Are You Asking All the Wrong Content Strategy Questions?

Cole Wiebe
November 20, 2014
Read time: 2 minutes

I was on a coaching call about two weeks ago with a real estate agent. She already had a lot of content, but the challenge she faced was that she was falling in the rankings, and fast. She was looking for a content provider who could churn out more content for less. I could immediately see the problem. She was targeting several geographic neighbourhoods on one site, and her content was “all over the map.”

Banging out a higher volume of thin content on the cheap was certainly not going to help. In fact, it would most likely dilute the rankings she'd already earned with somewhat higher quality content. Casting a wider net, to cover even more cities would be SEO suicide. Her content needed focus, not further dilution.

The problem — when you cast your net that wide — is you inevitably catch the small fish you don't want to catch.
- Edward Felten

I explained what content siloing is and how it would help her organize her content more effectively. This would improve the user experience while also helping Google better understand the content hierarchy of her website. I urged her to settle on only 2 or 3 cities... not 10.

Her first question was, “Can you show me case studies of other real estate sites in my area where this is working?” I explained  that I believe it is a conflict of interest to represent more than one client, from the same industry, in the same geographic area because they’re direct competitors. But what I could show her at that time was a local website of a roofing contractor in which the very strategy I was proposing had helped the client gain solid rankings for each of the geographic regions we targeted in the content silo strategy. [Postscript: I have since built 3 real estate websites, in different geographic areas, each successfully targeting multiple cities with this strategy... works exactly as predicted.]

She responded with, “Roofing has nothing to do with real estate. What, you can’t show me 20 or 30 real estate websites around here where what you are proposing is working? Then maybe I would consider it.”

Are you a content leader, or a timid follower?

If we need the validation of a lot of local case studies, we make the decision to become a timid and distant follower; not a leader. The last adopters always eat the scraps. All things being equal, we succeed in our marketing to the degree we differentiate ourselves from our competitors.


Cole Wiebe, content marketing expert, Vancouver, BCCole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.

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10 comments on “Are You Asking All the Wrong Content Strategy Questions?”

  1. Interesting idea Cole. What exactly was this siloing strategy, if you are willing to share it here? are you talking topic silos, with categories as menus, or something more complex? You mentioned geographical targeting, but I a not sure how you achieve this. Interesting to know more, even by email :>

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I'll expand briefly on the problem we're trying to solve, for the benefit of other readers. Local search can be very helpful in promoting small companies, run from a home-based office, that do business in the same community as their Google My Business listing. But it can hurt small companies that have their home office in a smaller rural area, but their customer base is located in several larger metro areas. For example: When someone in Downtown Vancouver has a leaky toilet, and enters "plumbing repair" or "vancouver plumber" into Google, it's not likely a plumber located in neighboring Delta will turn up in the search results, unless they've done a very good job of convincing Google that they in fact do a lot of business in the Downtown Vancouver area.

      There was a time, not so long ago, that all we had to do was add a line in the footer of each page along the lines of, "Proudly serving the Greater Vancouver communities of Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Richmond and Surrey," and the website would turn up in the Google search results for each city. Those were the days...

      Geographic content silos are similar to topic silos, but they isolate content by locale. For the example above, a small plumbing firm would isolate blog posts, evergreen articles, case studies and testimonials that pertained to Burnaby in one silo, those from Coquitlam in another, and so on. Internal linking helps define several unique websites within one. Inbound linking strategies also focus on attracting links that are relevant to the applicable geo-silo.

      WordPress multisite is a brilliant platform for physically creating several sub-sites that can be administered from one dashboard. It's a strategy we've been perfecting over the past 3 years, and it's the best solution to the problem I'm aware of. Each sub-site eventually has its own traffic, subscriber base and mailing list, and tracking. As with many SEO strategies, the solution is simple in concept, but meticulous implementation is required to carry it off successfully. I'm very interested to hear if you've worked around the problem from another angle.

      Best,

      Cole

  2. Hey Cole,

    Now that's interesting although of course it doesn't pertain to what I'm currently doing but I can see why she would have wanted to see results in her own industry.

    On your side of it though I understand why that's a conflict of interest and a big no no. I agree though that she wasn't really asking the right questions but if you're already servicing all the other realtors in her area then she's just going to have to stand in line!

    Interesting and I enjoyed reading your explanation you shared with Ashley. Learned something new today.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      It was frustrating that she couldn't see a bigger picture. As marketers, we love to borrow from other industries. It's a great place to find fresh ideas for standing out. Most of the time, people look to their top 5 competitors, then create their own knock-off version of the very same tired content and presentation.

      Cole

  3. I agree with your points.So if your client is never going to see page one, what are you going to do to get her ranked higher. I found what is hard is having the proper content for the customers and not overdoing it for Google.

    1. Hi Arleen,

      The problem we so often encounter is that small businesses are run from a residential office in a rural "bedroom" community, outside of the city or cities the client is targeting. This real estate agent had her office in one of the represented cities, but was targeting quite a few surrounding regions as well. Her content was quite literally "all over the map." Geographic content silos are similar to topic silos, but they isolate content by locale.

      For our example, the real estate agent would isolate blog posts, evergreen articles, case studies and testimonials that pertained to Burnaby in one silo, those from Coquitlam in another, and so on. Internal linking helps define several unique mini sites within one. Inbound linking strategies also focus on attracting links that are relevant to the applicable geo-silo.

      WordPress multisite is a brilliant platform for physically creating several sub-sites that can be administered from one dashboard. It’s a strategy we’ve been perfecting over the past 3 years, and it’s the best solution to the problem I’m aware of. Each mini site eventually has its own traffic, subscriber base and mailing list, and even tracking.

      Cole

  4. HI Cole,

    I definitely agree with you on this one 100%. This is something that every blog that blogs about "blogging" should read. Everyone thinks it's profitable and that people want to read the content. The problem is that they are too many - and the content is borderline okay. That is the reason we stopped blogging generally about "blogging" and went toward content that is centered on audience engagement and interacting with readers - hopefully we are just 1 among a few.

    1. Hi Amiti,

      I mentioned the courage it takes to break from the pack and be different, but I'm not sure every blogger is even able to create something unique. While almost everyone can be taught to read music and duplicate the work of others, after a fashion, not everyone can compose a brilliant piece new work.

      Cole

  5. Yup, sheep get slaughtered. The content silo approach you suggest works very well. One of our competitors is using it to target multiple geographic regions in the adventure travel industry.

    1. Indeed it does. I have since built WordPress multi-site 'content silo' sites for Realtors in 3 different geographic regions, targeting 2 or 3 different cities apiece. Works like a hot damn.

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