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BrightonSEO: Marcus Tober – Why SEO and Content Marketing must always be data-driven

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

“Nowadays, if you create content as an SEO or content marketer, it needs to be data-driven”

That’s the statement Marcus Tober used when he kicked off his talking at during April 2017’s BrightonSEO.  He demanded that, above everything, content needs to explore user intent as well as seek out online success and new possibilities for achieving revenue success. His presentation, inspired by Star Trek, promises to go where “no SEO has ever gone before!”


Problem 1 – how do I research topics and create a guide for writers?

Marcus admitted that all SEOs love data and their tools. And at the forefront of content writing tools is, quite obviously, Microsoft Word. He went on to mention how Microsoft Word is lots of effort for writers to use, is expensive and of course, isn’t measurable. Apparently, from a survey conducted by SearchMetrics, the most frequent feature used on Microsoft Word is their spell checker and Word Count functionality.

Again, he proposed the question; as content marketers, why don’t we use data to inform content?

Further tools used by content marketers that actually give data are Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console, Screaming Frog and Ubersuggest Keyword Tools. Amongst these, another popular option is Answer the Public which is a tool that uses the Google Suggest API to scrape long-tail content. Mentioned several times before in the Impression blog, while this is an ideal tool to find the talking points your audience are searching for, it does output some distracting and irrelevant keywords.


Problem 2: How do I create relevant content that fits user intention?

As an alternative to Answer the public, Marcus suggested Searchmetrics’ own Content Experience. Similar to Moz’s Keyword Explorer, the tool provides a more sophisticated and filtered approach to mining longer tailed content. The tool displays topics into a flow diagram with the keywords clustered by semantic proximity.

In addition to this, the tool also gives your content a “content score” – this is dependent on the user intent around your selected keyword(s). This is an important consideration as Marcus showed several case studies that suggested how content relevance is indeed a ranking factor.

Keyword intent has a direct correlation with the conversion funnel. Marcus explained how content needs to adhere to the typical conversion funnel, from awareness and consideration to transaction and consideration thereafter.

As we progress down the conversion funnel, search volume gets narrower and more defined with a clearer intent. While we get more conversion-focused content nearer the bottom of the funnel, with category and product pages, for example, we get more informational content nearer the top. Marcus believes it’s this informational content in the “awareness phase” where larger retailers fall short, giving the example of Tesco.


Problem 3: Just publish everything, then forget about it?

As SEOs, Marcus described how we’re guilty of a content paradigm, where we’re as quick to abandon content as we are to publish it. He revealed that the global budget for digital content was $145billion in 2015, meaning approximately $116billion is wasted every year (80%) by simply forgetting about our content. By forgetting, Marcus means content considerations like updating out content, as well as continuing to optimise it and promote it.

Marcus also questioned whether the sheer size of your content on-site should matter? He gave the example of where, despite having millions of pages worth of content on their website, kitchn took them over last year in terms of SEO visibility.

Finally, Marcus proposed a two-folded approach for better website content. Firstly, content marketers need to specialise in terms of the content they produce. harking back to the case study whereby publishing everything and anything doesn’t necessarily mean your SEO visibility will benefit. From there, content marketers need to clean up. Here, he gave the example of german site, who, by removing 95% of their content, were able to fully concentrate and improve on the 5% of content that remained. This approach of removing content and focusing on what’s left resulted in a massive increase of SEO visibility for the aforementioned German brand.

Once you specialise and clean up your content, Marcus suggested updating your content as the final piece of the puzzle for your content strategy. Marcus explained how it’s critical to keep your content user-friendly and how it needs to be industry-specific, suggesting how different audiences have different needs.


The remainder of Marcus’s presentation focused on how each industry has their own specific ranking factors, for example, half of all ranking pages (50%) within the finance sector utilise https://, more so than any other industry researched by Searchmetrics.

Marcus’ full presentation can be found here.