Five months ago I published a huge content marketing glossary on this site that generated some interesting results, and paved the way for a new content creation strategy that everyone can benefit from.
I first heard about the power of ‘glossary marketing’ – creating a huge A-Z glossary of industry terms – from SEO expert Lisa Parmley a few years ago.
I’d just invested in her excellent course and also purchased a short report about content archetypes, and one of them was all about producing massive lists of definitions to provide a valuable ‘go to’ resource for your audience.
The whole approach was inspiring and got me thinking about what I could add in to the process to make it even more effective.
In general, the reason that glossaries work so well is that they can be launched with great fanfare as ‘the best resource of their type in the industry’ – and can then be added to continually over time.
All of this is great for your readers, your search engine rankings, social media shares and of course – traffic and email signups.
The only thing you have to do – is absolutely make sure that your ‘ultimate’ or ‘complete’ or ‘total’ glossary is just that.
In short, you have to blow your competition out of the water and create a resource so massive and so powerful, that it will quickly become THE authority glossary in your industry, and offer enormous value to your readership and anyone new that finds your blog.
To that end, I started digging around in a load of glossaries in the content marketing space, and found a lot of very good ones that looked like they’d been started with the best of intentions – but most of the time left unfinished or looking pretty sparse.
Bearing in mind what the ingenious Brian Dean says about beating your competitors’ content using the Skyscraper Technique, I decided to collect all the definitions I could from all the existing glossaries out there – plus visit the top blogs in my industry and scour their pages for even more industry definitions – then create one massive resource that blew the rest away.
I accomplished this stage of the process with the help of an excellent outsource content creator (which I advise you to do), then added in further definitions of my own.
The aim of course is to craft original definitions for each alphabetical term (never plagiarize), and add even more terms into the mix by supplementing the whole post with further in-depth research from authority blogs.
In this way, I put together a humungous glossary with over 550 terms – which eclipsed the next largest example I found by several hundred entries.
By the way – in case you’re wondering – that’s why this is called the ‘Glossary Gatecrasher Method’, because we’re turning up uninvited at the last minute, muscling our way in and becoming the most popular guest at the party 🙂
When I was searching through some of the existing glossaries in my niche, I noted that many people had done a great job with their definitions but not spent too much time on the layout and usability of the whole experience.
I don’t use the word ‘experience’ lightly, because if your A-Z list of terms is not easy to navigate – this can turn people away. So I spent literally hours (over 10 to be precise) just formatting the damn thing (it is worth it, I promise).
If you add in the research time, the outsourcer’s time, and the time spent formatting and promoting this post – the total time investment would be over 40 hours. (This IS an ‘investment’, as I’ll show you a bit later).
So I took great pains to ensure that each section of my glossary could be reached by a clickable alphabet at the top of the page, with clearly defined areas for each letter that linked back to the top again – so it was really easy to use and pleasing on the eye.
I’ve since had many compliments on the layout of the post, and how easy it is to use. This is really satisfying as my readers are of number one importance and I primarily wanted this to be an epic resource that is genuinely useful to people.
I love content strategies where the outreach element is hard-wired into the process of creating the content itself, so that’s what I baked in with this technique.
The secret sauce I added in just before the post went live – was to add a few dozen of the top blogs in the industry to the glossary – so I could email them about it when I launched.
This is extremely valid as these top sites are genuinely useful resources in the niche – so including them seemed natural and helpful.
I also maintained the ‘neutrality’ of the glossary by purposely not linking out – which increased its authority (and would have created just too many outbound links from an SEO perspective anyway).
Here’s an example of the simple outreach email I sent to the top industry sites that were included. Notice how it’s worded alluding to their site name to really whet their appetite and encourage a click through:
Subject: I mentioned you in my content marketing glossary..
Hey Brian (of Backlinko)
Hope you’re well.
Just a quick heads up about my latest blog post, a huge glossary of content marketing terms:
You might like your inclusion in the ‘B’s’.
To date, I’ve been really pleased with the results of this ‘glossary marketing’ experiment, and as far as these statistics go – this type of post is the gift that just keeps on giving.
I said it was an investment of over 40 hours’ work earlier on, and it’s been worth it every step of the way as far as I’m concerned…
The Stats After 5 months:
Now to some people these stats may seem relatively unimpressive – but to me they are great because this is only one post on the blog that every single day keeps delivering more value, more traffic, more social shares and more email signups.
It genuinely helps my audience, grows the authority and trust in my brand, and gives me a few dozen more people on my list who may benefit from the tactical content marketing course I’m launching in future 🙂 (Wink wink).
It’s a win-win situation all round, and if you show me a business owner or blogger who’d turn down an extra 400 highly targeted email subscribers a year – I’ll show you an idiot.
People always ask me if my strategies will work in their industry – and this one definitely will. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Tyler Wilcha of Ultimate Frisbee HQ – the source for everything you need to know at all skill levels of ultimate frisbee.
Tyler put together his own massive glossary of industry terms in a non-content marketing or online marketing niche – and his results totally blow mine away.
I asked him for an interview about his process, and he very kindly gave us some superb answers.
Here's the interview in full, there are some golden nuggets about the process and results in here:
Q. Tell us about your website and target audience?
The Ultimate Frisbee HQ is intended to be a helpful resource to assist players in learning, growing, and achieving their true potential in the growingly popular sport of Ultimate.
The HQ is targeted at beginner-to-amateur players looking to further their knowledge of the sport. This market is actually bigger than one may think.
(Almost) every college across the globe has some kind of Ultimate team/club, not to mention the hundreds of local town leagues that are popping up everywhere.
Ultimate is gaining serious traction in the sports world and is now even featured on ESPN and recognised by the Olympics.
Q. Your Ultimate Frisbee Definitions post extends to over 6,000 words, why did you write such an epic piece of content and how long did it take to put together?
This post took about 10 working hours to put together about 75% of the current content. The remaining 25% I added slowly throughout the past year (and still going), as more words come to mind or need clarification.
I wrote the content because it’s a resource I wish was available when I first started playing. I believe it’s something the Ultimate community can find value in.
Q. Did you deliberately go out to make this the very best resource of its type available online?
A user has a certain expectation when typing something into Google. The initial goal for my glossary is to completely blow away any preconceived expectation that a user may have.
Q. What results have you seen from the glossary in terms of increased traffic, more email sign ups – or the main metric you’re measuring?
The post receives 900 unique visitors a month and about 250 returners, on average. Aside from social, Google refers almost 100% of the traffic. Social shares vary depending on the season, my best was 328 shares on Facebook/Twitter in opening season while I barely get 25 shares a month in the winter season.
The glossary is among the top three pages of the entire site, and it has been that way ever since the release of The Ultimate HQ 1.5 years ago. The average time spent on the page is 4.45 minutes which does wonders for SEO.
Let’s talk about some strategy for a second. I look at this page as a “fishhook” that lures the exact type of fish I am looking for: beginners.
Vocabulary is among the top problems that new players struggle with, so naturally they will Google what a particular word means and BOOM. There I am.
A resource for vocabulary, plays, throws, tips, and everything a beginner would be interested in. I don’t use the glossary for signups or profit, I simply use it to attract my target market.
If you notice, many of the definitions include links to more pages to make users click as much as possible. In terms of social marketing it is a resource that is shared very frequently.
Q. Why do you think glossaries like this are so good for creating trust and authority for websites and blogs?
The fact that the post shows a massive amount of content and user friendliness, with a lack of sales attempts, really shows that I want to give to my audience rather than take.
Q. What was the main challenge you encountered when putting this glossary together?
Ultimate Frisbee Glossaries existed before I created mine. However, the quality lacked, there were no pictures, they were not user-friendly, and I noticed a ton of definitions missing.
The challenge was creating an entire dictionary in my own words and explanations. In addition, trying to explain a definition while minimizing the use of other Ultimate definitions was tough.
The plan was to write every definition as if the reader never heard of Ultimate before.
Another problem is my load times. Having that much content can be both your friend and your worse enemy.
I use a lazy-load plugin, cache, and page boosters to help speed it up but unfortunately users still have to wait up to 20 seconds to fully render.
I feel I lose some traffic to the back-button because of this.
Q. What’s been the best piece of feedback you’ve received as a result of publishing this epic resource?
Well, I got to be interviewed on ContentChampion! Otherwise, I haven’t gotten much feedback in terms of compliments or praise.
However, my stats show otherwise. Bounce rate is about 35% (shows they crave more) and I get a few social shares every day (shows they want more people to see it). Visitors also spend almost five minutes on the page, which really shows people enjoy reading my content.
Q. Are you planning any similar resources in future?
I plan to continue updating the glossary as more words arise. I also plan to keep updating the site with more user-friendly content to help my audience maximize their Ultimate Frisbee potential.
If you would like to give this strategy a go on your own site, and increase your metrics across the board, follow these simple steps:
1. Search Google for existing glossaries in your niche using relevant broad keywords (note how many terms are included in the largest example, as you’re going to blow this away).
2. Visit the usual suspects of Alltop, Twitter and Buzzsumo to find the top sites in your industry. Manually trawl these sites for terms that are missing (yes, it is hard work), and keep a note of the URL’s of these top sites for their own definitions and subsequent outreach.
3. Collect together all your research resources and write original definitions for each term. This part of the process can be outsourced.
4. Format your glossary with a top ‘clickable alphabet’ that leads to clearly defined areas designated by letter.
Use this html code to create the necessary anchors in your page (great for enhanced usability and can also be used for ‘return to top of page’ code):
<a href=”#a”>A</a> (for the top alphabet)
<h2>Here Is The A Section<a name=”a”></a></h2> (for the section header)
5. Include a ‘context-setting' introduction and a ‘wrap it up' conclusion for your glossary, and ‘big it up’ as the biggest resource of its type anywhere on the Internet (because it will be).
6. Research the owners of your included top sites, and note down their email address or contact form URL. Send a customised version of the outreach email above, then promote the post in the usual ways.
When it comes to effective content marketing strategies, it’s best to think of your content as business ‘assets’ – and the work you put into them as an investment that will continue to pay off well into the future.
The Glossary Gatecrasher Method is a great example of this, and can generate massive results for your business for years to come – literally.
As we’ve seen from both my glossary and Tyler’s, this strategy can work in a variety of industries – if you think creatively, do your research, put your audience first and format the post attractively.
You’ve also got to make sure the post is promoted aggressively – which is certainly assisted in this case by the influencer outreach component that helps you run a ‘mini-launch’ for your glossary from day one.
I’ve been really impressed by my glossary marketing experiment, and enjoyed sharing the results with you here.
As with Tyler’s epic glossary, if you put the work in (with some outsource help for certain stages if you’ve got the budget), you can definitely use the Glossary Gatecrasher Method to build your brand authority, online trust, visitor numbers and email subscribers.
And that can’t be bad from what is essentially a huge A-Z list post – with some added secret sauce 🙂
Give it go and let me know how you get on in the comments below…