytics, and reporting services for marketing agencies.
Middle-of-funnel Content and Missed Opportunities (webinar with Josh Spilker)
Fireside Content (MarketMuse webinar series)
Where were *you* on Google Panda rollout week? (Jeff’s Twitter thread)
Jeff Coyle: Hello, welcome to another MarketMuse content strategy webinar in our content strategy webinar series. Today is going to be all about content optimization. What does it mean? What does it mean today? What did it used to mean? How do we do it? How do we think about it? Why are we doing it going crazy down the rabbit hole of all the things, content optimization from updates to refreshes, to complete reworks and then getting into you.
The reasons why that people may not be looking at, I have a great guest that knows this space amazingly. And before I get into that, I wanna talk about a few things that relate to housekeeping. Ask us anything. It can be really anything. We may not answer it if it’s a little crazy but we will get to most of them if they’re relevant to our discussion we’ll talk about them in line.
If we can’t really work it in we’ll get to it at a section the last five to 10 minutes of the. You’re gonna get this recording. Go watch it, send it to your friends, share it, shoot us a note who you shared it with any feedback, but while you’re at it, go check out the MarketMuse webinar library.
There’s hundreds of webinar replaced talking about everything you could possibly imagine that relates to content from local search engine optimization. Sales enablement. We’ve got a great one with Pam diner who wrote the book on sales enablement, Andy Krista Dina, talking about content strategy and page layouts and analytics.
Nick UBank gotta replay where, Nick is talking about his keyword research strategies that kind of put him on the map. Go check out those replays. It is just a wealth of information. In our most recent one, we did with a amazing team from a writing. Who was talking about how they architected plans that got 15,000 articles out for one company they work with just amazing stuff.
Cool. Now housekeeping’s done. Go check that stuff out. Wanna ask a question and then intro my amazing guest. John Reinish is the co-founder of chosen. And he doesn’t know, I’m gonna ask this question. How did you come up with chosen data and then what’s the mission of the business. And tell us a little bit also about your background.
Thank you for joining us too.
John Reinesch: Awesome. Yeah. Excited to be here. So the name actually, so the co-founder his name’s Bronco crawl. He actually came up with the name. I think part of it we actually started as an analytics company doing a lot of Google analytics, implementations, and audits and some marketing.
And actually part of it was. He was brainstorming names. The other part, we were looking for domains that were available. So it was what domain was out there and then what kind of fits with what we’re doing. So that’s how it was born. And we rebranded the chosen data last year around July.
Jeff Coyle: Cool. I love the logo. I think it’s super smart. And I think it does tell that story. It tells a story of performance marketing. It tells a story of caring about outcomes. But I’m an identity and brand nerd. Yeah I think it really does. It gets that point across. So like your personal mission and background, how did you get to chosen data?
How did you land in that co-founding position?
John Reinesch: Yeah, so really what we’re trying to do and we saw a need, there’s a lot of kind of marketing and SEO companies working with B2B. Which is really what we like to work on and focus on, but we really made it our goal to work with companies, really what we had similar values on.
So we’re big on kind doing marketing the right way in an ethical way. Being transparent is one of the big things we always like with the agency, client relationship. That’s always something that we wanted to make sure it was paramount to what we’re doing. So transparency, communication, and ultimately just doing really good work and helping some of these companies.
Jeff Coyle: I find that’s a nuance of search engine optimization and content strategy. That’s a little bit lost on the world. It’s if you are working on B2B SAS, right? You can’t do certain stuff, you can’t do anything. That’s like ultra aggressive because your main focus is growing that SaaS company. And I think a lot of folks they get, they’re.
And by the way worked in that space. The first 16 years of my career, I’ve been in this space about 24 years, I was at a company called knowledge storm. We were selling leads to software companies before. Software companies even knew they needed content on their sites. We were convincing them to scan their brochures and put them up as PDFs.
It was, the dark old days of content. And when you’re convincing companies like IBM to have content on their site, it’s a whole different starting place. But also with, when I worked with tech target, they acquired a knowledge storm during the middle of my career.
And I stayed on with them. It was about publishing one thing that really interests me. there’s a lot of noise about content strategy, content optimization. And a lot of it was like, yeah, no B2B SAS company should ever be doing anything that aggressive unless they wanna wake up the next morning and not have a company.
And so there was like so many, do you ever run into that thing where someone’s like thinking that because you’re an agency you’re gonna be aggressive or because you’re an agency you’re gonna act like a, Amazon affiliate, training course, or that, do you ever run.
John Reinesch: Sometimes, usually when founders typically have gotten started in SEO in kind of the older days, like maybe they built a site or they did something and they’re still thinking, even though they’re running a SAS company, now they still have that mindset of there’s more tricks and tips to utilize.
And I also found a lot of us in SEO start out in a smaller scale, working on a small affiliate projects or maybe local companies where you could do some different things for. When you’re working with definitely with enterprise clients, but even just SAS in general, really doing things the right way.
And not really looking for shortcuts always is key. And that does that conversation does come up every now and then, depending on the company and kind of backgrounds that we run into,
Jeff Coyle: how do you define the right way? And this will really dovetail well into content optimization. When you’re thinking about, and I’ve seen this done by, Gosh I probably, it wouldn’t even be exaggerating by a hundred agencies.
What, so building out, typically if someone has a brand first dynamic, it’s like, Hey, you can do the who, what, why techniques? You can do the, the journey modeling, four squares. How do you get in and say, Hey, this is going to be tough. You’re gonna have some quick wins.
We have to do this the right way. How do you clean those mirrors before you get started with a B2B SAS client? I think everybody could value cuz I know the way you do it and it’s, it is the right way. It’s ethical, it’s setting foundation for longevity and growth. But I love to hear in your words and think the audience would be value would value that.
John Reinesch: Yeah, I think that starts with first thinking about The long term. So there’s definitely ways you can get results quicker that might not lead to long-term success. So things like with aggressive backlink strategies we think of backlinks more on the PRN. Now, when we’re working with these types of companies , where we’re not necessarily looking for quick wins that maybe work for a few months, and then we get set back again.
So on the back lane side, it’s really thinking about it more as PR and then on the content side, we’re really looking at when we create something we really wanna make sure it’s the best piece of content. For that subject or topic, we’re not really looking to just produce something and maybe we get it to rank for a little while and we get a little traffic for the short term ultimately to really rank well anyways, in your benefits to actually think about users first and your audience, what do they really want?
The keyword data can support that and give you some insights into what people want in your industry. But really looking at it from an SEO perspective, but also from a content perspective on what’s gonna resonate with your audience is the content. Good to provide value. Is it unique? Rather than just copying, maybe what’s already there.
There’s some element of that, but we’ll get into that a little bit more, but that’s the way we think about
Jeff Coyle: front. No, I think that’s terribly relevant right now in the middle of the things that are going through, which we’ll talk about at the tail end of the discussion. I think the wave you were at the early.
Parts of the wave. I think I was at it when it was lake superior. Thinking about quality and con content with B2B tech and now it’s the ocean and the waves growing and I hate this term of phrase the entire agency, world getting religion on content quality, there’s never really a reason to be giving advice that your client should put out content that.
Great that isn’t equal to, or better than their competitors too, from a lens of quality and comprehensiveness. Obviously the punchline is of created a software platform that does that. But anyway, we’ll get back to that in a second. I would love to know a little bit about situations that we commonly run into and what you do and how you think about it.
So a lot of times you’re working with a B2B SAS company, a couple things are common. Compliments common situations, homepage that gets tons of traffic and doesn’t have any content on it. They have product pages you aren’t allowed to touch. You have service pages. You’re, that don’t, they’re really general, right?
They’re not getting into details about their service offerings. Maybe it’s because they don’t invest in the professional services as much as they like to make people think of, or maybe they have too many professional services and the software hasn’t yet caught up, all those dynamics come into play.
How do you think about situations where there’s a page that for one reason or another, the culture of that company is don’t touch it. and you’re like, I want to touch that. I wanna improve it. I wanna optimize it. I wanna get this thing, pumping. Building it into a cluster, using it as a middle of the funnel island Josh Spilker and I talked about a couple weeks ago, go check out that replay.
But no how do you get somebody off the situation off that inertia, inertia stage or inertia stage where they don’t wanna touch their existing content? Cuz they’re worried. Yeah.
John Reinesch: A lot of times that does come into play with, as you said, home pages, product pages, kinda those core pages in the.
With blog posts, most companies usually give a little more leeway to, and sometimes resource content. But for service pages, the way we like explain it or product pages is really thinking about if someone only sees this page, does this have enough on there for them to get everything they need to actually book a meeting or book a demo, whatever you’re offer.
You’re trying to drive them to not relying on them, to visit five pages or navigate your site and find everything they need. We often see one issue with product pages sometimes. Very focused on the product, which you wanna be, but not focused enough on pain points and benefits and having some content on there that really get someone excited about then reading about your features and how you could actually solve those.
We really like having kind of some case study content on product pages to then also show like here’s how you can get results after you’re already keyed into the benefits and how you could solve that. So really building a page that has those different elements to it. A lot of times when you walk someone through.
You can get through some of the resistance of we really don’t wanna touch this page. Sometimes when you run into situations where you can’t and there we’ve run into that too, where there’s just nothing we can do, we’re not gonna be able to edit it. We’ll come out with a resource type page. This is more from an SEO standpoint.
If we’re trying to rank for a software keyword, we might actually put out a blog on here’s the critical features you need in this software or something more educational, but still can promote the product and kind of get the traffic we need. That would be our approach. If there’s just no way we can edit the product page, but from a conversion standpoint, really trying to make that complete where it has everything someone would need is really the approach we like to look for.
Jeff Coyle: I think you get into the nuance of the word optimization in that response and it’s, it makes me very happy to hear. Because a lot of times people are only looking at the ranking results, and rankings that tail wagon, the dog it’s like, Hey, I touched this and it went up a. What does that mean?
It doesn’t, did it result in more click through rate? I have no idea, but you’re talking about also optimizing content to tell a better story to guide them across the journey. And I’m actually working on a product marketing material about what situations get people to. Further in the journey what experiences with content.
And so you touched on a few of them. It’s, making sure that way finding isn’t required for them to get yet. I like that you discussed you, you discussed that in that way. The other thing you did, like a workaround, but I’m gonna challenge that, so you said to work around, we might branch off.
If we can’t touch it, build. Build some power then maybe reintegrate that back into the world. And I think that works. It works in some cases.
What do you tell a client though? If they have a page that’s getting, 30 or 40% of their traffic do, are you building that case and saying yeah, we need to de-risk this.
And part of that is creation. Part of that is optimization. Do you ever get into those types of spots where it’s not, we can’t just work around ya. .
John Reinesch: Yeah. If in that scenario where there’s one or two pages yeah. That are driving, just tons of search traffic or traffic in general there’s a few approaches.
One of them is what we like to look at. And this is based on keyword data is is there supporting content we could branch off into this. Sometimes you’ll have a big pillar post that ranks for maybe thousands, hundreds of keywords. But even if that page is ranking, we’ve seen where if we make a more focused article, that’s supporting the main one, but targeting a set of those keywords.
Sometimes actually the traffic ends up going up overall, when you start adding in the main page, plus this new targeted page that can end up ranking driving more traffic. A lot of it depends on authority to where most brands we work with. They’re not going to be in position to have the most authority, the most baling for sometimes you can get away with having one page and you’re just ranking for everything.
But from the user standpoint we always like to look at not just the rankings, but yeah. Is that supporting content gonna be a better experience for them to get to when they do that search? A lot of times it is cuz it’s just more focused and they’re not combining through a 5,000 word article getting to the spot they need.
So there’s a lot of ways to think about it, but that’s really what we look for. Is there opportunity to create supporting posts? We, a lot of times we’ll use some of the keyword data to try to determine that and some audience data. All right.
Jeff Coyle: That was worth the price of admission for everyone here.
That specific thing I actually had written down the word branching and support as my notes before you answered the question. So you actually used the vocabulary words you’re supposed to in that situation, but think about that functionality, that situation, you have authority you’re performing well so well that this page is ranking for stuff that it doesn’t.
and then you’re making it simpler for your client or for your prospect to read it in the form of a intent targeted support item where you’re branching. And then you’re providing wayfinding in both directions. In six years ago, affiliate terms they might have called that something that might cause cannibal, but in your case, you’re saying, no, my entire blob is going up into the right, this whole collection of content, this cluster.
Stated right on the nose for the way it needs to be done and not just in B2B, by the way, that’s across the board. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
So tell me a story about how do you optimize content? We talked about different types of optimization, but how do you optimize content through the means of creating directives for people who are doing the optimization, do you optimize how do you create cadences of optimization?
When do you decide to. So the three questions I’ll ask is because why are you optimizing when you do make the decision optimized? What do you do? Are you building artifacts? Are you building, are you researching? And then third, how do you get the person who’s actually touching the page to get on the same page with you?
John Reinesch: I think there’s, we of think of it from two perspective and we’re trying to figure out what to optimize. There’s the SEO perspective. And then the content perspective where in both cases are valid and it could be a good reason to. From a content standpoint, we’re usually looking at is the content outdated?
Is there new research or new, or maybe we have a new opinion that we want to get across. So just looking at it from that standpoint, is there a way to just make the content better, maybe something we miss in the original article. So that’s one reason to update and watch get to the process for it is pretty similar.
No matter what path we go. From the SEO side, we’re usually looking at just performance of the page. Are we stuck on page two or three of Google and nothing’s moving, maybe we got to the bottom of page one. We might have a different set of tactics we use. Maybe we just didn’t get any traction. So those two lenses will usually lead us to deciding what to optimize.
And then once we have that, what we really like to do is actually to almost treat the page as we would a new page where we create a brief a lot of times we. People skip that step and they just go straight to the traditional SEO of optimizing title, tags, headings internal links. And that’s all good.
You, you want, you have to do that at some point, but the next layer to it is starting from the beginning and really thinking about first the keywords are we targeting the right keywords? Maybe originally we thought there was a set of keywords and we’re actually getting traction for a different set.
So maybe we pivot at this point. Maybe the keywords are right, but really thinking about that first and then relooking at the search. That’s also can change over time. So maybe when we publish this, it seemed like we had the right style of article to really be the best result. But re-looking at that and seeing, is it different, do we need to make major changes or maybe we’re correct.
In what our original thesis was. Re-analyzing the search intent is a big part of the brief and then actually doing the traditional OnPage SEO. So making sure we have that in order we’ve made some adjustments. And then ultimately what we’re leading to though is really analyzing the content and trying to figure out how do we make it better?
Is there new sections that we could add? Maybe we could streamline sections and remove some that are redundant. If you have the ability to create video or other types of content, maybe you could work that into it. And there’s a lot of ways to figure that out. Like we’re always big on looking at the actual top 10 articles and seeing what they’re doing.
Maybe there’s themes they all have in common. And that you might want to do something similar, but then also thinking about what are they all missing too, that could add to this? And there’s a lot of nuance to that part where we’re not just replicating what’s there, but we’re also looking for kind of gaps in things that we could add that nobody else has whether that’s original research or video or whatever the other content type might be.
Jeff Coyle: I, I just, that was awesome. I just wanted you to keep talking. Oh, that’s just wonderful. That’s like master class optimization reasons why? Breaking that down. I, just restating it. It’s I love thinking about learner types. I talk about that a lot. And it’s to say, not everybody likes content, the way that you initially publish.
They might want it in a different format that format could yield additional optimization benefits. So always be thinking about that. That’s why, when you say, I think people, some people need the pragmatic, is there a video on this page? No. Put a video on it, if you think but from a learning perspective or an abstraction is to say, yeah, not everybody wants to read your 3000 word, Opus on, how do you get bees out of your garage?
But they, a quick video, showing a bunch of bees flying around is gonna be interesting to some folks. And so that’s your, that can also drive additional benefits. It can drive, but I love the, has the intent changed? Did we hit it on the nose the first time? Yeah. Is this a, is this outdated, right?
Do we have a new opinion? I love that idea. We have a new thing we’ve learned. Imagine if you wrote a guide to natural language generation two years, it was your opinion the same two years ago as it was today because that’s wild. But also the technology has changed exponentially every three months since.
And then the last thing I love, the two pronged approach that you described is one. I want to make sure this page is always gonna stay differentiated. I have an editorial, I have an editorial team. I work. And they go, they have a list of things that generate recurring traffic, right? Anything that generates recurring traffic above a particular bar, it goes into this elite class or page.
They don’t just optimize their content on those refresh. They have a refresh cycle for those. They go back and say, is this page still differentiated? How I like that? If not, let’s make it differentiated because something you said earlier and it really it brings back one, one of the things you. It’s like a trite thing from eight years ago, but you’ve refreshed it and made it work.
It’s every page is a landing page, people have been saying every page is a landing page since, I think Jacob Nielsen might have even said that like old time thing in a document, but what you said really makes. Can they make decisions to get to the next phase of the buyer journey or the prospect journey or the reader journey from this page?
This editorial team is taking that step further and you described it to say, is my page still differentiated? Because what if you write something and it’s great, but then everybody else catches up, right? If you don’t catch up, if you don’t keep yourself ahead of that, cool.
Your top performing pages. So then what challenge that could create, right? A person comes to the. They read it and they’re like, yeah, I’ve read this before. It, yeah. Might you know, and that, that is a, or this ad didn’t add a ton of value and I love that way that you described that. It really told me that story.
So how do you were talking about briefs, and what are the issues with teams that maybe don’t want to use briefs? And then. how does that breed? And I’m not leading the witness here, but how does that breed a culture of accountability and then connect it to some of the stuff we were just talking about?
How do you award somebody for maybe taking that extra step and finding, Hey, this is outdated. Hey, this is differentiated. We could repurpose this, how do you get people in that mindset? Because it can seem something we don’t have to do,
John Reinesch: Yeah, I think A few things there.
The the beauty of having a brief is really then you have your process basically outlined everybody’s following the same process. When you’re, especially as your team grows, you have more people maybe working on certain things. Results are gonna be really inconsistent if you don’t have a nailed down process on this is how we approach a page.
When we’re optimizing it, you might assume everybody knows the different steps or we’ll do it the way you’ll do it, but really outlining that in the brief and then having. Kind of training on each section of the brief without being too limiting more of a framework on here’s how you approach it.
Here’s how you think about it. And then letting people bring their perspective to it. I think it’s key. Cause without that, you’re we really always found things are just really inconsistent. It’s hard to get results at scale consistently over time without having a process. So that doesn’t mean the process doesn’t evolve.
I think that was a good point earlier, too, that you have to be looking at those constantly. If there’s something missing or something new, that’s coming out, updating the. brief Doing training on it is really key to getting that consistency in terms of buy-in. That is, that’s always a good question. Getting buy-in for people to use it, to follow it, or even to go, like you said, the next step of really thinking about making the content better and the differentiation part.
I think some of it is just getting people to see the value of it and the reward of it. A lot of people do feel empowered where they have a recommendation or they. Came up with some insight on their own. And then when that gets to be implemented and you get to see the results of it. I think you get that buy-in pretty quickly as people are starting to use it.
Cuz really that I’d really like the point about differentiation too, because that’s often a reason we see content decay over time is exactly that maybe other competitors are copying it or they’re doing the same thing. And now all of a sudden someone’s read the information before, even if you came up with it first, they’ve heard of.
it And now you really need to think about, okay, it’s time to figure out where do we go next with this piece? We see that very often with content that’s been working well for years and you always get that decay over time.
Jeff Coyle: Okay. I love it. I’m I got a decay tangent for you. I gotta ask because you brought it up, so afraid to touch it. It’s probably gonna decay. We just, you just told everyone all the reasons why. So now don’t be afraid to. Here’s the list of here’s a list of things you wanna be looking for. Now what do you deal with, or how do you communicate to a team that don’t touch the foundation over here?
Or don’t delete the foundation over here, or don’t be a detriment over here, cuz it’s gonna impact this side of the building. This has been now. This has always been law in my book, but I think everybody’s finally getting it. That one part of the site actually can positively negatively impact the other parts.
But what do you tell teams that are like optimizing one section, but maybe Hey, we can remove this stuff. What, how do you get into them? Wait a second, we’ve got this infrastructure here. Let’s talk about
John Reinesch: it. Yeah, I think there’s a few layers to it. That’s always a challenge with I think a lot of it’s training and kind of SOPs and process, really having to the level of, not just the brief, but each section of the brief, like how do you approach title tags?
How do you approach all the kind of nuances actually having training and processes for each of those little steps, avoids a lot of the. Making a big change. That’s gonna have a big detriment. So always having that and make sure that’s up to date with kind of your latest beliefs. But I do think a lot of times when it is that high of a performer, it’s worth having multiple team members in there too, we’ll have , someone on our SEO team present the recommendations and we’ll have someone kind of review and give their insight as well.
Cause we find a lot of times, especially with those that are performing so well, taking that little extra. Effort to have a review and then a little collaboration time. A lot of times will lead to things that one person wouldn’t have thought of on their own and maybe prevent some things that they didn’t maybe not see that will have a negative impact.
So that’s a step we love to do for at least the big pieces on the site.
Jeff Coyle: Well, a lot of times that’s a great, by the way, that’s a great witness leading sequence. How many people have looked at that page and touched it. Okay. If it’s only one. Yeah, they had to have had blind spots. Not that you want to Institute group think it’s just, people you don’t use words the way that one might or you might have you don’t I know a lot about X and I don’t know about why and why is this semantically related concept?
That’s one of the reasons why we built MarketMuse to check out the blind spots and figure out like, oh, wow. I was just looking at a collection of topic models for people’s names. It’s so topic modeling and questions analysis, you type stuff in, see what happens. And we were talking about a person and one of the persons on the call knew everything about that person.
And they’re like, why is that word in here? And they’re like, I know this, why is that word in there? And go and look it up. And it was completely appropriate for them to, and so even somebody that knows this person has literally written about this person. Didn’t know these aspects of their life, that artificial intelligence can find and say, wait, if you’re gonna cover this topic, you better talk about this part of their life.
Cuz you might have a blind spot. They might have a, sports career from college and you just don’t, it’s not on your radio radar that they played baseball at, at Georgia tech or something like that. And so like that kind of a stuff is. Really tells the difference of differentiation.
It shows them that, ’em and so yeah, always think about that. Get multiple people, eyes on it. Or multiple technology inputs. So let’s get into some issues. So mistakes people make with briefs or adopting briefs would be one. The other would be mistakes. People make trying to adopt KPIs and report.
But doing it in the wrong way. And I see this all the time and I won’t bury the lead and give answers, but
I just wanna know from your experience, where do people screw up with briefs? Where do people screw up with optimization? And how they monitor, manage report on it?
John Reinesch: Yeah, I think for briefs the biggest.
thing we see And there’s a, maybe a point of diminishing returns of being too thorough, but just leaving a lot out, we often see briefs, just have a few keywords and maybe one or two notes for the writer. And then all of a sudden that gets sent to the writer and all they’re given is maybe three keywords and we’re asking them to go produce something.
So the first thing is just making sure you’re first looking at keywords, then looking at kind of those semantically related topics, then looking at search. intent And then actually even trying to start an outline for a writer. So when they’re actually getting the brief, there’s just all this information, that’s really gonna set it up.
So when a draft is written or when the writer doesn’t outline, it’s already on track and we know it’s gonna have a good potential to rank well cause really what we’re doing is we’re just trying to give ourself the best chance at ranking well, and getting the traffic from the SEO standpoint. So often the biggest issue with brief is just not being thorough.
enough we have seen the flip side, although that’s rare of just having so much where it’s so rigid that leaves no room for anybody else to add their creativity or their own ideas to it. I’d say that’s more rare, but we have seen that. But those would be the biggest things we see with briefs.
Jeff Coyle: Yeah, I think the evolution of the brief we were the first people to bring briefs as a product effectively into software. And I, so I’ve seen the evolution of the brief the thing that I’ve always said, and you’ve described it really well. Is the more rigid, the brief the less empowerment you deliver with that brief, the brief acting as a source of truth as an artifact is to get you on the same page as the.
writer It’s not meant to lock the writer in a box and say, press those buttons in that way. So it’s getting to that happy medium. The best thing you can do in those situations is ask the writers, right? What is what is hell people? And a lot of times you find there’s a little bit of fear by the writers.
It’s yeah I don’t wanna write a section about that. Why? I just don’t. And, but I did it. Okay, let’s get ahead of that. These are guidelines. Let’s get at least to a situation where our content is equal to or better. Is there something that’s mandatory? You better make sure that’s clear.
That is mandatory. If there’s stuff that isn’t as rigid, make sure this is open to your interpretation. Cause I would rather have my improve the narrative when they optimize, make it a better story. Make it more beautiful. Add a repurposed scenario, like adding a video or something, I’d rather them go there and be like, yeah, I made this thing better.
The flip side of that, they gave me this rigid thing and I just peppered in a bunch of new words. You do that. Team’s done. That person’s not gonna work there anymore. So you know, it all starts with the brief, but it also starts with, getting a value match from the writer. I love the way they described that.
And I know that’s what your intent is.
So on the reporting side where have you seen pitfalls wins losses on this and it’s something that it is tough. This is tough. This is a tough part.
John Reinesch: Yeah. With reporting, I say the first issue we typically see. Is really not knowing what’s the actual goal of this piece of content.
A lot of times we publish things and maybe we’re looking at keywords, we’re trying to get traffic, but what’s really the goal of it. Is it a top funnel piece where we’re just trying to get people introduced to your brand and kind of your kind of thought leadership and getting the traffic maybe as a KPI or just the rankings?
Is it more mid funnel and we’re trying to get someone to download a piece of content. Maybe give us our email. If you’re using gated content. Or you trying to actually just get leads, demos and deals booked like that. First thing is just understanding what are we trying to, what’s the goal of this piece of content.
And then you can start thinking about KPIs that make sense. We’re always surprised we see that get skipped quite a bit, and people are using similar metrics for every piece of content that they’re trying to evaluate where really you’re gonna lead yourself down the wrong path. Ultimately, first understanding that, and then you could come up with really KPIs for each of those kind of scenarios or categories, depending on what you’re trying to do in terms of the user journey and how you’re gonna push ’em through your funnel.
I really like looking from an SEO standpoint rankings are always gonna be important. So are we ranking for the keywords we intended to? Are there new keywords? Maybe we weren’t thinking about that. We’re ranking for what’s happening there and then ultimately seeing the organic visibility.
Conversions are gonna be a big piece and conversions can be wildly different depending on the piece of content. Maybe we’re just trying to get people to click on another piece of content and that’s a conversion, or maybe we’re actually trying to get them to download something or book a demo.
So really whatever the actual conversion piece. So the offer of the page is you definitely wanna monitor that cause that’ll give you some good insights as well. Maybe it’s a page that ultimately is not getting a lot of traffic, but it’s converting really well for whatever offer you. And maybe there’s a way to internally link to it or send traffic there through other sources.
So going beyond just the SEO piece of it as well, but yeah, I would say for reporting, it’s really, in my opinion, just understanding what your goals are first and that’s skipping that and really thinking about that for each piece of content. And then you could pretty much make a report based on that.
A lot of different ways to do.
Jeff Coyle: love that walkthrough. The I gave a presentation at MAICON marketing artificial intelligence conference earlier this month about content efficiency. And one of the most important things in that discussion was make sure every page. It’s super clear and everybody’s on the same page as to the goal of that page.
Or else you might find it gets deleted in somebody else’s audit and you’re the entire infrastructure of your house just got imploded. So I love the way you described that. Every page has a reason. Every update needs to have a why. Put a why behind it, then everybody can go and make sure everybody, everybody gets on the same page.
The other the one thing I, a question about, do you ever run into your situation where you’re optimizing content and the client will only give you like credit for those pages going up in traffic? Yeah. Yeah. It’s a commentary. I That is the, by the way, red flags alert, when someone wants to do a.
Hey, can I do a proof of concept with MarketMuse. We just wanna touch these four pages update ’em and see if they go up in traffic. I’m like, woo. We’re gonna have to talk. Do you ever run into that situation?
John Reinesch: Touch on? Yeah. You touched on part of it where a lot of that sorted out upfront, almost, even in the sales process for an agency where when we’re talking to clients and getting what their goals are we’re gonna explain some of those concepts and see if we mesh too on.
There’s always gonna be some people that all they care about is ranking. So no matter what the old school style of SEO and results sometimes it’s better to not work with certain companies. If you can’t get past that and you can’t get on the same page, cuz it’s really important to again, to have the goals for that page.
So then also for the client relationship, we’re able to articulate if that page is doing well or if it’s not and not just saying, oh it’s ranking in position five verse position. Or getting into those details. It’s what was the goal of the page, having some KPIs for it. And then ultimately if it’s falling short, figuring out that goes back to optimization, is there anything we can do to it, to actually get it to perform better and perform better is actually defined cuz we know what the KPIs are for that page, which is gonna be different for each one.
So that’s definitely a common scenario. I think the earlier you start that communication on. edgy. Some people it’s just they don’t necessarily know either that maybe there’s more to SEO than just rankings and and looking at it that way. So the earlier you can start that conversation on here’s, how SEO can fill into all different aspects of your funnel and your marketing and shift it to that conversation versus like we’re ranking in position seven or position six.
The earlier you do that, the better you could avoid a lot of that stuff down the. .
Jeff Coyle: Yeah. It all goes back to something that you said, and I restated, as, making sure you get validation on the why for the content it’s, any SEO worth their weight in whatever it is we’re made out of can find the top two or three pages to optimize that are gonna have the biggest traffic increase.
If that’s what you’re focused on, those are the pages that we. But if it’s we’re, if we’re updating this for other reasons, and, making sure that we’re aligned on that. I always bring both to the party. Hey, are we looking for quick wins? I got ’em right. Are we looking for this other initiative output?
And that’s why we built MarketMuse to find, Hey, what are my top 10 quick wins? Those can be nice. They feel real good. It’s like a, jolt of coffee in the morning. When, Hey I updated something and now it’s going up into the. We did it, you right. But it isn’t the whole story. And so I love the way that you described that making sure is education needed and of crossing that bridge.
How do you decide what content to update? I know I just kinda got in the few examples, but how do you select the right pages to optimize And let’s say the answer’s not allowed to be, make sure everybody’s on the same page about the goals of the project we already we’re already there. Okay. Yeah. Let’s say our goals of the project are.
What are typically ways we decide how do we find those winners? Yeah.
John Reinesch: Yeah, I think we think about it almost in three ways where we’re gonna look through the data first and then group pages and match ’em up to a tactic that we’re gonna use. So one, one scenario is if we’re already ranking really well, maybe we’re in the top five, maybe we’re in the top half of the first page.
Maybe all we need to do is optimize the title tag and the meta description and do almost ad copy testing. And a lot of times going back to quick wins, that’s something that’s low lift that can sometimes yield pretty big returns depending on the volume there. Then we’ll look at maybe there’s pages that are in that next tier.
Maybe they’re stuck on page two or three, so we know like we’re close to hitting the mark. We’re just missing something. So then that’s where we go to our full optimization process on going back to building the brief, figuring out the keywords, the intent, and then trying to make the content better.
And all of this is just from a content perspective. You do have back links to look at and some other things there, but just from a content standpoint those two scenarios and the last one is if we’re just not ranking at all, or we’re ranking, maybe on page 10 or 11 that might be a scenario where we need a new piece of content and we actually start from scratch and actually create something new for that.
So from an SEO standpoint, we’re really big on looking at the data and then depending on how the page is performing We’ll perform one of those tactics depending on that and see where that gets us. Maybe it gets us where we want to go, or maybe it doesn’t and we do something else after that. But that’s how we first think about it.
When we’re trying to select those pages,
Jeff Coyle: I am going to build on something you said, I need you to elaborate more. I am constantly looking at situations where creation is the is part of optimiz. You just said it, you’ve given one example with intent, mismatch, branching, which we can dive deep when else is, but we’re not going to unless somebody asks.
I also, you said backlink so I wanna joke around a little bit here. Thank you to, I’m not gonna say your name because I think you’d be upset. I get questions on social media during these, which I already have a bunch of ’em questions to D. You said backlinks, he wants to know. Oh, I’m listening to your webinar.
Do you want any, do you wanna buy some backlinks productized services, eight to 32 quality backlink a month? Did you really just ask me that question during the webinar? Okay. Back to the show. He really, I really just got a prospecting email for backlinks during the show who actually was crying on me knowing I was live.
Come on, brother. Okay. Back to the show.
So when do you give the recommendation for optimization? That includes creation. How, when does that happen? What scenarios is that keen and, cluster development, cluster support that’s number one that is almost always gonna be your intent mismatch.
What are some other situations when you gotta create to optimize?
John Reinesch: Yeah, some of it is looking at and this kind of crosses over into intent mismatch, but. Looking at the keyword data. And a lot of times there’s kind of those accidental keywords that you’re ranking for that maybe are similar but slightly off.
And then it goes, we’re always just big on really looking at search intent for all the keywords we’re analyzing. Are there other types of content showing up for those? That’s one, one way to just determine it as you go to look at those additional keywords, maybe there’s one big brand that’s ranking for all of them, but then when you actually look at the search results, the majority of it is more specific article.
And that’s a good scenario where then yeah, let’s go and create some of those. I would think outside of just blog content though, we’re also really always thinking about other types of content outside of SEO that kind of the blog leads into. So maybe we have a page like that or a blog post that’s ranking for a ton of keywords it’s driving organic traffic, but that can open end if it’s performing while open up the opportunity, maybe you do a podcast on that topic or you.
Getting into video content, you could embed a long form or short form video into the blog. And again, getting you’re still gonna rank in Google. And actually a lot of the trends we’re seeing is actually having those videos or even embedded podcast, audio, different types of media in your content.
You’re trying to rank a lot of times we’ll help the rankings cause people are staying on the page. They’re consuming now, not just the text content, but video audio, if you can add that in. So depending on your capabilities, we’re always looking for opportunities there. For our clients. Spin out content that’s working well on SEO into other platforms.
But then also looking at intent to determine, do we need more blogs or resource pages on
Jeff Coyle: this topic? I love it. So you’re talking about a situation where the search results page has a fractured intent, illustrated, Google hasn’t quite figured out all that. This is explicit, so it’s giving you there’s other page types.
Do we have those. Other stages of the funnel. Do we have those covered for this? love that. That’s a great example of, we have this word, we’re targeting this word. We see that there’s other pages we need to create to round out the possible ways people will find it, but it also dovetails really well with a question I have from the audience and Denny.
Thank you for asking and I it’s either Denny or I’m sorry if I didn’t even get it right with two, but
you mentioned that search is more about, more than just ranking. How can you convince leadership to accept this concept and what data and metrics can be used in addition to assess performance?
I have a backtrack on this to what you just described when we got into this, but how would you answer that specific question? What are the other things to bring up? How do you convince on this? And. I’d say, let’s think about from two situations, one you’ve got a leadership group who gets SEO real well.
And then let’s say second, you have one that like it’s voodoo black boxy whackadoodle
John Reinesch: yeah, I think the biggest thing that we see and a lot of leadership teams actually are gonna think this way anyway is more on the lead and contact front. too Are we generating contacts from this channel, organic search MQLs SQLs opportunities, depending on how they have things defined.
So a lot of times you might have some organic content that’s driving rankings, but maybe there’s disproportionate amount of leads coming from it, or there’s tons of MQLs opportunities. There’s tons of work for the sales team being developed from it. That’s always first and foremost on most leadership teams’ minds anyway.
So that’s usually an easy sell to think. Yes, the rankings and traffic are good, but if we’re actually doing this right, and we’re thinking about making the content better, making sure we have the right offer on each page that should translate to leads and the quality of the leads coming in.
So that’s usually the thing we’ll lead with. And then you could track that into revenue and different numbers if you want. But thinking about it more from like, how does it actually impact the business? How’s it impacting the pipeline And then traffic is one of the last things we go to that does support the other two.
But if you’re really not just ranking, but thinking about offers and what, you’re, how you’re getting conversions on each page sometimes even for quick wins that you’ll often see results a lot quicker. When you have content that’s there’s people going to it. We just don’t have the right offer on the page, or we need to change something.
Sometimes that shows up faster than it will to actually get a new page to rank in Google from scratch, which can, depending on your brand could take some time. That’s usually what we lead with and we can get people on the same page with looking at it from a business perspective
Jeff Coyle: first.
So I’m gonna pull the weapon on that response and say, wait a second. So what do you do if you go in there and then the demand gen team and the leadership team starts to say, why are we writing content at the early stages of the funnel? Because it doesn’t. What do you do then? So you got them to agree.
All of our stuff generates leads right now. They’re like, yo, we don’t need any, what is pages? What do you do? Yeah. And that,
John Reinesch: that’s a very common scenario where part of that
Jeff Coyle: B2B tech and B2B tech is the number one mistake. Number one, mistake on B2B tech teams who are in the middle stage of maturity in content and SEO is they start.
Believing that only bottom of the funnel content and some middle of the funnel content is all they actually need and is only type of content worth anything. So how do you get ahead of that? Cause that is one of those things it’s tough to get outta that rabbit trap.
John Reinesch: It is, and there’s a lot of different issues with it as well.
So part of it’s in the content planning and strategy phase on actually. Mapping out the content you’re gonna create by funnel stage or however you wanna do it. So you know, we’re gonna have a mixture of content cause ultimately you don’t really want in a way you don’t wanna get in front of someone the first time when they’re searching a product keyword.
If they’ve never heard of you and never have seen you before the chances of them choosing you go way down. If the first time they’re seeing you, assuming you could even rank for the product keyword that you have. If they’ve never heard of you before, they’ve never read your content, never consumed.
any You’re making it way harder for your sales team, where if you’ve actually got in front of them, as they’re looking for information, maybe on other channels too. And then they go to actually type in your product keyword you’re in a much better position. And the sales team is in a much better position to actually be able to get that person to close depending on how you operate there.
So part of it is just you have to have content at all phases of the funnel. So you could actually get in front of people as they’re in different stages. If you’re only focused on bottom funnel that can end. up Actually being counterproductive cuz now the only time people are seeing you is through those searches and they’ve never heard of you before and they probably have seen your competitors in other scenarios.
So your competitors already have a leg up now. So that’s one of the biggest things we see there. And then also it does go back to kind of goals and KPIs of the pieces of content, understanding that each piece has a different purpose with top funnel, one of the ways we sell that too.
is Prospecting ads can be pretty expensive when you’re going after a cold audience. So if you can get that traffic organically, and now you could shift your ad budget to maybe more the bottom funnel or mid funnel type ads. And you’re not, you don’t have to go after this big cold audience that can a lot of times be a lot better use of your ad budget, where you’re now supplementing it with organic traffic at the top.
And you’re not obviously there’s resources to, to get that traffic, but you don’t have to pay for the clicks or pay for the traffic. That’s another benefit. We often see that a lot of times companies overlook when they’re thinking about top funnel.
Jeff Coyle: I have a, I think it was a podcast that I did maybe two years ago with my brain.
Isn’t gonna remember who it is, but he made me a plaque with a quote on it. And it says, if you’re not there at the top of the funnel, you don’t deserve to be there at the bottom of the. It resonates. It rings so true. You don’t deserve it. It’s just like you don’t deserve it in the other direction. You can’t just go write a definition for a word and it automatically ranks.
Because everybody else in the search result has a definition. I don’t care if it’s the best definition, you have to show them that, you know them, you just show it that, that topic with content throughout that buyer journey throughout that. So the answer, you answered this question.
Perfect. You wanna go to quantified value, you wanna get a qu a value match with the leadership team. You also need to communicate that all the content we have on this topic all works together like a machine. And that’s what you said. I love that. It, so if we didn’t have the top of the funnel covered real well, and it wasn’t generating tons of traffic, some of it’s qualified.
Some of it’s not, some of it progresses. Some of it doesn’t, we wouldn’t be allowed to rank in the middle. We wouldn’t be around to be in the bottom and. It, we don’t know our prospect journey could be two years. You could be getting somebody who is an end user, but you sell to a management person. It could be any of those things.
But my advice for today, first of all, thank you. That is such an awesome question. In line with our discussion is to say, if we don’t know our prospects, if we don’t show ’em that we know ’em with content throughout their journey, we’re missing opportunity after opportunity.
And we will not. And what it also does is it leaves us open to competitive smashing, that other publisher who does do it and builds that authority. And then they pop your bottom of the funnel, target keyword into there publishing strategy and they go, woo. See ya. You don’t have anything to stand on that says you deserve to still remain ranking for that.
So it’s both insurance and it’s both empathy. I love your response. It tells the story and hopefully that helped me.
I got one more question and we’re coming up on the end of time here and it’s very exciting and it we can’t it’s the elephant in the room for this discussion. But Google helpful content.
update Least exciting name for an update. I love it. It’s like the product review update. It was, it’s like they’re getting very they’re very, they’re getting very simplistic with the naming conventions and I just, I love that possibility. There we are no longer dealing with pandas penguins and and all of those fun things, but helpful content and update take speculate things, Nothing you haven’t seen anything yet?
It’s all speculation. I can get into a little bit of detail of what I know where it’s at, but yeah, I think that’d be a good way to end this discussion on content optimization. Cuz if you got crummy content anywhere on your site right now you got a lot more sweat than you did last month.
what do you think?
John Reinesch: Yeah. And I think this takes us all the way back to the beginning on what we’re saying is doing things the right. way If you already have that content first approach these types of things tend to not affect you as much. So that’s one of the big things as well. Like most of our clients are gonna be prepared and shouldn’t see, and probably will actually see an improvement from a lot of these updates.
Because they’ve been focusing on that on actually making the content good, making it unique doing all those things. Not even to get into the user benefit and the conversion benefit, but just from a search standpoint, that’s already gonna put you ahead of some of your competitors who probably still are doing some of the older tactics of just looking for quick wins now.
I think that’s where we’re probably gonna see the biggest decreases on mostly people that probably shouldn’t have been ranking in the first place. Maybe the content wasn’t really good enough to rank in the first place, which we’ve all been there and seen that. Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out and actually get the data and see which sites get a lift, which ones get hit and then analyze that.
But early on that’s where I’m leading and thinking.
Yeah, I think that’s really appropriate. It’s a little safe, but it’s appropriate, right? You don’t know it’s total speculation. Yeah. I look forward to seeing sites where they have sections of the site that are ultra low quality.
And then other sections that are really. good And seeing whether it’s gonna be a site level or site section topic, authority, implementation, or authoritativeness implementation. Historically Google has topic site, section level a granularity, the ability to have that level of granularity with their authority.
And they’ve also obviously have site level. So it’ll be, I think it’s gonna be really interesting to see how the haves and have nots is an entire section of a. site Being degraded or is it the whole site? Are you throwing the entire person out with the with the damage?
So we’re, I think that’s gonna be really interesting. You can always say that you doing the things the right way and hoping it still is gonna be an interesting rollout. I think what we’re also gonna see in the search world is that everyone under the sun is gonna all of a sudden. Delete all of the content that they have about the tips and tricks.
And they’re gonna all, I’ve been talking about helpful content the whole time. And I, we were already starting to see that in the space. So I’m looking forward to seeing which agencies feathers change color. But the cool thing about that is yours are staying the same color, cuz you’ve been doing this way the whole time, thinking about high quality content.
It’d be interesting to see. I’m just thinking too, from a content audit perspective too, is. removing pages. Is that gonna be a fact let’s say there is a section that’s hurt getting rid of those and now, or repurposing, like, how is that gonna play out? Cuz sometimes yeah, you do things the right way and maybe you still get hit and then you gotta dig into why is this site or this content taking a hit and taking a step back.
Yeah, excited to see some of the data roll in.
Jeff Coyle: I think it’s gonna be really a challenge of empathy. The real empathy and understanding is this page providing at least a little bit of. It hangs out if it’s providing none. It shouldn’t versus something punitive, like Panda was by the way, if you go to my Twitter if you’re interested, if you wanna share your Panda experience from 2011 I have a thread going where everybody’s, what were they doing?
And. February, 2011 to try to get ready for this fun, fun experience of the helpful content update. I think it’s gonna be pretty significant. I’m going to quickly say if you wanna go check out and do a personalized content audit using MarketMuse with your data shoot me a note at Jeff MarketMuse dot com or book a demo on this specific link.
It’s a MarketMuse dot com slash book demo. Thank you. So so much for being here. I’m gonna give you last word, but go check out chosen data. Go check out everything that they do. If you listen this far along, you realize like what John stated today covers so much of what a masterclass in content strategy and content optimization would be for B2B tech.
But John, I’ll give you last word and thank.
John Reinesch: Awesome now. Yeah. Thanks. This was fun. Yeah, as Jeff said if you’re a B2B SAS company, just go to the chosen data website, you can find me on LinkedIn. Love to talk about all this stuff. So if you have any questions about really we focus on optimization, so optimization new content creation, anything like that, just reach out and we’ll be available.
Jeff Coyle: Awesome. I lied. I’m not gonna last word, cuz, but I did wanna say niche is in his name. Come on, go check him email@example.com. Thanks so much. Cheers. Bye. Awesome.