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Time for Marketing

13
Jun 2021

#39 - Lucy Dodds - How to Create a Comprehensive Guide Hub That Your Audience Cares About

June 13, 2021

Lucy is a content marketer and SEO and works at the great UK agency https://www.evolvedsearch.co.uk/. Lucy talked at Brighton SEO, the Best SEO and marketing conference around. (seriously guys, I can't make his more obvious, you need to invite me as a speaker to Brighton :D)

 

Content hubs are something that a lot of companies try to do, but also something that is somehow easy to fail at. Lucy has experience in building them and tells that in detail on how you can do it too. Done correctly, content hubs can be a great addition to your content and a big SEO asset.

lucy.mp3

Lucy: And then we try to see how we can categorize those in a way that makes sense because you'll result in hundreds, if not thousands, of question based keywords, which is really confused.

Peter: This is time for marketing the marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend

The marketing conference.

Peter: But before we go to the podcast, my name is Peter and I'm your host. I'm an NCO myself. I help internal and external teams and companies, start ups and agencies move their CEOs step forward. If you're looking for an SEO audit or help with your SEO strategy, find me at SEO as SY. Hello and welcome to the Time for Marketing podcast, the marketing podcast that brings you the best marketing conference speakers and makes them sum up their presentation in five minutes. My name is Peter, and I'll be your host today. This is episode number 39, and we're slowly approaching the 40 second episode. Well, you will get all the answers to all of your marketing questions, and then I'll probably stop. If you can get people that are interested into marketing. To listen to this podcast, send them the URL. Time for marketing dotcom. This is time and then the number four marketing dotcom. Or just tell them to Google. Time for marketing. We are having a great episode tonight with me on the podcast recording is Lucy Dodds. Lucy, how are you?

Lucy: I'm great, thanks. How are you?

Peter: I'm all right. How is life on the Big Island next to Europe that used to be Europe, but isn't anymore?

Lucy: It's OK. Lockdown is hopefully ending for us. Soon everyone's getting vaccinated. It's hopefully going to be a much better summer than it was last year.

Peter: All right. And of course, working on a marketing agency, everything is crazier. There is more money that is more work and everyone is buying online. Is that right?

Lucy: That is definitely right. I think we've felt the busyness. Very much so, especially in the last few months. But it's really good to see clients are able to grow up because of unfortunately, a lot of businesses have had some bad times because of COVID. So I'm really excited that people can take this opportunity to start growing their businesses and now things are getting going again. So it's a really good thing now.

Peter: You work at the evolved search, you're the senior content marketing consultant. What is what do we do?

Lucy: Yes. And so evolve. Search is based in Newcastle, upon Tyne, and we are a search agency that specialise in automotive, retail and finance clients. And my role as a content consultant is a mixture between creating the onsite side of content and doing consultancy for my clients on that, as well as creating content marketing campaigns for digital PR link building things like that. But it's mostly the onsite side that like.

Peter: Newcastle, is that a different Newcastle next to the Newcastle upon Tyne,

Lucy: As a Newcastle upon Tyne and further down the country as Newcastle under Lyme? I think there's a bit of a confusion on that, but we're not

Peter: Good, but you ought to do big city Newcastle. Ok. Yeah. What's your favourite at work when you do content marketing consulting?

Lucy: I think it's a bit of a cop out because this is what I did my talk on, but it's probably going to be guides just because I've been able to learn a lot about them in my time across a national career, and it's been just really good to see how they can get better, how they perform, learning a lot as I go and just getting them working for our clients.

Peter: Hmm. How much is your work as CEO and how much is content marketing and how much are those two the same?

Lucy: So I think that the most of the time I'd probably say 50 50 across clients in general. And just because I think all sites need a degree of link building to get some high quality, topical and relevant links. But you also need to see the on page content is working well for Google and users, and so it kind of depends on what the client really needs at the time. Well, I'd probably say half and half for the majority of my.

Peter: All right. Excellent. I've invited you to the podcast because of your presentation that you had at Brighton SEO, and the presentation was called How to create a Comprehensive Guide Hub that your audience cares about. How was Brighton SEO online conferences? It's getting boring, right?

Lucy: I don't want to say a bore, but yeah, I've been to the in-person one in September 2019 and it was just so, so good. And I did love the virtual ones still, because I did learn a lot from other people. It was great to do my first talk there, ever, but I am very, very excited for the future ones. I think summer one is in person and just fingers, fingers crossed that it's going to be on.

Peter: Would you say that you listened to more speeches when the conference in online than in the offline world because, you know, you only really can only listen to only one track and Brighton is now really already multiple track. And you know, there's a lot of other things that you can do during the speeches. How would you say, how does that work out?

Lucy: Yeah. So the past that I had for the virtual conference meant I could access everything, and I did watch a lot more just because it wouldn't be possible at the in-person conference. So I guess it would be great if in future things were all recorded. I think probably the way that COVID has happened, there probably will be. And just in general across any conference, just because it makes it a lot more accessible, I could learn a lot more. So, yeah, I think I did definitely see a lot more. But it'd be nice to just have access to both sides.

Peter: Hmm. Hmm. Or a podcast that has everything submitted in a short time. Very good idea. All right, Lizzy, let's not beat around the bush. Let's go into your presentation. Here are your five minutes.

Lucy: Bob, thanks. Ok, so when I first started my career in SEO, I was in house doing on site only when I moved my first agency, it was the same. Anything on page was for me. I didn't even think about link building until like two years ago when I started involved. And just because I'd worked with separate teams and I had no involvement. So when I joined involved, I felt like I had a lot of untapped knowledge, and I really want to share that with the team and build on what we already had. So I think my first job to do what evolved for a client was building a guy to help. And I was like, Cool, this is what I know. And I think all the time, I've just learned so much more about them. I've got so much advice and inspiration from all our SEO experts in the Evolve team instead of just me doing the research. And now I've been able to create really great guide hooks for all my automotive retail clients and finance as well. And now that I've been able to see how those perform in a. Great setting with all of our expert team members. That's kind of why it made me want to do this talk. So that's why I chose this guide content as my topic for right now. It's a I think it will be very successful, but I see a lot of sites don't have this, so they have a gap in their content, which is going to be off putting for a lot of users.

Lucy: So because like any service or product buying online, I'm going to be researching it in some way. And I think that every site needs these guides to some degree, as user research is going to be behind every decision. So there's more obvious decisions like getting a credit card or choosing a car online. They need a lot of research. But even things like how to grow my cactus in my home office or say there's like a new style of dress that's on trend. I'm quite tall, so maybe I need advice on how to wear it. Will it suit at all person and so on? So no matter what your site or your product your service is, I think everyone could do with having some kind of level of guide content in an easy, accessible hub. Just because then you're helping users with that research. And while I found the guides that don't result in direct conversions, but that makes sense because users are still doing that research, they're not going to be buying right now. But I found that these guides do convert two times more than blocks and for one client, made up to 200 200k in assisted revenue. So they are just a step basically in the users buying process, but you really want to be part of that before your competitor does. And I think because so many sites don't do this or don't do it well, it's such an opportunity because like you can say, if I just pick a question and I'm going to look at it in the search and what's displayed already, sometimes it can be really rubbish.

Lucy: So you can you can really take that opportunity for your own site and do really well. So the first part of my talk was just explaining that part of why I think everyone should have them. And then I started into some keyword research to look for all of those questions that users are asking about the product or the service that my client's site will provide. So any implied questions I was looking at like pros and cons, for example, of, say, a credit card, that's still a question because someone's asking what was the benefit of a credit card? We have any user research like customer inquiry date, if people are constantly calling and emailing with questions like we should fulfill that online and then we try see how we can categorize those in a way that makes sense because you'll result in hundreds, if not thousands, of question based keywords, which is really confusing to look at just a giant list. So one way I think I gave in the talk was you would organize them by your product offering. I think my example was a website called Wix, who have their guides categorized by kitchens, gardens and bathrooms. And that's how you'd sell your keywords as well. In the same way, because, you know, users are going to be either looking to redo their kitchen or they're looking to get some new things for the garden. So you consult your guides in a way that users would want to see them on your site.

Lucy: Although I guess it would be kind of different depending on whoever the client is, but in general, that's a way that's worked for me or any e-commerce client. And then after I went into some practical tips on how to create guides, so best of all, I was looking at title text and descriptions. Often, if you just type in that keyword question, you will see that the title tags are always the same, so we need to make sure they stand out. I also check competitors formats. That's another thing that you must do when you're creating your guides. So if someone's doing a listicle or someone's got a really long form guide that's really detailed and then make sure that you should be replicating that as well, but not copying. You should also forget word count. I think that people get really hung up on word count, but I just never copy this. Just make sure that you provide the information that's the most relevant and accurate to whatever you're trying to tell your user. You don't need to have loads and loads of words to explain some things. And even that will be dependent on what they're asking in the first place. Maybe something on credit cards will need a lot of detail, but perhaps styling address might not need so much. My next part is unique, a show of some unique expertise. The guide content that does do well, sometimes if you read to the surface and competitors will have content that is kind of saying the same answer. So if you want to be the best, you show your original expertise that your client would have or you will have if you are the site owner.

Lucy: And so that's kind of things like having all the bills with good descriptions to show who you are or that you really have the credentials to see what being said. And even if you aren't talking out about like a really serious way and while your money or your life topic, then that's OK because your personal interest is going to be still more important than, like the average person would have the next part. I look for featured snippets. Now, otherwise, I don't copy. But in this case, I do have a look at what the current featured snippet is. So these kind of things, when I type a question into Google, I'm going to see the snippets either a paragraph, a bullet point list, the numbered list, whatever it is, and I replicate the past by looking at the source code of the current snippet. So I'm going to look at it, see if they've got see H2S and then bullet points that I'm going to do the same. So my question will be in the H2 and then I'll have the bullet point as well. My next part was for internal link opportunities. It's only really unsophisticated, but a lot of people don't have access to tools like refs to find internal link opportunities. So I just do like I Google my brand and I'm working on and say a word that is related to the guide that I'm talking about, or you can do a site search for the same thing.

Lucy: So say, if I was doing a mattress cleaning guide, I could just type say my kindness mattress online, do a site, search for mattress online and then type clean after. And I say all the articles that I might be able to link to. And then my final tip was just to take time with guides. And so in my SEO talk, I did have a site and I had sorry. I had two sisters who are in a similar space and have very similar guide hooks and one has. Great backlinks. It's a more of a trusted brand, and people know who they are, the website's more technically sound, but the sessions are very low on their guide hope. And then another site that I work on that isn't very trusted doesn't have many links. People don't know about that brand yet. Their guide hook is. It has a lot more sessions, and I think it was something like five times more sessions as what I said in my talk, I'm pretty sure that's still right here. And the problem is, is the first site kind of a rush, their content, they've been like, they've been hastily produced. There's a lot of different writers and it's not very original content. Well, the other site is put like a lot of effort and a lot of detail into them. So I think just take your time with guides and eventually the results will pay off. If you can get them right. And I think that's it. Yeah, I think that's everything.

Peter: Yeah, that was very in-depth. A couple of questions for those people who are not. What is going to happen, what exactly. When you say a guide, what how do you see them? What is it?

Lucy: Yes, a couple of clients, I'll ask this as well just about like what the difference is between guides and blogs and is it not just the content yet? So I'll say the best way to describe guides is for users who are at an awareness stage. So they are aware of your product or service and they're thinking about getting it. Well, they need a little bit more information before making that decision. So say, if my client was selling credit cards and then I might need, you know, like what is interest? What is a credit card, how do they work? All those kind of questions that I find through keyword research. I need to be answering to give the user that kind of trust in me, that I'm not just trying to sell them this serious financial product. I'm actually going to help them make a decision that will benefit them.

Peter: Okay. Ok. Yeah, that sounds a great definition. When I see the guide hubs, I see that often companies think about going to a different CMS or a different system to show the content on the web page. Sometimes I don't know if nothing else they'll use like their support system like Zendesk has something to show up to show guide. Do you think that's a good idea? Should they should? Should people use a specific system that is very good for the hubs or should they just use what they have and make the best of it?

Lucy: I would honestly say whatever's easiest and best for that client. I do have clients that have separate hubs just on WordPress and separate to the main CMS. And it does make it easier, I think, just for organizing and finding content and creating it, especially if you have a large company with a lot of content writers and if they're in various parts of the website, then it makes it easier for them. So it's better for scaling. It's also better for like if you've got a smaller team and say there's only one developer, but only this one developer can offload content or something, then it makes it easy if you don't have to kind of get them to use that time, because I think that WordPress get really easy to use after a while. So, yeah, so I guess just whatever's going to be easiest for you. But yeah, it just depends on the site, I guess.

Peter: Ok. Ok. And one more thing you mentioned. People should look at their competition and see what kind of style does the competition have? When do you think we should replicate the style and when should we go in a different direction? I know it depends on how good the competition is, but still, sometimes I think that CEOs and content marketers now are just, you know, re republishing or making stuff to look as good as similar to the competition as possible. But I feel that that's not a good guide on how to do it. What's your opinion on that?

Lucy: No, no. I definitely agree that we shouldn't just copy what's out there. I think the best way for me is I see what's in the top 10 results in the search and see what they kind of have and just try to understand why that might be performing if it is a certain format or not. So I think say if I'm going to use credit card again, like I know that that's an important topic that's going to need a lot of detail. So I already would expect there to be some pretty long guides about this topic. Well, if it's going to be something which like I don't expect people to be doing some really deep research into, then I might go what I think was what I think instead and make it like less so. And because I agree that my that's more digestible than really big wall of text. So I guess it depends on what your product or service is. You could always test it. And if it doesn't work out, then you might have to go back to what other people are doing. But I guess Google has chosen those results for a reason. And if we think that, yeah, actually it needs to be a bit longer and more detailed, it's probably for a reason. So I would just always test it and see what happens.

Peter: Hmm. Hmm. All right. Excellent. I think we gave people a very good idea on how their content hubs should be structured, prepared keyword research and how the content should be published. Lucy, if people want to talk to you about market or content marketing, where can they find you?

Lucy: I would absolutely love people to do that so they can find me on Twitter. It's just my name, which is Lucy, Alice Dodds, and you can email me as well, if you like, which is Lucy at Evolved Search scored at UK.

Peter: All right. Excellent. Lucy, thank you very much for being on the podcast and taking the time out to sum up your presentation, I hope that we can go and have conferences in real life very soon.

Lucy: Most definitely, and thank you very much for having me. This is my first podcast, so it's great to be here. Thank you very much.

Peter: I'm very glad that you were here. Thank you and have a great day.

Lucy: You too.

Bye bye. I know.