Heather Rist Murphy and Katie Pennell Tweedy Interview: Win in the Evolving Search World

Our April monthly event, “Win in the Evolving Search World”, will feature two thought leaders on content from Nina Hale.

Heather Rist Murphy, VP of Performance Content and Social Media, and Katie Pennell Tweedy, Senior Performance Content & SEO Manager, will present their take on the current landscape of content and SEO, sharing how they leverage data and insights to invigorate content creation that aligns with consumer journeys.

MIMA had the opportunity to seat down with Heather and Katie to gather their thoughts ahead of their powerful presentation.

MIMA- It seems that the word “content” has been overused, becoming this buzz word that does not say much anymore. What are your thoughts?

Heather– Unfortunately, there used to be this mentality that content is king, sort of a “build it and they will come” approach. But the evolution of technology has proven that there is more to that.

Google’s capabilities have drastically evolved, resulting in a landscape where ranking factors are based on relevant content.

When you think about content, you should focus on the opportunity to relate to the audience that will be consuming it. This is where data and insights are crucial to understand consumer needs and preferences. It allows you to tailor your content, so it is more relatable.

Katie– Before this evolution, content creators were publishing at a neck-breaking speed. Now we have data at our disposal that can be used to refine what we create for the consumer.

It used to be “more is more,” but in today’s search landscape it’s evolved to “quality is more.” Depending on the situation, it might be the same amount of content but sliced and packaged in a way that resonates with specific audiences.

You should still spend critical time in ideation, but now you can validate brainstorming ideas with data to guide the content creation.

MIMA- You sort of alluded to this, but how does the concept of segmentation come into play?

Heather– There is no secret sauce to segmentation. It is a concept that can quickly become super technical and take time to get to the ideal state.

However, segmentation starts at understanding how users are engaging with specific content or experiences, grouping them based on that engagement and using that information to talk to them differently along their journey.

Katie– Segmentation helps marketers understand their target audiences. Once you better understand audience segments, marketers can better guide them through their optimal consumer journey. This is where the “not-so-sexy” work of SEO comes into play, like internal linking. Internal linking is a foundational strategy that helps marketers arrange the site ecosystem in a way that tries to solve consumer pain points and guide consumers to the desired end result.

MIMA- Because “content is king’, there seems to be a proliferation of entities that “specialize” in its creation. What are agencies doing to set themselves apart?

Heather– It’s important to create content not just for the sake of creating content. Marketers need to spend ample time in the planning stage, structuring content creation to support consumer journey and business goals.

MIMA- Earlier in the interview you alluded to some parts of content creation that might not be sexy. What is your advice to those individuals who are accountable for those areas?

Katie– When discussing career opportunities, I always share how much I enjoy those un-sexy parts of a content creation. As an example, while data analysis can be tedious, it is helping you become a better storyteller. It is hard to argue with facts, and that is what data and insights arm you with.

Heather– To be successful you need to think about data first and understand how it guides you throughout the process. My frustration with some webinars is that you are told “give your audience what they want” but the tricky, more involved part, is to really get at that through data analysis, get the facts, and do the research.

Obviously, marketers (agency and client-side) are the champions of their brand. But data gives you an understanding of what is happening outside internal walls. This provides an opportunity to challenge what is the norm, and gives you data points to test the new and exciting.

MIMA- Interesting point. How do you provide data to challenge assumptions?

Heather– When providing recommendations, it’s important to highlight the sources, data and insights that back them up. Of course part of the biggest portion of the recommendation, is seeing that data and knowing what to do with it. That is where experience comes in. The story telling with data is somewhat of an art, backed by science.

MIMA- My last question to you is, what keeps you up at night?

Heather– SEO & content is no longer a checklist. It has become more and more elusive- ranking factors with helpful, relevant content etc. It makes the job of a marketer, especially SEO and content, one that requires a thorough and purposeful approach.

There is no longer a tried and true formula to follow. Marketers need to recognize the importance of understanding the unique challenges within their specific verticals, and create content the specifically meets that need.

Jordan Grote