It’s fair to say, I don’t even blog, bro. But here I am for a long overdue blog update.
Why, if I claim to be an SEO, do I not update my blog? Well, aside from being insanely busy working my ass off being the sole SEO at my company, it’s also because I’m sort of hating the whole idea of blogging.
Last month, I had the pleasure to score a VIP entry to INBOUND, a massive Inbound Sales & Marketing event in Boston. This was an eye-opening experience for me and as the only person at my company that spoke SEO, it was nice to be able to connect with others and reinforce my intuition about the direction of SEO was the same as many of the leaders in the industry. SEO is very much a collaborative effort and without a team of folks to talk to, plan with, and execute, it can sometimes feel like my back is against the wall. When talking about the campaigns I’m developing, it sometimes feels as if I speak a foreign language. Fortunately, much of the things I was already formulating in my head were suddenly coming to fruition in an easy to remember and structured way. That was the biggest value of INBOUND for me. It helped me frame the things I already knew, in a way I could communicate to my superiors.
There were many fantastic SEO’s, like Rand Fishkin, all present at INBOUND, but the one that really stuck out for me was the Director of SEO at Hubspot, Matthew Barby. His presentation introduced me to the framework that I was currently formulating in my head but had not been able to put it into words. Until INBOUND, I had been struggling at work due to the massive amount of content that had been produced prior to me working there. The issue wasn’t so much the influx of content, but it was the fact that there was absolutely zero documentation on why anything was produced: no keyword strategy, no reports… nothing. The entire site lacked any internal linking, so the blog was just being used as a repository for content. My big picture plan was to centralize the content into a pyramid structure, which is basically what I learned from working in e-commerce. I just didn’t know how to communicate that to my team properly until INBOUND.
Matthew Barby, and several other Hubspot folks, all talked about this revolutionary new way to think about content: Topic Clusters & Pillars. Without going into much detail about something that is already written about over and over, here is a video to explain Topic Clusters & Pillars quickly:
After getting back from INBOUND, I convinced the director of marketing at my job to reduce our blog output from 19 per month to 4, because I’m a good SEO that has absolutely no doubt in his knowledge and skills.
Okay, enough with the silly jokes. You’re probably asking yourself why I would want to reduce the amount of content we have written for us by 75% (or more or less, I don’t know math)? Content is king, right? In order to be seen, you have to produce a ton of content to cut through the noise of 2 million blog posts being published a day, right?
I’d say wrong. And that’s because, at this point, all we are doing is “feeding the beast.” At the time of writing this, just one of the websites I manage has over one thousand blog posts, all targeting long-tail variations (or sometimes the same keywords), which is resulting in massive amounts of cannibalization. It’s incredibly hard to manage and we have so much content, that there really isn’t any content we’ve produced that I’d consider pillar content (aside from our fantastic core/services pages.) Most of these blogs bounce heavily and provide very little traffic, so essentially, we are a large site with a ton of crap content and fantastically optimized core pages.
In the search engines’ eyes, the blog is the “heaviest” part of our site.
So, step one of this whole ordeal is to re-optimize the underperforming content on my blog by trashing/redirecting posts with 90-100% bounce rate and posts from “way back when,” and then consolidating/combining what can be salvaged or redirecting to similar posts targeting the same keyword that perform better. With 1,000+ blogs, I have my work cut out for me, but the payoff will be worth it.
Step two will involve developing content with the topic cluster/pillar strategy in mind. Going forward, I’m going to be structuring the content on our website to all be centralized opposed to the current structure which has our blog outweighing the core content/service pages. When producing new content, instead of “putting it on the blog,” like we have always done traditionally in the past (because this is just how it’s done) I will be looking for opportunities to actually create more in-depth content about our already existing (and strong) core pages, using long-tail variations or topic clusters.
I’m looking forward to providing an updated blog post on the outcome of all of this work in the next 3-6 months. Keep an eye out for future posts on my search engine optimization adventures.