While it’s not our focus here at Verbatim, we believe in the power of SEO.
For companies turning on GTM content, we especially believe that investing in SEO is best paired with pillar content since both have evergreen, compounding value.
- Metrics that actually matter and why you should be doing less
- The best ways to determine your content priorities at scale
- How to run your SEO and pillar content on parallel paths
“There are a lot of ways you could tackle content, but building intentional frameworks and repeatable processes are ultimately the keys to success.”
Tracey’s Playbook: Two Sides of the Content Coin
Tracey emphasizes there are two key ways to build your company’s content from scratch:
- The SEO approach
- The audience-first approach
1. Successful SEO for New Companies
Startups raising early rounds tend to have very little SEO authority – by no fault of their own.
Google prefers older domains, which yield more success within their network of backlinks. So, young companies struggle in going after competitive, high-volume keywords.
All in all, it can take roughly 6–12 months for SEO results to turn around on those high-volume terms, which is an often unfeasible time frame for an early-stage company.
With that, Tracey suggests the following tips for startups that do decide to go the SEO route:
- Use longer-tail keywords — For instance, instead of “email marketing,” try “email marketing for automotive industries.”
- Use specific terms with decent volume — Try as low as 100 searches per month.
- Use terms with low difficulty scores — Compute difficulty scores with tools like Ahrefs.
As a rule of thumb, keywords with solid volume and low difficulty are far likelier to rank sooner.
Then, you’ll want to produce high-quality content for those specific terms. Tracey follows many creators on Twitter who are implementing the same playbook:
- Identify key terms.
- Write high-quality, long-form content around them.
- Launch those articles, and promote them.
- Try to get at least 2 to 4 backlinks on each one over the next 3 months (the sooner, and the higher the domain the backlink lives on, the better).
If you’re in an industry with rankable keywords, just start there. Most categories already have SEO-friendly topics to pick from and you plan your content roadmap for the first few months.
2. The Audience-First Approach
Tracey champions the model of human-centered design: building solutions by interviewing users on unique problems, then going back to the drawing board to plan accordingly.
You can apply that same concept to content by conducting targeted audience research. Identify and interview the readers you hope to attract to your blog or site. Tracey recommends:
- Defining your target audience — This’ll likely be your company’s ICP
- Interviewing your audience — Personalize questions as the conversation progresses and figure out what keeps this audience up at night
- Collecting findings — Distill the problems you could solve for these users via content
Ideally, those problems will overlap with low-difficulty, longer-tail keywords.
Overall, her key goals for content in the first couple of months are:
- Shipping 1–2 articles per week with low-difficulty, longer-tail keywords
- Interviewing 50+ users to define common problems your content can solve
This lays the foundation for publishing some of the only content on the Internet that’s explicitly targeted to the specific problems your ICP experiences.
“Share your content with the people you interview. Get them to help promote it, and show them you’re trying to build and write specifically for them.”
Creating Trustworthy and Distributable Partner Content
Tracey admits it’s difficult to put out both high-quality SEO content and partner content.
Because it requires a well-oiled team plus lots of trial and error, a model that integrates the two is typically only feasible once a company is further along on its content journey.
Looking at her own career, the BigCommerce team found their integrated approach only after their Series D, while Klaviyo has just recently started standing up both SEO and partner content.
Regardless, Tracey sees immense value for early-stage companies in plotting partner content across marketing channels — for four reasons:
- It unlocks your network of customers, partners, and investors
- It helps drive distribution through co-amplification
- It supports an audience-first approach to content
- It maximizes the impact of social proof
Low-Lift Ways to Leverage Your Network
Leveraging your network is an easy way to combat subpar organic search distribution.
As mentioned, brand-new sites have low domain rankings; it’ll take a long time before you can hit page one. So, you’ll need a lot of distribution help from partners, investors, and users.
Tracey recommends a monthly questionnaire — sent to influencers, customers, or anyone who could have an opinion on your content — as a low-effort tactic to get your network involved.
Whether you’re a solo founder or a small early-stage team, she stresses that anyone can do this. When writing, pushing, and analyzing these questionnaires, be sure to:
- Keep it short — Keep surveys to a maximum of 10 questions, all of them optional
- Repurpose replies — Read every response and pull notable quotes into your content
- Keep respondents involved — When a piece goes live, reach out to say, “This published piece includes your response. We’re excited to feature you!”
- Make it easy to share — Always tag featured individuals and include links in your emails, i.e., “Here’s the Tweet and LinkedIn post about it. Feel free to share your feature!”
As your content capacities expand, try co-branded pieces, guest posting (aim for two guest posts per month), and more to distribute and raise your domain ranking through backlinks.
Naturally, guest posting is also trickier to juggle since you’ll have to pitch people, write content that’s not 100% your own, and the piece will live on someone else’s site.
“Make the most of your network – these are the people who understand both your and your target audience the most.”