About a week ago I wrote an email on accumulating advantages with your content. The idea being that the things you do to improve your search presence either distance you from your competition or result in back and forth one-upmanship.
And then I had a thoughtful conversation with list member Dr. Dominik Dotzauer, who specializes in habit-driven health and fitness solutions and is based in Germany.
He shared an idea that that SEO, backlinks, helpful content can be a moat when you’re leveraging the advantages of being an expert solopreneur, like having a point of view, reputation, trust/transparency. All good points.
But experts have a lot to overcome, problems and pitfalls getting there.
Key problem: big money in content
From one standpoint, there’s just too much money being thrown at content marketing out there. A lot of sites can afford expert reviewers, expert authors, and expert SEO teams.
Look at Hubslop. They’ve consistently lost millions a quarter with a growing content team.
How you can build a moat with links, helpful content, etc., when you’re competing with companies that can lose $30 million a year and don’t even care about making money from that content?
Key problem: big brands can generate lots more links
There is a ratio of links to content that provides a sweet spot for large organizations. Bigger publisher networks have entire resources dedicated just to internal or in-between web property linking – essentially, creating Google friendly link networks. Brands with too much authority insulating them from being penalized or impacted by the dampening associated with being highly tactical.
A big brand can do 100 things to rank a series of pages. And if 10 of those things are underhanded, they’ve still balanced risk effectively. You could do just one of those things and never see a ranking on that piece of content – it’s too lopsided, it’s too unnatural.
Key problem: you’re being too expert
When it comes to high volume queries in Google, there is also the tendency of experts to be too detailed, technical, specific, when users often want something quick and crunchy, the exact types of content that teams with big budgets are churning out regularly.
Key problem: you’re too focused on quantity
The problem with experts, a frequent publishing habit, and the way expertise, point of view, and a content regimen gets cultivated and builds momentum for you over time, is that it spreads you thin from a search standpoint. I’m ringing the content one way bell a bit much, but this is what I mean.
You can have 10,000 second page rankings and see less traffic than one second position ranking.
You can write on a topic 100 times and become the most advanced expert on it in the world. But now you’ve made it very hard for Google to know which page to rank for that one topic on your site.
The solution as I’m starting to see it
The answer for all these problems is to focus on one piece of content for one topic cluster satisfying one type of search intent at a time.
To deeply understand that intent, and to build a moat around satisfying it to the point where it’s no longer worth it for others to go after it.
And then do the things for that content that raise it to a level of unparalleled authority across all necessary dimensions. In effect, making that one topic insane for someone else to go after.
We had a client that was having trouble fending off Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com from the top spot for their area. The way we ultimately held those behemoths off was by getting lots of local links.
Zillow was never going to send someone to develop a relationship with the local yacht club. Trulia (before they were acquired by Zillow) was never going to sponsor a Polar Bear Plunge they didn’t know about.
You build the mountain. Then when your competitors are doing keyword research and identify an array of opportunities, you have your moat built deep and they won’t view your topic as an opportunity. The effort for them to get to top three position on your topic will be disproportionately lower to the other things they could commit energy to.
Everyone starts with the low hanging fruit. So we raise the fruit up, one page at a time.