Tim Soulo is the CMO of Ahrefs. In this session, we asked him about the journey of growing Ahrefs to a site that measures its website traffic in the millions – and how you can build traffic to your website too.
How do you build traffic to your website – key takeaways:
Is SEO for your business?
SEO isn’t for everyone. It’s worth asking the question of whether there is enough search traffic volume to even support your SEO efforts. If there isn’t – it might be worth considering prioritising other channels.
On SEO hacks
One of the first themes was to “stop looking for magic bullets. That doesn’t exist. SEO happens because you do the work”. Simply put – great things take time, original thoughts, and having the fundamentals right before building great work off the back of this. This was a great point of encouragement to simply slow down. Much of Tim’s success can be pointed to a cumulation of efforts over a long time, rather than quick hacks.
Is your content marketing tied back to the business?
Ahrefs have a three-level scoring system for blog posts, and whether the content they are producing is aligned to their business. Every post Ahrefs produce will be aligned against these levels. Ultimately, as marketers, the goal isn’t just to drive traffic, but traffic that converts. Having these levels also enables you to gain greater focus on what you are producing, as you are no longer just producing random bits of content for the sake of traffic, but you’re doing so with purpose.
- Level 3 – The problem you’re writing about is a perfect fit for the product/service you offer. You can tie what you do into the blog post perfectly, and use the content to both establish credibility, but also likely, sell.
- Level 2 – The product/service you offer is a partial solution for the problem you’re writing about, but not *critical*, as in level three. At this level, you can still speak about your product/service, but it is less well linked into what you are doing.
- Level 1 – At this level, what you’re writing about has a loose tie in to what you sell/offer, but it’s not a close fit. At this level, it would be hard to convert traffic off the back of someone landing on your page – even if it’s good for your traffic stats.
How do you find time for content creation?
Creation of content can be seen through two lenses. The first is time ‘spent’ and the second is time ‘invested’. Tim gave the example of a blog post he wrote a number of years ago that required him to get in touch with 500 different people to ask them to share their Google Analytics data, so he could investigate the ROI of guest posting. Years on, this post has still not been superseded at the top of Google for its ranking terms because no one else has put in the same amount of work to create something as valuable. Time invested in content where the author behaves more like a journalist than a copywriter yields results.
How do you convince cynical members of your company of the value of investing in SEO?
Simply, then the competition is capturing free results that you are not.
How do you measure the value of SEO?
Measurement of the impact of SEO and Content Marketing is not as simple as it seems. Tim points to at least 10 different ways content affect his business, but it would be difficult to attribute success to them. At Ahrefs, they don’t actually measure these things as a result!
What are the fundamentals of SEO?
With so many SEO strategies/tactics/gurus/trends pulling you in many different directions, it can be hard to keep up. So instead, Tim encouraged the audience to focus on four fundamentals, before worrying about trends or the things the gurus tell s.
Celeste summed them up in this tweet for us.
1. A well-built website – the tech side is running smoothly
2. Keyword research – knowing what your potential audience is searching for
3. Amazing content – using your personal experience & knowledge to create great content
4. Promotion – if the content is good, promoting is easy
— Celeste Allen (@cba_content) April 6, 2021
How to measure the impact of SEO on your metrics
Tim shared that he is in a privileged position at Ahrefs where they do not produce quarterly or annual reports on performance. They act because they know what they are doing is the right thing (how refreshing is that by the way?).
Tim did however suggest that the best argument any marketer can possibly offer their directors/CEOs of the value of investing in SEO and content marketing is that if they are not doing it, and the market is a good fit for SEO tactics – then the competition is capturing free results that you are not. Tim also suggested there are loads of ways to get results from SEO and content marketing – many of which can’t be summed up in a spreadsheet. Conveniently, he summed them up in this Twitter thread.
Let’s talk about the “ROI of Content Marketing.”
Far too often us marketers get challenged with this question by our boss (or our client):
– How do I know that my investment in content will guarantee a positive return? …& how can I *MEASURE* it?
— Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) March 23, 2021