Content Crafters is an interview series where we de-construct the tools, tips, and tactics that top bloggers use to get so much work done. you’ll walk away in mere minutes with actionable takeaways you can try out right away. Let’s dive in! 

Kelsey Reaves is currently the Director of Growth at Organic Growth Marketing, where she works with B2B SaaS companies to help build out and execute their content and SEO strategy.

Before that, she worked on SEO at both Modernize and TrustRadius.

Kelsey is a full stack growth marketer, helping to bring inbound strategies together to drive more organic traffic and conversions to websites.

In this interview, we’ll talk about how to create better content, why optimization is underrated, and how to keep your skills sharp. We’ll also cover some of her passionate projects of the moment.

You can find Kelsey on LinkedIn here or contact Organic Growth Marketing here.

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How did you get into content marketing? What’s your origin story?

From going broke while traveling.

I was exploring Australia after graduation and worked at a pizza place to fund my travels. Apparently a thick American accent + a thick Australian accent = wrong pizza orders. So as soon a I was fired, I figured it was time to head back to the States and get a “big girl job.”

I ended up getting my first job as an SEO Associate at a home remodeling startup in Austin. That’s where I started learning how to create content that’s engaging and can rank well.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked at different Austin-based startups, and eventually found myself at Organic Growth Marketing, where I work with B2B SaaS companies to build out and execute their SEO strategy.

Is there anything particular to your background, personality or skill set that you believe makes you a great content marketer?

I like to approach every content project with a beginner’s mindset. It’s so easy to find a formula that works, get into a rhythm and start pumping out content that’s a carbon copy of other pieces. That may work for a period of time, but it’s not sustainable in a world of changing Google algorithms — and that’s boring.

Whenever I’m tasked with a new content brief for a client, I always ask myself two questions:

  • What can I do differently that I haven’t done before?
  • What can I get away with?

The first question obviously opens me up to being creative in a new way and the second question takes the pressure off and makes it fun. If it works, hell yeah. If it doesn’t, well at least I know that for next time, and it’s on to the next content idea.

How do you craft a piece of content that stands out in a crowded space (like B2B SaaS)?

I think it comes down to three things:

  1. Following SEO best practices
  2. Making content easy to digest
  3. Being authentic

When it comes to following SEO best practices, I’m always surprised at how many companies miss this one. Fundamental things, like having the proper heading structure (H2s, H3s, etc.) or adding internal links once an article is published is often missed. And it’s so, so important.

You also want to create an article that’s easy for a reader (and a crawler) to digest. For example, including a table of contents that allows readers to quickly jump to the section they want to read is a good solution for long-form content. We tested this with Intercom’s latest blog articles and saw a lift in rankings:

Screen Shot 2019 09 27 at 2.28.14 PM

We’ve also seen a lot of success with grouping content into “content hubs.” Rather than creating one-off blog posts, Hotjar combines different components of topic groups into a single hub that houses and links out to related pages. So when a user is looking to learn about website analysis, for example, they can easily navigate to other articles they’re most likely looking to read next, such as a checklist for their analysis and the recommended tools for doing it.

Screen Shot 2019 09 27 at 2.33.38 PM

Finally, content needs to be authentic. We recently created an article for our client, Lifesize, that lists the top 5 free video conferencing tools. We could’ve easily listed out all the great qualities of their new product, Lifesize Go, and left it at that. Instead, we decided to be transparent about the additional considerations for the product and how it could be improved.

To date, this article continues to be one of their top performing pieces.

What’s the most undervalued piece of the content marketing puzzle? I.e. what should marketers spend more time/resources on (including the piece of content itself, the promotion process, editing, measuring KPIs, optimizing, etc.)?

Optimization, optimization, optimization. Hitting publish on a new article is the first step, and unfortunately for a lot of companies, it’s the last.

As soon as new article is published on one of our client’s sites, it goes straight into our post-pub process where we track the primary keyword and secondary keywords. A week or two after an article is published, we’ll hop onto Google Search Console to see how it’s performing and make optimizations as we see fit. Here are things we look at:

  • Opportunities for featured snippets: Are we close to ranking for a snippet? If so, we’ll try tweaking the wording so we can snag it.
  • Subtopics: Do we need to add more subtopics to help us rank? To do this, we use semantic keyword tools like Clearscope.io to help us determine what subtopics we need to add to the article.
  • Title tags/H1s: Do we need to optimize title tags and H1s? We’ll try tweaking title tags for increased CTR, and add secondary keywords to H1s to help improve rankings.
  • Backlinks: Does competing content have more backlinks than us? If so, we’ll add this article to our priority list and our outreach team will focus on building links to it.

How do you keep your skills sharp and continue learning? What’s your process for continual improvement with regard to writing, content marketing, SEO, or other digital topics?

Slack group and plenty of podcasts. In our internal OG Marketing Slack, we have a thread solely dedicated for sharing cool and interesting reads. I recommend either setting one up with your team, or joining one of the hundreds of marketing slack groups out there.

Podcasts are also my jam. I’ve found tons of hidden gems from these podcasts:

What’s your advice for an ambitious junior content marketer looking to grow their career?

Reach out to people and see if they would be interested in knowledge sharing. As our founder at OG Marketing always tells me, “good things happen when you just talk to people.”

When I was first starting out, I thought I had to offer up something for free in return for someone to even talk to me.

But that’s not the case at all.

People are interested in learning something they don’t know. And if you have something interesting to share (and there’s a 100% chance you do), others will want to hear about it. Hell, even if it’s the latest meme, I always find those relevant (and they keep me feeling young), so don’t ever doubt you have something important to share.

Simple coffee dates like these to knowledge share has led me to freelance gigs, lifelong friends and even new jobs. I guarantee something awesome will come out of them for you, too.

If you weren’t doing content marketing, what would you be doing?

I’m lucky enough to be doing exactly what I want to be doing — getting to travel the world and work at the same time. My goal this year is to expand my content marketing skills and bring them into the sustainable travel space, something I’m super passionate about. I’m currently living as a nomad and created a blog detailing how to travel sustainably and create a capsule wardrobe of ~40 pieces that you can mix and match.

If I would’ve told recently fired pizza-making Kelsey that this is where you would be today, I would’ve laughed. And I have content marketing to thank for it!

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