Gail’s Top 3 Takeaways From the HubSpot Content Marketing Certification
In the ever-evolving, fast-paced marketing landscape, it’s essential to keep your skillset current and creative ideas flowing.
It’s very easy to get into a rut when you’re on deadline for a multitude of projects and short on time for training and self-improvement, but there are plenty of resources available to learn new skills. I recently turned to HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification to brush up on my content marketing know-how.
Because the online video training could be done at my own pace, I could pick and choose when I worked on it, giving me the flexibility to work around time-sensitive projects. Taking that approach, it took me about eight weeks to complete the 12 online lessons and final exam. The lessons focused on all of the concepts of content marketing: storytelling foundations, planning, development, promotion and reporting. Here are three segments of the training that were particularly helpful to me:
The Many Ways to Combat Idea Generation Fatigue
We’ve all experienced it – writer’s block, or the equivalent, across any creative endeavor. Some days are full of inspiration, but on others the ideas don’t flow as freely.
We’re all in luck – there are steps we can take to generate content ideas on those “off” days:
Figure out your buyer personas’ reading habits
Truly being able to understand your prospects’ needs starts with defining your buyer personas. Once you know who your customers are, you can interview them to find out their reading habits, what they like or dislike about your content, and what they would like to see more of. If you haven’t defined your personas yet, HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool can walk you through the process.
Know what your competitors are doing
More quickly than surveying your buyer personas, you can conduct an audit of the content your competitors are producing. If a competitor has a similar target audience, the information they’re putting out will likely resonate with your prospects as well. BuzzSumo is a handy research and monitoring tool that can help you determine which content is most shared on social media channels. Simply type in a domain URL and the tool will tell you what has been shared socially.
Read what people are talking about on discussion boards
Use keywords related to your industry, product or service to search a question-and-answer site such as Quora for story ideas. Quora will return a series of popular questions containing the keywords you search for. Reading these questions and answers will help you understand the challenges or pain points your prospects may have.
Learn from your SEO efforts
As long as it’s properly connected to your website, the Google Search Console will show you the queries that visitors typed into Google to find your website and the topics you’re ranking for. Three other quick ways to leverage Google are:
- The autocomplete functionality, where Google suggests a query as you type it in the search bar
- The “related searches” section, which appears at the bottom of a search results page and offers additional suggestions
- The “people also search for” box, which appears in search results when a user conducts an organic search, clicks on a result, and then returns to the search results page
Host a content brainstorm
Pulling colleagues in to help generate content ideas can help you get outside your bubble and see your prospects’ pain points in a new light. Go into the brainstorm session with a list of specific questions you would like to answer, such as “What’s the problem we want to solve?” and “What are the most common questions you hear from our customers?”
The Evolution of SEO: Being Strategic About Being Found
Over the years, search engines have evolved to be able to deliver the most relevant and helpful content to each searcher. Google’s 2013 Hummingbird algorithm update focused on parsing out phrases instead of specific search queries. In 2015, Google released another major algorithm update related to its RankBrain machine learning and artificial intelligence system. This update interprets people’s searches to find pages that might not have the exact words they search for. Google does this by associating past search history with similar themes and pulling together keywords and phrases to provide a better, context-driven Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
What all of this means to the content marketer is that it’s important to think in terms of topics rather than keywords alone, because this is what the search engines are doing. Instead of focusing on keywords, their main goal is to solve for searcher intent.
One of the best ways to do this is to create content that is linked under a “topic cluster” model, where a single “pillar” page becomes your main hub of content for a topic and content pages with that same topic link back to the pillar page and to one another. These linkages tell search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic, which helps with your overall page rankings.
Once you’ve chosen a topic that you want to develop authority around, focus on two- to three-word terms with high monthly search volume. (Getting specific helps bring context to more broad topics.) Then develop subtopics that support your main topic. For example, a main topic could be “partner ecosystem development”, which you’d cover on your pillar page. Your subtopics could be “benefits of a partner ecosystem,” “how to build a partner ecosystem,” and “how a partner ecosystem supports my marketing efforts.” Those supporting subtopics would then be on pages that link back to the pillar page. Not every subtopic should be featured on the pillar page, but you can strategically link out to select subtopics when it makes sense and adds value for your visitors.
Measuring Content Effectively
According to HubSpot, 75 percent of organizations that miss their revenue goals are not taking the time to understand their data on visitors, leads and sales opportunities. This can be avoided by building out a strategy for measuring and analyzing the performance of your content.
Tracking organic metrics provides insight into two key areas: the performance of your content across your non-paid channels, and your greatest opportunities for paid promotion.
The takeaways above only scratch the surface of the HubSpot Content Marketing Certification. I found the entire course to be relevant and am looking forward to using what I’ve learned for our clients at Vela. For a snapshot of some of the strategies detailed above, check out our Content Marketing Glossary, here.
If you’re in need of content marketing support, contact Vela today to create content that will get your business noticed. We’ve been doing our homework.