author
Paddy Moogan
Aira

About Paddy Moogan

Paddy Moogan is the co-founder of Aira, a digital marketing agency based in Milton Keynes in the UK. He has worked in digital marketing since 2004 when he got bored studying for a Law degree at University and decided to earn money online. He moved to London a few years later and worked for Distilled, ending his career there as VP Operations of their London office before starting Aira in 2015.

In his Learn Inbound talk, Paddy explains how it can be too easy to focus on the content that “goes viral” and generates links and social shares while forgetting about other types of content and how they can help your business. He shares the three types of content that every website needs to hit their objectives.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify the content types that work for your industry and use Huballin, a new tool for finding content based on search results that can be paired with Keywords Everywhere.
  • Map out a buyer’s journey and create content to answer questions they might have at each stage…simple and effective!
  • Use Buzzsumo to make sure long form content is shared in your industry before investing time and resources creating it.
  • You should retarget people based on their interests using Google tag manager.

Video Transcription

I'm Paddy, I’m the co-founder of Aira. We're a digital marketing agency based in the UK. I'm gonna talk to you guys today about I guess more than viral content and three types of content that I feel we should all be creating for our clients and for our websites. This is actually my second time in Dublin. And I took this photo this morning. Beautiful morning, walking around, had a coffee and as I was walking around, actually I made a bit of a discovery. I think I found my dream job. I love SEO, I love doing things like this, and I love this job. But when I saw this ... I was like, that's a team I want to be a part of. I looked at it, I did a double take. I thought, "That's a job?" and I looked in the front and there was no guy sitting in it. I think they were either asleep in the back or at the nearest drinking establishment. But that's such a cool job, so it's made me question my career choice which, you know, might need to talk to my career finder when I get back. Read More

I'm from London, well I'm from Birmingham but I live in London at the moment. It usually looks like that most of the time. People are more moody in London, rather than Dublin. It's nice to be here; if the weather's crap here, everyone's nice to you anyway. If the weather's crap in London, people kind of are even more miserable. So it's nice to be here.

You won't recognize this-- Kirsty and I were joking right before this, our first slide. Neither of us knew until about an hour ago. Content marketing interest is on the way up. Now, my question is, why? Why have we seen that kind of growth? And putting my cynical hat on, from my own standpoint and my SEO hat on, and we happen there. Penguin stopped lots of link building techniques from working or made them a lot more risky than they used to be and what we're left with, well content-driven link-building, which was always the case but became much more prominent and easier and less risky route to actually build links. So my cynic hat kind of says made a big difference to it.

However, it also works; it really does work if you get it right which is a big if, which is what I'm going to talk about shortly. Big content is great; it's really cool to do. You get that nice feeling when it goes really well and you see that big spike. But the fact is, not everyone can do it.

It can be expensive; you can imagine, the design, time, the development time that went into the piece that we showed you as well as promotion, as well as the research and just coming up with the idea in the first place which actually takes us a lot of time because you want to make sure it's gonna work.

It can be risky if you spend all that time building and designing the piece of content and it fails, the clients can be a big pissed off. I've been told it's okay to swear, by the way, so hopefully that will be okay. Clients can be pissed off; he's sat there with a piece of content that no one cares about. And let's be really honest as well. In that it's really hard; I feel like people that say it's easy have never done it or have done it once and got lucky. Because doing this sort of stuff over and over again is actually really difficult and it really annoys me when people say stuff like this. Well, no shit, yeah, we've all got to do good content. But what does good mean? It's so subjective and you're trying to guess what good is for your audience, isn't for everyone.

This is a real comment from a person from last year when I was talking about link building. Well yeah, just do good marketing. But the fact is, it's not just about that. You can't just do good stuff. Yeah, we're all trying to do good stuff. But there's more to it, it's a process. There are steps, there's some methodology behind it that we have to think about. Hey, it's not that easy and I'm not going to stand here and make it sound like it's not. It's our fault a little bit as well because we put ourselves under pressure to produce, sorry I've hacked the word, viral content. That's what we say we're gonna do for our clients. And I think partly, it's at least because a lot of us have got SEO backgrounds and we're used to being measured by links. Through the links that we build, that's how we measure success. So all of a sudden, the content we build has to do that as well.

And maybe, just maybe, we focus on links a little bit too much. And give them; Paul told you about this, I'm the author of this book, named The Link Building Book. It feels a bit weird me saying that to you now. Now links are really important, I'm not gonna understate that, I think they always will be. They're the basis of the web.

But when you think about it, is it really what we're trying to achieve? It's not really ... even when clients come to you and say, "I want links," they don't really want links, they want more than that. What they really want is this, the spikes are really nice but over time, that's what they want. Nice, gradual, accumulative, extra traffic from organic search. Now, honestly, hand on heart, this website in question which I unfortunately can't share with you has never had any link-building done to it at all, no active link-building. They've got links, but I've never ever sat down with Gmail, never done big content, nothing like that. This is really what our clients are asking for. They're not asking for links, they're asking for this. And links are important, but they don't pay the bills, unless you sell them but that's a whole other talk which I might get invited back to do or might not get invited back to do. But they don't pay the bills. That’s not what the CEO looks at on their PNL, on their revenue sheet, they care about traffic and conversions and links are just a means to an end. Traffic being one end, and conversions, as Kirsty was just talking about, is the other.

So I want to talk about three content types that help us with these things. The first one is short-form content which is often overlooked; I'm going to explain why. Long-form, which Kirsty touched on a little bit as well, or really in-depth content, also you do need that large stuff as well, you do need the big stuff that's going to generate links and nice spikes in analytic traffic. You do need that as well because together, these lead to a diverse and robust content strategy which again, I'm gonna talk about shortly.

But one thing first before I get into that. Absolutely everything is driven by the idea. Now I want to give you a real example of what I mean by this. If you only take one thing from this talk, please let it be this. Please, for the love of God, never say this. If you're actually a client, if you work in-housing, you work for agencies, never say this to your agency.

Now infographics can work, I'm not saying they don't work, they definitely can. There are a lot of good ones; there are a lot of bad ones. But in the same way, you should never say this either. You shouldn't say that; the idea comes first. You come up with the idea for a piece of content and then you decide how to execute it. Because sometimes, you think, okay, well, got this great idea, you think it's going to work and a video will be the best way to execute it. Sometimes it'll be a tweet, sometimes it'll be a Facebook post, sometimes it will be an infographic or an interactive piece but the idea comes first. So this is what I'm going to try to focus on, talk to you guys about.

So one content form is short-form, long-tail, and keyword driven content. Now when I was putting this step together last week, it felt a bit basic but I'm hopefully going to show you guys some techniques and some tools to help make this work really well. But even though it's basic, doesn't mean it doesn't work.

Now, this kind of content aids conversion and drives organic search traffic. And I'm going to give you another prime example. We work with laser eye surgery in London, and we've mapped out their typical customer journey across different kinds of surgery that they do and this is just one example. So someone kind of starts having problems with their eyes, they get blurry vision or whatever it is, and start to research it. They look at problems that they've got, and then they may look at the options for solving that problem. One of which may be eye surgery, it may also be contact lenses or glasses, or, you know, some kind of medication.

Then, for our client, they care about the surgery side of things. So step three they look into the risks of laser eye surgery, what could go wrong, look into the costs and eventually, if they're okay with everything, they'll look at actual options for who to go with. Now the question we need to ask ourselves as we step along this process is what content can we create along this process to answer their questions? Because all a conversion journey is, is a series of questions, that's all it is. We don't know the answer to something whether we're buying a laptop, a car, a coffee machine, laser eye surgery, it's a series of questions along that journey that we have to answer. And our job as marketers is to answer those questions. So all of a sudden, this process can look like this.

So for, step two comparing the options, a keyword may be how to improve blurry vision. Or looking into the costs, so my search for laser eye surgery costs. These aren't pure commercial keywords. But they've got the intent of someone who may eventually become customer of our client. So if we can create content that aligns itself with every step of this journey, we can capture customers at an early stage and bring them back through maybe retargeting, capturing their email address or even making them aware of the brand. As Kirsty said, was it 84% of brands want to do content because of brand awareness. That's what this can help with but we're not just looking at it from a big content perspective, we're looking at it from a practical step-by-step and the conversion perspective.

But another question we need to ask ourselves is what content types work well in any given industry? This is from BuzzSumo, really cool tool, it's got free and a paid version and when I tweet the day I'll put a link to it down there. This is actually for travel, so I'll put in the keyword travel and it's telling me that list content is, on average, the most shared, top of content in that industry. So when I'm mapping out a conversion process for a client in the travel industry, I think actually that idea there could lend itself quite well to a list. I know that those lists can get shares, which is validation for actually doing that idea.

Huballin is a really good tool; it's quite new, it's still in beta at the moment, I believe, but it's a really cool tool for this kind of keyword research. It's a bit like the keyword tool from Google, but smarter in many ways. So rather than just giving you shit tons of keywords, and not giving you context, Huballin will filter them for you so that it can show you keywords that are also questions so laser eye surgery. Example, it also gives you the volumes and the cost per click. Now, Huballin are a bit sketchy about where its data comes from; I believe it's a combination of SEMrush data and I think, Torsia they also integrate AdWords through it as well, they're a bit sketchy about that but it's pretty solid data.

And I also like to filter these keywords really easily. So like, take a guess at the different themes these keywords have, so on the left hand side here, we've got the themes that I've guessed at. Here I've selected the words, safe. On the right hand side, can be 16 keywords that include the word safe. So if that's the preferred conversion process when someone's logging into the risks, trying to figure out what could go wrong, these are the exact keywords that I would be targeting at that step of the process and I know that they've got keyword volume.

Another tool is called "Answer the Public". It does a very similar job to Huballin but gives you different data assets, so I think they pull data from a different source. And for some reason, they've visualized it like this first. This is for travel, and I've got no idea how they expect someone to kind of crane their head around and do that, so you have to kind of reorder it, make it look like that, which it's a one click button and this works really well, because these are questions related to travel that people are asking. What it doesn't give me which Huballin does is the search volumes and the cost per click. Now, the way around about is to install, probably my favorite plug-in in the last 12 months.

This plug-in, it's called "Keywords Everywhere" so it's a Google Chrome extension. Once you've installed it, it starts to insert keywords, search volume data, cost per click data, into various interfaces. So here is the Google Search Console for my book and you'll see two extra columns here that you don't normally see: monthly volume, cost per click. That's really cool because all of a sudden, that data you get means a little bit more because you can look at the differences between volume and impressions, cost per click, and that kind of stuff.

Also, there's a really cool tool called "Ubersuggest" which scrapes Google Suggest and it appends monthly search data on there as well. It also appends volume into search results, like this. And Answer the Public, which I showed you guys earlier, it will also add a data transfer as well. So all of a sudden, all these keyword tools that can give us the data on what people search for on our conversion journey have got a lot more context because you've got the numbers right there. You can see what people are searching for.

My favorite one is actually this one. So you know when you scroll down the Google search results, you've got the righted searches; we've kind of known for awhile that these are driven by people searching these keywords. We've never known how much though. Now we've got that data. They've pulled the data from SEMrush I believe, so it's kind of in along with a Google Keyword Planner.

So these keywords here, the two that I've highlighted, so "Can you have laser eye surgery twice," "How is laser eye surgery performed," those are perfect keywords to target with short form content; you're not going to make an infographic out of that, you're not going to make a 5000 word article. You can make a very short, very accurate, very well-written piece of content to target those keywords.

And what you can quickly do is compare with the Moz toolbar. So install the Moz toolbar and you've got DA and PA, so you can see how competitive that keyword's going to be as well.

Sometimes you'll get keywords such as this, so this is photography, so digital DSLR photography for beginners, that's not the kind of keyword you're gonna be able to target with a short-form piece of content. You're going to struggle to comprehensively cover that keyword in a few hundred words. So when this kind of thing happens, you're actually looking at a different content type. Looking at long-form content. Now with this, we're also trying to drive organic search but more of that long tail, the kind of keywords which you haven't even thought of, the kind of keywords that the tools won't show you. We try and drive traffic from those. And it also demonstrates expertise in a particular topic.

But the first thing we need to ask ourselves is, is it worth doing because it takes a lot of time. If you write it yourself, it's a long time. Researching and writing and editing, so it's gonna take a lot of time. You can pay for an editor to do it, but again, that's cash that you've got to pay out. So you've got to make sure it's worth your time. So it's worth looking at the keyword volumes. You can use BuzzSumo to look at whether long-form content in your particular industry typically gets social shares.

Now in this example, again, I've used the word travel, and it’s showing me on average, content that's 3000 words or higher gets a lot more social shares than those that are lower. Some industries it's backwards to this, some industries it's a bit indifferent. So this is a good test check to say whether you should be doing it at all.

Airbnb do a really good job of this. They've got their local neighborhood guides. This is the one for Brixton in London. When you go to this page, you've got beautiful big images, you've got really good information about local restaurants and bars. It's written by local people, so it's really good content. Not only does it get social shares and links, but it also ranks for Brixton travel guide so if someone is searching for this, they may also become an Airbnb customer at some point either here or in the future so again, you're in front of people in organic search. Doesn't have to get tons of links, doesn't have to go far, they can get traffic this way.

But it can also drive micro-conversions. If I'm being honest, long-form content is pretty unlikely to drive a direct conversion. So someone that reads that content pulls out their credit card and becomes a customer. It can happen, but it's pretty unlikely. It's not something that I'd really expect to happen. Because they're in that mindset of researching, of trying to answer one of their questions. A very basic level, you guys should be doing retargeting on all of the content you put out. So just dropping an ordinary marketing tag on the page, and targeting with ads in the future. That's a pretty basic thing we should be doing.

But there is a slightly more targeted way to go about doing that. And you can use Google Tag Manager to do it so if you can't code for shit like me, you can use Google Tag Manager to actually do this for you or you can do it the old-fashioned way. What it can do is track events in Google Analytics very easily using Tag Manager so one of the events you can track is Scroll Depth. There's a link down here to the post about how to do this, so you can fire a Google Analytics Event if people scroll a third right down to the page, two thirds, and all the way down. So this is good just on its own to see if people are engaging with your content. Because if most people aren't even getting past the first third of the page, there's something wrong with the content which needs to be fixed. But when you combine this with retargeting, it becomes really powerful. Because tag manager also allows you to fire people into a remarketing bucket at these different stages.

So you can customize your creative, your adverts, to people based on how far they've gotten through a single piece of content. What you also can do, this piece of content, isn't as, kind of wish it was. For a company called High Divergents, a built piece of content called "Where Should I go on Holiday", kind of does what it says on the tee. You answer a bunch of questions and they tell you where you should go on holiday. One of the questions they ask is, what activities do you like, now these guys aren't doing this but they probably should. What we can do with Tag Manager is fire an event based on what someone selects on this page. So rather than having one big retargeting bucket of people that have viewed this content, you can split those out into people that like the beach, people who like going to a holiday with a pool, people who like partying, it can different retargeting buckets for each of those and crosses between all of them. Just by using Google Tag Manager and Facebook, retargeting pixels; it's actually not that difficult to do with Tag Manager. If anyone actually wants the actual ins and outs of it, then come grab me afterwards. But basically Tag Manager allows you to fire a custom HTML tag which can contain anything you want. All you've got to do is put the JavaScript from Facebook into that tag and set it to fire based on someone clicking around. So you can use it for all sorts of things.

Moving on to something less geeky, BrandTale is a website which Charlie evangelizes a lot. They basically curate content that's been produced by brands but promoted by publishers. So for example, they look at people like Forbes, New York Times, The Atlantic, and they look at what brands are doing with those publishers. See this is when brands are paying the publishers to promote a piece of content on their website. So if I filter by the words "alcohol", I can see all of the brands that sell alcohol and what they've been doing on these different brands. So, on BuzzFeed, Sam Adams had a custom content series, on PopSugar, Smirnoff did something. I can click through to these; see what these guys are doing.

And the reason I mentioned this in this section, is because at the time, this is actually written long-form content so you can see what these kinds of brands are doing and it's not cheap to do this. I contacted a few of these companies to find out how much these brands were charging and it's stupid. Don't quite understand it to be honest. But they spend a lot of money on these so they've got to make it work and they're gonna put a lot of effort into the content itself. So you can learn quite a lot from these kinds of sites.

Thirdly, I'm not going to say you don't need to do it, and don't worry about links, you do need to worry about links and big content. Just gonna talk about this a little bit just to finish off. So large content pieces, we're trying to drive links and social shares, which, you hope will lead to good quality traffic as well.

And the truth is, if you look at most pieces of content that have gotten lots of links, lots of social shares, done really well online, the success of them usually comes down to one or more of three things. The first is the story, so is there a story behind it which captures people's attention? Is it something that's a bit different, has it already been seen before? Second thing is the data, so is it a new piece of data that hasn't been seen before or is it something a little bit old that's been slighted a bit differently and a new story's been created from it. Or is it the production, sometimes, something will do well online purely because it looks beautiful. No data, no story, it just looks visually stunning. This can work as well, so usually if you've got one or more of those three things, that's different or really strong about your content campaign, it's much more likely to do well in terms of links and social shares.

I've kind of lied a little bit because there is one more and some of you are probably thinking about it and having an existing audience also helps. This is why Rand in Moz annoys me a little bit. He could drive anything and get 400 links, it's kind of annoying, but it's because he's got an audience right, well you promote his stuff because of who he is. We know he's a strong authority, having an existing audience really helps.

Different example, only slightly. Lady Gaga, this is my favorite tweet. Nearly six years ago, five years ago now. Never be afraid to dream, five words and 52,000 re-tweets. Now as someone that's trying to drive social shares for clients and trying really hard to get good numbers, that makes you feel a little bit sick. But the reason really, is because of her audience, right? At this point in time, she still had millions of fans that would say and retweet or do whatever she said. If you haven't got an audience ... Doesn't quite work. Five words, five retweets, and I know for a fact that at least two of those, maybe three are because we asked them to do them. This is my old boss by the way, I can do this now. Will was my boss when I worked at Distill, and I can use this slide now, I couldn't really do it before or I'd get sacked.

There's a lot more to this, I've only got a few minutes left so if you do want to learn a little bit more about larger content, then go and take a look at this deck from BrightonSEO, again there's a link down there, later on, where I go into a lot more detail about the process for reverse engineering successful content.

But there is one quote that I do want to share with you guys that I think is really important. It's from 1940, it's, an idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements. Now, remember I said that we put ourselves under a lot of pressure to produce "viral" content; we also put ourselves under pressure to come up with a brand new idea for each piece of content. And the fact is that you don't really have to. It's great if you can, but you don't have to put yourself under that kind of pressure. Because sometimes, doing something that's already been done but a little bit differently or an updated version of something that's been done before, can work. So don't put yourself under that kind of pressure.

So, why should you guys do any of this when you get back to the office, morning mode with a hangover, why should you actually do any of this stuff? Well, as I mentioned earlier, a combination of these three content types leads to a much more diverse and robust content strategy. Because, you're not gambling on a single piece of content doing really well. So if you do that and it doesn't work, you kind of, up against you if a client fires you, they may expect more for the next piece. You're kind of protecting yourself against that a little bit.

You can generate traffic on a base level from this organic search and for the short form and long form content. For the short form content, we can answer those questions, those things that people are looking for a long the way of that conversion. And then you can supplement this with the long-tail content for long-form content as well. All of that is cumulative, the more you put out, the more it adds up over time. So before you know it, you're actually generating a good amount of traffic. And once you're doing that, it's much easier to go for big hitting content as well because you can be safe in the knowledge that even if it doesn't go that well, you're still increasing traffic which remember is what the clients actually want even if they don't think that's what they want. So, that's me done, I'm gonna grab my drink. That's my email address; I'd love to chat with you guys later, thank you very much.

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