How Topic Clusters Revived Yello’s Content Marketing Strategy

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Yello had a problem. The recruiting software maker had a marketing strategy that prioritized organic growth over paid performance, but its search visibility and blog traffic were declining last year. That meant that marketing messages weren't reaching recruiters and the company suffered from low brand recognition.

Alexandria Onion, who worked in the Chicago technology scene for five years and joined Yello as a content specialist in May, had a plan. She created an SEO strategy based on topic clusters and pillar pages. The results are impressive. Blog traffic doubled in six months, organic keyword volume skyrocketed by 390% and leads from blog visitors grew by 500%.

"I really saw building our strategy as 'What is our brand positioning? Who do we want to be in the market? How can we really focus our content around who we are as a company?' And then with that came search engine optimization and building our visibility in search," Onion says. "But I think first and foremost, the thing I am proudest of about this strategy is that it really represents who we are as a brand and what we're doing to help our customers."

Onion learned three fundamental lessons from her experience turning around Yello's content marketing strategy.

Build Content Around Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

It took Onion, who had managed content for online child care marketplace Sittercity, only a month to learn the marketing nuances of the recruiting software business. From there, she worked with the sales and product teams using MarketMuse, a content planning and optimization tool, to map out what people were searching for on Google as it relates to campus recruiting.

Onion organized her content strategy around topic clusters. That's a search engine optimization strategy that focuses on topics rather than keywords. Google and other search engines have evolved to focus on the quality of the content more than the configuration of keywords. She concentrated on topics that answered critical questions for her audience, such as "What is campus recruitment?" or "What are the strategies behind campus recruitment?" or "How do you build a campus recruitment team?" or “How do you budget for campus recruitment?”

When she had the topics for blog posts mapped out, Onion structured those posts with pillar pages for the group cluster that would guide her audience to more content. "We established ourselves as an authority on this topic in general, which has been really successful not only in helping our own customers and helping our leads kind of move further down the funnel," she says. Topic clusters and pillar pages have also been helpful "in getting Google's attention in saying, 'Hey, we know everything there is to know about campus recruitment,' which has been super successful just in terms of increasing our traffic."

Fill Gaps in the Content Marketplace

The comprehensive review of campus recruitment content done by Onion and her team revealed that few people were writing about recruitment operations.

"There definitely wasn't any original research or any kind of benchmark data on what people were doing to have better people analytics, make their recruiting process more efficient and decrease time to hire," Onion says. "So, we knew that we had a huge opportunity to own that corner of the recruiting content landscape."

Onion also works closely with Yello's lead generation team to identify ways they can move people from a blog post to a product page. She has built downloadable templates, budgeting spreadsheets and other gated content to capture leads.

"Where we focus most of our attention is how can we get more people onto our site for the first time and get more traffic," Onion says. "And then once they're there, how can we move them with one more little nudge in the right direction down the funnel to be more of a lead?"

Simplify Complexity for Your Audience

"Our goal is always to make things as simple as possible and to be as easy to digest as possible," Onion says. Yello's software offers a variety of features that can be overwhelming to people unfamiliar with the company or new to the recruiting field.

At Yello, the tone of content aims to be an ally to the customers, helping them make decisions with simplicity and a sense of humor. "It's important to be able to break things down so that anyone could understand them," Onion says.

The results of Yello’s revised content strategy make Onion excited about content marketing's data-driven future. "I feel like every marketer says this, but I just love the art and science of content marketing specifically. I think it's been such a creative industry," she says. "And so now we're moving into how can we tell these stories, but also have the numbers behind them to back them up and really prove that there is value to the business overall from content marketing."

Mary Ellen Slayter is CEO of Rep Cap. Before creating her own content marketing firm, she served as director of content development and a senior general business and finance editor at SmartBrief, a leading publisher of e-mail newsletters. Before joining SmartBrief, she spent 8 years at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column and worked as an editor in the business news department. You can find Mary Ellen on Twitter @MESlayter.

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How Topic Clusters Revived Yello’s Content Marketing Strategy

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