On April 12, the Morey Creative team gathered around the office piano (because every inbound marketing agency has a piano in their office, right?!) to watch Justin Champion of HubSpot Academy deliver a webinar-style workshop on the big screen.
The title and focus of the workshop was Trailblazing Your Client’s Content Marketing Strategy and we learned a lot from it, so we thought we’d share our team’s key takeaways with the world.
To preface, the workshop asked us to have a particular client in mind in order to:
- First, create a content mission statement (more on that in a bit).
- Second, create a content strategy to support that content mission statement for that client.
In our handy-dandy workbook provided by Mr. Champion—inbound marketing and sales platform HubSpot's "principal inbound professor"—we developed answers to prompts with CAF Worldwide, our freight forwarding and logistics client, in mind.
Where we ended up & how we got there.
By the end of this workshop, we had:
- A clear content mission statement
- Identified a head term to help align our content-planning efforts
- Identified five core topics with which to create content around
- Identified a list of subtopics for one core topic
- Gained a new understanding of pillar page mapping and execution
All of this was considered with the goal of producing a “resource pillar page” in mind.
A resource pillar page is one that is heavy on internal links, collecting related content all falling under one master head topic and built as a “bookmarkable” resource. This is different than our typical 10x pillar page, which is a deep dive into a subject touching on highly-relevant subtopics and supported by related subtopic posts.
A resource pillar page is like a directory, pointing to all generally related content, including 10x pillar pages and their supporting posts.
The example Justin used was Colgate's "Gum Disease" resource pillar page.
Content Mission Statement
HubSpot users are trained to develop content with personas and The Buyer's Journey in mind. This ensures we are talking to our leads rather than talking at our leads. A Content Mission Statement has a similar purpose. By declaring exactly what your content is intended to provide, you avoid wasting resources on content not inline with your goals. It is a quick tool to keep us all on track.
Here is the template: We market/sell [insert your product/service]. However, when it comes to our content strategy it’s not about marketing/selling [insert your product/service], it’s about the idea that everyone should know [insert thought leadership knowledge relevant to your product/service]
For CAF our content mission statement looks like this:
We market/sell freight forwarding services, but when it comes to our content strategy it’s not about marketing/selling freight forwarding services, it’s about the idea that everyone should know how to safely, efficiently, cost-effectively transport their product with customs clearance.
Next, we map our content.
Working backwards, we identified the content that should ultimately be present in this content plan. What is the Head Term we are trying to rank for? What are the Core Topics to organize content around? What are the Subtopics that should be represented in each section.
The Head Term
First we identify our Head Term—the most general term we aim to rank for. This will be our resource pillar page, containing light content and links all subsequent content we lay out here. CAF Worldwide is a freight forwarding and logistics management company, so our Head Term is Logistics Management.
In the Colgate example, the head term is Gum Disease.
The Core Topics
Typically thought of as the pillar page at the center of a topic cluster, core topics are the higher search volume terms you aspire to rank for, three to five words in length and large subsections of the head term.
Our Core Topics for CAF Worldwide:
- Freight Forwarding Services
- Warehousing and Distribution
- Freight Rate Negotiating
- Customs Brokerage
- Air, Ocean, and Land Freight
In the Colgate example, the core topics are the sections like Diagnosis, Prevention, Treatment.
Subtopics are segments of each core topic. These will be more in depth exploring elements touched on in the core topic pillar page and linking back to that pillar page. These should be questions, or at least seek to answer a specific question.
Note: Linking to these subtopic pages from the core topic page is optional, if it is logical for user experience. Linking back to the core topic page from these subtopics is mandatory.
We chose to build out the subtopics for the Freight Forwarding Services pillar:
- What is Freight Forwarding?
- Where do Freight Forwarders fit into Supply Chains?
- What’s the difference between a Freight Forwarder and a Shipper?
- What is the scope of Freight/Cargo Insurance Coverage?
In the Colgate example, the subtopics are the articles linked in each section.
We Were Surprised By…
Throughout the workshop, there were sporadic gasps heard from our web designers, content strategists, and PPC specialists alike.
Here are the 3 points that we were most surprised to learn:
- HubSpot offers a variety of free pillar page templates.
- A 10x piece of content should also be offered as a PDF download. This is mainly for user experience, giving your reader another option on how they can consume your content. A PDF download also gives you the opportunity to collect an inbound marketer's favorite gift: an e-mail address.
- Our last big surprise was how impactful inbound links are to ranking. We know inbound links are important but the evidence Justin presented was staggering: Colgate and Crest, two leaders in the dental hygiene space, both have resource pillar pages built around the term "gum disease."
Colgates's Gum Disease Pillar Page
Crest's Gum Disease Pillar Page
They are both very well constructed and full of valuable information and resources. However, Colgate ranks number one for the query "Gum Disease" while Crest ranks on about page nine. The difference: Colgate's pillar page has about 300,000 more backlinks than the competitor.
Unsurprisingly, different members of the Morey Creative team were enamored with different parts of Justin’s workshop because we have unique positions in the company and take on varied responsibilities for our clients.
Key Takeaways from our Strategists:
- Resource pillar pages are the ultimate form of upcycling. We do all the work of producing 10x pillar pages and supporting blog posts, why not organizing that content is a way that is useful for users and appreciated by search engines?
- Subtopics should be questions. The reason for this? A staggering majority of keywords searched for in Google are all questions.
- Your PDF resources should be ungated and published to your site to maximize discoverability and the reach of your content’s helpfulness.
Key Takeaways from our Web Designers:
- Rethink the design and intent of pillar pages. What we use to develop simply as a good piece of content also needs to consider conversion opportunities. If these pages are built to rank, and they ultimately do, what relevant opportunity do we provide to capitalize on that traffic?
- “Chill with the links”—as in, use less of them. Every link is an opportunity for spiders to get distracted while indexing. Only linking to related, strategic content helps streamline growth.
- If a pillar has a significant amount of content, consider using a sticky navigation for each section of the site.
The “Trailblazing Your Client’s Content Marketing Strategy” workshop was extremely helpful. Justin’s presentation hit on all the marks:
- A Resource Pillar Page is similar to a sitemap, providing the ultimate user experience in a clear and concise format. They direct a user to all of the information they could possibly need surrounding the Head Term. It's user-first 101.
- A Content Mission Statement will help you align all of your content with a clear goal. When you write with a purpose, you attract quality traffic to your site with visitor's that are more likely to take an action.
- Strong backlinks will always be the secret sauce to an authoritative website. Sure, they might require a bit more work to get (especially in the beginning), but the ROI in the SERPs is beyond powerful.
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