A common problem I see in health tech is companies creating content and wondering why they aren’t getting much organic traffic. They may even have followed what they think are good SEO principles…lots of keywords and related keywords so Google knows to send them visitors.
The problem with this approach is that it’s outdated. Search algorithms have become incredibly smart and instead of just crawling sites looking for keywords, they now know which sites are the best ones to go to for a certain topic.
Whatever your feelings on smart computers are, the reality is if you don’t start ranking for topics and natural language search (voice search is here to stay, folks), you’re not going to survive in this brave new world.
Instead of putting blog posts out there that never get picked up on Google, there’s a pretty cool way to create content that doesn’t involve keyword-packing.
Not only that, but it’s also a much easier way to brainstorm content to write about…it keeps your content targeted at your customer, gives you a nearly endless series of topics you can use, drives search traffic to your virtual door, and in the long run saves time and endless hustling on a hamster wheel that gets you nowhere.
Content that creates more content
This strategy for better content creation is the content tree. It’s known by other names, like content cluster, but I prefer tree because a tree is vibrant, organic, and lasting…which is what your content should be.
A content tree is a way of organizing your content by pillar topic. You can either have a separate pillar page for each main topic or you can keep everything on one main blog feed. Either way you do it, however, your content should stick to about 3 main topics.
If you’re still with me, though, there are three reasons why the content tree is non-negotiable in your content strategy.
1. It’s hyper-focused on your customers because it focuses on topics that help them solve their problems.
When your content centers around a problem your customers have and your solution to that problem, it’s going to be content they want to read. It’s relevant and helpful. It’s there for them, not you.
However, when your company…or worse, you… are the center of your content, you end up talking about things your customers don’t care about, that won’t help them be successful, that won’t solve their problems.
Health tech needs to take a lesson from some of the greatest content marketers of all time – Hubspot and Salesforce, Neil Patel and Gary Vaynerchuk.
These companies and people don’t spend all their time talking about them. Instead, just about every piece of content they put out is hyper-focused on their audience.
To start your content tree, you have to dig into your customers’ problems and learn about what success looks like, what failure looks like, and what transformation looks like.
It’s a much deeper thought exercise than randomly writing down 52 topics you can publish about over the next year, but it’s totally worth it – you’ll start creating content that resonates with your customers, sets you up as their helpful guide who leads them to success, and drives them to your virtual door, ready to buy.
2. Your content tree means you’re ready for smarter search engines.
There are plenty of people out there who have brilliant minds for all the technical stuff involved in SEO. I am not one of them.
But if there’s anything I know about SEO, it’s this: put your customer at the center of your content and you will get organic search traffic.
If you write for the search engine, eventually the algorithms will change and you will have to go back and re-optimize your content.
If you write for people, well, we humans don’t change as quickly or as dramatically as search algorithms. Content that centers around your customer, their problems, their needs, and their success will drive traffic your way a lot longer than all the SEO tricks in the book.
Another reason a content tree turns the SEO tides in your favor? Search algorithms have begun to favor sites that focus on topics, not a list of keywords. While the semantic difference seems small, the implications are huge.
In the past, content creators packed blog posts with keywords. As search engines became smarter, they could see right through keyword heavy posts.
They started moving away from ranking sites by keywords to to ranking long-tail keywords and topical search phrases to find sites that talked the most about a certain topic.
Search engines recognized that natural language serves users much better than fluffy content using the same word over and over and over again.
Your content tree naturally helps you move up in search ranking by topic, not keyword. Because you’re publishing content almost exclusively about 3 core topics, eventually, given enough content and enough time, you will start landing on the 1st page of Google for those topics.
3. Let’s face it. It’s more efficient.
I know how far too many of you plan content now (only because I did it this way myself). You know you’re *supposed* to publish content consistently. And maybe you even sat down and came up with a list of topics you thought could be interesting. You may even have plugged those topics into a calendar to hold you accountable for publishing content regularly.
I know from personal experience that this approach is going to fail.
Publishing consistently for consistency’s sake never got you customers. Again, it all comes back to having your customer at the center of your content (and not a calendar…this coming from a calendar lover!).
Coming up with a list of interesting topics may or may not solve your customers’ problems. But it definitely won’t if you haven’t strategically thought through your customer’s core problem and the 3 underlying pillar topics to help them solve that problem.
This approach can often leave you at the mercy of “inspiration” as in “I can’t write anything unless inspiration strikes.” It’s easy to put content on the back burner when it’s not making a measurable difference in your bottom line. And so you only create content when you feel like it…which ends up being the opposite of consistent.
Ready to get started?
Your content tree will take work, thought, and energy. However, once it’s complete you’ll never want to go back.
If the Messaging and Content Cheatsheet helped turn around your marketing for 2019, please comment or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your story!
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WHO IS WHITNEY?
Whitney is a consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help life-saving, life-changing technology break through the noise and achieve mass user adoption. Learn more about her here.
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