Vertical Measures CEO, Arnie Kuenn, explains in detail how to grow your business with content, not keywords. Step into the new world of internet marketing and follow these principles to ensure your content topics are actually being searched for. Review the 20 minute tutorial below or read the transcript.
Hey, I’m Arnie Kuenn with Vertical Measures and today I’m going to talk to you about how to produce content to grow your business, without worrying about keywords and keyword research. I’ve been showing this slide for years now, because I believe so much in it and I want you to believe in it, which is that buyers are searching for information that helps them make an informed decision. And the businesses that provide that information to those people are the ones that are going to win.
Lessons from Marcus Sheridan
Recently, a good friend of mine, Marcus Sheridan, did a webinar with us. If you’ve ever seen Marcus, he talks about the five most important pieces and types of content that you should be producing for your business. It’s all about cost, problems, versus or comparisons, reviews, and best. So I’m going to take some of his slides, walk through some examples of each of these types of content, and then I’m going to show you how to do the research to come up with all kinds of ideas to address these issues. What Marcus is most famous for is the fact that he had a pool company that was struggling in 2008, when the housing market started to decline. Nobody was interested in buying fiberglass pools, so he found the inbound and content marketing mojo and decided to start writing all sorts of content, all related to those five things I showed you, and the first one is cost.
This is an example of his post, “How Much Does A Fiberglass Pool Cost?” I know you can’t read this text, but if you could or go to this page on his site, you start to read and you realize that he’s actually talking more about automobiles in the beginning, than pools. The point here is, he’s never going to actually specifically answer, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” because he can’t. He doesn’t know the access to your backyard, or how big of a pool you want or how deep. Is it going to have a diving end? What’s the backyard situation like? He’s going to ask a whole bunch of questions or his sales people do when they talk to you, but he’s addressing the issue in this piece of content. And that’s what you can do too.
Look what’s happened here. After he published that content, he ranks number one in Google for all of these different keyword phrases all wrapped around how much does a fiberglass pool cost. This is outstanding for him. This is what we all want, right? If you look at the results, and this is just for a three-year window of time. And the reason he cut it off at 2012 is he started to become so famous for his content marketing, that he was out speaking all over the world, and people started to link to some of these examples in the years 2013, 2014, 2015, which gives him an unfair advantage. This data just shows what was happening when he was a regular pool guy. This is the number of leads that came in from that single post talking about how much does a fiberglass pool cost. It adds up to well over a hundred leads. And in fact, that single blog post brought him in more than two and a half million dollars in additional pool sales, just by addressing the cost and pricing issue of his products.
Different Types of Content
Next we’re talking about problems, addressing problems. If you’re in a business where you have competition – I assume most of you do – then you probably have sales people from the other organizations who’ve maybe identified or made up some weaknesses about your products, your business, your services, whatever it might be. And you want to tackle those – if you’re aware of those – tackle them head on. Marcus knew that his competition that provided concrete pools or above ground pools was going out and telling prospective pool customers that there were issues, problems with fiberglass pools. So he wrote a piece of content talking about that, tackling it head on, and look what happened. 32 leads came in based on that article. You need to find what are the issues, what are the problems, what are people maybe talking about when it comes to your products and services, and have the courage to write about it, address it in your content, and you’ll see positive results like this.
We’re also talking versus and comparisons. Every one of you who’s watching this, you’ve gone to buy something. I don’t care whether it was a car, a truck, a pair of shoes, a piece of software. Whatever it is, you tend to go online, if it is major decision, for sure, and you’ll do searches using the keywords ‘versus’ or ‘compare to’ or ‘comparison’ or whatever, we all do it. And for what they’re searching for, you need to create content that those people are searching for.
And here is another example. This is a software development company called Segue. They followed the system, they started writing a whole bunch of posts. Look at these numbers. They’re getting 92,000 views, 70,000 views, 50,000 views for posts that basically are in the ‘versus’ category. The first one is ‘waterfall versus agile’, and then it’s ‘dot net versus java’, down here it’s ‘Microsoft SQL Server versus Oracle’. All of these ‘versus’ kind of pieces of content brought in hundreds of thousands of views. You need to figure out how you can do that in your industry, in your market, for your business. Look at the results they’ve achieved. The green is their organic growth over the last 18 months and Ron Novak, their VP said, “Since starting this just 18 months ago, we can account for at least $4 million in additional revenue,” because of their content marketing and the kinds of content they focused on creating.
‘Best of’ or ‘reviews’. We do that too, before we go on a trip or again buy products or services. What’s the best place to visit in Phoenix, Arizona? Reviews for automobiles, whatever it is that you’re looking to buy. And so here’s going back to Marcus, here’s another example of a piece of content he created. This again takes a little bit of guts, a little bit of courage to do, but there’s almost zero downside in this. He wrote a blog post, ‘Who are the Best Pool Builders in Richmond, Virginia?’ Then he added a couple of nice keywords, reviews and ratings there, get it into the title. If you read, he’s got a really nice opening paragraph that gives their business some credibility, he talks about how many customers they see in a year, and so on and so forth. And then he starts to list his competition, the pool builders in Richmond, Virginia starting with Pla-Mor pools, then Swim-N-Pools, he doesn’t put himself in the list.
I think at the bottom of the post, he talks a little bit about River Pools and Spas, of course, all the wrapper for this webpage is ways to interact with River Pools and Spas, but he’s listing his competition here. Takes some guts. Look what happens, though. When someone actually does a search for their competitor, Reviews Pla-Mor Pools in Richmond, Virginia, guess what ranks number one in Google? This blog post, ‘Who Are the Best Pool Builders in Richmond, Virginia’.
Imagine how many times that’s getting clicked on, and when they click on it, where are they going? They’re going to Marcus’ website. Reading that piece of content has generated a lot of business for him. Here’s another example. This is a small business in Alaska, a sleep clinic in Alaska. By the way, if you’re watching this video right now, get a hold of us. I’ve got some really good CRO ideas for you, for your homepage, I think it could really make a big difference.
Answer Questions People Are Searching For
Anyway, they followed the same principle. Look at the kinds of different kinds of content they’ve produced here. One is, answering questions that have to be frequently asked. Just think about how many of you may have gone into Google or Bing or whatever, and done a search for ‘why am I so tired all the time even after a full night’s sleep’? I could see doing that search. This post has been read 154,000 times. And if you look at what else they’re doing, they’re answering people’s questions. What is BiPAP therapy? What’s the difference between BiPAP and CPAP? What are CPAP machines and camping? Evidently people are asking what do I do when I go camping. They wrote a post, included the word ‘best’.
Other examples, here’s another one, ‘Maintenance Best Practices’. They’re creating all this content. Look at how many views these different pieces of content are getting for a small boutique business in Alaska. And let’s see the results. They started back in June, and in one year, look what happened to their organic traffic. It’s practically gone up by 800%, I’m sorry, 800%. Eight times the growth in traffic. Can you imagine what that has done to their business? By creating content people are actually searching for.
This is one of my favorites. I’ve been giving this in conferences all across the country for the last couple of years. The reason I like it, is this is about the most practical example you can imagine. This is Yale Appliance in Boston. It’s an appliance store. And at the time I grabbed these screenshots and got you some of this information, they had one location. I think they’re building out their second one right now. It’s an appliance store, and they follow the practice that Marcus and I talk about all the time. Marcus and I are very aligned in our thoughts on how to go about this. Here’s one of their ‘versus’ posts. They wrote all about it. They did the ‘Marcus’ thing, stuck in ‘reviews and ratings’ and if you scroll to the bottom of their post, they’ve got a great call to action to go download a buyer’s guide, and develop leads and to getting engagement with these people.
They’ve created lots of buyer’s guides, an appliance buying guide, a refrigerator buying guide, counter depth refrigerator buying guides. Here’s all the category of buying guides that they’ve created. What’s happened for them? Look at the titles here. Here’s the views, very impressive. But I want you notice the titles. Their most popular post is ‘The Best Induction Cook tops in 2012.’ So it’s a little bit older, of course it’s going to have more views just because of its age. But not a very clever title, right? ‘Sliding Versus Free Standing Ranges,’ ‘Best 30″ Professional Gas ranges,’ ‘Best Front Load Washers,’ so on and so forth.
They stuck to the process, they had the courage to write all this content and look what’s happened to them. They started doing content marketing back in the middle of 2012, and their traffic has now gone up. When I used to talk about this a year ago, it was about three or four hundred percent. It’s now almost 600%. But I do want to point out, they’ve been working at it for a while. They’ve got some spikes and so on and so forth. This takes some time for the green, the organic traffic, to finally explode for you. But if you stick with it and produce that kind of content, it will happen.
Ideation Strategies for Content
All right. We’ve talked about the kinds of content you should create for your business and you could create, should create, and will create, right? How do you go about doing that? We have an eight step process that we’ve developed here. I’m going to just talk about the ideation. This is the process we follow internally. We follow it for our clients. This is how we come up with hundreds of content ideas even following Marcus’ five pieces of content.
How do you come up with ideas for cost and pricing, comparisons, versus so on and so forth, the problems? The first thing is, and Marcus talks about this, and I talk about this everywhere, and it’s so important to do. It’s easy to get out of the habit. Remember to go back and talk to your staff. Ask your staff. Anyone who’s interacting with prospects and clients, ask them what they get asked all the time. What are the biggest problems and challenges? What are other salespeople saying about your business and your products?
Make sure for sure you talk to your salespeople. Salespeople are getting asked these questions all of the time, the same questions over and over again. There’s a really good chance they’ve actually already written responses via email back to the people asking these questions. You might have a big chunk of content right there. Remember to go and ask and draw the questions out of your staff that your business is being asked all the time.
The next thing, and this is my favorite tool, is to go to Google Suggest. I write lots of articles. Over the years I’ve written hundreds of articles, and almost always I come up with my ideas by going to Google Suggest. Every once in a while I will send an email out internally saying, “Hey, what are the questions we’re being asked this month?” or “What are the top questions that come to mind?” I might address those or things where I’m at a conference and I’m talking to other agency owners or whatever it is and we’re all talking about the same issues and challenges and problems. Maybe I’ll come up with ideas there and I jot them down. Usually, I’m at my desk, I’ve got an idea in mind, and I start doing Google Suggest.
It’s as simple as taking your keywords or whatever it is you think’s important to your business and just start typing them in. You’ll have to do it over and over again. Here’s business to consumer, a few examples, buying guides. Here’s outdoor kitchens. I once presented at one of the major retailers across the world on how they should develop content. One of their things they wanted to focus on was outdoor kitchens, so they could start doing all kinds of Google Suggest research just on the words, ‘outdoor kitchen.’
Here’s the covered backyard. By the way, I want to point out that the fourth thing that Google Suggest has here is ‘backyard covered patio cost.’ People are searching for that. They want to have some idea what we might have to spend to cover our backyard patio, right? Outdoor lighting ideas, outdoor lighting ideas for home. Maybe that would be a good blog post title. Low maintenance backyard. I like this one because of the fourth one shown here, low maintenance backyard for dogs. I’m going to show you why I really like it in just a second.
Also, in case you’re wondering, I did the same exact stuff using my cell phone. It almost completely matched 100% to what my desktop showed. You could do this research either way, but also the point is that if people search on their phone or on their desktop they’re going to see very similar things. I talked about the low maintenance backyard for dogs.
Google is Your Best Friend
Before we write any content, before I write any blog post, article for somebody else, or whatever, I always go to Google. I enter in the title that I’m thinking about for this particular piece of content, this article. It could be an infographic. It could be a video. Whatever it is, I enter into Google and I look to see what’s happened in the search results. In this case, I would say green light. Go for it. Write this piece of content. Because if you look here, nobody has addressed that exact title in a piece of content. If you have any kind of a decent website and your business was all about maintaining backyards, I would create something like this, this piece of content. My bet would be you’d show up in the top two or three results within a few weeks. Honest to God, just give it a try. If you’re in that business, give it a try.
Some business to business examples. We recently looked for some content marketing software, so I just use that for an example. That’s what comes up. You can try inserting the asterisk into some of your searches here. It’ll help fill in gaps. You can start with different letters of the alphabet. If you are interested in outsourcing computers or that’s your business, that you provide support to companies, maybe you do outsourcing computer and then start with an ‘A’ and see what comes up. Start with a ‘B’ and see what comes up, a ‘C,’ so on and so forth. Here are some things that came up here, outsource computer support business plan, people looking to get into a business.
Remember, I talked about problems. Here’s this one, outsourcing computer support risks. People are concerned about their risks. If you’re in that business, maybe you could address the risks head on right now with a piece of content. Hosting services, here’s another one about trust, hosting services on an untrusted Cloud. Maybe you could write that.
Switching gears completely now, heavy equipment. If you’re thinking about buying a piece of heavy equipment, whatever that might be, maybe you want to see if you can get it inspected. Maybe you’re going to do a search for heavy equipment inspection. Here are different topic ideas if you’re in the business of inspecting heavy equipment. Now I’ve found the piece of heavy equipment I want to buy, backhoe, whatever it might be, and now I need to lease it. I might be doing a heavy equipment lease search.
Here’s people. Evidently, people are looking for templates. The last one here is how to manage Big Data. If you’re in that business, here’s ideas right off the bat how to manage it in Excel, in Projects, in MySQL. I grab that one. I did…I’m sorry. Here’s the cell phone example. Same kind of searches.
I grab that one. I plug it into Google. I’m going to write about how to manage Big Data projects. I’ve got to tell you I’m pretty surprised. I figured that this would be covered, that people would probably have that exact title. You don’t actually see it here, so I would consider writing this piece of content, or producing a video, or whatever it might be with that title and then maybe Excel and the MySQL and whatever else was listed in that Google Suggest result.
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom when you do that search, how to manage Big Data projects. Scroll to the bottom and look at related searches. There’s a whole bunch of other ideas there for you. Remember, we’re just looking for content ideas based on those five main topics that I talked about in the beginning, another way to find them.
I’m going to just show you that one tool that you could actually license. This is the free version. I’m just showing you the free version here. You can actually license it, too. It’s called keywordtool.io. You do something similar. Remember the outdoor lighting example I had? You just plug in outdoor lighting. I happened to just click on the questions tab, and it lists a bunch of questions that people are searching for. Can outdoor lighting be used indoors? Can you use outdoor lighting inside? Two different twists, right? How to do outdoor lighting for a wedding, and so on. Again, you’re just generating content ideas. This is grabbing data that people are actually searching for and presenting it back to you, again, for content ideas.
How many of you offer a live chat on your website? A lot of you do. If you do that, you may be collecting great data every single day when someone shows up to your website and engages with one of your representatives. They’re typing in questions. You’re having a conversation. If I was you, I would mine through that data and see what people are asking and talking about once they hit your website. Maybe there’s a whole bunch of new content you could create just out of looking at your live chat data.
Then, people will say…One of the objections is oh yeah, all your titles, they’re six, seven, eight, nine, ten words long. Are people really doing that? We are. We’re talking full questions and sentences into our cell phones today. That’s how we’re doing search. That’s what the Hummingbird Google update is all about. It’s addressing that.
Just a quick chart here shows you that when people actually do enter in a seven, eight, and nine-word keyword search, the conversion rate is way better than on the shorter searches. It just makes logical sense. They’re getting much closer. They’re getting educated and much closer to making a purchase decision when they start typing in those kinds of phrases.
Remember the example I showed you right in the beginning about how much does a fiberglass pool cost? Well, look how long some of these searches are that people are actually entering. This is what this blog post is ranking, number one. This is what people are typing in to find that. This must be, what, seven words, six words, seven or eight words down here, seven words. Long search phrases. Those will convert really, really well.
Every Moment is a Content Opportunity
If you’re also watching this video and you’re thinking yes but I’m in a boring industry, which I’ve heard way too many times already, or our industry’s not sexy, sorry Marcus, but are fiberglass pools sexy? I don’t know. Is web development software sexy? How about sleeping disorders, sexy? Washers and dryers? My goodness, those’ll be boring, non-sexy industries, right? As Marcus said in the webinar, which I loved, what is sexy is making money. If you follow this process, people will find your content. They’re going to engage with you. If you’re guessing at what to produce, it won’t happen.
My closing here is remember that every moment is a content opportunity. Don’t ask, “What can you write about?” Ask, “What questions do we get asked every day that we can address?” Please don’t gamble your online success by thinking it’s okay to create cute, clever, fun content. Eventually do that, but if you’re not successful with your content marketing yet, I would stick to producing content that people are actually searching for. Wait until your green bars start going up and up and up and up, and then start to experiment with interactive and cute and fun content. But you’ve got to get the fundamentals down. You’ve got to understand what real content marketing is first.
I’m Arnie Kuenn. Thanks for watching.