How to Craft Your Content Strategy, According to HubSpot’s Pillar Page Manager

When your business invests in content marketing, you improve your ability to engage your buyer personas, convert more leads, boost brand awareness, and connect with your audience. This leads me to two questions for marketers: 1) Does your company already actively invest in content marketing? 2) Will you continue — or begin — this worthwhile investment in 2020?

Statistic: 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing

Keep Creating Clustered Content to Build Topic Authority

Once upon a time (in 2017), HubSpot’s blog hit a massivetraffic plateau. Our team put their heads together and, after identifying some macro trends in search and content, decided to reorganize HubSpot’s blog into topic clusters. That reorganization, along with the introduction of a search insights report, led to a 25% YoY increase in traffic and improved our search rankings for over two million keywords.

In short, the topic cluster methodology works — keep investing in it. Here’s how.

When creating topic clusters, you want to ensure that each cluster touches on all of the ways people are searching for that topic.You start with a pillar page — which I like to think of as the 10,000-foot view of a topic — about the main keyword you’re targeting. Then, your cluster (or subtopic) content should be about related yet more specific angles of that topic. All of this content, including the pillar page, is clustered through an internal linking structure.

If you’re a visual learner like I am, this illustration will help:

Topic cluster model

To drive the point home, let’s look at an example. Say I wanted to build topic authority around working remotely in 2020— a subject I am deeply passionate about as a fully remote member of HubSpot’s (awesome) Marketing team.

I would start with my pillar page — at HubSpot, we often call them our “Ultimate Guides.” The pillar would provide a comprehensive overview of working remotely, including definitions, trends, benefits, and the pros and cons of remote work. Then, my cluster content would include a number of related posts on more specific topics and keywords, such as ways to stay focused as a remote employee, remote jobs, and how to negotiate a remote position’s compensation.

This way, I’m solving for various related search queries, populating more of the SERP, and building greater topic authority.

Topic Authority and Multimedia Content

An important piece to the topic authority puzzle is multimedia content (e.g. videos, images, infographics, and audio). All of these improve your chances of ranking.

SERPs solve for searcher intent, and sometimes the best way to do that is through an image or a video. If the SERP results include multimedia and your content does not, it’s possible that your organic results will be pushed down the page and out of sight.

You can perform a simple search for your target keyword to determine which media format will give you the best chance at ranking for that query.

For example, searches for “how to make a GIF” and “what is emerald green” both resulted in multimedia snippets.

Screen shot of a google search for

Google SERP for “How to Make a Gif”

If a query like “emerald green” brings up an image carousel on the SERP and your content doesn’t include any images depicting emerald green (using relevant image-alt-text), then you’re going to have a difficult time generating organic traffic for your keyword.

Google Search result for

Google SERP for “what is emerald green”

Start Thinking Beyond Search and Rankings

At HubSpot, we’re experimenting with content that can serve purposes beyond search.

I would encourage you to think of ways to engage your audience that don’t involve being fixated on rankings. You can tap into your company’s unique voice and perspective. Create content that others are not. Start an interesting conversation. This is how you’ll successfully build a dedicated audience.

“SEO and Content Marketing will continue to drive visibility in 2020 but what good is being found if the content is not credible or compelling? To win the content marketing game, brands need to focus more on optimized, personalized and influencer activated content experiences” — Lee Odden, CEO at TopRank Marketing

Here are some non-search related tactics we recommend implementing in 2020:

  • Publish first-hand knowledge like surveys, research reports, or focus group results. (Take advantage of feedback softwareto simplify this process for you and your team.)
  • Think about creative ways to share emerging industry trends that matter to your audience. For instance, you might share data through an infographic, which is the second most-common form of media marketers use in their content strategies today. Think Spotify’s Year Wrapped campaign.
  • Prioritize building backlinks to boost authority and establish yourself as an industry thought leader.
  • Identify poor-performing posts and share them via other distribution channels to see if they’re more successful among audience members there.
  • Focus on the historical optimization of your content. For example, keep your blog content fresh by updating all topics, search intent, and statistics that aren’t relevant or accurate anymore.
  • Tailor your content to your audience members’ interests, needs, and challenges. You can add smart content personalization tokens to your website to assist with this.
  • Think about where you can share your content to better serve your audience and customers.

Now that we’ve reviewed what to continue as well as start doing in 2020, you may be wondering about which strategies to discontinue.

Stop Publishing Content for the Sake of It

Today, creating content for the sake of creating content, or simply to gain organic traffic, isn’t beneficial to anyone — not to your brand, prospects, or audience. It’s easy to get caught up in the race to publish as much content as possible with the goal of driving the greatest amount of traffic to your site.

But, churning out content for the sake of it is counterproductive. You may end up with loads of traffic but the chances of converting those visitors into customers for your video game when you’re producing a bunch of highly-searched cat videos are highly unlikely. Just because you have content that’s driving traffic doesn’t make it purposeful.To positively impact your audience and your bottom line, your content must be tied to your business.

Instead of publishing for the sake of it, apply this filter to determine whether or not your content is worth spending time on:

  1. Identify topics that align with your business, industry, and/or product.
  2. Determine which of those topics are relevant to your audience, then
  3. Filter by MSV or the topics that have the greatest traffic potential.

This framework will keep you on track to creating high-performing content that adds business value, every time.

My Recommended Content Marketing Tool

By now, you should have some ideas for your 2020 content marketing plan. How about a tool to help you implement these strategies?

There are countless resources available to help you with nearly every aspect of your content marketing strategy. One tool, in particular, I like and recommend is AnswerThePublic. It provides you with all the questions people are searching for around a specific topic. Not only will this help you build out your topic cluster, but it can also help you identify what’s relevant to your audience.

Build Your 2020 Content Marketing Strategy

Effective and impactful content marketing is vital to the success of your company and your ability to grow in 2020 (and beyond). It’s the foundation of your marketing strategy. That’s why you need to determine how to create and distribute your content in a way that makes people want to hear from your business.

After all, your audience is trusting you to share high-quality and valuable content with them. Instead of producing content for the sake of it, share purposeful and beneficial information that can be tied directly to your brand and products or services. This will allow you to resonate with the people who matter most — your customers.

If you’re looking for additional inspiration while developing your 2020 marketing strategy, take a look at 70+ data points and trends from over 3.4K global marketers here. Click the banner below to download the full report with the data.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in our “Not Another State of Marketing Report” that went live on February 17th, 2020. A lot has changed in the world since then, so keep that in mind as you process these trends and data.

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