Pick His Brain!
I’d like to introduce two of our members, Ryo Chiba and Nikhil Aitharaju, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session, and I want to thank them for the participation.
Ryo and Nikhil are techies from San Francisco. They are also the founders of TintUp, currently used by global brands such as LinkedIn, Marriott, Verizon, Nike, and Coca-Cola.
They’ve recently launched an online content briefing tool called UseTopic, a comprehensive content planning, intelligence, and briefing rolled into one.
Initially, I didn’t expect much from the tool but have decided to try it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to see a comprehensive planning elements in one place. I liked what I saw.
If you have any questions related to not only their tool but content planning and briefing process, please feel free to pick their brains.
If anyone wants to test drive their tool, there is a special discount for the group only.
Please visit the link.
Here are the rules.
1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.
2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s successes and strategies.
3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.
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What makes the tool different than other SEO content planning tools?
The main difference is our product’s very specific focus on cutting down the time it takes to create a content brief.
SEOs and content editors often find that doing the research for these briefs is a bottleneck in the process because it requires expertise and involves the tedious work of stitching together various tools and manually diving into the SERP.
Our tool pulls the data together into one place and combines it with GPT-3 based brainstorming tools to make it easy to quickly curate an outline, then grade the resulting draft.
What was the most difficult part of launching UseTopic?
The most difficult part was getting our initial set of “best fit” customers!
The market for SEO tools is huge, but since we focus on a specific problem, not all of them are going to be the best fit.
We found that teams that produce a consistent stream of content and have an established research process are the ones that get the most value.
When we launched the tool, we had to find them manually, one-by-one.
We didn’t have any magic formula, it was just a lot of hard work.
Going to meetups (remember those?), asking for intros in our network, cold emails asking for feedback.
How long did it take you to launch the product? What was the process like?
In 2018 Nik and I sold our previous company, tintup.com, and based on our experience using SEO to drive that business, we started ideating on what we could work on next.
What followed was a year of consulting to test out a few of our ideas and start to learn more about our target customer.
We did have to pivot our idea a few times. My biggest learning from this has been figuring out the right time to pivot.
While we were consulting, we saw a few other content brief/optimization solutions in the market and we saw them growing quickly, namely MarketMuse and Clearscope.
But we felt like there was something missing in terms of a way to easily compile a brief from various sources of data.
From there we built an internal prototype to test on our consulting clients so that we could measure a meaningful lift from using our product.
(Luckily, one of our failed ideas was an A/B testing tool) Once we felt like it was ready for public use, we launched!
What is included in a “content brief”?
Each content brief is built around a specific “focus keyword” and 2 main pieces of functionality:
1. Content Research – Here you can use GPT-3 and competitive research to craft an optimized title, description and outline. You then export this from our platform to a separate document which you can then hand to a writer.
2. Content Grader – Once you receive the first draft from the writer, you can paste it into the grader to get a letter grade based on its coverage of key semantically related terms. You can also use our WordPress or GDocs plugins grade content within those platforms.
1. What are the best wins in SEO that others ignore? 2. How do you build backlinks? Do you have a dedicated team who outreach or hire an agency? 3. How will you promote your usetopic if you have zero budget for marketing?
1. In our consulting we found that, especially on marketing teams experiencing turnover, there are lots of low-cost high-benefit optimization opportunities in an existing content library (title, UI, thin content, etc). New hires don’t realize what’s already been produced can be leveraged.
2. Our primary backlink strategy has been to build free tools that are useful to our target audience and then having a member of our team distribute the tool and build backlinks to them. If you search “people also ask” you’ll see one of them, and another is our GPT-3 blog idea generator. We’re both product people so it allows us to use our strengths.
3. Personally if we had zero budget for marketing, I would go for the strategy outlined in #2, but it’ll be different for everyone. Using your own professional strength applied to marketing is usually the easiest way to start seeing traction.
What did your MVP look like?
Our initial MVP had the research document where we pulled in recommended word count, competitor outlines, topics to cover, questions from various sources along with a content grader (optimizer) to help grade your content using NLP.
Are there any video demonstrations of the tool being used?
Yes we do have a video demo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK_wZ2bxSPA
Is your tool using NLP and Semantics scraping for scoring the content optimizing if so how?
Yes we mainly use IBM NLP to extract key phrases from top 30 competitor articles for a given keyword and then use our own internal algorithm to generate an accurate list of topics that you need to include in your article.
The algorithm takes into account many different factors like if a term used in a heading/hyperlink, frequency of occurrence of the term, and other statistical methods to generate the list.
You have some stiff competition out there. What growth potential do you see?
a) We are in a big growing market and there is a need for a tool like ours. Our observation is a lot of tools in the market currently either do the content briefing part really well or the content optimization part but not both.
We put in a lot of effort over the last year to offer a high quality product for both the use cases. And that’s our main differentiation.
b) We don’t have all the answers yet, still learning and trying to figure out how to stand out.
I was looking at your tool 2 days ago. I’d love to give it a spin for a few months before committing to full price. Unfortunately the code didn’t work.
While we figure out why that code is working, would you be able to try this code?
Can the tool be used in different GEO’s?
Yes it can.
You can specify a city, state, or country when creating a content brief, which will use the SERP from that location.
In terms of languages, we support English, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian with more coming soon.
I think SEO conversation over indexes on off-site and it’s always super cool to see people highlighting how powerful on-site is?
Definitely, especially given the impact it can have.
This is a GSC screenshot from when we were testing a prototype of the tool last year.
How does the tool compare to Frase or MarketMuse?
At a high level, I like to imagine these products sitting on a spectrum where on one end you have more affordable/simpler tools that generally cater to smaller companies and individual bloggers (Frase).
And on the other, you have expensive/sophisticated tools that cater to experts at enterprises (MarketMuse).
We sit in the middle, catering to those that want a powerful product in an easy-to-use package.
Compared to Frase, we have higher quality keyword recommendations (bigger impact) and use GPT-3 to speed up brief creation (save more time).
Compared to MarketMuse, we have an easier-to-use interface (faster adoption rate) and more affordable pricing (less $$$).
In a world where an increasing number of people who don’t read, they scan, what role do you see long form written content play?
Of course I understand that written content is the backbone of all types of multimedia content.
Thanks for asking that question. In my opinion, the future role of long-form content is to be the basis from which all scannable short-form content is built.
An example of this is when google extracts a section of a long-form article and shows it directly in a SERP, they are essentially using AI to do the scanning for you to find the closest answer to your query.
A complete understanding of any given topic requires depth which long-form content provides. Technology will assist in helping make it scannable.
Can we do the $7 trial and then use the discount code to upgrade if we like it?
Yes you should be able to! If you’re not able to, let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get that taken care of.
So one of the competitors we’re chasing is close to the bottom of page 1 and got an A++, DA of 46, whopping 12000 words! They got a most comprehensive badge from your tool. My client is a few spots below them with a grade of C+ and DA of 26, 886 words. The #1 spot is grade C, DA 32, 1800 words. They got an interesting content badge as did two others on page 1. I believe they got that because it’s their sub pages that are ranking not the home page. Anything else you can tell me from these results?
What I typically do is take a look at those pages with the “interesting content” badge and see if I can identify certain aspects of their page that are causing them to rank higher.
For example, do they have a more attractive or relevant title? Is the design of the page better, is the copy more readable?
The grade is just one piece of the puzzle, representing the comprehensiveness, the art is taking those keyword recommendations and creating content that keeps people on the page.
I closed the training video that shows while you’re waiting, thinking I could finish it later, but can’t find it now. Where is it?
If you go to the “Learn” tab in the navigation, you’ll be able to find a page with all of our videos.
Here’s a direct link as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK_wZ2bxSPA…
I have a lifetime Frase, do you have a plan to make it a lifetime deal on Appsumo? And how is it different than Frase?
Good questions as they tie in together. We don’t plan on making it a lifetime deal on Appsumo.
The reason is because the systems we use to make the keyword, title, and outline suggestions consume more compute resources (and cost us more) and so we wouldn’t be able to offer them at an LTD price point and be able to operate sustainably.
Our main differentiator with Frase is that we are able to utilize these more expensive (IBM Watson, Google NLP, and GPT-3) API’s to generate higher quality recommendations that lead to bigger SEO gains.
That being said, we think Frase is a great entry-level product for individuals wanting to start doing briefs/optimizations at a budget price point. Whereas we are a better fit for teams making a more significant investment into content.
1- for Topic, can you share with us how you went from a good idea to such a successful saas business? How did you find the right developers? And Did you get support from outside investors? 2- Regarding Tint, your other platform, are there any best practices to make sure that embedded UGC has SEO value (given that it can be hard to get googlebot crawl the reviews if it’s generated via APIs, or maybe because the content itself is of low quality, etc.) Again thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with our group here. And good luck with your ventures.
1 – Small steps every day for 2 years. In terms of developers, Nik and I are extremely lucky in that we are both developers who have been working together for the past 9 years, so we had that covered. We have not gotten support from outside investors and hope to keep it bootstrapped.
2 – In terms of best practices, the best bet for getting Googlebot to index will always be if the social content can be loaded by the server via API and delivered to the browser on the initial request.
Anything relying on JS or iframes will be unlikely to be indexed. However, content that is not indexed by Googlebot can still make a big SEO impact.
If users see the UGC on the page and bounce less and spend more time on the page, Google will notice that and it will influence the ranking, which is something we saw with clients using TINT (the core product was an embeddable iframe).