Creating that sweet spot between great content and great SEO can add real value to your website. This blog discusses an Advanced HubSpot User Group (HUG) session about how SEO and Content go together and why both are important.
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘content is king’, but what is great content without SEO?
Season 2 of our exciting podcast, Take Flight, is out now, and in episode 9 our content and SEO experts discuss the highlights of the Advanced HubSpot User Group (HUG) which Spitfire Inbound hosted this April.
A strong theme that came out during this HUG session was that content and SEO go hand-in-hand. Content marketing and SEO were once seen as two separate entities, and they have now become an inseparable couple, which together, promises the success of a website. Samantha Steele, Spitfire Inbound Senior Content Strategist, puts it simply, “Content is king, but I want to add in there that quality is queen.”
Cian McLoughlin, HubSpot Senior Customer Success Manager, also highlighted in the session that SEO is something that takes time, so patience is key. Mojalefa Mothudi, Spitfire Inbound Paid Media and SEO Specialist agrees with this. “SEO is not a short term game. Businesses actually need to look at it almost like an investment, not putting in something and getting it out immediately. It's not a gamble, it's a 100% investment on the future of your website and your content.”
Another point of discussion during the session is that the key to getting ahead in SEO is to ensure your content is expertly written, trustworthy, and authoritative. Samantha points out that putting bad content on your trustworthy site won’t get you the rewards that you hope for.
The top 5 takeaways from the HUG were:
It wouldn’t be wise to choose between good content and good SEO. They go together like peanut butter and jelly–both are necessary for a successful website and online growth.
Listen to Episode 9 in full here
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Welcome back to the Spitfire Podcast, Take Flight. We're your hosts Motso and Chaz, Inbound Marketing Specialists at Spitfire Inbound.
Today, we have our Senior Content Strategist, Samantha Steele, and our Paid Media and SEO specialist, Mojalefa Mothudi, in to chat about the recent advanced HUG that Spitfire hosted. For those of you who are new to the HubSpot world, a HUG stands for HubSpot User Group. It's a program that helps us connect with other HubSpot users. They cater for those who are keen to advance their marketing sales and service knowledge in and around HubSpot and the marketing world. And you can find HUGs by location, skills, initially, even interest. So we'll drop the links to the HUG sites in the description if you want to find out a little bit more yourself. I'm actually on this team who organises advanced HUGS, and we decided to touch on SEO because, of course, it's a hot topic, but also because the general sense is that you need to be an expert to handle SEO and that it's keyword stuffing and all this jargon, which proving to be, it's really not. It's a little bit more self-serve than we thought. So we got HubSpot Customer Success Manager, Cian McLoughlin, on to share his knowledge and it actually ended up being such a fun one.
The most important thing for me was that SEO and content are completely linked.
Exactly. So that's why we thought we'd get our Spifarians who own content and SEO to share their thoughts on this session. Over to you Samantha and Mo.
Thanks for having us on Chaz! I am super excited to talk about the HUG. It was a really interesting one as the Content Strategist at Spitfire. And I had some really great insights that we're going to share today, from SEO and content, how they really go hand in hand.
Yeah, actually there were so many great learnings that we got from the HUG. Such an insightful session. And just the eternal battle between man versus machine, where a lot of SEO experts are actually trying to cheat the machine. Almost like when we were little kids and we try to get the cheat code for the video game and get our unlimited lives. We're seeing that actually a lot of people are making that mistake of trying to cheat Google to get their content to rank number one.
Yeah. And your focus should actually be on the people who are searching for and reading your content, not just on trying to game the algorithm.
Exactly. Especially because Google actually changes algorithms daily. A lot of people think that Google are changing it when there's a big algorithm update and it's just not worth it. You should just rather focus on a set of core principles that will put your consumer first.
Yeah. I mean, to quote Cian, he said, "I’d rather focus on high quality content. Google's ideology rewards value adding content and search intent.” Which just speaks to me, I feel like this is, as the content strategist, I'm always going on about quality content and this rule was really validating to hear that from him.
Yeah, totally. Well actually at Spitfire, the one thing we actually keep talking to our customers about is, we need to stop this obsession of ranking number one for certain keywords, and rather look at making our customers or our clients, an authority on a specific set of topics and answer the consumers pain points. And three things that actually came up from the HUG: is your content expertly written? Is it authoritative? And is it trustworthy? Which is actually really important for how you go about writing your content.
Yeah. That's also how Google measures it. So, I mean, it goes hand in hand. As Cian said, “Content is king”, but I want to add in there that quality is queen. So, making your content high quality, looking at the problems you're solving more than just the solution you as a brand are offering and keeping in mind, like we had in the Q&A, AI is not really up to scratch for writing quality content. You’ve got to have a human behind the wheel there.
Totally. I totally agree with you, Sam. And not only that, I 100% agree that we need to be creating more content that answers more questions from consumers, basically the pain points of consumers. But also I think, a really important learning that came out of the HUG, is anyone can actually be… can have an impact on the SEO of your website. So, basically, if you have the right, I'd say mindframe for SEO, when you create content and you optimise that content, anyone can actually have a big positive impact on your rankings. Although it does… we all know that SEO is a long term game, it's not something that you do where you make a change now and you expect to see the results in a month's time, but everyone should actually be cognisant of the impact that they can have.
Just before that, I just want to add that it's really important that whatever change you want to make on your website, you need to almost make a balancing act. You need to strike a balancing act between the impact of that change and the effort that will actually go into making that change. So don't always try and strive for perfection. We all know that perfection is important, but try and strive for that balance between impact as well as how much effort it'll take.
Yeah. What's going to bring you the most reward, like making sure, like Cian said, making sure every single header is H3, for example, isn't going to be the magic stick that's going to fix all the problems. I think what also is really interesting for me and I mean, I know we've been doing this for a while with our content strategies, is moving from keywords to topics. So it's not just focusing on one keyword, it's rather focusing on a core theme or a core topic, that you then have several blog posts discussing around and building up your authority on. And this is really solving for the customer, right, and engaging people. It's a very important HubSpot tool you can use, but it's also a good way to strategically approach content when you're creating a strategy.
Totally. Actually a lot of time, customers come to me and say, "What is the approach we should take?" And I always say that, think of your website like a library. Every library has sections. So, you know, there's fiction, there's history, there's science, there's cooking books, everything needs to be categorised accordingly. And you know very well that when you go to the history section, every book that's in there is related to history. And the whole website can be thought of as the big library building with all these different sections. So it's really important that you categorise and link between your content.
Yes, completely. And I mean, what I quite liked about that is, it's quite a strategic way to approach your content and SEO, that it really goes hand in hand. I mean, when we do content strategies, Mo and I work very closely together to make sure that the SEO and the strategy aligns. We're not targeting keywords per se, but we're targeting topics that are really important to our buyer personas for each brand. Which brings to me the point about evergreen content that you don't have to just produce like really timeous content that fades away. Like you can really focus on producing content that keeps on bringing you those SEO rewards over years.
Yeah. I mentioned this earlier in passing, when I said that SEO is not a short term game. Businesses actually need to look at it almost like an investment, not something as I put in now and I'm getting something out now, it's not a gamble, it's a 100% investment on the future of your website and your content. So when you do create that content, you almost want to create content that is evergreen and even in three years time it'll be relevant. This is not always a possibility, but this is where your focus should actually be.
For sure. I mean like... Sorry Mo, I interrupted you.
No. Yeah. So I was saying that actually just following those trends, something that we did also touch on is the future of video and voice. More and more we're seeing tools like Siri coming up, podcasting as we are having right now, on video and voice. And I was actually quite curious, how can we optimise these pieces of content for SEO? Because let's be honest, a bot would not be able to tell what we are saying on a podcast. And it's almost like we take the same approach of creating written content. You can submit a transcript of what we're saying. You can just give descriptive descriptions on what that content is about and what will be covered in a podcast. So that is almost the approach you'd be taking.
What I also loved, and this has been my little passion for years now, is that he said long form content is coming, like long form content is trending. And I mean, I've seen this, like I come from a journalism background. So long form content has always been one of my passions. Those really long articles that dig into a topic, that do interviews, that engage with the problem points. And I'm seeing that that's something that we can focus on, for brands as well. It made my heart very happy to hear that. I think it's something we should definitely be working on, it's not just producing short question answering blogs, but also ones that answer the bigger topic at large.
Yeah. Me and you, Sam, we've been working for a couple of years together and I know how long form content gets you really excited.
I also advise a lot of our consumers listening to this podcast to try and find the sweet spot for how long you can write your piece of content. So I always advocate for testing. So try and test if your specific consumer is 3000 words short or long. And yeah, you know that if you are, let's say writing for a new consumer buying a house. That would actually need a whole lot of information. That would actually possibly need more than 3000 pieces of words. So always, it goes back to what we said earlier, when you do create that content, you need to ask yourself the following question: Is your content expertly written? Are you an authority on that? And is it written in a trustworthy way? So is it accredited and do you have an SSL certificate on your website? So those are the kinds of things you need to ask yourself.
Yes, completely. I mean, I think what it emphasised for me at the HUG is that there are certain technical things that are more important than others. Like you said about your low hanging fruit and the ones that have the most impact. And things like being a trustworthy site, like that is absolutely crucial. But if you're putting bad content on your trustworthy site, you're still not going to get the rewards that you're hoping for.
So do you want to run through the key takeaways Mo? He had five key takeaways from the HUG. So one was, you don't have to have technical skills to be good at SEO, which made me very happy.
The second one that I think kept on coming up is, don't try and solve for a machine, ass in trying to cheat the system, solve for humans, because you are trying to solve for your consumer's pain points.
Number 3 was if it can't be measured, it isn't worth doing. And I mean, being HubSpot experts, we totally agree with that approach. Measurability is so crucial when it comes to well, any actions online, really,
Totally. I think that's actually a really important one. And number 4 is to remember that SEO takes time for you to see results. So it goes back to what I was saying earlier. It's an investment in your future. It's not something that you put something right now and you get something out of it. It's not a vending machine.
I like that. It's not a vending machine; so true. And number 5 is moving from keywords to topics. So taking a more strategic, big picture approach to your content. You're not going to get the results from one blog post on a topic. You rather need a series of blog posts, or a campaign that speaks to the theme that you want to rank for. And linking back to your website while doing that is absolutely critical.
Totally. So that goes back to, I always tell my consumers,( sorry for interrupting you there) but I keep telling my consumers or my clients, you need to position yourself as an authority on a specific subject.
Yeah, exactly. And that does require a strategic approach to how you're going to approach your content and your SEO.
So those were our highlights from the HUG. I hope you found this useful. They were really great takeaways for me about content and SEO and how we really are married to each other.
Thanks Mo for giving us your time today as well.
Thank you guys.
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