It’s a common assumption: ClickUp is an authoritative site, so content optimization and ranking content must be a breeze.
While being blessed with ClickUp’s brand presence does help organic performance, ClickUp is a relatively new player in the project management space and we have huge SEO competitors with more authority and established trust.
Content optimization and content quality are paramount to blog performance and it becomes much more granular and thoughtful. After all, how do you beat great articles published by Forbes or HubSpot?
How SurferSEO Powers Content Operations at ClickUp
I joined ClickUp in early 2021, and although we were a new SEO team of three, our biggest task was to manage the performance of 500+ existing articles and ideate new topics for our blog.
At the time, our team had access to some of the foundational SEO tech stack, but we had to build out our content optimization process. The tool we inherited did not meet our needs because it only provided surface-level recommendations like “add 3-5 mentions of XYZ keyword.” Additionally, it did not share in-depth reasoning behind its recommendations nor allow custom tweaks to data sources.
Because of these limitations, we resorted to manual analysis and intuition to make our recommendations and updates to our blogs. While this is a great exercise in building SEO skills (and I highly recommend every SEO to go through this process), it just wasn’t resource efficient.
It soon became clear we needed a powerful content intelligence tool to help scale our blog optimization process with a fail-proof roadmap for the future.
- Great SEO recommendations during keyword research and content creation
- Aggregated data for insights into the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) without manually checking each result
- Multiple views to visualize SERP data to form hypotheses
- Simpler way to optimize content and track real-time edits
That's why we chose SurferSEO!
Solution #1: Actionable Data for SEOs
After comparing some well-known content intelligence tools, SurferSEO was the clear winner.
In our analysis, other tools seemed to be built mainly for writers, but SurferSEO was made for both SEOs and writers. For example, while other content intelligence tools would tell us that we had top scores for hitting all the right keywords in our content, SurferSEO provides much more detail.
Take Minuttia’s SEO case study of ClickUp— we’re cited with an A+ from Clearscope for our blog, 10 Examples of Professional Goals for Work. An A+ score implies we are done and have nothing else to improve. This is definitely something to celebrate, but what if we need further ideas to keep improving the blog? What we really wanted to know were other ranking factors and ideas to test out in case we needed to optimize content beyond a content score.
Analyzing the same article, Surfer’s Content Editor gives us nifty insights into different categories: word count, headings, paragraphs, and images.
Even if we had a score of 100 from the Content Editor, I can still test several hypotheses if the performance of our article ever declined:
- We may need more headings to make the article more skimmable for users
- Due to high word count, we may have fluff in our content and content pruning could be something to consider
If I wanted to dig deeper, Surfer’s Audit Tool tells us even more granular information!
This helps me with several more ideas:
- We may have too many GIFs or images in our article, causing slower loading speeds
- We may need to be more descriptive in our sub-headings to help the reader
My colleague and ClickUp’s SEO Specialist, Adele Payant agrees the SEO Audit feature is extremely helpful in her daily optimizations.
“For each optimization, I would say that Surfer's Audit tool saves me about an hour. I always start out my optimizations with the Audit feature to get an overview of how the content is stacking up compared to competitors. The content score is really useful because it can help me identify if a page has content or topical issues or if I need to look elsewhere.”
Adele further explains:
“For example, if our content score is significantly lower than the other pages in the SERP, I know off the bat that the content needs improvement, whereas if the content score is in-line with the other players in the SERP, I know to start looking for other things, such as missing common backlinks, internal link gaps, or images.”
One of the interesting aspects of the Audit Tool is we can determine what ingredients go into its analyzing algorithm by selecting specific competitors to compare.
For example, sometimes, you’ll have a mixed SERP and SurferSEO allows you full control of which results to include in its comparison.
We compared a poor-performing blog article against other top performing articles ranking for the “enterprise project management software” keyword. In the 5th result, Wrike’s landing page was included. This page serves as an entirely different intent and thus should be excluded. With a simple click, SurferSEO allowed us to make this modification and not include their page in our analysis.
Note: SurferSEO has a guide on how to choose which competitors to include in your analysis.
Solution #2: Improved Visibility For Writers to Manage Work
SurferSEO provides a range of tools ClickUp writers love like the Keyword Surfer Chrome Extension! Writers easily associate a document or WordPress page with a keyword analyzed by SurferSEO. This saves time and mental bandwidth from having to switch between tabs to check content quality, and keeps written content in one place as a single source of truth.
“The Chrome Extension ticked all my boxes: fail-proof WordPress and Google Docs integration, instant quality score ratings, and multi-keyword assessments,” says Erica Golightly, ClickUp’s Senior Writer. “When I have brain fog and can’t write the next sentence, I look to the right sidebar for a spark of inspiration.”
Additionally, SurferSEO helps ClickUp’s content and SEO teams stay aligned throughout the entire process.
“The magic of Surfer starts well before I type the first letter,” Golightly adds. “Our blog briefs come with a shared Content Editor link created by the SEO team, so there’s no misinterpretation of the blog's intent. From there, I can take advantage of the research they’ve put together and get to work. I can save about 3 hours per blog during the writing process, from the first draft to the published piece.”
This leads me into my next point.
Solution #3: Multiple Use Cases Throughout Content Lifecycle
We found ourselves easily adopting SurferSEO in different points of our existing SEO project management process in ClickUp to reduce scope creep. If we follow along our content lifecycle, here’s how the tool fits in:
We begin each article as a keyword research ClickUp task and it’s here the SEO team conducts research using SurferSEO.
With difficult keywords, I like SurferSEO’s SERP Analyzer, which provides the most granular details out of all the SurferSEO features. While it can sometimes feel overwhelming and many of the same details show up in the Audit or Content Editor features, this tool allows me to consider different ranking or content factors. Its flexible data visualization also allows me to digest information from the SERPs and think about the keyword in a more holistic way.
For example, if I were to try to target the keyword “project management software”, I would see that higher word counts don’t necessarily mean higher rankings due to the U-shaped curve. But in order to have a better chance at ranking, I still need to shoot for a target word count between 4,000-5,000.
Looking under the graph, the various tabs help me to consider different content angles: What questions are people asking? What common words or phrases repeatedly appear in articles? Sometimes looking at the SERP analyzer helps me determine whether a keyword is worth targeting.
After the initial keyword research is complete, we create a blog brief for our writers on ClickUp Docs. It’s here the writers are provided a SurferSEO Content Editor link to check for a target content score, among other considerations.
“The Content Editor is a useful tool when making briefs. It helps me compare articles to see what headers should be included, gives a general word count, and provides terms that should be included other than just the keywords I find in my keyword research. It's a great place to start your process if you are making briefs,” Adele Payant shares.
After the blog is written and published, the task moves to our robust content database to monitor performance.
When the SEO team deems an article needs an update or optimization, the same task is pushed to a different optimization view where we take action on these updates, and keep track of our results.
After 4-6 weeks have passed, we log all of the results of our optimizations in the same view. As you can see, we used SurferSEO many times to optimize a piece of content, resulting in multiple wins!
Keeping an article’s historical record is great for future learning and improvement! In addition, all the research and communication by the SEO and content teams live in the same task, so work is fully transparent and accessible to everyone.
With SurferSEO powering ClickUp's content operations, we grew organic, non-branded traffic by 85%, published 150+ blogs, and completed 130+ optimizations!
We had several key articles where SurferSEO was an instrumental tool in its improvement:
There is no doubt that SurferSEO has been instrumental in keeping the quality of our content high. With both SEOs and writers at ClickUp bought in, it allows us to keep efficient workflows and aligns our teams on SEO best practices.
Give Surfer a try today to see what insights you’re missing out about your competition!
ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity platform used by 800,000+ teams of all types and sizes to organize multiple workflows, centralize company knowledge, and improve cross-functional collaboration. Marketing and SEO teams scale content with faster project handoffs by leveraging ClickUp’s robust suite of features.
All you need to do pass the exam with 85% or higher, and complete the practical activation task of writing a blog post of 1500 words within Surfer's Content Editor!
If you're successful, we'll send you an official Surfer Certificate that you can share, and a badge for Linkedin!