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The ‘Corpus of Content’ Model of SEO

SEO Blog
Corpus Tn

The Corpus of Content model of SEO is an organizing philosophy for an SEO campaign that helps marketers stay focused on their most revenue-generating activities. It’s grounded in the following 3 ideas: 

  • Marketing teams have limited resources for creating and updating content in an SEO campaign
  • Maintaining a “corpus,” or body, of 50-200 strategic and well-targeted website pages yields a higher ROI than spending an equivalent amount of time creating new content ad infinitum
  • Updating existing content is more impactful than creating new content, as Google regards well-written, frequently updated pages as authoritative and promotes them in the search rankings  

Here is an outline of the Corpus of Content process:

  1. Assemble and rank-order your business’s most revenue-driving keywords
  2. Assign each keyword to an existing or new page on your website 
  3. Ensure that every keyword-targeted page on your site satisfies searcher intent 
  4. Track & monitor the conversion rate of each page along your main customer paths
  5. Continuously improve all pages towards their Maximum Value State (MVS)

Assemble and rank-order your business’s most revenue-driving keywords

For every company whose customers search the web, there exists a set of keywords that, if a #1 ranking were achieved for each of them, would deliver the vast majority of online leads available for that business. This set of keywords is likely no fewer than 50 and no more than 200, depending on the variety of terms searchers use to find your product or service. Selecting these keywords is the first step in the process of assembling your “corpus of content” – i.e., the collection of regularly-updated pages on your website that drives significant leads to your business from SEO.

Assembling your business’s most revenue-driving keywords

The exercise of selecting the keywords most likely to drive MQLs to your business begins with assembling an unordered list of keywords. Here are the best keyword sources:

  • Keyword discovery tools. Look for keywords that are low-to-medium volume, medium competition, and highly transactional.
  • Competitors’ websites. Notice the keywords assigned to your competitor sites’ main pages and well-promoted articles.
  • Paid search campaigns. Find the highest-converting keywords.
  • Personal experience. Your team’s conception of the most targeted, transactional keywords in your industry based on what customers are actually asking in sales conversations.  

NOTE: The last two sources are most valuable, as keyword tools over-emphasize high volume keywords and omit the lower volume, highly transactional gems; and competitors aren’t always good at SEO. 

Here are two examples of unordered keyword lists from 2 different industries: DUI Law and Mental Health Treatment Centers. For brevity, we only listed 21 keywords each.

Industry: DUI Law
Industry: Mental Health Treatment Center
dui lawyer dui attorney top dui attorneys mental health treatment center mental health treatment centers mental health facility
dui lawyers dui attorneys best dui lawyers mental health facilities top mental health treatment centers top mental health facilities
dui law firm dui law firms top dui law firms mental health treatment center ca outpatient mental health facility residential mental health facility 
drunk driving lawyer drunk driving attorney dui lawyer nyc inpatient mental health facilities best inpatient mental health facilities Best inpatient mental health facilities ca
dui lawyer ny dui lawyer manhattan dui lawyer brooklyn luxury mental health treatment center luxury mental health treatment center ca long-term mental health facilities
dui lawyer bronx dui lawyer queens dui lawyer staten island mental health treatment center for youth mental health treatment center for adults treatment center for depression
dui help nyc dui arrest ny dui arrest what to do treatment center for eating disorders  mental health treatment center for veterans mental health treatment center lgbtq

Once you have what amounts to a wish list of keywords, you’ll want to whittle them down to a top 50 or 100. You can do that by applying the 4 Keyword Rules, which tests each keyword to ensure the investment of your time, energy, and money will be worthwhile. 

The 4 Keyword Rules
  • It would be typed in by someone who realistically might buy your product or service
  • It autofills in a dropdown list of 10 when you begin to type it into the Google search box
  • It’s not so competitive that your site likely can’t rank for it for 2+ years
  • It’s not already targeted by another page on your site and ranking highly

If you were to apply these rules to the keywords listed above, you’d see some of those keywords eliminated. For example, “dui attorney” would violate rule 3, in that it’s so competitive that most law practices could not hope to rank for it within two years.

When making the determination of how many keywords to include in your list, think of the way potential customers in that industry search. For example, DUI law is an example of an industry where the number of keywords selected can be on the smaller end (e.g. 50) since most prospects – people who recently got a DUI and need an attorney – type in some variety of “dui attorney” + a superlative or location.

In contrast, a mental health treatment center needs to target closer to 100 keywords, as people seeking mental health treatment use a wider variety of keywords in their online searches, including location; in-patient vs outpatient; long term vs short term; demographic (e.g. youth); quality of facility (e.g. luxury); group identity (e.g. veteran); and mental health condition (e.g. depression).  

Rank-ordering your keywords

Once you’ve assembled your keywords into an informal list, the next step is to create a spreadsheet that ranks all your keywords by value to your business. We call this spreadsheet a Keyword Map.

Rank-ordering your keywords is part intuition and part science. You could simply translate the concept of “value” to revenue and use Hubspot or Google Adwords data to tell you which keywords convert customers at the highest rate. Or you could approach the process in a multi-faceted way, considering the many ways ranking for a keyword creates value for your company. For example, a keyword could drive a high number of leads; a high quality of leads (in terms of revenue or profit); or push leads to a new product or service that’s strategically important to your company.

There are also some keywords that don’t connect to revenue directly but increase the company’s thought leadership. For example, on our site, we have an article about the Google algorithm ranking factors that we update every year. I don’t know that it’s ever driven an MQL directly but it’s responsible for 150+ inbound links and lots of traffic and attention over the years. Tangibly, it’s been part of the conversion path of many eventual clients of ours; and intangibly, we consider it part of our foundational thought leadership in the SEO industry. Thus, the keyword “google algorithm ranking factors” has earned a #35 ranking (out of 100) on our Keyword Map.

When using the multi-faceted approach to keyword ranking, you can use a more data-backed approach by listing the different forms of value each keyword can confer and assigning each Value Type a weight and 1-10 score, then sorting by total score. For example, our 4 forms of value might be High Revenue Driving (40% of total algorithm weight); High MQL Driving (20% weight); Promotes New Product (20%); and Boosts Thought Leadership (20%).

Sources to Consult to Determine Keyword Value 
  1. Data on which keywords have led to qualified leads
  2. Data on which keywords have led to the most revenue
  3. Paid search bidding prices
  4. Data on which content receives the most online attention in the form of backlinks, social shares, and email clicks 
  5. Your team’s assessment of which new products or divisions require attention
  6. Your team’s assessment of which subjects your team would like to be known as thought leaders in

A final note on avoiding one type of keyword: If the search intent behind a keyword is to perform basic research, e.g. understanding a concept or getting a brief overview, don’t select that keyword, as in the coming months and years, Google will increasingly rely on automated results from its AI chatbot, Bard. The examples keywords above are all transactional, and if you stick to keywords like that, you’re more likely to generate value from your corpus of content.

Assign each keyword to an existing or new page on your website 

Once assembled, each keyword must be assigned to a page on your website – its “home.” The idea of starting an SEO campaign with an ordered list of revenue-driving keywords and subsequently mapping each one to a new or existing page on your website is unusual; most marketers simply insert keywords into existing pages, which eliminates the crucial step of determining your highest-value keywords in the first place. This change to the standard order of operations in an SEO campaign is the most important insight of the Corpus of Content model. 

Below is a screenshot of our agency’s own Keyword Map; note the “Page Type” column, which is how we denote the style of page to which each keyword is mapped:

Corpus Image 1

There are many different page types to choose from, as shown in the graphic below. The decision of which page to assign to a keyword is determined by the keyword’s search intent – essentially, what kind of experience would make your target audience member most likely to convert?

Corpus Image 2

For example, the keyword “healthcare software development company” has the search intent “I’d like to hire a software company that specializes in the healthcare industry.” Therefore, it maps to an Industry Page, which gives the company an opportunity to speak to how their software company uniquely serves the healthcare industry. 

The plural version of that keyword has the search intent “I’d like to compare software companies that specialize in the healthcare industry” and thus maps to a Comparison Table page, which lists, evaluates, and ranks software companies that specialize in serving healthcare businesses. 

Nearly every search intent matches well with one of the above 10 page types. 

Ensure that Every Keyword-Targeted Page on Your Site Satisfies Searcher Intent 

Once you’ve assigned each of your keywords to a page type, your job is to ensure that the page that targets the keyword is the most satisfying one online for the keyword’s search intent. Below are ways to ensure that each of the above page types satisfies searcher intent:

Blog Article Industry Page Comparison Page
  • At top, 3 bullet summary along with estimated read time
  • Brief, to-the-point intro with no fluff
  • Table, chart or graph that gives main value of the piece
  • Bold headings for each section
  • Brief headline about how you serve customers in that industry
  • Logos of customers in that industry
  • Graph showing results over time for companies in that space
  • Case study in that industry
  • Comparison table early in the piece containing companies/products being compared on the Y axis and features on the X axis
  • Original ranking/scoring criteria that offers a succinct analysis of each item in table
  • Editorial summary of each item below the table
  • Related “top 5” mini-lists for related specialties
Product/Service Page About Page Review Page
  • Headline that offers value proposition followed by shorter headline that expands upon it
  • Case study or testimonial with original photography
  • Logos of customers or awards
  • Visual breakdown of process using icons and white space
  • Brief history of the company, grounding it in a mission and purpose
  • Pictures of employees and office
  • Mentions or logos of customers
  • Full address to connect visitors with a real location
  • Credibility statement that describes the review process and sources
  • Table that summarizes key findings
  • Table that contains specialties, use cases, or industries, and reviews the product from the POV of each
  • Editorialized final takeaway
White Paper Trend Report Use Case Page
  • Summary of key takeaways on first page
  • Original research or at least original organization of existing research
  • 2-3 high-value charts throughout the piece
  • Analysis of the topic through the lens of 2-3 target audience members’ industries or use cases
  • Key trends summarized at top in clickable Table of Contents
  • Section for each trend that contains both a description and recommendation for how to capitalize on it
  • Graphs in some or all sections that tell the story of the trend in an original way
  • Listing of key opinion leaders for each trend
  • Headline summarizing how your product or service is a perfect fit for the use case
  • Icons or bullets listing the problems your target audience is facing and the ways your product addresses each one
  • Logos of companies, awards, or accreditations relevant to the target audience

While some pages on your site might already do a good job of satisfying the assigned keyword’s search intent, others won’t. Sometimes redoing a page from scratch is less work than editing an existing page. In most cases, creating the Keyword Map reveals that many new pages need to be created in order to deeply satisfy the searcher.

Track & monitor the conversion rate of each page along your main customer paths

Customer paths are the series of pages visitors travel through on your website on their path to buying. There are usually a handful of generalized paths users take on their way to conversion. For example, a popular path for service businesses that do SEO campaigns looks like this.

Corpus Image 3

By tracking the pages using Google Analytics 4’s Funnel Exploration tool, you can see the percentage of visitors that make it through each step. With that knowledge, you can identify pages that aren’t converting as well as they should. 

For example, in the above funnel visualization, the conversion rate between the Service and About pages is at 9%, which is low. This insight would compel you to inspect the Service page looking for conversion improvements. Perhaps the page isn’t resonating with your target audience, or is too long, or sounds too expensive. Just knowing that there’s a problem is valuable whether or not you find the perfect solution right away. 

To improve conversion, you can run a split test on the page, which can be executed with the same Funnel Exploration tool in Google Analytics. Create 2 or 3 versions of the page and see which one has the highest conversion rate. This level of effort is a trait of high performing marketers.

Continuously improve all pages towards their Maximum Value State 

The Maximum Value State (MVS) of a page is an ideal: rarely achieved but always the goal. An MVS page in an SEO campaign exhibits a combination of traits:

  • Anticipates the question inherent in the target audience’s search, and restates it
  • Satisfies the visitor’s curiosity so fully that there isn’t a need for them to return to the search results
  • Maintains the visitor’s interest by including one graphical element – such as bullet points, bold sections, tables, charts, or other graphics – per page “scroll”

You know a page has reached its MVS when it achieves the following:

  1. Ranks #1 for its keyword
  2. Has a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.5%+

Getting a page to MVS means following the above 3 bullet points, then iterating for months afterwards. As the information on the page settles in its creators’ minds and fresh ideas arise – and as new information on the subject becomes available – it can make sense to update the page every 1-3 months. Not only does updating the page that frequently allow you to keep making it better, it also signals to Google that the page is authoritative. When well-written, engaging pages are not just updated, but republished with substantive changes frequently, Google offers them the highest ranking available within their link popularity tier.

Getting Help

Our agency is available to do everything described above, from strategy to keyword selection to all of the content writing. We’ve been performing customer acquisition and SEO for 15 years, and our ability to execute on the Corpus of Content strategy is the culmination of our work as a marketing agency.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact us.

Evan Bailyn

Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.