“It’s helpful to have a tool that measures the results of our efforts. SEMrush allows to test our theories and see if they are working. It’s something that we really value and in SEMrush and we plan to continue using it with our content strategy going forward.”
Founded in NYC, SmartAsset is an award-winning financial technology company that helps more than 65 million people make smart financial decisions every month. The company publishes data-driven content, personalized calculators and educational tools to help with life’s big personal finance decisions, including home buying, retirement planning, life insurance, personal and student loans, credit cards, loan refinance, taxes and investing. These tools can be found on SmartAsset.com and are embedded in relevant content on hundreds of partner websites via the Captivate network. The company furthers its mission of helping people make smart financial decisions by connecting them to vetted financial advisors via the SmartAdvisor service on SmartAsset.com and SmartAdvisorMatch.com.
Business Challenge: discover long-tail topics and test out content verticals
Founded in 2012, SmartAsset started creating its first content in 2013 and began building a full-fledged editorial operation in 2015. The company redesigned its website and set a goal to make great content a staple at SmartAsset, building an in-house editorial team. However, at the time, the team felt they were lacking data. “At the beginning, there is so much to write about in personal finance, but we really wanted to become smarter about content choice,” says AJ Smith, VP of Content & Financial Education at SmartAsset. “We wanted to make sure we were answering the questions people were asking.”
That also meant deciding which topics within the world of personal finance they wanted to cover, so that they could decide on a vertical strategy. “Our challenge before SEMrush was, how do we get a feel for so many different verticals before we decide we want to go in 100 percent?” says AJ. “How do we understand that vertical and its users? What are they looking for, what do they need?”
The company strived to gain online visibility: “SEO is huge for us, we are interested in helping people with the questions they have, and we use SEO to make sure we deliver what they are searching for,” says AJ.
Solution: advanced keyword research and targeted tracking
To address these challenges, SmartAsset turned to SEMrush’s Keyword Analytics and Position Tracking tools.
SEMrush Projects have allowed SmartAsset to test out content theories and verticals. “We create content, track it separately and look at how it’s performing,” explains AJ. After that, we determine if that’s something we want to spend more time on. More often than not, we end up saying, ‘Let’s go all in on that, the project has been performing really well, let’s write more of that type of content.’ That’s a great thing to be able to isolate.”
For instance, after writing a couple dozen articles about the top financial advisors in major cities, SmartAsset found that the articles were ranking well and delivered traffic. The site has since produced hundreds more of these articles.
Having settled on broad topic areas to cover, SmartAsset’s editorial team used Keyword Gap Analysis and the Keyword Magic Tool
to surface topics their competition were covering and ensure they offered a comprehensive array of content. That included content targeting both head terms and long-tail topics.
“We have created content specifically for the retirement section - for instance, articles defining and explaining the basics of 401(k) and IRAs,” says AJ. “But we’re interested to know exactly how people are thinking about these topics: Are they comparing 401(k)s to IRAs? Are they thinking about the tax advantages of a Roth IRA versus an IRA? What are the specifics of their search and how can we create content that serves them?”
SEMrush, she says, allows them a window into these long-tail topics. “It gives us the confidence of an informed decision in content creation, in something that isn’t always considered a data-fueled category.”
Another way to benchmark at SmartAsset is using the Backlink Gap tool. “We like to take a look at it to see where we stand among competitors, which area of our site is receiving the most links,” says AJ.
SEMrush has allowed SmartAsset to track the long-term results of its search-driven content strategy. “It was a great milestone for our team when we ranked for more than one million keywords in 2019, as tracked in SEMrush,” says AJ. “It shows that we are creating good content that people find useful.”
SmartAsset’s Organic Keywords Trend
Those strong ranking numbers have added up to serious traffic growth.
“Almost 200,000 of those keywords are on the first page on Google. These numbers make us really excited. And more than 60,000 keywords are in the top three positions; we watch this metric even closer, because that’s where we really start seeing a business impact. Speaking of, our organic traffic is up 43% year-over-year!”
SmartAsset’s Traffic Trend
And that’s just the big-picture results. SmartAsset uses SEMrush’s various tools to track a wide range of smaller changes to the site’s search position, including Google algorithm updates and changes to how the search engine handles its featured snippets.
“It helps us go from ‘something’s happening’ to knowing exactly what is happening, which area of the site it’s happening to, and if it impacts our whole competitive space or just our site,” confirms AJ. “It allows us to make better decisions.”
- SmartAsset ranks for more than 1.1 million keywords.
- The editorial team is able to identify the best long-tail queries thanks to SEMrush Keyword Analytics.
- Around 200,000 keywords in Google’s top 10 positions; more than 60,000 keywords in the top 3
- Data-based decisions powered by SEMrush result in high-quality content that gets a positive response.
- A 43% increase in organic traffic year-over-year
- Using Position Tracking, SmartAsset tests out new verticals that bring in users.