Are you so sure your content strategy is up-to-snuff?
There may be gaps. Fortunately, Chima Mmeje has some excellent ways to help you find them and fill them in ways that will help you rank and convert better.
Chima is the owner of Zenith Copy. She’s worked with clients like Wix, Literal Humans, Remitly, Skillshare, and more. She’s been featured on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and Hackernoon, as well as in several other publications.
She’ll be the first to warn you that SEO copywriting is not “turning the two Yoast buttons green,” and content strategy is not just coming up with a bunch of blog posts to write.
Find out what it’s really all about by tuning in to today’s podcast.
- [1:52] The purpose of topic clusters and why they’re so valuable
- [5:03] The importance of content repurposing
- [6:22] Packaging content clusters.
- [9:48] Working with clients on topic cluster content.
- [12:30] Addressing the buyer’s journey.
- [13:54] Topic cluster results.
- [18:34] Chima’s cause.
The Purpose of Topic Clusters, and Why They're So Valuable
Chima talks about how in the past you could just “write one big mega-guide and then optimize the hell out of it, get backlinks, and it would rank for really competitive keywords.”
SEO has changed, and you can’t do this anymore to achieve the same results.
“Rather than create a piece of content, you’re thinking about the user journey holistically from the top of the funnel when they come in and ask what is or how does this work, to the bottom of the funnel when they’re ready to buy. You are creating content to meet them at every stage of the buyer’s journey.”
She says rather than ranking for keywords, you are approaching your sphere of content as an entire topic.
“That means it’s not just automated keywords from tools like SEMRush and the rest. You’re looking at: What is this person asking if they’re trying to buy a bicycle?“
She gave some examples:
“You have to have content for all these stages.”
She says it even goes beyond the point of purchase to post-purchase.
“They still have questions. How do I maintain my bike? What should I know about taking care of my bike? Okay, maybe a wheel on a bike gets loose. You need to have content for that.
That’s the whole point of a topic cluster. It makes you the authority. It puts you there at every point. And the more results there are on the search engine results page, the more they’re going to come to you because they trust you as an authority.”
The Importance of Content Repurposing
Making different forms of content is an important part of the topic cluster process.
“I’m a big fan of content repurposing. Big fan. In fact, I have posts on LinkedIn and Twitter on the topic of repurposing content.
If you create any piece of content and you already have an idea, create a podcast, turn it into a video, put the link in there, distribute it, so people aren’t seeing the same thing: just words.”
She says when there’s diversity to the types of content you’re creating, you’re engaging everybody.
“If someone likes video, they like podcasts, you’re there. They like bite-size infographics, you’re there. You’re leaving nothing to chance.”
Packaging Topic Clusters
Garrett then asked how Chima packages topic clustering up for her clients so that they actually buy the service.
Chima admits it’s not something people think to ask for.
“When they’re coming to me, maybe they need a blog post or two. So it’s really simple. I just put topic clusters on my rate sheets. I have all the blog post content, I have location pages, I have entity pages, I have topic clusters.
They’re seeing a topic cluster with 10 pieces of content. I have the premium with 30 pieces. They’re like, oh my god, this is kind of a done-for-you content strategy.”
Sometimes clients just ask.
“I saw topic cluster there, can you tell me more about it?”
“And then,” Chima says, “I just send them a link to something I’ve done for another client. It’s really detailed, and once they see that, the next thing they’re asking is: ok, how do I get this?
When I jump on the first discovery call with them, I have looked at their website on SEMRush, I’ve seen their keywords, I can see they have a lot of disjointed content pieces that don’t make sense. I’m like: okay. Rather than just creating blog posts, this is what you need: you need a strategy.
You’re coming at these keywords the wrong way. You have one blog post that’s 5000 words and that’s not going to rank. That’s not going to happen. This is what you should do instead. Then I have a sample topic cluster open.”
She then shares her screen with them so they can see the topic clusters she’s built for other clients.
“They get to see how it gives them a better chance of ranking for their keywords.”
She can even show them how she’s made it work on her own website.
“I’ve never offered something I haven’t tried for myself. Once you can show them a sample you can have them visualize it. It’s easier for them to see the benefits.”
She says it often leads to months and months of work.
“People always want you to do things for them. They want someone to ease their stress. If you can give them this promise, the stress relief of a solution, they’re going to jump at it.”
Working with Clients on Topic Cluster Content
She says she’s usually working with other agencies or the heads of content departments, people who already have a deep understanding of how content works.
“They know where their weak spots are. They know what they need physically. They’re like, okay: this is a keyword we’re not doing well for. This is what we want to do. It’s not me telling them what they need, it’s them saying: this is where we have a weak spot and this is what we need to do.“
They tell her the topic, and then she creates the cluster. She gave an example of working on a topic cluster about sending money to Brazil.
“Understanding Brazil for healthcare. People send money to Brazil for healthcare. Understanding education. People send money to Brazil for education. Why is the Rio festival the biggest carnival in Brazil? People who are going to Brazil run out of money. They might need money from home to cover expenses.
You have that keyword over there on one side, and then you have use cases where they would need that solution. That involves thinking outside the box. All of that comes together so you’re covering both the keyword side, which is for SEO, and then you’re covering the other side, the side of the end-user, the customer.
The problems they’re facing. You get all of that for a very robust cluster.”
Addressing the Buyer's Journey
Chima says most of her clients have all their “money pages,” or “bottom-of-the-funnel” pages, in place already.
“What they need are educational pieces, middle-of-the-funnel content to connect the dots. They want to be helpful.”
She says more and more content managers are starting to understand the value of that educational content. That she’s seen a shift in that direction over the last year.
She says nobody’s throwing out money pages, of course.
“The money pages are still there. Those educational pieces at the top of the funnel will still link to those money pages. That’s always the goal. Link those educational pieces to the money pages, lead them through but focus on educational content.
That’s always the focus. Creating educational content and then linking to the next action, moving to the middle of the funnel, then for the middle of the funnel this call-to-action moving to the bottom of the funnel, where you already have the existing money pages.”
Top Cluster Results
This method results in better rankings, higher conversion rates, and lower bounce rates.
“The first thing we’re going to do is track rankings, track people who are clicking CTA buttons on the pages to move to the next page. In fact, if more people are reading the educational content it’s usually translating to more conversions on the money pages because you’ve been helpful, so they’re more likely to give you their money.”
She describes a piece of content she created as part of a topic cluster for a financial services client.
“People were asking if it was safe to use the service. That’s always a big question in financial services.”
After creating that piece of content they noticed a lot more people were signing up for the free trial.
“Because we were able to prove to them that the service was safe.”
After covering safety?
“Now we’re talking about different features. We cover each of those features as a full blog post. It’s very detailed, every step of the way. We’re talking about everything.
If you do this, and you do it right, you don’t have a 5000-word guide. What you have is 1500-2000 word pieces, cut up, spread out, but still in-depth, very informational. And it’s still doing what you want it to do: [visitors] read this piece of content, and then move to the rest of the content.”
Chima reports bounce rates as low as 40% when this method is employed.
“If people are staying on the page for 11 minutes, that is a long time! We know how our attention span goes. I was looking at it. Wow. 11 minutes. Ok. This is good.”
What's your right now cause?
Chima is passionate about bringing attention to the exploitation of SEOs and digital marketers in developing nations, as well as among POC populations.
“Let me start off by saying I think the SEO community could do more for Africans. People are very unaware. The SEO community is small. We think it’s big but it’s actually very small. There are very few people who are visible in the SEO community. It’s kind of like the same conversations we’re having every day.”
She says the community doesn’t mean to keep people out…but that’s what they manage to do anyway.
“It’s kind of like an invite-only club.”
She says there are very few conversations about diversity, representation, Black SEOs, or SEOs in developing countries like India, Pakistan, and Nigeria.
“SEOs in developing countries are on the outside looking in. That means they don’t have access to clients who will pay well for their work. They end up working on Upwork or Fiverr for pittance wages.”
She says those who are visible in Africa often opt to sell courses instead of actively practicing SEO because there’s more money in that.
“Black SEOs and African SEOs think this is not a viable field for them. Visibility is important! Seeing someone who looks like you and is successful makes you think: I can do this.
When you look around, see no Black faces, you see no Africans, you see nobody from developing countries, out there in SEO? They’re like: okay, this is a White people’s club.”
She says that people don’t understand how greatly white privilege cuts off the SEO community.
“You have people in SEO services who make only $200 a month. That is crazy! I don’t even do content outlines for $200! It’s because they don’t think there’s anything better for them. It’s sad, the poverty mindset that makes you believe: this is the best I can be.
You have white people telling you every day to be grateful for $4 an hour.
In fact, today, this morning, I posted something about someone who had told me they wanted to pay me $35 for a blog post. I said sarcastically: oh wow, that’s a lot of money. 20 times that much and you can’t afford me. And then this white woman comes into the thread and says she used to pay an Indian $4 an hour and the woman was thankful for it.”
She was furious.
“I was like, you have the balls to open your mouth and say you used to pay someone $4 an hour and they were thankful for it? She was trying to commoditize writing, saying you can write 1000 words in 2 hours.
What about research? What about creating a content outline? What about sending it to a client? What about all those other things? They commoditize the services, and then you end up living in poverty but being thankful because you are better than the people who are around you in that same poverty circle.”
She says that trying to get more POCs into conferences or podcasts is not enough.
“It has to be personal to each person.”
She’s in the middle of creating an online community and a mentoring program.
“We pair a freelancer in a developing country with anyone who is an expert in a developed country. Let’s say you are a Head of Content now. We could pair you with a content writer who is trying to upskill, then you give your feedback on their copy.
Give advice on how to charge for rates, how to set up a business, the rate sheet you need to be using, what you need to be looking for in clients, how to brand yourself as a copywriter.
Give them advice that can help them upskill and charge more for their services so they’re on the same level as people in those developed countries.
No more barriers. People shouldn’t be paid because of location, they should be paid for skills. That’s the goal.”
She expects the site to be live by the end of March or early April to help fight the imposter syndrome and poverty mindset that plagues many good freelancers in developing nations.
People who are intentional about hiring these writers will be able to use the site to find talent.
“Every freelancer who is in the program is going to have a profile. It’s like a marketplace for free, like Upwork or Fiverr but free.
You can come in and search for freelancers in design, CMS, WordPress, SEO, landing pages. You’ll be intentional about working with freelancers from that side of the world.”
She says they’ve already paired over 100 copywriters with people in developed nations.
“Everybody who wants to donate time, there will be a place where you can fill out the form. The moment you fill out the form you get paired with a freelancer in a developing country. Very simple.”