On April 19, our CEO Scott Yates sent an email to marketing and sales about a potential customer who said that he found us by searching: “outsourced blog writing.”
But here’s where it gets interesting.
First We Asked: “Is the Keyword Worth Writing About?”
We weren’t ranking for “outsourced blog writing” on April 19 or earlier. At all. This keyword was pronounced dead on arrival.
We looked at the content that was out there when searching “outsourced blog writing” and thought: “Can we do better?”
One great tool for identifying keyword opportunity is Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
Type in the keyword and you’ll see:
Just because there isn’t enough volume doesn’t mean it’s not a good keyword. In fact, long-tail keywords or keywords with unidentifiable search volume have enormous potential. When you consider a searcher’s “intent” or consider your own search habits, the majority of yours (and others) are long tail.
Or, consider this article on the long-tail keyword “Illustrating the Long Tail” by Rand Fishkin. Seventy percent of searches are long-tail keywords. Ignoring these keywords just because you can’t discern volume is crazy.
This is Moz’s scale 0 (easy) – 100 (hard) for the difficulty associated with ranking higher than the other content on the first page of search results.
The most basic keyword research is simple. Search for a keyword. Read the articles that result on the first page. Go out and write a piece of content that’s better (Rand says 10x better).
This is the click-through rate of the keyword for organic search results based on a 0 (low) – 100 (high) scale.
So the keyword “outsourced blog writing” has low difficulty and high opportunity. There is a third metric “Potential.” Unless you have a subscription for Moz it won’t be an accurate calculation because they calculate something called your “customer importance score.” If you want to learn more about that, you can check it out.
Keep it simple. If difficulty is low and opportunity is high for a keyword relevant to your customers and your business, it’s worth writing about.
Then We Tracked the Keyword
We tracked the keyword, “outsourced blog writing,” in SEMRush to see if this content would make any discernible impact on SEO.
Then we created blog posts around the topic of “outsourced blog writing.” But we didn’t want to just keyword stuff a bunch of articles. We wanted them to be of actual value for our customers and potential customers. Here’s what we wrote and the strategy behind each:
May 5: “Outsourced Blog Writing and Quality: Can They Coexist?”
- This is a common question we would get from interested customers: “If we outsource our writing, will the quality suffer?” If you’re like us and getting a common question from your customers, blog about it. We tapped a writer from BlogMutt to write this piece.
May 9: “How to Outsource Blog Writing for Businesses: 9 Frequently Asked Questions, Answered”
- A writer from the BlogMutt network of writers wrote this second article, related to the first, addressing the other common questions we get from potential customers. Great content marketing answers a question and remembers to think about the searcher’s intent. If people want to learn “how to outsource blog writing,” we want to be there answering it for them.
July 26: “Can Outsourced Blog Writing Save You From Pokemon Go?”
- Scott wrote this and has always been a big fan of newsjacking. Newsjacking is highlighting a recent news item and repurposing it for the interests of your customers. He did it for when ADP and Zenefits squared off and it was one of our most popular posts on the blog (not to mention it even got him and BlogMutt featured in Bloomberg).
August 2: “The Personal Side of Outsourced Blog Writing”
- Another great post from Scott included not only information about outsourced blog writing, it included a personal touch. Don’t forget, until robots completely take us over, we’re still people writing to other people and personal touches go a long way in successful blog posts. Just check out the most read posts on Medium for evidence.
Two of the posts were written by BlogMutt’s writers and two we wrote. That’s the genius of BlogMutt. We essentially mixed and matched outsourcing with in-house to double our productivity.
So, what happened?
The Results & Value of Our Blogging Efforts
See for yourself. I’ve plotted our average search rank position for the term “outsourced blog writing” since January 2016 until August 12, 2016.
I’ve also noted when our four blog posts were published.
Before we didn’t even rank in the top 100 posts. Today, we’re up to ~2. (That little dip is a consequence of SEMRush’s position tracking tool going out for a day).
But here’s the other thing, writing those posts got us ranked for other terms as well.
I wrote about the power of Google Search Console in an earlier post, so I don’t want to go through all the specifics of what it does and how it works, but looking at Google Search Console revealed the following (note: our fourth blog post “The Personal Side of Outsourced Blog Writing” has yet to be indexed and tallied by Search Console):
Using a date range of May 12 – August 9, we can attribute the following to these three of the four blog posts:
- We now rank for an additional 78 keywords
- We rank for keywords that others are paying for with Google AdWords. Translation: You can pay for every click to your site or write a blog post and drive traffic organically.
- Keyword: outsourcing blog writing
- Our blog post ranks #15; average cost per click: $6.73
- Keyword: outsource blogging
- Our blog post ranks: #13; average cost per click: $7.34
- Keyword: outsource blog writing
- Our blog post ranks: #9; average cost per click: $6.73
- Keyword: outsource blog posts
- Our blog post ranks: #10; average cost per click: $4.30
You can view all the data from search console here.
Our average click-through rate (CTR) on these posts is 0.32%. That’s low, but when you compare it to paying for display advertising, the average display advertising campaign’s CTR (0.17%). We’ve almost doubled that.
The Biggest Revelation
Even though we set out to optimize our content for “outsourced blog writing,” we actually ended up getting more impressions, clicks, and relative cost per click through other search terms that appeared in our content.
What We Learned
Although these numbers are great, we still have a lot more work to do. The great thing about content marketing is that there’s always a new challenge.
1. Promotion is the other half of the content battle.
The ranked keywords give us more visibility and the potential for future traffic. For instance, we had over 3,400 impressions. Which means that our articles were shown to people searching. That doesn’t mean they all clicked. In fact, we’ve only received 98 visits across these four pages.
We have to continue to promote our content across our social channels and find influencers and partners that can socialize our content. Just recently we did a piece on promoting content via LinkedIn and a two-part series on the importance of content promotion and how to do it.
I’d be remiss to not mention that without developing content on a daily basis, we wouldn’t have anything to share with our readers on social or through email newsletters. In the last two years, we’ve grown our social reach 10x and content plays a crucial role in that success.
2. Give readers a reason to stay.
We need to experiment with the CTAs on our blog to capitalize on the people who do visit our site. Of the 98 visitors, we had only 3 click on our blog CTAs. So, we need to work harder on giving them a reason to stay.
3. Continue creating additional, relevant content.
As a company, we need to get creative with ways to improve how we deliver our message to our audience. Does that include a video on outsourced blog writing? Should we host a webinar? Interview an influencer?
4. Take stock.
It’s important to take stock of and celebrate your results (as we did in this blog post), but it’s also important to look objectively and soberly at them. Yes, we improved our search rank. But that’s half the story. The other half is about what we learned and how we can improve.