A significant part of content marketing is having a plan in place to help your content rank well.
Pillar posts and keyword research are often two essential aspects of most content marketing strategies, because the idea is that you want to support important “pillar” posts— which are almost always high-value, high-volume keywords— with secondary posts that contain supportive keywords.
Most brands don’t realize that the pillar post structure does more than just give you a few exceptionally powerful posts that rank well for a single keyword; the search traffic potential goes far beyond just the primary keyword’s traffic potential.
That’s what we’re going to discuss today. In this Gong and Codeless case study, we will show how actual search traffic can far surpass the target keyword’s monthly search volume— even for supporting posts.
Gong is one of the leading revenue intelligence platforms on the market. Their tool helps businesses understand customer interactions and motivations by using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to close more deals, create stronger sales forecasts, and enable your sales team to generate more revenue than ever.
They also have brilliant branding and had a strong content marketing game even before we came along. They’re a newer brand, all things considered, as the company founded in 2015, but this is a company that’s seen rapid growth in a very short time period (especially in 2021).
Gong already had made some solid content marketing moves before they came to us here at Codeless. They did so, however, because they were seeking to increase content production of high-quality, actionable posts that would rank well.
Gong is in a hyper-competitive space, writing about sales-heavy topics. They’re competing against highly-established big names like Salesforce and HubSpot, who have been dominating the sales space in content marketing for years.
In order to compete against competing sites that already had massive libraries of content, we worked with Gong to create a pillar-focused content strategy that would allow pillar content and secondary posts to rank well, with the goal being to create content that didn’t just rank for a single keyword.
Let’s take a look at the strategy we used.
1. We started with three core topic categories
We knew that we wanted to use a pillar post approach (which we’ll discuss more in the next section), which required us to determine what categories of content we wanted to focus on.
Based on the client’s needs, their product, and the topics their audience would be most interested in, we chose three categories for focus topics: Customer success, sales management, and sales skills.
Each post was tagged based on category when uploaded to Gong’s site so that users could browse for content that was relevant to them.
2. We used the pillar strategy
With the pillar strategy, you create an “ultimate guide” style post that discusses a single topic in-depth. It’s common to do this with high-value and short-tail keywords that may be high in both volume and keyword difficulty.
In addition to pillar posts, you’ll also write “secondary” or “supporting” posts in niche topics that relate to the pillar post. These are often shorter blog posts that focus on long-tail keywords, and they always link back to the relevant pillar post (and vice versa).
For Gong, for example, we created the pillar post “Everything You Need to Know About Sales Prospecting” with the primary keyword “sales prospecting.”
One of the secondary posts for the pillar topics was “13 Proven Sales Prospecting Techniques to Book More Meetings,” which targeted the long-tail keyword “sales prospecting techniques.”
Part of the pillar strategy involves intentionally interlinking content that fell under the same categories of customer success, sales management, and sales skills.
3. We considered the total volume of a search phrase
When researching keywords, it’s easy to look at a single keyword’s monthly search volume and assume that it’s the maximum traffic you could receive.
That is not the case, however. A well-written and properly optimized blog post— including both pillar and supporting posts— should have a single primary keyword and multiple secondary keywords you’re considering when writing. The secondary keywords should appear in H2s and H3s and body copy.
A strategic blog post should ideally rank for multiple key phrases in addition to just the primary keyword.
The blog post “What is an ICP for Sales” ranks for the primary keyword “ICP sales,” for example. Ahrefs also shows, however, that other relevant key phrases match the primary keyword, including “ICP in sales,” “ICP definition sales,” “ICP sales meaning,” and ”what does ICP mean in sales.”
If you can rank for multiple keywords, your potential search traffic can skyrocket. You have the opportunity to have a single post show up in multiple search results for different key phrases, making each piece of content more valuable and impactful.
4. We used our standard approach to create high-quality content
In addition to the strategy we’ve discussed, we also used our standard approach to content creation.
We always strive to create high-quality authoritative content that will help the brand not only rank well, but engage audiences, drive sales, and strengthen the brand’s reputation as an authority on the topic.
To do this, we do the following:
- Work with a team of skilled writers with strong SaaS and sales writing experience
- Have highly trained editors assigned to this project on an ongoing basis
- Create detailed briefs for each blog post that explains the primary and secondary keywords, the objective of the post, headings, and important topics to discuss
- An extensive editorial review process
- Create custom visuals if needed for the client projects
- Client review, and, if needed, additional edits can be made
As of May 2023, we’ve written 54 posts that have been published for Gong. And while Gong has seen an increase in search traffic since we’ve started working together, we want to discuss the individual impact of a few well-optimized posts.
Let’s go back to our ICP sales blog post example, “What is an ICP for Sales.” This post targets the primary keyword “ICP sales,” which has a monthly search volume of 800. The post has an estimated monthly traffic potential of 1,200 per month, but is currently attracting around 1,700 visitors per month in organic traffic alone.
This is because the search traffic isn’t only coming from searches for “ICP sales”— it’s coming from searches using multiple other keywords, too, which is why it’s so important to optimize for multiple key phrases.
This post is currently ranking in the first position for “ICP marketing,” “ICP sales,” and “ICP definition sales.” It’s also ranking in the third position for “ICP meaning sales” and “what is ICP in business.” It ranks for 39 keywords in total.
An important thing to note here: This post is not a pillar post, but it’s still driving a significant amount of traffic in and of itself. And this is exactly why it’s so important to optimize every piece of content you’re creating.
This is a great example of why key phrases that are “low-hanging fruit” with low competition levels (like “ICP sales”) can ultimately drive a significant amount of traffic. Don’t overlook smaller keywords; they can attract traffic to your site, they have a better chance of ranking well, and they add another layer of support to your pillar posts.
Interlinking plays a crucial part in this. Supporting content linking to pillar posts can help that pillar content rank higher over time, giving your posts significant momentum. And as those supporting posts interlink with each other, all of your content can increase in ranking potential.
This, of course, can work on more high-competition keywords, too. The keyword “inside sales” has a keyword difficulty of 42 and an estimated search volume of 5,800. The pillar post for this keyword, which is supported by the ICP sales post, has a monthly potential search traffic of 9,650 thanks to all the key phrases it can rank for.
Gong has seen significant increases in traffic from all of the content we’ve created for them, including both pillar posts and supporting content alike. This is essential because when you’re paying for content, you want all of it to be valuable in and of itself— you don’t just want the supporting posts to be idle fluff that’s only good for bolstering up a few core pieces of content.
Strategic content that is intentionally optimized for multiple key phrases, along with intentional internal linking, is the best way to create momentum with your content.
Ready to scale your content creation and your results? Get in touch here to learn more about how we can help you create content that ranks at scale.