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Penta is a German-founded fintech company that brings innovation to one of the most conservative market sectors—banking. The digital banking platform offers a wide range of products —from open banking* to expense management and accounting automation. The company’s primary audience is entrepreneurs and small-to-medium businesses.
Launched in 2016, Penta got some first-mover advantage in the German market. The company was building a multi-faceted marketing strategy that included channels from affiliate to advertising and SEO.
By 2021, Penta saw an influx of new rivals with more investments, larger teams and marketing resources. The competition in every channel was getting tougher.
The team realized that the broad content marketing strategy they employed from the beginning was getting ineffective. They used to try to rank for as many keywords as possible, mainly targeting the higher end of the marketing funnel (brand awareness). But it wasn’t optimal any longer as general industry terms weren’t bringing relevant leads.
So the Penta team had to come up with a new more targeted strategy that would help to push on the lower end of the funnel and convey the company’s unique selling proposition.
Their goals included:
The Penta team began re-building their SEO marketing efforts at the start of 2021.
Oliver Staub, SEO & Content lead at Penta, realized that the best way to drive growth was to create topical niche content.
At the same time, they had to keep their authority building and visibility expansion efforts intact. So he and his team created a multi-layered strategy that eventually brought the needed results.
Through the knowledge of the market niche, Oliver knew that Penta’s audience segment was all about informational intent. In fact, about 80% of all the relevant searches were information- and education-driven.
This helped Oliver to define the optimal customer journey they had to build:
Of course, no success was possible without a healthy website where technical issues didn’t interfere with further efforts.
With the help of Semrush’s Site Audit tool, Oliver runs a weekly health check to make sure no technical issue stands in the way of his team’s strategies and their performance.
“What I love the most about the tool is that it ranks all the problems by importance—first, I deal with issues, and only when I check off that list, I move on to resolving all the warnings and notices,” says Oliver.
He set up the tool for a weekly audit on Saturdays as the site has lower crawling activity during the weekend. This helps to minimize any interference with the site performance.
As site authority relies on a healthy backlink profile, Oliver also employed Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool.
The tool crawls the websites linking to Penta and flags any that might look spammy or suspicious in the eyes of Google. Whenever Oliver spotted a toxic link, he took quick action to disavow it, avoiding any backlink-related drops in rankings.
Oliver introduced a new keyword strategy that integrates both gap analysis and keyword research to find promising ideas for further content creation.
The key idea was to unwrap search terms that would both help to highlight Penta’s unique selling proposition and understand customers’ research process.
This is what Oliver’s typical workflow looked like:
1. Usually, he started with a product (e.g. “business loan”). This is what made up a simple strategy when Oliver knew exactly which keyword he had to target.
A more nuanced approach entailed using the Semrush Keyword Gap tool to pinpoint any missing keyword opportunities and find new keyword ideas. This was especially helpful when he wasn’t dealing with product-related content.
2. Once the seed keywords were in place, using Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, he’d look through the list of all the related keywords and questions people have around the query. This enabled the Penta team to discover ideas not only for the cluster pages but also for all the supporting content within the pillar pages (Pillar-Cluster content strategy).
For instance, “how to open a X account” is not a keyword that comes up straight away if you think about content that has to be on the banking platform’s site. But keyword research showed high search volumes and the right intent.
“We tried to create a sort of content funnel for each topic and area of interest that matched our products and services. This is the logic we used when we wanted to tackle keywords with different intent,” shares Oliver.
3. The next step had to do with the evaluation of Penta’s ranking potential.
Whilst keyword stats like search volume and keyword difficulty did impact the choice of target queries, Oliver’s approach also included highly competitive keywords. As he highlighted, “with time, as you build up content and site authority, you can start ranking for super competitive terms. It’s something anyone should target and not shy away from—because it’s your products that define certain search terms, so you should go for them and take up this challenge”.
4. Once the final list of keywords was created, Oliver would hand it over to his content team and run the final copy through the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant to make sure it meets all the best content practices for a given keyword and location.
Since 2021, this process has helped Penta’s team publish around 250 content pieces.
Finally, Oliver made sure to link the new article to other internal resources, especially the product and transactional pages, to encourage conversions and improve ranking potential.
The most useful article won’t serve its purpose if it is poorly linked or even worse, ends up being an “orphan page” - one that is not connected to the rest of the website. In this case, Google may index the page very late or possibly not at all.
Penta’s content strategy didn’t only entail creating new content. Oliver made sure to keep an eye on the performance of existing content—to improve and maintain Penta’s top rankings.
Each quarter, he reviewed Penta’s content results—paying special attention to seasonal content—and tweaked the copy in case he spotted a downward performance trend.
As an additional hack, he’d simply use the Domain Overview report to keep track of the site’s total ranking trend and to unveil pages that are within the 6th-10th position in SERPs to make quicker ranking wins.
For a more effective rank monitoring, however, Oliver uses Semrush’s Position Tracking tool.
“I’m a big fan of Position Tracking—it’s our main rank tracking tool—as it updates daily and targets both mobile and desktop positions.”
As the site consists of hundreds of pages, Oliver uses a campaign-based tracking system offered by the tool. This approach involves grouping URLs that reflect a given page type or a topic to keep track of the performance of the site’s key clusters.
This allows Oliver to measure and finesse the success of each of Penta’s SEO campaigns.
In this case, all the content for, for instance, “legal payment methods” would count as a campaign where he’d add the most important traffic driving posts for into the Position Tracking tool and improve it on the go.
In a little over a year, Penta’s brand new targeted digital strategy yielded its results: