It’s the Hounder marketing team’s secret desire to transfigure ourselves into house flies. Musca domestica. That way, we could use our newfound stealthy fly bodies to spy via The Wall on conference rooms full of master content creators and SEM wizards who work for the most successful companies out there. Companies like, say, HubSpot, one of the highest ranking CRM authorities as far as Google’s all-seeing eye is concerned.
Unfortunately, we haven’t figured out a way to turn into flies yet, so we opted for the next best thing. The Hounder marketing team utilized top-notch SEM software and dove deep into HubSpot’s data & analytics, searching for one complete picture of exactly how good HubSpot is at making content.
Here’s what we found out: HubSpot ranks number one for tens of thousands of CRM-related keywords. Tens of thousands.
We can’t tell you the exact number, but we will say that, in a way, HubSpot makes us feel as if our dream of turning into house flies is coming true. Because they sure do make us feel like a squished little bug when it comes to our own rankings.
The obvious question: How does HubSpot do it?
We studied every corner of HubSpot’s website and uncovered what we believe to be 6 best practices they use to maintain their position as the near-mythical thought leaders of their side of the web.
Here's what we learned:
1. Write about anything and everything the slightest bit related to your expertise
Take a short perusal of HubSpot’s blog section and you’ll find that they’ve pretty much answered any CRM-related question you can think of. From how to craft an abandoned cart follow-up email to simple tasks like how to send large files, HubSpot has written about it in a helpful, and reader-friendly manner, framing them as the leading authority in their industry.
The secret to HubSpot’s prolific and far reaching coverage might have something to do with an assumption we just made in the previous paragraph. I.e., a simple task. HubSpot deems no topic as too obvious to not merit a blog. If they think somebody might query it, they write about it. You should do this too. Plus, what could it hurt? This is the internet. You can always take it down if something doesn’t work.
Why should you do this?
Thought leadership - Tell a lot of different stories to show the public just how knowledgeable you are in your field. The mere fact of your wide breadth of topics will demonstrate the level of authority you have in your field, which will save you from having to write something too horn-tooting like, "Us? We know it all!" The old creative writing mantra: Show (how kickass you are), don’t tell (don’t brag).
SEO - Google seems to like it when you write a lot of quality, readable content. SEO isn’t so much about stuffing blogs full of buzzwords as it is generating content that positions you as worthy of the higher tiers of Google’s search engine results page. Writing good quality content can help with this.
2. Write for the user/reader, not for Google
As mentioned above, HubSpot will write about pretty much anything CRM-related. This is an indication that their content creators aren’t writing content based on what they think Google wants to see. Instead, it seems more likely that they’re getting ahead of the game by writing about topics as the potential necessity for that content occurs to them.
So, as a rule of thumb, always do a keyword check, but if you have an idea you think people will find valuable, then that should be the impetus that gets you to write, not because you think Google will like you better for it. Write about it as best you can and double edit for readability, and hopefully once you’re done you’ll have a good, clean, quality blog.
3. Don’t keyword stuff
One of HubSpot’s top pages ranks for over 500 different keywords. Yes, you read that right. And guess how many times they actually mention those keywords in the text. Not that many times at all, a few of them just one once or twice in the header and footer.
How is this possible? Well, it’s hard to say for sure, but yet again this seems to be a prime example of the fact that what counts is well-written content that people find valuable, not how many times you mention sparkling water in your blog about your favorite sparkling water. We get that you love sparkling water and that you want to show people how much you know about sparkling water, but, unfortunately, just saying sparkling water over and over doesn’t mean your blog will automatically gain sparkling water clout overnight. If you keyword stuff, you’ll sound redundant and kind of funny, and people will likely point at you and laugh.
Still, probably keep writing keywords into your titles and headings, and always gear your blog in the direction of a specific topic. But overall just do your damnedest to write good stuff and hopefully Google thinks so too. Praise Google.
4. Give it all away upfront
Here’s another way of putting what we think HubSpot is up to here: If you can tell your reader everything about your blog before they’ve even scrolled, then do it.
A few ways HubSpot accomplishes this:
Use the eyebrow - Include a parent category and a read time in your page’s supertitle and/or eyebrow. For example: Web Development | 6 Min Read. This tells the reader where they are (in a blog about web development) and how much of a commitment it is to consume the info in full (6 minutes).
Straight-forward title - Just say it the simplest way you can, no need to get poetic about it. And another thing: Don't render your title incoherent just so you can squeeze a keyword in. That's a big no-no right there.
Anchor links - Your reader might be looking for just one specific bit of info you’ve written about in your blog, so it’s always a good move to list each of your subtopics before your first H2 and/or intro, and embed an anchor link so the reader can easily shimmy down to the part where you talk about how HubSpot gives it all away upfront.
CTA/lead magnet for actionable resources - If you’ve got a graphically spectacular and super helpful white paper or reference guide to offer, then give it! Your reader will appreciate it. And put it in that button they see before they even begin to scroll through your precious words. Don’t be afraid to give the goods away—you can always gate it with an email form.
5. Dedicate a snippet to defining a key term
HubSpot never forgets to take a moment to define their topic or other important terms that the reader might not know. Depending on your audience and/or the purpose of the page you’re writing, it’s usually safe to assume that the reader isn’t a complete expert on what you’re writing about, and it might be the case that they’ve come to your page seeking this information.
Why should you do this?
Aside from helping the reader out and boosting your authority as an industry leader, this might also help you land one of Google’s Featured Snippet spaces. If you define keyword research in your blog How Keyword Research Works, then this might boost your authority in Google’s eyes when people search for that term. If you’ve written the best definition of keyword research, then your blog might just get picked for the snippet.
6. Craft nice and neat URL paths
Crafting clean, readable URL paths is an SEO best practice that folks new to the game tend to be surprised about. But yes, your URL matters when it comes to SEO, and HubSpot’s are so well organized and optimized it’s kind of insane.
A few things HubSpot does when writing URL paths:
Brevity - Topic words only. If you can, leave out articles, prepositions, and all other parts of speech that don’t have anything to do with your subject.
Double check your clarity - Brevity can be hard, and you might have left something in that should be out. When writing your URL path, ask yourself whether that next word truly contributes to the page’s overall message. Is that word really a topic word? For example, if the title of your page is a bit wordy, like, Write Content That Ranks: 5 Things HubSpot’s Content Creators Do Better than Anyone Else, then you might cut out a lot of that explanation and go with write-ranking-content.
Nobody likes numbers in their path - If you find that your CMS keeps adding random numbers to your URL, then this might mean that that specific URL path already exists on your site. To clean it up, ensure the path is unique so that your system doesn’t add a mess of numbers to it.
Include your parents - For example, if your SEO service page is seated within your site's larger 'marketing services' umbrella, be sure that it reflects in the URL: /marketing/seo-service. HubSpot has executed this so thoroughly that, well, let’s just say they out rank a lot of folks for marketing—meaning the keyword—and we suspect that their monotonous attention to parent slugs has something to do with this.
That said, the ideal URL for a blog might look something like this: hounder.co/solutions/write-ranking-content