Your blog posts show prospects why they should choose you over your competitors. They appeal to your readers’ emotions too. This is good, as people make decisions based on emotion. But you’ve got a problem if your posts aren’t appearing in search engine results pages (SERPs).
It doesn’t matter how emotionally compelling your copy is. It won’t get you the leads you want. HubSpot marketing software is packed with tools that can help you boost your blog’s SEO credentials. These consider the changing roles of keywords and user intent. We’ll be covering three areas within Hubspot that can help you drive traffic to your blog posts.
These are optimisation reviews, pillar pages and topic clusters, and page analytics. When traffic to your blog goes up, so does your chances of generating leads. But before that, we’re going to take some time to look at how SEO has changed in recent years.
The Way it Used to Be
SEO used to mean filling a blog post with an individual keyword or keyphrase. Say, for example, you were writing a post called ‘How to Choose a Marketing Partner’. The keyphrase here would be ‘marketing partner’. To get your post appearing high in the SERPs, you’d put the phrase ‘marketing partner’, and its synonyms, in as many places as you could in your post. The title, URL, body copy, even images (what’s known as alt text).
Fast forward a couple of years - and half a dozen Google algorithm updates - and long-tail keywords are a thing. These were seen as giving the individual keywords from earlier some context, and a better understanding of user intent. Instead of just jamming the phrase ‘marketing partner’ into your copy repeatedly, you’d be doing this as part of a full phrase like the title: ‘How to choose a marketing partner’. Oh, and its synonyms.
These phrases aligned the term to a specific part of the buyer’s journey. ‘How to choose …’ suggested a user is at the consideration stage. But a term like ‘What is a marketing partner?’ tells us they’re at the awareness stage.
What SEO is Now
Back to the present. Google recently updated its algorithm so copy no longer needed to include a keyword and all its synonyms. Instead, the search platform would reward websites for their ‘topical relevance’. In other words, how wise sites are about their chosen topics.
HubSpot followed Google’s lead, and scrapped its keyword tool in May 2018. It set up topic clusters and pillar pages to help its users write copy around the topics they wanted to be known for (more on this later). Google became smart enough to identify what a blog post was about without lots of variations on a single word.
So, now you’re all caught up on where SEO is today, it’s time to move on to that advice we promised you earlier.
- Optimisation Reviews
Before you publish any post, HubSpot gives you the opportunity to review how web-ready it is. You can then make any improvements you need to. The features HubSpot reviews are:
- Links. If they’re coming from high-quality websites, you have a good number, and none of them are broken.
- Word count. Posts around 1000 words in length, on a relevant topic, are usually enough to keep readers engaged with your copy.
- Title length. Under 70 characters is a good target to aim for.
- Meta description. Don’t repeat your title here. This is a space to tell readers, and search engines, what your post is about in more detail. So use it.
- URL. Don’t include your domain URL in your title. This’ll make you look more trustworthy to search engines.
- H1 tag. This makes your copy easy to understand for readers and search engines.
- Alt text. The copy that goes behind your images. Think of it as another chance to explain what your post is about.
- Page loading time. The quicker your page loads, the more readers and search engines will like it.
You’ll find all these features under the optimise button. This is to the left of your blog post window in HubSpot.
- Pillar pages and Topic Clusters
Topic clusters and pillar pages help you to organise your blog post architecture. They help you to build authority and rank well for a broad topic. A lengthy blog post or web page - of around 2000 words - provides comprehensive, general information about something. This is your pillar page. This would contain links to smaller blog posts, of around 1000 words, about a specific subsection of that topic. These are your topic clusters. The clusters also link to your pillar page and each other.
Let’s say you want to build your authority around the subject of ‘marketing’. You’d write a 2000 word pillar page which offers an overview of this. This would include subheaders about specific parts of marketing, such as ‘what is a marketing copywriter?’ or ‘how to hire a marketing designer’. These parts would link off to smaller posts about these specific topics. They’re your topic clusters. And the clusters would link back to your pillar page.
When one post does well in SERPs, all its connected posts do too. To make your pillar page and topic cluster, go to ‘Marketing > Planning and Strategy > Content Strategy’ within HubSpot. Then click the ‘Add a Topic’ button on the top right-hand corner. You’ll be taken to a page where you can start building your clusters. Here, you’ll find a spider-like diagram where you can enter your pillar topic and cluster ideas.
- Blog Post Analytics
- Website Analytics. This shows you how many views your posts are getting, the time spent on each page, how many sessions have started with a view on each post, and bounce rates.
- Traffic Analytics. This shows you how readers are accessing your blog. They could be coming from direct traffic, referrals, social media or organic searches. You can also see how your traffic clusters are doing here.
After looking at these metrics, you can get a feel for what kind of content is drawing readers to your site, and from where. This’ll help you to make more content and promote it more efficiently. To get to analytics, go to 'Reports > Analytics Tools > Website Traffic or Traffic Analytics' in your HubSpot portal. And adjust your settings so you're only viewing blog posts.
Write Well. Be Found.
Changes to Google’s algorithm now mean blogging and SEO are closer than ever. So remember to write copy that appeals to your readers’ hearts, and that can easily be picked up in SERPs.
Blogging and SEO are just two parts of inbound marketing. To get a more comprehensive understanding of how inbound works, download a copy of our ultimate guide to inbound marketing. You’ll learn how this can increase lead generation and ROI for your business.
Note: This post was originally published as ‘7 Ways HubSpot Can Improve Your SEO’ In August 2017. It was updated in November 2018 to reflect changes in SEO and HubSpot.