How important is content marketing strategy to your e-commerce business? Crafting valuable content helps build brand trust with both existing and potential customers, allowing you to successfully grow your brand. Today we’re talking all about content and smart ways to ramp up your strategy.
Jeff Coyle is co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of MarketMuse. Coming from twenty years in the SEO and content strategy arena, Jeff’s products use AI to accelerate content planning, creation, and optimization. With their spokes-of-a-wheel keyword approach, MarketMuse’s content marketing strategy connects ideas, allowing clients to demonstrate product expertise.
- How content relates to growth and where to start assessing the need for your business.
- Strategies that help tell the story that you are trying to tell.
- How to gauge the success rate.
- Where the news dynamic fits into your content campaign.
- The breadth and depth of your content.
- Figuring out where the gaps are.
- When to hire an expert.
- How the Marketmuse suite of services help the writer.
- Using smart content to illustrate expertise.
- Why search volume is not the only strategy for content valuation.
- Some quick win strategies – aka one-page plans.
- Packages MM offers for different sized audiences.
- Tools and hacks Jeff recommends.
Mark: So there was a time early on in Quiet Light Brokerage when I was doing all of the Content Marketing for the firm and I was writing on average eight blog posts or articles per week averaging about 18,200 words in length. And I underestimated when I started on this kind of venture of can I do these eight to 10 per month; I underestimated how much work it was going to be and it was a lot of work because it’s not just writing down your thoughts it’s writing for the web and writing for SEO and understanding what do you write about next. It’s amazing how quick the writer’s block comes in. I know that you had a conversation with Jeff Coyle a mutual friend of ours from Rhodium and one of the founders of MarketMuse which is an awesome company; a great tool from an SEO and content marketing standpoint. You guys talked about everything content which is relevant to buyers, anyone looking to acquire a web-based business and grow it. I know it’s been a huge part of our marketing plan. What are some of the things that you and Jeff talked about in this conversation?
Chuck: It’s quite great. I had a great conversation with Jeff and we’re talking about if you’ve got a dollar spend where to spend it. Most people they’re doing basic keyword research, they’re looking for what’s the keyword that’s getting the most searches versus the keyword difficulty. And he takes it like way beyond that and they’re looking at not just the specific keywords but what keywords are actually tied to other keywords that show that you’re an expert in the topic. If I’m talking about like a specific thing but I fail to mention other words Google then thinks that I’m not an expert because anybody who’s an expert would be using these other words or when you’re just looking at keyword tools to look at the ones they’re getting the most traffic you often miss the additional keywords that are in there.
Mark: Right. And I know full disclosure I use MarketMuse with Quiet Light Brokerage and actually with my other company as well. I use their service and the general sales pitch is pretty simple. It’s this idea of setting up pillar pages and having this kind of spokes on a wheel branch now so the example that they use I think in some of the marketing materials is if you’re going to have a website on craft beer you should have a blog post on craft beer but you should also have an entire section on hops and an entire section on barley and malts and then even from there if you want to be all about hops and afford it to do a page on hops you should also have some satellite pages on imperial hops or these other types of varieties of hops and being able to have this kind of wheel with different spokes coming out. And you know what a bunch of SEO tools use this. Like I’ve been using Sight Bulb recently; a really cool software that diagrams out your site and the sort of hub sort of format. What MarketMuse does is they take a blog post and had topics so you say I want to focus on craft beer and they say okay if you want to really be known as an expert, make sure that you’re talking about hops at least 10 or 15 times in this blog post. And make sure that you’re also talking about different types of barley. And then you can use that and say well okay I’ll talk about this in this blog post but what do I write on other blog post? It’s made for me and I don’t do a lot of the writing anymore but it makes the content creation process super easy; like the ideation part, I mean that’s the hard part about all of this. How do you come up with new ideas on what you should write about? But I don’t want people to think this is just a sales pitch for MarketMuse. It’s a great piece of software, obviously, I believe in it from that standpoint. But I think from a buyer standpoint also from a seller standpoint having a solid content strategy is really really key. If you were to spend money; Chuck you’ve had a bunch of businesses in the past and I know you’ve used content, if you’re going to spend your money somewhere for long term marketing dollar I’m kind of leading you to the answer here, where would you spend it? Would it be in the content marketing world or would it be PPC or what are the advantages in your opinion of this content marketing versus other types of marketing?
Chuck: Yeah I mean it really depends I think on the type of business you have. Obviously, if you have a content-related business then you want to hop out as much quality content as you can. If you’ve got an e-commerce business there’s different funnels and then buckets may be that you need to put your money in but you definitely need to be investing in content. Even on Amazon when you’re thinking about like selling something on Amazon you go to some people’s pages and the content is just horrible and it’s so important. One of the things we didn’t talk about but like when you’re looking at Amazon you’ll look at the questions people are asking and then answer those questions. So content is definitely important. We talked just a lot about what you should be writing about next. When you’re looking at competitors sometimes you can actually see the direction they’re going and then beat them and write a bunch of content. Actually, get in front of them because you look at their keyword list and you know the direction they’re headed and you can actually get in front of them.
Mark: Yeah for my money I think the two areas that are the most important for a marketing strategy at least long term return will be content marketing and CRO, conversion rate optimization. Those two things alone have such staying power where you invest now and you’re going to benefit for years to come as opposed to PPC which is great because you can throttle PPCC; that’s the reason people love it. You can throttle up and down. You can really find some gems and it’s very immediate. But long term success I think is predicated on this content strategy frank that’s something we’ve even bought a little bit at Quiet Light. I just got to give you a quick shot out Chuck because you are wearing a Quiet Light shirt. So for all those people that are watching on YouTube and I know it’s not a ton of you that are watching on YouTube but those that are you can see that Chuck actually has a really cool shirt. I don’t even have that shirt. Did you give me one?
Chuck: I think I kind of bought Joe one but I didn’t get you one so maybe I’ll have to get you one as well.
Mark: Okay, I think Brad gave me one and it was like enormous. I was swimming on the thing.
Chuck: I think that’s the one I have with Joe when I bought his it was too big for him so I have to get your size.
Mark: Make sure you size it down and hey if we get a few extras of these maybe we can set up a contest for people that actually want a Quiet Light; I don’t care what you do with it but it’s kind of fun to give that away as a prize. Let’s get into the episode. Content marketing is where I cut my teeth early in the Internet world. I love this topic. I think Jeff is one of the smartest people in the industry when it comes to content marketing [inaudible 00:07:02.0] good market views and this is definitely one to learn from.
Chuck: Yeah absolutely and two things before we dive right into it; one they’re giving a special discount. Again we’re not trying to promote it. It’s just a good product if you want it great but in the show notes, there’s going to be a discount code to get a nice percentage off. And stay tuned to till the end of the video because I also asked Jeff for some additional tools that he likes to use. I always think it’s fun to ask entrepreneurs what are some various tools that are unrelated to our discussion from what you’re using so.
Chuck: All right hi everybody Chuck Mullins here from Quiet Light Brokerage and today on the call we have Jeff Coyle the co-founder of MarketMuse and chief is it, product officer?
Jeff: Yeah, Chief Product Officer, I manage the product data science and engineering teams as well as the marketing team at Marketing News.
Chuck: Awesome. So I’ve known Jeff for a couple of years, we run in the same circles. I’ve been on the Internet world for quite a while. Jeff do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jeff: Sure. I am as you mentioned the co-founder and chief product officer for MarketMuse. Prior to this, I’ve been in this space as Chuck mentioned for quite a long time; about 20 years as scary as that might sound in the search engine optimization content strategy game. I have generated like 50 million leads and not as an exaggeration for B2B technology primarily companies in the early part of my career. I worked as an early employee at a company called Knowledge Storm which sold to Tech Target which is also a great B2B publisher and an intent data and ABM platform for enterprise and mid-market B2B companies. I worked for them through their in-house team and in-house capabilities while I was there really focused on driving engaged users through content and content strategy. When I left Tech Target having already spoken with my co-founder about ways that we could grow MarketMuse I came on as a bit of a late co-founder and we’ve since grown the company to almost 50 people; really, really an amazing story about growth, building a new category about content strategy, what should you write next, what should you update or optimize next that’s going to have the biggest impact on your business and everything that goes along with that from how do I assess my own authority, how do I understand where my gaps are, how do I know where my strengths are. And that’s been the mission of our business is really to tell the story of I could spend a dollar on content; creating, optimizing, blah, blah, blah, tomorrow what should it be? And that’s what MarketMuse is for; to tell that story.
Chuck: Alright so kind of you alluded to it but today we’ll get you on a call to talk about SEO and maybe more so how content is applicable to SEO. So maybe starting at the base when somebody either acquires a new site or maybe is looking at a site trying to think of how do I grow this site like where’s my opportunity, what kind of analysis do you think somebody should start off with?
Jeff: Well I think that traditionally the way that people have assessed sites for their strengths sometimes is only by looking at their current and existing rankings or their historical rankings. So it’s a bit of you know kind of a tail wagging the dog assessment of where you’re at, where you have been, but that as a starting point does provide some value as to where you are. It just doesn’t tell typically the entire story about what it means to be about something. So when I’m looking at assessing a site for the merits of its; the collection of its content or its inventory of content, when I’m looking at is to say yes certainly I want to see performance. I want to look at also things that I might get out of my analytics package engagement. I have to understand the goals of the company the key performance indicators of the business. Am I driving those things? Can I peddle out of them? But divorcing those concepts for this point in discussion about conversion rate optimization and such from a search engine optimization or authority perspective I want to see where I’ve written great content so how much content have I created on core topics that I care about. When I do cover those topics how in-depth do I get and how successful does that; what kind of success does that yield when I write about a concept I care about when I get deep when I write high-quality content on concepts that I care about. Those two things really tell the story of your existing momentum on a concept. And so that when I’m assessing a site that’s one thing I want to want to figure out is where do I have momentum? What concepts can I write about and I expect to be successful. And that’s Stage 1.
Chuck: Before we move on from that one how do we gauge that success rate; what do we think is successful, what are the indicators that say hey I’m already doing well here or I’m not doing well here?
Jeff: Absolutely and that’s the hardest part. And to run an effective content marketing team and a content production team for any company you’ve got to start at what are the key performance indicators? If I’m an e-commerce site the key metrics that I have is my average order size, it’s my conversion rate close to a closed cart, it’s my cart abandons, it’s my total revenue. If I’m an affiliate site it might be an RPM metric and I have to be agnostic of and when I have agnostic a reference of affiliate and then I want specific combinations of affiliates because sometimes you can actually fake your books accidentally if you’ve got great affiliates on one page and not great affiliates on another. So it’s really about I think engagement with affiliate opportunities in addition to revenue. You get a look at both of those things. If you are a publisher it’s going to be RPM but also it’s engagement with those pages. Because again how your ad server validates is do you have paid ads? So if you have a bunch of house ads and those have a different rate you want to always account for that because you might have great content this shooting off impressions engaged users clicks and such. So I always like to look at my current value per visit and then by the way from a B2B tech or something PI attorney; all these places are where MarketMuse does business so I like to kind of list a full fledge. I’m looking at my conversion to lead. I’m also looking at as far down the funnel as I can track and attribute. Every deal no matter what every situation you’re looking at you always want to get it back to current value per visit and aspirational value per visit from a channel. In this case, let’s say organic. So if I’m in a scenario I want to always be able to back that up. That’s the only way I can truly define quantified value. And for MarketMuse obviously, that’s the only way we can truly walk in the door and be confident in that ROI analysis. And that’s why we’ve had to do this hundreds of times. When we talk to somebody it’s to say how much do you really value each one of these visits? And if you can’t answer that question it’s okay, let’s back into it, let’s figure it out. How much is that truly about? Because then if you grow your traffic 20% you can say okay well that’s worth this much to me. How much am I willing to invest in that? And that’s how I define. So that’s a long way of answering a short question that was actually really duped question. But the answer then is my quantified value metric. How much did I publish? How much did I update? How much do those act motions cost or those actions cost? And what was the efficiency rate on the content achieving some sort of baseline goal? I like to use recurring traffic from organic search as my goal. So I might get a boost from other channels and then it dies off. So I want recurring traffic at or above a particular baseline. So if I wrote 100 articles and 10 of them achieved my baseline of ongoing recurring traffic when I have 10 percent efficiency rate in that zone. If I updated 100 articles and 40 of them grew in traffic at or above a particular level. Then I’ve got a 40% efficiency rate on optimization. So when I talk about effectiveness of content I want to see how much should I publish, how much should I update and how often did that achieve my goals? I see ranges by the way just it scares the crap out of me sometimes, 1 to 2% of efficiency. Like I write 100 articles and only 2 get rankings. Quite often 40 and 45% at best practice that it’s so wide. So you need to take stock today whomever you are and say how often did I write, how often did that yield recurring traffic; that’s my efficiency rate. Am I in that 10 percent zone? I got some work to do. Am I above 20, 30, 40? I’m kicking butt. Now how do I take advantage of that? What do I do? No matter where you are there’s always steps you can take to really maximize your earn. But it’s a great question because so many people talk about ROI and they can’t explain how they calculated.
Chuck: Right. And it sounds like what you’re saying is maybe like diving into your analytics but not looking at like how much traffic this page is doing but what is the segmented traffic; how much is coming from Google or Bing or whatever you’re targeting. Maybe you’re targeting link acquisition with an article then you got to figure out what’s the value of a link that’s coming in, how many did I get on this piece of content, and then maybe kind of summing up the value of all the different components. Like knowing what your KPIs are for the specific content.
Jeff: Absolutely. And so the ways that I do that so it’s manageable; there are ways where you can do that so it’s manageable because [inaudible 00:16:38.2] I have thousands of pages or I published hundreds of pages how could I possibly do that? It’s do it for the site level. Do it by site section; it’s the way Google thinks about your site anyway. Do it by site section and then take your marquee pages and do a more thorough analysis of them. And marquee could mean your best pages that you feel are the best but they punch below their weight class, stuff that does really well, stuff that you invested a lot of money in. So build your plat; this is the stuff I’m going to do with deep dive but I’m also going to get my section level and sight levels metrics. An example might be that when Chuck writes an article he’s on a 20% conversion rate to my effectiveness metric. But when Ron I don’t know who Ron is but well just say Ron, when Ron writes an article he’s 5%. So you’re to get; you could do person level, you could do section level. You really want to get that slice and dice to know what’s the thing that is causing success to happen or is it luck. A lot of sites a lot of B2B companies they rely on all of their authority for 5, 10 pages and they’ve got hundreds. Not only is it completely scary and unhealthy from a competitive space situation but if you’re a Quiet Light listener it’s an opportunity. I mean it’s an opportunity to see a site that has a risk of ruin. It’s an opportunity to see a site that has huge opportunity if they just publish the right content. So all of those things are what we’re typically looking at. It’s when I publish about Chevrolets it does real well when I publish about smart cars it doesn’t. So when I get that site I’m shooting off about Ford and about gosh as my adjacent so I’m talking about; so it’s really getting into when I get in how can I write about tangential or semantically related concepts, really expand my inventory in ways I know we’ll have more success, and if I do want to cover other things. I think a reasonable expectation about investment need because I can’t just go right kitty cats and crush it. But I know that if I cover what hubcaps should be on the PT Cruiser I can. And so those are the types of conceptual analysis, editorial content strategies I have been doing with years. Now you have data to support it. And that’s where I think that the next phase of great Search Engine Optimization outcomes comes from this type of content strategy analysis for sure.
Chuck: And one of the things I was reading the other day was just and I think everybody already knows this but they were talking about news websites and why don’t news websites rank for everything. Like a news website gets all the links because everybody’s linking to articles but yet they don’t have the ability to rank for all topics, right? Certain news agencies actually get a lot more traffic for specific topics because that is maybe their topical relevance of their business.
Jeff: Yeah. Oh, I mean news is so unique. The news algorithm has so many components and so from a Google news perspective and Google top stories there’s components of real-time boosting. There’s the concept of the fact that news articles appear in organic search. And they’re coming from different channels of information. So they cross the chasm from just being news to being appropriate in search results. So then there’s the dynamic of some of those items stay forever. Some of them are temporal and they’re going to bounce out when that thing becomes less of a temporal story. We actually have a solution for that. MarketMuse allows you to analyze both serps and overlay analysis and it’s called newsroom but that’s neither here nor there. But the point of the message is what if you write news articles about this topic you care about but there’s four to five aggressive publishers also publishing in that that have authority for news and you’re just picking up the scraps. You can see that with solutions that are out there now. You’re going to just see what those things are and then tracking that back to assessing performance. If I’m looking at my content items and I write 80 articles about some topic I get no news referrals and I get trickles in of organic and I’m writing it for the purposes of news, is that great? Let’s say they get other KPIs, let’s say they do gather links and they become powerful. But I’m not winning news, I’m not getting the organic search value that I think I should, how do I use that? How do I use the power that those pages are acquiring to my benefit? And most of the time when I see problematic content strategy; document the content strategy at a company they’re not looking at their existing power pages. What content are they publishing that is gaining some value and how do we use that? Because I’ve got something that’s a link magnet that every SEO in the world will go we need to do something with that but they don’t necessarily know what that is. And a lot of times you see these link magnets and they’re out there. They got a little bit of traffic upfront. They’re not valuable enough to get recurrent traffic or it’s not; it was a temporal staged story so they don’t know what to do. And so weaving that article; weaving that item into some real good content strategy, that’s the win. That’s building my thought leadership, building my clusters of content, and hey this powerful battery. Plug the battery in here, plug the battery in here, and weave it in with internal link, weave it in with appropriate content, upgrade opportunities for conversions, there’s so many things you can do to repurpose but when you get a winner use the winner. And we see that older people are scared to touch them because they’re like it might break up. So these are the main dynamics that we run into with kind of the Assessment Authority and news as a special case. But it’s so misunderstood what to do when you get a news winner. Because if you can predict that every time you publish a news story on Linux you’re in the top three of Google top stories. Like, open that wallet every darn day. And I have clients that are in that scenario and we’re like you must write about this every day and they cringe at first and I’m like here’s the value that this produces; it’s not just traffic. It’s all the good stuff that comes as a result of that. It’s also a long answer to a short question but I think that’s usually a theme with me.
Chuck: Alright, so number two you’re about to say before I ask you a question?
Jeff: Oh gosh I don’t even remember what it was now. No, I’m just kidding. So it’s kind of breadth and depth and then is the things that you see as being really high quality that you’ve written. These pillar pieces, the centers of the universe, the things that have acquired the KPI. How are those KPIs; they’ve acquired some metric that gives you that sense. So we’ve talked about how your existing momentum, well what are these cornerstone pieces, what are the center of the cluster pieces that exist and how are you using them today? Are you weaving them in? Are you using them to write then support pieces, etcetera? And how do you combine that with analysis of your target readership or user or buyer intent? So what’s their purchase cycle; do you have coverage in the information phase, do you have coverage in the middle of funnel, do you have coverage late in the funnel, do you have post-purchase troubleshooting and adherence in ownership? So when you have a beacon of power really that’s the time your mirror needs to be the most clear. I always say this. Like, stop tilting the mirror your way because you think you have success. The garbage in the game right now as I call it is people looking at search results and saying I need to write articles just like that search result item regardless of whether you want to argue differentiation it doesn’t work. It only works if you have existing power to start to do things like that. What you have to do is just say with my site that I’m assessing, do I have coverage at all phases of the cycle that people would care about who are in this motion; I mean research, intent, decision, conversion, adherence, troubleshooting, whatever the metrics of the buy spying journey would be. And that comes to the why I say this way because the pragmatic approach is to say does this site truly represent my business as an authority and as an expert? What about this collection of pages or this content inventory tells a story that I actually am an expert? And so when you’re looking at coverage, you’re looking at momentum and what’s been validated that I am an authority. But then it’s also going to be like aspirationally if I truly were an expert what would I have covered? I can do that by doing competitive analysis or I can do that by doing semantic analysis and manual research. And so when you cross-reference; the punch line here is cross-reference the aspirational model against what you have and that’s your gap analysis. So think about the outcomes there. I have gaps in this part of the bio journey. I have gaps, I have blind spots I don’t ever cover these topics. I have blind spots here blah, blah, blah. I also have ranking gaps where I have striking distance keywords like I’m on page two that’s that the SEO trick, right? Go tell them to update the pages where you’re on page two and they’ll go up a little and hey you did your job. So but if you weave that into this type of semantic analysis; this gap analysis, your content strategy becomes 2, 3, 10x more impactful overnight. And so compare that to keyword gap analysis, think about the outcomes. You get a word out of it. You get a word where you’re ranking 12th and you think you should rank 5th. Well, now you know why. And then you know what you need to do. And that’s the secret here. It’s get yourself out of just keywords; get yourself into the content that’s needed to plug the holes.
Chuck: So we don’t know what we don’t know so how do we figure out what the gaps are? Are there tools you can recommend? How do we figure this out?
Jeff: Yeah. Well I think that they’re certainly on it and they’re obviously not just the ones I present with MarketMuse but there are ways if you want to see. You want to be able to look at using your analytics, using any off the shelf Search Engine Optimization suite whether you are a higher-end person in a more enterprise or kind of using an [inaudible 00:27:29.2]. Looking at those pages; again all of your pages trying to organize them or you’re looking at you don’t want to buy those things, you’ve got analytics and you look at something that can crawl and analyze the structure of your site like a screening frog or a [inaudible 00:27:45.5] or a solution like that. Get a true understanding about your site and what it’s about. What are the things where every time you publish it it’s a winner or more of the time versus what’s the stuff where you’ve been tilting at; aspirational goals. So looking at that or even looking at just traffic and revenue versions by section or by page type or by publish state because last year this was under this person’s management this year this is under this person’s management. Just a combination of this basic information from analytics and page-level data from a [inaudible 00:28:23.7] can get you at least started. And just to start thinking critically about your content inventory. A solution like the MarketMuse obviously is going to give you the sniper rifle to say go write this page, go fill this gap. But even if you if you’re just looking to get kind of a basic understanding it can be easily put together to say gosh Chuck I don’t know if we should publish any more articles about backgammon we’re a chess site, it just hasn’t extended. But when I write about you know particular defenses, we crush. Why don’t we just lean into that? So you can make those types of decisions but then how do you get where we want to be a backgammon site. What are the ways that we can bridge the gap between chess and backgammon? How can we become more of an authority on strategic board games in general? So those are the types of questions that are out of this type of analysis, if you’re real with yourself you stop publishing stuff that’s not going to succeed. Try to figure out why it’s not succeeding. That’s where a person like a business like ours operates. But there’s many out of an agency that knows the answer to these questions that can do that introspection that can do that analysis. But if you’re analyzing your site I think it’s truly to step back and say am I putting myself out there as an expert? Am I really showing it or was I chasing keywords? And it’s always that oh man I haven’t even thought about; I’ve just been looking up keywords, building lists, writing articles, keywords, lists, articles, keywords, lists, articles especially in the affiliate side not knocking always [inaudible 00:29:58.8] so much. It clearly comes out of a keyword list. And then I wrote the article some of them get linked together. Some of them don’t. It’s not leaving the web of somebody who actually knows their stuff. A great example of this; I’ve got uprise for every product in the world prices or reviews combination; bottom of funnel. That encompasses my contact strategy against this topic. It could have helped with that and then people wonder why they get hit when there’s a quality change in the algorithm. It’s because they’re looking for that thing. They’re looking for that stuff. You haven’t told the story about buying that thing. Why are you the expert on pricing it? It doesn’t make sense. And so that’s the thing that; think about; get out of these search engine optimization shoes get into an editorial shoe. Hire an expert to say hey if you were writing an inventory of content about sound bafflers what would you cover; what are the things you need to know? And then cross-reference that against your stuff. Obviously, there’s ways of doing both of those things taking technology like what we do.
Chuck: So let’s talk about that I know we don’t want to like hardcore pitch your product but you have a great product that I think is a lot of value to a lot of people. So let’s talk about like how your product can help and maybe even hit it as like these are the things that my product can do and some of the stuff people can do without the product so they could do it on their own but you’re offering a service that makes it a lot easier. So let’s talk about that.
Jeff: So if I’m going to assess the value of a site; for example, if I want to see where there’s areas of opportunity to create content or update content and be more successful. If I can get that hit list immediately and go execute on those plans; really move the needle quickly, that’s a direct value of what one of the components of MarketMuse Suite. So MarketMuse Suite is a collection of; a combination of an automated content inventory and content auditing solution. We’ll also take it to the next level and say after you build; after you say I want to create this page or update this page we’ll build a comprehensive content brief for your writer. So it acts as a blueprint or an outline or a brief if you’re familiar with what a brief looks like. And it tells a story so that the writer can be creative. So that the writer can research imagery; so the writer can research their sources and doesn’t have to worry about is this thing going to have success after I hit publish. So many writers the anxiety they have; this is a huge pain point in the writing space is am I doing my keyword research correctly. Ask them. I mean that’s the part I don’t know. That’s the part I really don’t care about. I’m speaking from their standpoint. So take that mystery out of it. Take the SEO mystery out of it. Here’s the outline we need you to follow. Be super creative. So we answer that question with that side of MarketMuse. We also have some point applications for doing competitive analysis so I can look at any search engine result page and understand who’s got great content; high quality, who’s got weak content, what are the gaps. And if I were going to put out true best in Class content on this specific intent, this specific topic what would it look like getting into the gritty details.
Chuck: So what are some of those details?
Jeff: Yeah. So what are the concepts that need to be included, what are the variants to consider, what are the questions to ask, what are the questions to answer, what are the internal linking; things you should do to internally link to other pages to tell the story that this isn’t an orphan page on left field that actually weaves into your existing inventory and then grading your existing coverage and understanding how to interweave and to weave those things together. I have this great page; the one that you talked about, the news one, I want to make sure that it’s linked. So all of those things we have point solutions so you can do a one-page analysis and get recommendations to improve it. You can get that one-page analysis and recommendations to make it equal to or better than your competitors every time and go head to head or against the whole field; questions and answers analysis, internal and external linking recommendations, and then we have for premium; one of our premium offerings is the newsroom solution specifically for Google News optimization. So basically the story is what should I write next, can you give me details as to how I would execute that so that you’re getting me as close as you can to publishing? And then for all of my adjunct workflows; this specific analysis, this one-page analysis, we have applications to solve those specific goals to say okay why is Quiet Light Brokerage beating me for this topic? Is it because of quality; MarketMuse will tell you. Is it because of links and they have a worst page? Darn, they’re more authoritative than me; what do I need to do? I need to go write a package of content. Tell me more of the story that I’m the expert because I don’t have that off-page authority. So no matter where you sit it’s giving you the advice as to what those next steps should be. And that’s kind of the spirit of what we do.
Chuck: So one of the examples I’ve heard you say before is like you’re writing about a specific topic blue fuzzy widgets, everybody who writes about blue fuzzy widgets also includes pink monkeys and if you’re not writing about pink monkeys then you clearly don’t know about blue fuzzy widgets. You’re not an expert. So maybe can you talk about that a little bit?
Jeff: Sure. So our core technology is built on it. It’s a topic modeling technology and it tells the story of what it means to be an expert on a concept. So it tells me by analyzing in some cases hundreds of thousands or millions of content items that people who know a lot about blue fuzzy widgets also know a lot about pink monkeys and so if you write about blue fuzzy widgets and you don’t include pink monkeys you’re not telling the story that you’re an expert. So often in the market people have just looked at like the top 10 results to do this assessment. For so many reasons that I could get into there’s a great article online called TFIDF is not the answer to your content and SEO problems and it goes into detail of each one of these logic challenges that exist. It’s great for information retrieval. It’s been around for 30 something years. Obviously, it’s still being used. The challenge though is don’t base your business content strategy and thousands of dollars of investment on that. And so what we were able to do is to say that but we’re also then because we’re analyzing so much data we’re able to say that well guess what the top competitors aren’t talking about orange donkeys and it’s very relevant. That’s a way for you to differentiate yourself. So you’re covering the blue fuzzy widgets, your covering the pink monkeys but then you’re going to differentiate yourself by also illustrating that you know all about those orange donkeys and that’s what makes you special. And how does that drive back to true expertise? In this, we see constantly being successful with the best content strategies. They’re writing about the table stakes content but they’re also illustrating that they really know this stuff. And I always use more detailed examples but a cool one I always use for content marketing is a lot of people that write about content strategy don’t talk about buyer personas. They don’t talk about target audience. They don’t talk about the roles on a content strategy team. Do you know why? Because they’re chasing keywords. And if you can look at a search engine results page and go ooh, they’re chasing keywords, there’s my opportunity. Even if they’re 9,000-word articles by HubSpot if you can find gaps in their game you can really take advantage of that and you can punch above your weight. And if you can pop a page that doesn’t have as much traditional off-page authority link profile to build that beautiful cluster you can start ranking with undersized off-page pages and sections. And that’s niche hunting. That’s what the niche hunters talk about. That’s what the UN fencers of the world; that’s what they’re really focusing on. How can I punch above my weight with undervalued off page sites? That’s the way you get there; great content illustrates that you’re an expert every time.
Chuck: So we’re thinking; traditional people when they’re thinking about articles they’re doing keyword research they’re finding those low difficulty versus high search volume relative and then they’re just going after that but what they’re missing is just because people aren’t searching for a specific word doesn’t mean that it’s not important.
Jeff: You shouldn’t have it in there.
Jeff: Oh yeah.
Chuck: Or specific words within content that you need to have to show you’re in authority even though people; the average Joe may not be searching for that.
Jeff: Exactly right. And that is the funniest thing about to watch the evolution in this market. When we first launched four years ago everyone when they would see a list of topics; this is the most interesting thing I’ll say today, four years ago they used to look at that list and go why isn’t it sorted by search point? And I said because that’s irrelevant to what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to tell you what it means to write that golden article to be an expert. Why does it matter what search volume is because you’re so ingrained to use volume and PPC competition which that’s another story for another day; crazy. Why don’t do it? By the way, I’m not correlative to organic competition. I can get into that in a second but they’re so ingrained; heavily so ingrained to use search volume as their North Star. They want everything to have search volume next to it so they can sort by it. So if we sort by that and then you discredit the stuff on the bottom, that’s bananas. You’re thinking about this from a content strategy perspective or from an expertise perspective. And that’s what we see time and time again. Fun fact and I think you’ve heard me speak about this; it’s totally exploitable. If you see competitors who clearly take topic lists and sorted by search volume you can; we usually call it chopping down a tree, you can chop down the tree. Every time it works because they have this strategy gap. You can predict what they’re going to do. You can also chop down the tree in areas where they have blind spots. They will never fill them because they’re using search point as a North Star. And so another way to say it is stop using that four square; that volume competition, you’ve all seen it. Alright, let’s try to find those low competition high volume words. Sure those are great. Lean into those but that’s not the whole picture of how you should write your content. Because the last thing I’ll say about this is if you have no content at one stage of the purchase cycle and you think that you’re not at risk with having content at another stage you’ve got another thing coming. It’s going to catch up to you. Someone is going to fill that. Somebody is going to fill those intent gaps and crush you. It’s just common. And we see it with publishers that have been resting on the laurels of their powerful content. They’re just getting their tail handed to them by real content strategies every day.
Chuck: So what are some quick wins you think people can have? Like okay, I have a let’s say a site about; I don’t know, let’s just say a general content site, you pick the topic. What are some real quick wins I can get?
Jeff: I like to call them one-page plans. So I’m going to find a page of interest. So something that’s special about my site and maybe it’s a small collection of pages. This is my page that’s for some reason it’s special. It’s really long form, it’s beautiful, it converts very well.
Chuck: Are we defining special meaning like it’s already getting traffic or I just think it’s pretty?
Jeff: I like it and it gets me some KPI that I think is legitimate and is giving me value. So it could be traffic already. It could be rankings that I am already getting; it ranks for lots of words. So that’s a signal of comprehensiveness. A quick win could be to look at what that page is ranking for and pick out the words; this is using SEM Rush; using that to pick out the words in that list that the page doesn’t actually satisfy the user intent for rewrite those pages; quickest win ever. So that one-page plan I rank this; I’ll use a great example. Content Marketing Institute; I love that site, they have a wonderful page on LinkedIn profiles. It dominates LinkedIn profile marketing. They also rank for marketing profiles, not very good. And the site; the page just covers LinkedIn profiles. It doesn’t cover generally marketing profiles. So they could beam their other zoom higher and now cover marketing profiles in general and write about other marketing profile presences as a cluster. All boats are going to rise. So you do that exercise, a quick win every time. You can find it. We call them content mismatches or unaddressed intent plants; always a win. You can always find one on your site because you’ve probably got pages that rank for hundreds of things. No one page can answer a hundred things beautifully. So when you go write that page people are like won’t that cannibalize? No. I mean [inaudible 00:43:23.2]. Do I have to explain myself no?
Chuck: So the key there is again you’ve got that one page; it’s linking for a lot of words, you’ve got tons of words, you’ll pick out the few that it’s not ranking well for and then you’ll link through that keyword to a new article that is specifically about that content?
Jeff: Or expand it if it’s a fit. If it’s not a fit writing new but the key is it’s not just that it’s not ranking. I mean if it’s not ranking for that’s important but it could be ranking reasonably but not satisfying like user searches for that on Google and then they land on that page and like this sucks this isn’t what I wanted. So if that intent mismatched so can you correct that and improve the page or do you need to do that in a new creation motion? So that is a tried and true technique. That’s a recycle, recycle, recycle. Inside MarketMuse you just press a button and it tells you those plans which make life a lot easier obviously but you can do it. It’s just that manual labor to use that one technique. And if you ask me for a quick one it’s always a quick one. Look for that hundred word or more ranking page, find the word that this; read the page. You’d be surprised how many content strategists and CEOs don’t actually read their sites; it’s amazing. Read the page, know what value it has, and does this page get people to achieve that value. It can also be done on the back end. Andy Crestodina who works at Orbit Media; he is an expert in Google Analytics and content strategy. He wrote a book called Content Chemistry. Inside his analytics book; parts of the book, it shows you how to do this in Google Analytics by looking at exit rate and engagement gaps. So you can do it there or you can do it from keywords or any other ways but those are some quick ones. Look at your worst exit rates. So many people don’t break those down by; they don’t cross-reference those two things. So they’ve got a page, this thing is broken it’s 90% in exit rate. Go back to the words that are driving the users to that page. What if all of them are out of alignment? You can just flash the content double engagement overnight. So there’s so many wins that you can do with just a quick one-page plan analysis. I like to say pick one you like, get started, put few wins on the board, prove it out, and then decide is this something I want to get serious with and invest in technology that can support it.
Chuck: I got you. Now when I started first looking at your product a couple of years ago and seeing kind of the wonderful amazing things you were doing, it was at a price point where I actually kind of like when high price points because it keeps; on really good things it keeps other people from being able to do it. But I guess you just launched a new price point for a self-service.
Jeff: Yes. It’s actually something we’ve been looking forward to doing. And we are a mid-market enterprise large publisher; people who have really invested in content that’s traditionally been our target market.
Chuck: Could you give an example of some big players that you work with?
Jeff: Yeah sure. I’m trying to think of who’s on this site. G2 Crowd is a customer and they’re on there; we work with divisions of the Walmart Corporation, Home Depot, large e-commerce but also just great publishers. Business.com; love them so there’s a lot of people who are publishing content. A lot of people I can’t name and I wish I could. But if you type in MarketMuse case studies you can find a cool example from Tomorrow’s Sleep on that one and how their site grew from 4,000 to 400,000 in a year with their agency that works with us. So that was always a big focus of ours. It was make sure that they can write content. Make sure that they can update content, that they’ve committed; they actually believe content can get them there because then life’s going to be a lot easier for everybody. But we then also said let’s look at the mirror. I’m always about looking in the mirror and look at the demand that we have. And so we really looked at who’s coming in the front door saying we want to be MarketMuse customers. And right now having made that case internally or I just I’m not a profile of a customer that can spend tens or in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars on software. And so what we did was we right-sized for a specific target market, we right-sized a self-serve offering. And there is also a trial experience that everyone who’s listening can go to the site. Go to MarketMuse trial. Go to MarketMuse, see the trial and you’ll get an experience with your data; we’ve actually set this up so you can use your site, optimize a page, create a content brief, update some existing content like I mentioned, get that content brief and then there’s also a special workflow baked in there that’ll amaze you that I’m not allowed to explain but you’ll see it when you get there. But you can do a competitive analysis, you can update a page, you get a content brief; by the way, take that with you it’s free and make that decision of whether you want to become a MarketMuse Pro customer which is our self-serve offering at 499 a month. Quiet Light Brokerage Podcast listeners have a promo which Chuck will include in his notes which gets you a discount there. Or if you’re a larger team, if you have four writers, if you write 10, 15 articles a month it’s going to make more sense for you to be in one of our other packages; a bronze, a silver, or a gold, or a higher offering. So it gives you an understanding about the value that we provide, the opportunity to buy, to see if that’s a fit, or to immediately recognize oh gosh this is what I need for all of my content items. I need one of the larger offerings. So the experience we typically is that people find the right car on the lot. Or they begin using and saying oh wow I need more of this. I was successful with the first thing I did. I know this makes sense. Making your content higher quality, that’s the fun part about being in Market Muse; it’s you never look at it and you’re like oh man I wish I hadn’t made that page better. You’re always on this ongoing quest to do a better job, write better content that resonates more with your audience. And that’s what we do every day.
Chuck: Awesome. So to wrap this up I always like to ask people could you give us a few random tools not really related to what we’re talking about but just things you like to use in your daily work or just regular life. What are some of the hacks you may have?
Jeff: Man, there’s so many. I love this. So a couple that I use, when I had some personal time management issues I tried everything. I tried boards with; con bomb boards and everything. And one thing that helped me analyze where I was spending my time was called Tomecular and it looks like an eight-sided dice and you put stuff on it. And as you’re working on stuff you move the dice around and it seems so; maybe it’s because I like touching things like that but it really gave me an understanding about where I was spending my time and I fixed some stuff within MarketMuse like the business organizationally just from that information. So that’s cool. I love Boomerang. I think it’s a beautiful solution for making sure you don’t forget stuff if you get a lot of e-mails. It’s a really good productivity tool.
Chuck: Before you move on from Boomerang I think Google now have something similar built-in where they have the…
Jeff: They have don’t let me forget this.
Chuck: Yeah. It’s like a little reminder you can set for different dates and it comes back in.
Jeff: Yeah. Boomerang has some features that I’m so used to being able to set and forget things pause so I don’t know if Google’s ever going to pause Google so that’s something that, but I like Boomerang. It’s not that expensive. You do need to watch your SaaS subscriptions though. That’s another story. Another one I love, love, love, love is Full Story. Full Story isn’t; they keep going a little bit a little more expensive each time you look at them. Good for them. It’s like having a DVR on every user that ever comes to your site. You can watch the experiences; obviously anonymized but you can watch their experiences, build pattern matching, look at segments, and really get an understanding about why people are doing things. I mean I think that that’s really valuable.
Chuck: It’s kind of like what is it Crazy Egg?
Jeff: It’s similar to a Crazy Egg but it’s more of like a heat map reporting. They’ve got this capability and a handful of other solutions that are out. I just think Full Story has this like really robust like I can go in and I can find users that went through this specific sequence and just watch all the sessions. I mean so many times. Just learn from that to really tell a story and it really is powerful when you are already doing a new multivariate testing to really catapult that into the next level. I mean if I told you what conversion rates we have you’d blow up. But yeah I mean you really have to think critically and fly the flag of your customers so that when you do get these solutions they don’t just sit on the shelf. I mean my goal every day is to make sure that the next article that every one of my clients publish is more successful than it could have been without us. And I think that comes through in our online messaging. It’s not just that we’re this secret weapon of the elite agencies which I know for a while that’s what we were. It’s that if you use MarketMuse your stuff will do better more consistently and then I will be happy. And if it does not happen then I and our entire team will not be happy. And we hope that our messaging comes through and we couldn’t do it without these other solutions that we work with Full Story, like Pendo; Pendo is a beautiful thing, and some other metrics, some other things we use to really dive deep into our customer experience.
Chuck: Awesome well I appreciate you taking the time to talk with everybody today. Is there a way that people can reach out to you or the company?
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. So MarketMuse.com, Chuck’s going to post a promo code that’s for the MarketMuse Pro self-serve offering as a discount. You can email me directly [email protected], Jeffrey_Coyle on Twitter. I’m pretty active. LinkedIn, please. I typically don’t say no unless you’ve sent me a weirdo request that tells me in an unreal way that you like my profile and you’d love to connect. If it’s clear that you bought or sold a website before in your life I’m probably going to connect with you and want to talk in any light. So yeah please reach out and go check it out. We have a lot of content. I have a lot of; this conversation is like this throughout the web that I think can really level up your game and give you the ability to assess deals quickly without just hunches. You got to go with your hunches but it’s nice to have hunches and data.
Chuck: Yeah for sure. And a quick pro tip from me, if you’re trying to get somebody to accept your LinkedIn profile and they don’t know who you are, write a message. Don’t just send the like later. Personally, I feel like if I’ve LinkedIn with somebody and I’m connected then I’m somewhat vouching for them so I don’t just accept random LinkedIns. Like, everybody, I’ve accepted for the most part are people I’ve actually met in person. But then we go to these conferences and somebody sent me a request and I don’t remember them so it’s like just send a little message with them, take the two seconds to write.
Jeff: Yeah, and make it from the heart. We can smell of that. Come on. I think MarketMuse is cool. Oh really do you? I do too. So I guess we are connected I love the thing but you know.
Chuck: There you go. All right well I appreciate your time and thank you, everybody, for taking the time to listen and see you soon.
Links and Resources:
MarketMuse coupon code (mentioned in the podcast): QLBMM
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