Bringing Humanity Back to SEO with Abby Reimer

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Abby Reimer is a Senior SEO Analyst and Strategist at Uproer. You may remember her agency from our recent episode with her colleague, Senior Search Strategist, Jess Girardi.

Abby’s very passionate about bringing humanity back to SEO and about creating content that doesn’t mimic the same old, same old stuff out there. Tune in today if you’re ready to do something fresh.

The highlights:

  • [1:27] Moving past boilerplate content
  • [3:37] Balancing humanity with performance.
  • [5:52] Using keyword research the human way.
  • [8:37] Addressing attribution issues with UGC.
  • [11:17] Tying content strategy to business goals.
  • [14:14] Abby’s dream clients.
  • [20:52] Abby’s go-to resources.
  • [24:05] Balancing risk and reward.
  • [25:53] Abby’s causes.

The insights:

Moving Past Boilerplate Content

We’ve all seen it. The same content. Over and over again.

“Ten Best Marketing Tips! Ten Simple Marketing Tips!”

Abby encourages SEOs and content managers to think about their audience.

“More often than not, our audience are the last people we think about when creating this content. I just did a Twitter poll. It finished yesterday. Had 50 responses. Asked: when you’re creating a new piece of content, where do you start researching the material?”

As you can see from the results, a lot of people go straight to online resources first.

“That’s very normal. It makes sense. You’re doing keyword research. You’re looking at the SERPs to see what’s ranking. But that first step is where we lose the humanity aspect.

We see, oh, well, everyone’s doing ten tips. Maybe I’ll just mimic those and add two more.”

So she recommends reaching out to her audience to learn about their experiences, their tips, what they think about the topic.

Balancing Humanity With Performance

Human content doesn’t always rank as well as we might like. Abby says that Uproer’s award-winning campaign for CaringBridge was born out of this very pain point.

“Their pain point was lack of budget, time, and resources, but they still needed to create a lot of new blog content, especially content that would rank on search and keep working for them as opposed to content that just performed on social and email.”

They also wanted to keep their content in line with CaringBridge’s human approach as a health journal nonprofit.

“Our idea: hey, they have 300,000 Facebook followers. So we had these ideas that we did keyword research on. New people were looking in search results. We thought: who better to kind of be the experts on these topics than CaringBridge’s own audience?”

This led to meatier, more useful content.

“What to say to a friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer. How to support a friend in the hospital. What to do when there’s a health crisis. Things like that. Instead of just looking at what was already ranking, we realized we could create more unique content by featuring the CaringBridge audience.
We get dozens, sometimes hundreds of comments on these prompts that we send out on Facebook. We use the direct quotes and ideas in the article. We were able to really quickly scale content creation, write more than two dozen posts a year, and we’ve seen some really fantastic results.”

Of course, it doesn’t always feel comfortable, doing things this way.

“It does feel sort of risky to break from the mold. When you’re looking at the Top 10 results you’re basically seeing: this is what Google is saying they like. This is what Google is saying will rank.
That’s where it’s a risk of blending more of that traditional keyword research, making sure you’ve got the right terms.”

You can’t go wrong by aligning your content creation strategy with what Google wants, though.

“Google wants relevant content. We’ve seen our work surpass some things that maybe have a way higher domain authority. Their content isn’t as relevant. People aren’t looking for the same 5 tips in some cases. They’re looking for: so-and-so who understands their experience, sharing what they’re going through.
I know it’s not a direct ranking factor, but I think the engagement we get from that (hundreds of comments on these posts of people sharing their story as well) gives them more traction. They resonate with more people and that’s how we’ve seen the performance.”

Abby admits, though, that every now and then?

She still uses a listicle or two!

Using Keyword Research the Human Way

So how much preparation went into these campaigns? How can others duplicate Uproer’s success in this area?

“First, I want to address the keyword research portion,” Abby says. “It is still very much based on the tools.”

Abby urges listeners not to skip keyword research.

“It’s a good step. You still need to get validation that these things are being searched for. It doesn’t need to be traditional keyword research tools.
I think if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that a lot of things people are looking up haven’t caught up in the tools because they’re new queries. That’s where we use tools like Google Trends, Google’s New Question Hub, or Exploding Topics by Backlinko.”
exploding topics marketing

Some “exploding topics” in marketing.

“These things are a great place to get an idea of: okay. I have validation that these topics people are looking for. I think that’s the best place to start for any client is getting that validation.
From there? There’s a lot of different ways you can source this content. A common question is, okay, I don’t have 1000+ followers on social. What then?”

Turns out there are still a lot of different ways to source the content.

“One workaround I found was a deep dive into forums. This is something I don’t think a ton of people are doing. If you just Google your target keyword plus Reddit, Quora, whatever the forum is? You can source such amazing ideas.”

Abby did this for CaringBridge very recently.

“With a harder topic. A child that’s very ill. What tips do parents have? Reddit had hundreds of comments. Ideas you don’t even think of. Contact Ronald McDonald House. Bring an extension cord to the hospital. It’s not in the top ten listicles.
People want to feel validated. They want the nitty-gritty stuff.”

Addressing Attribution Issues with UGC

Attribution issues can arise when tapping into user-generated content, but Abby has solutions.

“On social, we make it pretty clear that we’re using people’s comments for the articles. What we do is we include people’s first name and end initial for some anonymity. People commenting know their comment may be in a post. And we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. We’ve never had an issue with that. The consent is there.”

When sourcing from forums you need a slightly different strategy.

“You can’t pull a quote directly from Reddit and put it in there. People’s usernames are like Skull47 and I’m not trying to put that in an article. But people are knowingly putting these opinions out in the open. They’re public. It’s a public forum.
So when someone says something like: bring an extension cord, here’s my story? I’m going to take that idea and say: hey, people who have gone through this highly suggest bringing an extension cord. I personally don’t think that goes into the mode of taking people’s content or stealing ideas. They’re putting that out there to help people.
We’re just scaling that idea out there to help more people.”

Tying Content Strategy to Business Goals

Keyword volume isn’t a big part of Abby’s strategy.

“I think we’re past that. It’s really about topics. Creating hubs and spokes. We have a client who does eCommerce for raw dog food. There are a lot of questions around that.
So instead of just doing all the questions at once, our rapid content creation is basically around topics. What vegetables dogs can eat is a big one that we’re doing. There’s volume there, but not the highest volume opportunities.”

Instead, they look at where they want to capture people, what the goal is, and then the different topics they can create content around.

“We try not to focus only on just one bucket. We’re looking at a lot of people to capture different areas of the funnel.”

Abby also talks about the way Spotify uses its own user data to create content.

spotify data billboard
“They didn’t have to spend all this time doing user research. It’s just literally: they’ve got the data there, and now they’re playing with it. Spotify uses more numbers, but I think that’s something that can be replicated, whether it’s your user’s data, or your user’s ideas, comments, hopes, or dreams.”

Career Advice for New SEOs or SEOs with Imposter Syndrome

“The way I got started in SEO was being open-minded and having curiosity. It was my first job out of school. The question came up: I didn’t promote this post. Why is it driving so much traffic? How does something get traffic from search engines?

She Googled the question and went down the rabbit hole.

“So I always start by saying: keep an open mind. Be curious. Chase things that interest you. I also tell students the biggest thing I hear is school gave them a very broad sense of marketing, but they don’t really know what area they want to go into.
I suggest doing some LinkedIn research. I researched so many people, looking at their job descriptions. If the job description sounds like: what, you get paid to do that? That’s someone’s job? That sounds like fun!
Make a note of that. Look at what those job titles are. Look at the kind of companies they work for. You start to get this profile of what you want to do. I found content and discovered that SEO was for me.”

She also points out that this is one of the most supportive industries you can work in.

“Everyone is willing to help. Everyone is kind and lifts each other up and evangelizes each other. Of course, no industry is perfect, but as a whole? Everyone wants to see each other succeed. You just have to reach out and grab those opportunities, cause they’re there.”

She says when she first got into the industry she was afraid that other people were better than her because they had certain job titles or more experience.

“But we’re all equals. We’re all people who sometimes forget to floss at night and don’t drink enough water. When you think about things like that, everyone becomes accessible. I’ve just been trying to approach SEO that way, explore as many avenues as I can. Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone.”

She also points out that nobody really knows everything.

“[SEO] changes. So often. Every three months there’s a new update. Google releases a new hint. Or whatever. So I feel like we’re all kind of on the same learning pace. We’re all learning together.”

Abby's Go-To SEO Resources

Abby had shout-outs for quite a few people and resources on this episode.

Check them out!

What's your right now cause?

Abby’s cause is helping students and young professionals navigate the post-Covid job landscape.

“To figure out how to get a job in this very strange time. They can’t go to agency tours or happy hours, things they could have used to breakthrough. I’m doing whatever I can to connect with them and give them tips.”

She gives a shoutout to the Boundaryless Agency Simulation program.

Boundaryless Agency Simulation
“Dozens of students signed up, got experience. I know at least six or seven people who got jobs as a result, including someone we hired at Uproer.”

She’s very passionate about participating and being a mentor.

“How to use LinkedIn to make human connections. I’m spreading the word, speaking with my alma mater, talking with people within my old organization, PRSSA.
I think there’s a lot of things professionals can do to interact with students and help them along the way. I think it’s about speaking with them, letting them know what you’re doing, giving them the tips you wish you had known five, ten, fifteen years ago.”  

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