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The Big Top: A New Model for SEO-Driven Content

For over a decade now, the fundamental unit of content marketing has been the blog post. Your post may be a block of text, an infographic, or a listicle about memes, but the underlying structure is the same. A regular cadence of posts to the company blog is the foundation of most content marketing strategies.

The problem is, each individual blog post has only a small window of effectiveness for SEO. A post might go viral, get hundreds of shares, and then sit in your archives for eternity. Identifying and promoting evergreen content can get more mileage out of a good post. But by nature and design, these posts aren’t built to be an enduring SEO resource. Think about it: When was the last time you clicked through on a blog post that was over a year old?

That’s not to say you should stop blogging altogether, of course. Blogs generate subscribers, help promote gated assets, contribute to thought leadership—all worthwhile goals for content marketers. But as SEO continues to evolve, it’s time for new models of SEO-driven content.

At TopRank Marketing, we’ve been working on a new way to integrate SEO and content to build longer-lasting, more valuable resources. Essentially, it’s reverse-engineering evergreen content, purposefully building well-supported “tentpole” content with SEO baked in.

Here’s how to design a content strategy I’m calling the “Big Top” model.

#1: Create Your Tentpole(s)

The tentpole content is the big asset that the rest of your strategy will be supporting. It should be a comprehensive take on a single topic relevant to your business and your audience, one with plenty of opportunities to crosslink with supporting content.

Research topics and keywords for your tentpole the way you would any best answer content: listen to customers, evaluate competing content, and use tools like Bloomberry and UberSuggest.

What will make your content into a tentpole instead of a blog post are a few distinguishing features:

  • A tentpole should be between 1500 and 3000 words.
  • Your tentpole will cover multiple aspects of your topic, divided into 250-300 word sections, each section based on long-tail keywords.
  • This last one is key. Your tentpole will not live on your blog. It should have a permanent place of pride, preferably not more than two clicks deep into your site, with a short URL. A “Resources” section is the ideal place.

You can break up the sections in your tentpole with eye-catching visuals, embedded SlideShare or video content, even CTAs to gated content.

Your tentpole is a prime location or influencer engagement as well. Curate quotes from influencers to highlight in the text—or, better yet, reach out to influencers to co-create and cross-promote the content.

Here’s a good example of a tentpole piece our client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions published earlier this year: How to Advertise on LinkedIn. Notice it’s not a post on their blog; it’s a standalone resource. This piece is currently ranking at the top of the SERP for “How to advertise on LinkedIn.”

You don’t have to limit your strategy to a single tentpole, either. If you have multiple topics that you can cover in depth and at length, create a pole for each one.

#2: Create Your Stakes

Your “stakes” are blog posts that will connect to the tentpole, driving traffic to it from your blog and boosting the blog’s SEO as well. There are several ways to create a supporting stake:

  • Take one 200-300 word section and expand it with supplemental material to 750 words or so, as the content requires
  • Cover a related topic that naturally links to your tentpole
  • Create an announcement post for the tentpole launch
  • Do an influencer roundup on a topic related to your tentpole

Each stake should have a CTA to the tentpole. If you have anchor links for navigation, as in our example above, you can also link to specific subsections that are relevant to the post.

#3: Connect Your Guylines

Guylines connect the stakes to the tentpole, providing stability and structure. In content terms, that means creating links from your supporting content to the tentpole and vice versa. The goal is to create a destination that users can explore, following their interest through multiple pieces of content, back and forth from the pole. This kind of structuring provides value for your readers, and increases positive search engine signals like time-on-site and session length.

As you develop more tentpoles, look for opportunities to link them together. Make sure each link is a logical next step for your reader. Over time, your “content big top” can become a full-fledged three-ring circus.

#4: Say, “Come One! Come All!”

Support your tentpole launch with all the amplifying force you have:

  • Use stats or quotes to make social media ads
  • Publish excerpts (or one of your stakes in its entirety) on sites like LinkedIn and Medium
  • Encourage influencer amplification
  • Seek out guest posting opportunities

These promotional efforts will build on your tentpole’s native SEO value, giving it some momentum that will help build external links and bring in organic results.

Make Your Content the Greatest Show on Earth

The Ringling Brothers have put up their big top for the last time, but your big top content can last for years to come. Just remember to keep it relevant; plan for regular updates and revisions (which are a great opportunity to re-promote the content).

The humble blog post is still a fundamental unit of content marketing. But when you supplement the blog with SEO-optimized tentpole content, the results can be… in tents.

Want to learn more about best answer content? Check out these 6 inspiring examples.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
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The post The Big Top: A New Model for SEO-Driven Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Check Also

10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.

via GIPHY

#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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