As Global Head of Growth & SEO at HubSpot, Matthew Barby is a talented professional who really knows his stuff. Best of all, he knows that everything he recommends works because he does it himself.
He first started out by simply creating content on his own personal website. It was, and still is, focused on building in-depth content on SEO, as well as covering the experiments he undertook working at a marketing agency in the UK.
That enabled him to build a following which gave him the opportunity to start giving talks and to move into a larger agency, heading up digital marketing.
It wasn’t long before HubSpot noticed this young talent, and headhunted Matthew for their Dublin office. More recently, they have now moved him to their HQ in Boston.
Matthew has a lot of great ideas, particularly when it comes to making your content work for you, no matter its age. He’ll also share with us some of the secrets HubSpot use to keep their content fresh and ranking, and how he makes the content on his website so unique.
At matthewbarby.com, he has a website which looks astonishing. And he makes his large content work by telling visitors how long a post will take to read, with the ability to jump to specific sections.
Working At HubSpot
HubSpot has a variety of different tools. Their marketing product is geared around getting new leads to your website. It does this through SEO features, marketing automation and lead forms.
A sales and CRM product comes free with it, which helps to manage the middle to bottom of the funnel in order to close on deals. However, a pro version does also come with extra functions.
But since joining HubSpot, Matthew’s approach to marketing has changed. For example, they publish 250 posts per month.
That’s a mammoth amount, and to put that into perspective, a standard business would probably take around four years to achieve that number of posts. So there is a large turnover of content.
This has to have an impact on the design of the website to ensure each post works. And it also makes coming up with content ideas a particular challenge, as is the management of the funnel.
His biggest change has been in process design. With such a large amount of data coming in, they’ve had to tailor it to meet their specific circumstances.
Creating Strategies For Your Business
You need to start off by mapping out your buying personas to specifically know who is going to buy from you. How do those people like to buy, and what does that sales process look like? That will then allow you to determine the channels you look at going forward.
When you know where you can find them, you can then set about trying to acquire them. That will then massively impact the content strategy you use going forward.
Personally, Matthew likes to use organic searches to get new customers. But for many companies, that is an option which doesn’t work. With a new concept, there is likely to not be enough search traffic for your terms to bring in meaningful rewards.
Or it may also be difficult for others to explain what your company is.
For the keywords you want to rank for, there needs to be intent and purpose behind them. After all, HubSpot ranks well for the acronym CRM. However, most of the people searching for that keyword are looking for a definition, and not a product.
Write With Purpose
SEO changes are often not going to get very good, immediate, results. These can take up to three months to have an impact. But you can use content to get sign-ups and backlinks right away.
With content which adds value to the customers and the brand, in the long run, will still positively impact SEO. So don’t think about churning out content just because you can.
Anyone can decide to just write something. To actually be beneficial, it needs to have a goal and a purpose. There’s no point doing it if you’re not being held accountable to a reason for it to exist.
Of course, the volume of content is important, but it shouldn’t direct the strategy.
Just like social media is used by B2B business to supplement their strategy rather than to drive it, SEO should only be one piece of the puzzle.
Content Which Fits
The average word count of posts on Matthew’s website is 5,000, with some posts being as long as 10,000. And these posts come at a frequency of one every couple of months.
People generally seem to like these posts, and his long posts are the most successful at getting more email subscribers.
And when he asks for feedback, people like the detail he goes into on one topic. And that enables him to rank highly for broad terms, rather than chasing long-tail terms.
Of course, he tracks everything he does, segmenting the data by total word count as well as other variables.
This enables him to see that long posts result in people staying on the page for a long time, especially if the post itself takes 45 minutes to read. He manages to keep people engaged for longer, and he has a high conversion rate amongst all of his blog content.
He’s actually found that he gets more leads by pushing one big post once a month, rather than five smaller blog posts of 1,000 words. So he’s found the most efficient use of his time when it comes to creating content.
Matthew’s blogs read like training courses. But the topics he is talking about need that level of discussion. Whereas, a fashions blog is likely to be less heavy of the word count and be image-driven instead.
So it’s always worth testing what works specifically for your business.
It’s also important to remember that different types of content on your website will have different aims, and they need to change accordingly too.
At HubSpot, their blog posts have the purpose of getting email subscriber sign-ups. And to drive those results, they give away content upgrades and other offers.
Pillar content is designed to earn them backlinks, which will then direct to blog posts and product pages. So in order to achieve that, they are often filled with data which makes them more linkable.
As for product pages, they have the goal of achieving product sign-ups. So that content will be conversion-driven using microcopy.
With different goals, you need to write in different styles using different formats, and giving different hooks to be successful. But they also need to remain mindful of the common goals they also share.
Giving Your Content A Boost
Matthew enjoys working with blogs which are underperforming, and turning them around. In order to do this, there are three things he’ll do with existing content to turn their fortunes around:
- Update the content and republish it.
- Consolidate it into another piece of content, or use canonical tags.
- Add internal links from other content to give it a boost.
But before you start, it’s a good idea to look at the data. By assessing the organic traffic, you can learn which content is already working for you.
And by looking at the ranking of content, you can then identify the ones which are sitting at the top of page two on Google for specific keywords. That way, you can then work on giving them a bump by using the methods above.
Going onto page one of search results can end up doubling your traffic, and can only take 30 days to see results.
Keep Old Content Fresh
At HubSpot, they actually have a team which is dedicated to historical optimization. They take content which has the potential to perform better and updates it every few months.
They will then republish the post with a new date and give it all the promotion again.
That will then give the content an influx of links, traffic, and social shares, which does the job of pushing it up the search engine results.
A typical blog is structured with a homepage which links to your recent posts. Page two has older content, and so on.
So the further a post goes down that list, the further it also slips down the site’s architecture, meaning it doesn’t receive as much benefit from the website’s high SEO status.
By simply changing the date, making it current and pushing it to the top of the list again, it gives the content a massive boost. So this is something which is really worth doing with your high-value posts.
The Future Of Content Marketing
Over the next five years, Matthew see’s the potential for websites to become platform agnostic.
Traditionally, when you publish to your website it ranks, brings in traffic and subscribers. Instead, people will start posting content to many other platforms, such as Facebook, rather than staying on their website.
That way they will have a wide-spanning reach. And new tools are making that increasingly easier to manage. By not having it on the one domain, business owners will no longer have to rely on organic search results.
By visiting the Matthew Barby website, you can subscribe to his email list. He publishes mostly to his emails, which means you’ll get exclusive tips, hacks, and tactics. His website is also full of many useful resources, such as his blogs and eBooks.
Likewise, HubSpot is full of great content, and with such a large number of posts, you’re bound to find information which will benefit your business and its marketing fortunes.
If you want to talk to Matthew, you can either reach out to him on Twitter or contact him via his website.
Connect with Matthew