A new approach to SEO for Kiwi B2B tech businesses
Why clusters make sense for Kiwi tech businesses getting found online
Google is the go-to tool for anyone searching for... well, anything. When a business is searching for a tech solution, they're going to do their research online.
Across Concentrate clients, the average proportion of traffic from organic (i.e. search) sources is 36%, a figure similar to HubSpot’s B2B benchmarks. That means a third of a typical B2B company’s web traffic comes from Google (mainly), so getting found in search results for the right topics is essential for Kiwi tech companies operating in offshore markets.
Kiwi businesses are often competing against larger global players, so the best outcome is often to be found online in niche markets; i.e., global search results for a very specific topic.
What it comes down to is Google needs to know about you. When specific keywords, questions or phrases are entered into the search engine, it needs to find you and display you in the first page of results - preferably right at the top. That way, potential customers will click on your URL and generate leads for your sales team.
The traditional approach to SEO
Typically, keywords are the central feature of an SEO strategy. You compile a list of targeted keywords that would rank in Google search results, and they're added to your website in the form of page titles, URLs, headings, body text, and images. This basic approach is now a hygiene factor today, i.e., making sure your pages can be technically found, but a combination of the way people search, and how search engines work means this approach needs to change.
Search engines have evolved to take into account the reader's intent. What this means is that instead of simply going on the words that are entered, they try to return results based on what is actually intended by the reader. The aim is to provide search results based on why people are searching, rather than specifically what they are searching. Updates to Google like Humming Bird and Rank Brain have contributed to this shift in strategy.
Another way searching has changed is with the introduction of voice queries. When people speak rather than type, they tend to use more conversational language, and voice queries now represent 20% of all searches performed in Google via mobile devices.
Google now also takes into account factors like location, time of day, device type and other contextual cues as to the searcher’s intent. For example, googling ‘restaurants near me' will give you search results specific to your location and time of day.
SEO - the new approach
HubSpot is pioneering a strategy for optimising SEO; it's a 'hub and spoke' approach known as a ‘content cluster’. To help visualise this, imagine a wheel with a central 'hub' and the connected 'spokes'.
- The hub - a core topic that's relevant to you and your customer. It's something that you want to rank at #1 within your niche. For example, at Concentrate we have focused on two core topics – lead generation and HubSpot.
- The spokes - these are subtopics, which are long-tail keyword phrases that people are searching for around tour main topic. For example, if the main topic is lead generation, people are searching for subtopics like ‘how to implement lead generation’, or ‘is HubSpot good for lead generation?’
When you're developing your hub-and-spoke strategy, try to come up with one or two core topics, and dozens of subtopics. Then:
- Information around the core topic is added to your website in the form of a long page called a pillar page.
- Subtopics are added to your website in the form of a blog about that subtopic.
It's essential to make sure they are linked together, i.e., each blog links to one or more places on the main pillar page. What you get then is 20-plus blogs, all with good and relevant content around a similar topic. They're all connected to a master page on the topic. Google then treats the complete cluster, and the visitor behaviour, as one connected cluster of relevant information which boosts authority and relevance, boosting those pages in the search engine ranking. And when you add a further new blog to the cluster, it's instantly promoted, just by belonging to that cluster.
These diagrams from HubSpot show how they have reorganised their website content around topic clusters:
See how the new blog architecture with specific topics is surrounded by blog posts related to the topic, and connected to other URLs in the cluster via the hyperlink?
What are pillar pages and what do they do?
This is how you add the main core topic to your website. Usually, there's quite a bit of scope in terms of how much information you provide; it can be several thousand words. The idea of the central pillar page is to connect and lift the search rankings of all the connected content, but it's also your main lead generation page, so there needs to be lots of conversion opportunities.
If you're using HubSpot's pillar pages, there are two options:
- Resources Pillar Page - this is an index that covers a topic and links off to relevant information on your site and external sites.
- Skyscraper Pillar Page - this completely covers a topic on the single page, often by making an existing guide or eBook publicly available instead of gated.
These are really good examples of HubSpot pillar pages:
Ever since the advent of search engines, keywords have been the key, central concept for digital marketers when it came to optimising SEO and climbing to the top of search engine results. But times have changed and your SEO approach needs to as well. Google now focuses on a simple, pragmatic concept: good content that is being read by users. Your strategy needs to emphasise genuine content on your website that is helpful and relevant to your audience, in the form of a content cluster that brings all that information together to present to Google.