Even in the face of the proliferation of podcasts, video, and interactive content, Brian Dean is still a fan of the good old blog post.

Why? Its influence has the kind of longevity and durability that viral video clips can only dream of. It's also self-contained and hosted on your own site, which means your audience doesn't have to overcome the reluctance of leaving YouTube or Facebook to get there.

On blog posts, quality reigns, Brian says.

Skyscrapers, pillar pages... they're all the same thing. "Creating a piece of cornerstone content on your site...has a special name because it's kind of impossible to do that with everything you publish," he says. "Pick your battles."

And most of those battles should involve an SEO traffic suite, Google's "People Also Ask" feature, and tools such as Answer the Public.

Brian's further wisdom focuses on getting your content in front of the people who are already looking for it. "What do people search for when they're not searching for what you sell?" he says.

Paying attention to where your people hang out is as good as reverse-engineering content that converts.

Check out the video for more advice and tactics:

Make sure you don't miss any future episodes: Subscribe to the Marketing Smarts Live Show on YouTube. And to catch up on all previous episodes, check out the full playlist on YouTube.


Episode Details, Guest Information, and Referenced Links

Episode No. 9

Guest's social media profiles:

MarketingProfs resources referenced in the show:

"In B2B News" article referenced in the show:


Full Transcript | Marketing Smarts Live Show Episode 9 | Generate High-Quality Traffic That Turns Into Leads and Sales

This transcript is machine-generated. It's been only minimally edited by humans.

George B. Thomas Hello to all My Marketing Smarts Live viewers. Today I'm super excited to bring you episode nine of The Marketing Smarts Live Show on a topic that B2B marketers have to get right, have to leverage for growth, and might I say, is the foundation of what we do as digital B2B marketers today in this space.

Are we doing it right? Or better question, are we doing it the best that we can? Hey, I'm your boy George B. Thomas, speaker, trainer, catalyst, and host of this Here show the Marketing Smarts--on YouTube and LinkedIn--Live show as well as the Marketing Smarts podcast found on your favorite podcast app. Hello.

Hello to you that are with me. I see you in the chat pane. Thank you. Today's topic is how to generate high quality traffic that turns into leads and sales, and of course, Whatever tips, trick strategies, or best practices that hit my brain along our fantastic join journey. You know how I work. I just will start coming up with stuff and spinning it out.

Now, our guest clips today are brought to you by none other than Brian Dean. That's right. Brian Dean is going to be our guest clips and Brian Dean's work has been featured in Inc., Fast Company, Entrepreneur, US News and World Report, Success Magazine, Vox, Forbes. I could keep on going--the next web, HuffPost Everywhere.

He's the founder of Backlinko, which by the way was acquired by Semrush, and the co-founder of Now Exploding Topic. Remember, these clips of Brian today are pulled from the full Marketing Smarts podcast episode, and if you wanna listen to the full interview with Brian and myself, make sure to tune in to the Marketing Smarts Podcast. Link to the full show will be in the description below after this live show ends. That's right, all the links in all the right places, at all the right times. Also, thanks to Superside for sponsoring the podcast episode. Make sure you click and watch that bad boy; there is some great information. These are just a few nuggets that I've pulled into today's show.

So question: As marketers, we have a lot of metrics we have to pay attention to. When we create content, those metrics become even more robust. The more content we create, the more actions, tactics, strategies that we try to do. And however, Is there one metric that many of us marketers are forgetting about or not thinking about, and is it getting lost in the force of other information that we need to pay attention to?

I have to ask, how much do you pay attention to the sale? As a marketer, that's right. The end of the story. Some might say, how much are you paying attention to the sale as you're working on the content, as you're doing the tactics and strategies of a B2B marketer. Heck, should we even be thinking about it?

I think we should. But I wanted to get Brian's thoughts on should marketers think about the sale when creating the content. And implementing this information, these strategies and tactics that we use on a daily basis. So what did Brian have to say? Let's take a look.

Brian Dean: I would say most marketers probably don't focus enough on the sale. The reason for that is just as marketers there are so many other numbers to keep in mind, so many metrics. You have impressions, likes, followers, leads, email subscribers, open rate, click through rate. There's a million metrics to keep in mind and to try to juggle, and it can be difficult to understand how they actually connect to sales.

On the other hand, if you don't pay attention to sales and you only pay attention to these vanity metrics, then it's going to be difficult to actually get any business results from all of the marketing that you're doing.

But on the other hand, if you just focus on sales, you're going to miss out on a lot of sales, ironically, because a lot of this marketing is brand awareness, bringing people to your site, getting people into your sales cycle. Maybe they convert six months down the road, but they're not going to show up on any analytics. They're not going to show up in your Google Analytics to say they visited this page, signed up as a lead, and converted into a sale. Some will, but many won't.

In fact, if you look at numbers in B2B especially, it can take six to 12 months for someone to actually convert, and by that time cookies have expired and analytics don't track that kind of stuff. They're on their phone, then they're on their browser, then they're at work, it's very difficult to track that stuff.

I would say, yes, you should have sales, I wouldn't say at the front of your mind, but definitely in the back of your mind as you do your marketing.

George B. Thomas So did you hear what I heard?

As you do your marketing, the sale and the sales process should be in the back of your mind. As marketers, we need to be able to pay attention to the upstream and downstream effects of what we are doing. Even when it's pertaining to our content creation or when content creation comes into play with generating quality traffic and quality leads.

Now we'll get back to Brian and his thoughts on B2B marketing content quality leads and more. But I have to ask, Are you part of the marketing process community? If not, become part of the MarketingProfs community for free, by the way, by heading over to mprofs.com/mptoday. That's mprofs.com/mptoday.

Now it's time for In the B2B News, where we talk about breaking B2B news or really important tips we find on Google News tab related to you and your B2B business. Today's In the News section. It's a shock. The Ultimate Guide to TikTok for B2B Marketers. Now, stick with me for a second. That's right. This might be a major sign that things they are a changing because I did search B2B marketing in Google News and this article came up.

If you've not had the chance to check out the episode where I talked with Wave Wild about TikTok, make sure you do that after this show and then check out this ultimate guide. In this guide you'll read about things like, why use TikTok for B2B marketing? It's still blowing my mind, even just saying this.

Right now, the fact that this is what I found for research, why use TikTok for B2B marketing tips for winning at b2b? TikTok marketing content, or connect with your B2B audience on TikTok. And TikTok frequently asked questions. This guide is 2,684 words that might just make you go, Hmm.

But it'll make you go, hmm, on your next B2B marketing content or campaign strategy. Or to be completely honest with you, maybe not. I don't know. Totally up to you, but that's the guide. So let's get back to Brian and his Marketing Smarts podcast episode.

I wanted to dive into Brian's brain and ask him about creating content that generates quality traffic. That then leads into quality leads. Like how do we create that type of content and how do we get it found at the same time? What do we need to be doing? What should we be thinking about? There's about a bazillion and one questions that we could be asking, but pertaining to that question of creating this content that generates the right quality traffic, and quality leads, this is what Brian had to say.

Brian Dean: I think some people put the cart before the horse when it comes to creating content designed for leads. A lot of people will create thought leadership content or whitepapers. Not to say these are formats that are bad. The problem is if your prospect reads this thought leadership content and it's really good, they're more likely to become a customer because they're going to see you as an expert, or they're more likely to take the action that you want them to take, like actually sign up for a lead or fill in more information if they're already in your CRM.

The challenge is if you create it and no one sees it, it doesn't really do any good. I think the emphasis should be on figuring out where these people hang out online, and specifically what they search for online, and how you can get in front of them with any content, whether it's a podcast like this, a YouTube video, an info graphic, a blog post, a whitepaper, an e-book. The important thing is to understand where these people are online so that you can get in front of them. It's kind of like the old advertising adage, it doesn't matter how good your ad is, if you're selling dog treats to people that don't have dogs, it's not going to convert. You could have the best dog treat ad ever, but if you try to get it in front of people that don't own a dog, it's not going to convert.

It's the same idea here. You can create the best content in your niche that has ever existed, but if it doesn't get in front of people who are your ideal customers, it's not going to do anything for you. For me, the first step is finding these things that they search for online, even if it's not just searching for your product or service, just what they tend to search for online, and using content as a way to get in front of them.

George B. Thomas So are you currently selling dog food to cat owners or people who have aquariums and no dogs? Anyway, that was some great information, but it immediately shot my brain in the direction--to a secondary question, What the heck is the best type of content to create to generate this quality traffic that generates quality leads?

Should we be focused on videos because those have been hot, like everybody's talking about: do video, do video. Should we be creating podcasts? Because you know, you wanna have people be able to take you with them and put 'em in your ear. And anyway, it just led me to a lot of questions of what is the best direction to go when you're creating this content for traffic and lead generation, and it's interesting, somewhat surprising, but maybe not, what Brian had to say about that.

You wanna hear it? Let's hear it.

Brian Dean: The blog post. Nothing beats the old blog post, in my experience. It seems so simple and kind of antiquated at this point when we have TikTok and podcasts, but the reason the blog post tends to be the best format for most companies is because it just has a certain durability to it that can last for years. You can create a piece of content that will get people reading it for years, and you can always update it.

Plus, it's really easy to turn that reader into a lead, or at least a subscriber that you can turn into a lead and then a sale down the road, because you can have all the calls to action on that page and you own the platform. As opposed to a YouTube video, which has the power of being video where it's dynamic and people are watching you, and it's a powerful medium, but to get someone to leave YouTube to go to your site is tricky. Or a podcast, great format for teaching and for people on the go, but right now if someone is at the supermarket checkout line and we're like now you need to do this, it's difficult sometimes for them to do that.

So, the reason I like the blog post is just because it's a format that once you publish it and keep it updated, it can bring in traffic for years. Also, it tends to convert a little bit higher, in my experience, than some other content formats.

George B. Thomas So did you like the setup there? I love that it just came in with the blog post and it got my brain thinking while some things are changing, i.e. TikTok was our actual Marketing Smarts In the News section.

Some things stay the same, but you have to take a look at your blog articles or have you taken a look at your blog articles lately? Are they optimized? Are you updating them? Are you making sure they're the best resource for what you do? Because if it is the blog, then are we spending the time and coming back and spending more time for that valuable resource?

Or is there a way you can use your blog content in a happy mix with your videos or podcast content if you're not doing so right now? Maybe the answer is yes. The answer is yes, but only if you start asking yourself and your team this question, Is it possible? Is it possible that we could make the content better?

Is it possible that we could mix the content together? Is it possible that we could create some collaborative content to plug into? By the way, speaking of collaborative content, if you haven't listened to the episode with Andy Crestodina on collaborative content, you should do that now again.

We'll get back to Brian in a few minutes where we dive into the question, where does pillar page or skyscraper style content fit into the generate quality traffic and leads conversation?

But first, it's time for some dope B2B learnings from the vault of MarketingProfs articles. That's right, it's time to dig into the treasure trove of valuable information and pull out two pieces of gold to help you be a better B2B marketer. Now, since we're talking about traffic and leads and all that good stuff.

Of course. And that's where my brain went. So Article one this week is Five Ways to Get Keyword Ideas for your Website: A Beginner's Guide, by Daniel Brunell, and hopefully Daniel, I said your last name correctly. In this article, you'll start to take a journey into brainstorming keyword tools, Google, and much, much more when it comes to keyword ideas for your website. Bonus tip, you may not be paying attention to tip number five. I'm just saying, just saying.

Article number two for this week's episode is Three SEO Trends. Marketers Need to Know in 2022 by Tom Capper. I love, love, love how this article starts off. SEO is a vital marketing channel for modern businesses. For other marketing efforts to reap dividends, users need to be able to find you. Yes. Didn't Brian Dean just talk about like, Hey, if you're settling dog food, or if you have the best resource and nobody can find it, and all those good things anyway, users need to be able to find you or at least see you in their list of options.

Good SEO practices. Give that visibility by making website rank high on search. Enter results pages. Like Brian said, in one of the clips, you can have the best content around, but if no one can find it, well marketing's kind of dead in the water.

Now, to learn more after the broadcast and to read both articles in full, head to the links located in the description below. That's right people, all the right links in all the right places, at just the right time, which is not now, because I don't want you to click away and actually go start reading things. When you should be paying attention to the rest of this Marketing Smarts YouTube Live show now.

Back to Brian. We've covered a ton of ground pertaining to SEO and creating content that generates quality traffic, that then leads into quality leads. One thing I love, and to be honest, I'm pretty bullish on is great pillar page content. Personally bullish on pillar page content. Just love the concept. Got a lot of thoughts around it. So since I was sitting with the one, the only, the man, the legend, Brian Dean, I had to ask him what--since he brought up blog articles-does pillar page or skyscraper style content play in our conversation?

Not only that though, how can we make pillar page content that knocks it out the park and around skyscraper content is what he calls it. Pillar page content, which is what I call it. Doesn't matter what you call it. This is what Brian had to say. And by the way, if there was a rewind in live video, this might be the rewind point.

Brian Dean: The thing to keep in mind when you're creating skyscraper content, pillar content, like you said, there's a million names for it but it's all more or less the same thing, which is creating a piece of cornerstone content on your site that is by far above and beyond the best out there. The reason that has a special name is because it's kind of impossible to do that for everything that you publish. You sort of want to pick your battles with these.

Usually, when you're just starting out or you don't have a lot of traction with SEO yet, I would recommend picking lower competition keywords, a low competition topic that is maybe newer, a little bit trendy, that hasn't been saturated yet, and creating the best-in-class on that. Maybe it doesn't have a million people searching for it per month, but it can get you going. If it's really that much better than everything else out there, then it does have a good chance to rank in Google eventually.

The key with the skyscraper content or pillar pages is really to look at the current landscape of what people have already written on that topic. It could also be a podcast to record, a video on YouTube or whatever, but it's mostly related to blog content. Getting a feel for the landscape of what's already ranking, what's already done well, and how you can create something that is significantly better than what's out there.

There's a couple of ways to do it. You can create more up to date content. Say you look at the landscape of content and it's all out of date, you're looking at how to do something and all of the content is from 2018. You can go back and create something that is similar but more up to date. Up to date screenshots, up to date steps. Maybe it refers to a tool that no longer exists, you can create something there.

You can create something that is visually better. Content isn't just written, even in a blog post. It can have graphics, info graphics, charts, visuals, just to spice it up a little bit and to make the content easier to digest for someone that is reading it.

It can be written by an expert. You'd be surprised how much content on the web is written by people that don't have firsthand experience with that topic. You can go and create something that is written by an expert. Maybe you're the expert, you can hire an expert, maybe you work with an expert or know an expert that can be the person that writes this content, or at least contributes to the content in a way that adds that level of expertise that's not out there.

And there are a million other things. You could look at something and say this content is good, but it could use this, and that's where the skyscraper comes in and that's where you can add what is missing.

George B. Thomas Did you happen to catch the plethora of ways that you can make your pillar page content better than your competition? Do you see a way to use pillar pages, blog articles, and other rich media types to generate quality traffic and leads? I hope you're starting to connect the dots. Remember, these clips are only a small portion of the conversation I had with Brian around this topic. Make sure to check out the full interview on your favorite podcast app.

So one of my favorite portions of the original podcast episodes and of this is bringing people wisdom. So let's kick it back to Brian and some words of wisdom around this topic of how to generate high quality traffic that turns into leads and sales, and it is a doozy. Here is what Brian left us with.

Brian Dean: The number one thing, I would say the most important thing, is to understand what your customers are looking for online when they're not looking for what you sell. In your space, you're going to know all of the ways that people search for your product or service. It's usually pretty straightforward. If you sell business coaching, people are searching for business coaching and variations around that. Using some of the tools and tactics that I went over on this podcast, you can find some hidden gems in there, but for the most part they're going to be saturated.

The real gold when it comes to creating content that drives quality traffic is figuring out terms that people search for when they're not searching for what you sell. It's your perfect customer in every way. Usually, in the course of their life, they're going to search for millions and millions of things, they're going to search for your product one or two times. It's kind of high pressure to be able to think that you have to be in front of them those one or two times to have a chance to convert, versus all those other times that you have a chance to get in front of them. They can sign up for your newsletter, maybe they can become a lead. The key is understanding it.

To give you a real life example from my startup Exploding Topics, people are searching for trend software and trend analysis. Those are the straightforward. What's not so straightforward is that because our target customers are VCs, they're also searching for startups, electric vehicle startups, SaaS startups, B-to-B startups. So, we created all these lists of startups to get in front of them.

Even though at that time they're not searching for trends whatsoever, we're still getting in front of the right type of person, getting them on the email list, and then down the road because we're sending them valuable content via email, they're likely to covert. We get 100 times more leads and traffic from those than we do from the content that is specifically targeting those keywords where people are searching for exactly what we do.

George B. Thomas What your customers are looking for when they're not looking to purchase from you. Come on. I mean, figuring out the terms they search for when they are not ready to spend money with you and use those terms to get in front of them. To be a friend, to add value, to become might, I dare say, trust. Great words of wisdom.

Hey, have you enjoyed today's journey? Let us know. Use that hashtag #mpb2b. Head to the description below. Click on the link to the Full Marketing Smarts podcast with Brian Dean, and keep on learning more about generating quality traffic and leads.

Remember, these were just a few clips of the original Marketing Smarts interview that, by the way, was sponsored by Superside. If you got value out of today's show, hit that like and better yet, share it with a friend. To keep learning more, hit that subscribe or watch additional marketing Prof videos, or go tune in to the original Marketing Smarts podcast episode on your favorite podcast app. Now, don't forget to become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to mprofs.com/mptoday.

And as always, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. And we'll see you in the next Marketing Smarts Live show next week. Enjoy and be good to yourself.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at georgebthomas.com. He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas