How The Kings of SEO Do Content

Posted on Nov 20, 2018

Episode: S09E02

Podcast Guest: Tim Soulo
Role: VP Marketing
Company: ahrefs.com

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Like Luke and Darth, blue dress or gold dress, SEO vs content is a debate that tends to polarize. But in this interview with Tim Soulo, the head of marketing at ahrefs.com, it turns out that it might not be so complicated. Tim shares the content strategy that ahrefs uses, why SEO is really the most customer-friendly acquisition channel, and four core tips for YouTube content success (that, yes, I had to summarize).

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Episode Transcript

Eytan Buchman

My name is Eytan Buchman, and you’re listening in to Two Minute Marketing, so you’ve already made at least one good choice. Today we’re deep diving into the the great beyond, where SEO meets content. I may not have that much hair, but when I get it cut, I find the barber other barbers use. So when talking SEO and content, I turned to Tim Soulo.

Tim Soulo

My name is Tim Soulo, and I’m head of marketing at ahrefs. We build awesome tools for SEO professionals and digital marketers and our tools are powered by big, big data.

Eytan Buchman

I started to talk to Tim about their content strategy and he said, well, the the normal stuff – creating evergreen content, identifying high-demand search terms, focusing on buy intent. But then he said something that struck a chord.

Tim Soulo

Sometimes the topics that we target and the article that we want to write for this kind of topics are not like aligned because sometimes you want to create a detailed like how-to actionable tutorial. And what we see in the top 10 ranking results for the keyword is like a list of short tips.

So, we realized that people are looking for just a simple list of tips, other than like digging into a super detail tutorial like highly advanced. So, we also try to align our content with what currently ranks at the top of Google for the topic.

Eytan Buchman

Basically, match the format to top rankers. It’s an interesting twist but it creates a problem. If you’re trying to rank high on the same queries as competitors with the same format, how do you actually great content that sticks out?

Tim Soulo

We always try to be authentic, and we try to feature our firsthand experience. I hate when people create articles out of other articles that they have read online**. So, what we try to do with our content, we try to base our content off the actual experience of our marketing team. So, we’re trying to use our own examples, we try to use our own cases, or we try to perform some kind of experiments if we don’t already have some firsthand experience and create an article based on the experiments that we have performed

Eytan Buchman

Personally, I’ve also found that unique data unlocks so much amazing content.

Here’s another thing I came away with. SEO sometimes feels like people are trying to game the system but Tim reminded me that SEO done right is actually a great way to create a phenomenal customer experience.

Tim Soulo

SEO is a perfect channel of customer acquisition, and I think only word of mouth can kind of compete with this customer acquisition channel. I don’t think there’s anything better. Seth Godin said in one of his books, there’s permission marketing and there’s interruption marketing. So, when you try to advertise with banners, or with like I don’t know, podcast sponsorships or sponsoring some YouTube channels, you’ve kind of tapping into interruption marketing.

When you interrupt the attention of people to try to squeeze your message into their heads. But SEO is permission marketing because people are actually looking to solve some kind of issue, they’re looking to solve some kind of problem, and they give you permission once they open your page and start reading your content, start exploring your website, they give you permission to kind of teach them to show them what kind of solution you have for them, and it works incredibly well.

Eytan Buchman

100%. Find what people are looking for, give it to them, and you’ve got yourself a rock solid acquisition channel. But, for Tim, it’s also a customer feedback channel:

Tim Soulo

SEO is not just about acquiring customers and having your content trying there to acquire new customers, but SEO can actually drive your product development because for example, if you do keyword research for your niche, for your product, for your business, and you see that people are searching to solve some particular issue, which you’re not solving right now as a business or as a service or as a product, you might actually considered to add this kind of thing to your product offering to your business and start solving it because you know that people are actively looking to solve it.

Eytan Buchman

I also asked Tim about their YouTube channel as a form of content – go check it out if you haven’t – it’s a work of art. Since this is not twenty minute marketing, I can’t squeeze all his answers here but if I had to summarize it main tips, it’s basically:

  1. Users love consistency. Publish regularly so your followers come back, and that will drive engagement.
  2. The YouTube algorithm Gods also love consistency so make sure you keep publishing
  3. As appealing as going deep may be, the broader appeal is on entry-level content. If you’re going after the masses, teach a 101 class, not PhD level material.
  4. Finally, don’t overcomplicate. Ahrefs started with an iPhone and headphones before graduating to bigger and better. It worked – some of their iPhone content as 400K views.

I gotta go take a look at how my key terms are ranking so it’s time for this to end. Once again, I’m Eytan Buchman, you’ve just gotten SEO’ed on Two Minute Marketing, and the best is yet to come. Happy marketing.