By Laura Pennington
I’ve been working as an SEO writer for the last seven years, and about two years ago I discovered MarketMuse, an enterprise software tool that I've found to be worth its weight in gold for SEO writers.
MarketMuse is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool specifically created to help people better understand content marketing and strategy. I first used the tool as a project manager for a company that was writing 5-6 articles per day. I saw how quickly and effectively this tool helped their site rank. That client received an offer to buy their domain within three months and used the opportunity to cash out and travel the world.
That’s when I saw the power of MarketMuse. It’s not a minor investment by any means, so this is only for serious SEO writers and marketers. That being said, the investment is worthwhile because this tool has the potential to completely change your content marketing for the better and get you results much faster.
What is MarketMuse?
MarketMuse is a content planning tool that uses AI to pull data from all the top-performing websites on a particular search term. Based on that information, it makes recommendations about how long your piece on the same topic should be as well as the relevant keywords and subtopics to include.
The short version is that it makes your job as a writer that much easier. If you’re a marketer, you can use their tool to create content briefs that you can pass along to your writing team.
MarketMuse looks at several things in evaluating your work to provide you with an overall score and recommendations: the length of your piece, the depth/quality with which you have covered the topic at hand, and your keywords. From this, you’ll get an overall score. MM will also give you a "target" score, and you’ll be able to see from your results how additional content or keyword mentions can help you get there.
This target score is important. It’s the software's way of comparing your content to everyone else's content about that topic. By working to get as close to or above the target score, you’ll stand a great chance of getting your content to rank effectively and quickly.
As a project manager for the content marketing team I mentioned above, we used this tool in the editing process to make recommendations to the writer about how to improve their work. We also gave them length and keyword suggestions before they started based on the analysis that MarketMuse provided. This was a great way to make sure that everyone involved was on the same page about how to format and write their articles.
How to Use MarketMuse Before You Write
MarketMuse has a great support staff behind the scenes. Although I’m different from their traditional enterprise clientele as a solopreneur, they’ve always been helpful in walking me through software upgrades so that I get the most out of the service. To demonstrate how I use MarketMuse in practice, I’ll walk you through an example of how I would typically use the software for my own site.
Let’s imagine I’m writing an article for my audience of freelancers who want to learn how to create a platform on Upwork. Upwork is the biggest platform for connecting freelancers with prospective clients, so this is a hot topic.
Here’s a small snapshot from my research inside MarketMuse. Typically, you’ll get recommendations for 15-35 topics and ideas to mention inside your article in addition to the target amount of times to mention them.
Checking Your Work with MarketMuse
I like to use this platform both before and after I create content; this makes it easier to ensure that I hit all of the right points and have the proper depth or length to my article. There’s also a good chance that I couldn’t naturally weave in all the keywords I should have, so this second check verifies that I see what’s missing and instead find the right place to add these details before publishing the item.
If you have set length guidelines, bear in mind that the length suggestion is not a hard and fast requirement—but it is a good one. It will be much harder to break into search engine rankings when you write a 300 word article yet MarketMuse's recommendation is for 800 words or more.
Once you’re done writing a piece, copy and paste it into the same entry point. You’ll see that certain parts of the keyword recommendations will show you how you did.
Let’s take an actual blog post I have on my site with the topic "Upwork profile".
I ran it through the MarketMuse Content Optimizer to see how it’s evaluated against my competition writing on similar topics.
As you can see, I’m only scoring a 15 whereas I should be aiming for a 34. I can improve that rating by going back and adding more content, since the site recommends I hit a word count of 2129. I can also improve how often I mention certain terms.
This gives me some easy ideas of how I can improve my article, so I can optimize for these aspects in my final pass.
Analyzing Your Own Work on MarketMuse
One other aspect I also love about this platform is that you can track recommendations for past content and for things you’ve already published on your site, so you can see how they perform. This is a big help if you’re doing a content audit.
I ran this audit on my own webpage about having an Upwork profile and a website. MarketMuse breaks it down for me easily so that I can see where my biggest opportunity lies and how I can go back and improve this past blog to make it even better.
As you can see from this list, the results won't be perfect. It’s strange that "Jim Berkus net worth" popped up here, but most of the search engine keyword terms mentioned are indeed relevant for what I am hoping to achieve. I can ignore the one or two non-relevant topics suggested and focus on using these other areas as either individual keywords or entire sections of the article. You can make these decisions based on your own knowledge about the topic at hand.
Now that I’ve run my previous content through MarketMuse, it’s like getting a roadmap for how to enhance your existing content marketing. Since I can see how to skyrocket that blog post's results ahead of my competitors, I now have a big chance to improve on my content marketing and how I can draw people to my site with the right ideas, structure, length, and keywords. Some of these keywords might even inspire me to write entire separate blog posts about that subject.
This is because the results are showing me what other people are discussing and what my prospective readers are looking for. All of this information is very helpful as an SEO writer.
Also, if I only have one blog about the topic of "Upwork profile", MarketMuse will make recommendations about other topics I can cover and how I can link them to the first blog with a related topic. This is a great way to get more ideas within the same landscape, since you’re writing content directly up your reader’s alley and for which there is already some demand.
Should You Use MarketMuse as an SEO Writer?
MarketMuse is the largest monthly expense I make in my business. There’s an annual option if you have those funds set aside to spend into the thousands. Since the monthly payment amount has changed even from when I started (and MarketMuse's pricing is not published publicly), you'll have to contact the company directly for a demo to learn more. Based on my experience, you can expect to spend at least $1,000/month on this tool. However, an agency or website relying on content marketing is likely to see that as a drop in the bucket based on your conversion rates and potential returns.
Laura Pennington is a freelance SEO writer working with law firms across the country. She's also worked for companies like Microsoft and TrueCar helping to build teams of digital freelancers. She blogs at Six Figure Writing Secrets. Laura is not affiliated with MarketMuse.