Planning and executing a successful SEO strategy is a heck of a lot of work. You may try a bunch of new things and then find yourself sitting around thinking, Now what? You’re not seeing results, even though you’ve put in all this work.
You’re definitely not alone. SEO is super confusing. It’s always evolving, and what works best today may be considered an outdated, ineffective strategy tomorrow.
That’s why it always helps to have a partner on your side. Which is exactly what we found when we started working with HubSpot’s content marketing tools.
Who Are We Anyway?
We're BrightGauge, a business intelligence platform that helps users make sense of their data. A lot of the time, we're targeting a very specific group of people (managed service providers) who are using certain tools pertinent to their industry (like ConnectWise Manage).
But as you can imagine, we're not the only players in this industry, and it’s hard for our blog to stand out in the land of Google.
We’ve tried keyword strategies, long-form content, gated and ungated resources, dedicated landing pages, and more. We’ve had some successes and some pitfalls, which is to be expected.
The SEO Challenge
A few months ago, our CEO tasked us with ranking higher for the phrase "ConnectWise reports."
Just to give you some background, BrightGauge connects with other tools, like ConnectWise, and converts that data into easy-to-digest dashboards and reports. A majority of our users like BrightGauge because it's simple to use, especially when it comes to reports, which take just a few moments to generate.
While we’re proud of this and love that we’re a trusted complement to what ConnectWise offers, we didn’t want our BrightGauge blog to suddenly become “The ConnectWise blog.”
So, we set out to find alternate solutions.
HubSpot’s Content Marketing Tools
As HubSpot Professional users, we have access to plenty of resources that help us run our Marketing department, so we put those resources to work.
While taking the HubSpot Academy Content Marketing Certification course, one lecture by Justin Champion introduced the idea of pillar pages and topic clusters, which piqued our interest.
A pillar page is a long-form piece that dives deep into a specific topic and links to and from other support content (topic clusters) that reinforce the topic at hand.
When researching the strategy further, HubSpot’s own pillar page about Instagram marketing was a huge resource for us. It really painted a clear picture of what a successful pillar page looked like and also gave us an idea of the tremendous amount of work that goes into a page like this (spoiler alert: It’s not for the faint of heart).
What really resonated with us was the fact that a pillar page is designed to position you as an expert on a very specific topic. Google likes experts, and "ConnectWise reports" is pretty specific — so it just clicked for us.
As a team, we decided a Q2 2018 goal would be to develop and implement a ConnectWise reports pillar page. This is how we did it.
Research, research, research
We read everything we could get our hands on about pillar pages to help us determine what kind of pillar page we wanted to create — a resource pillar or 10x content pillar. Based on our goals, 10x content made a lot more sense.
We used HubSpot’s content strategy tool to help us outline our page. A major component of a pillar page is that it links to and from a bunch of other articles related to the main topic, but without an outline, ideas can quickly become a jumbled mess.
The content strategy tool in HubSpot helped us get organized. We started by adding our main topic, ConnectWise reports. HubSpot will show you the monthly search volume and difficulty for each topic phrase you enter, and they even go so far as to recommend topics for you.
Next, we connected subtopics to our main topic. The cool thing about the content strategy tool is that it organizes your topic clusters visually, helping you see how articles will link and relate to one another.
While organizing our topic clusters, we realized we already had a lot of published articles that worked as subtopics, so some of the work was already done.
Once we had a clear outline, we got to writing our pillar page and any necessary subtopic articles.
Build your pillar page
HubSpot offers a pillar page template that makes it simple to build your page without any specialized skills. We found it valuable to see a live example of the template, which gave us ideas of the types of assets we wanted to include throughout the page.
Once we had the page built and all the relevant subtopic articles published, we went back to the content strategy tool and verified that all subtopics linked to and from the pillar page.
Finally, we released our pillar page into the wild: https://www.brightgauge.com/connectwise-reports
If you're familiar with SEO, then you know it can take a while to start seeing results. There are a lot of factors that come into play aside from keyword use and being seen as an expert on the topic. One really important one is backlinking from sites with a good domain authority.
While we're still working on getting sites we admire to link to us and waiting for Google to recognize us a bit more, we've seen our hard work pay off already. Our ranking for "ConnectWise reports" has moved up nine positions within Google search, and we’re currently showing up on page one!
Not so bad.
An Ongoing Job Well Done
Pillar pages take a lot of effort but are well worth it. We’re in the process of developing our next pillar page and topic cluster strategy, and we’ll be taking advantage of HubSpot’s resources every step of the way.
Originally published Nov 9, 2018 9:00:00 AM, updated July 12 2019