How Clearscope Helps IBM Remain at the Forefront of Innovation

Founded: 1911
Industry: Computer hardware, computer software, cloud computing, and data analytics
Challenge: Scaling high-quality content creation

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In 2022, IBM was named one of Fast Company's 10 most innovative enterprise companies. Quite a feat for a company that has been around for 110 years. A large part of IBM's enduring success is due to its rigorous research and validation process and high-quality standards. This has led to the company making recent bold strides in quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

IBM has applied the same systematic approach to its content. Since 2019, the content team has been using Clearscope to validate its processes and enforce quality control across its content team.

The Keyword Discovery tool helps IBM's content stay competitive

One of the biggest challenges the content team at IBM faces is writing articles that explain complex topics like data science, machine learning, and hyperautomation. Clearscope plays a critical role during the research phase. It can help the team perform keyword discovery, but it primarily helps them identify content gaps, enabling them to get ahead of the competition on complex topics.

Some of these topics either take months to research or require a lot of preparation. For example, when they began researching and writing an article on hyperautomation, there wasn't a lot of information about the subject online. So, the content team had to partner more closely with their product teams and internal stakeholders to ensure they were telling the right story for the article.

For topics like these that are about cutting-edge tech, the team uses Clearscope to determine how well their article might rank based on key SEO factors.

Clearscope gives us a strategic advantage to ensure that we're there on the ground floor before a topic starts to ramp up. It's a valuable tool that allows us to rank more quickly for less competitive terms, and it helps us compete for more difficult terms like machine learning.

These insights have been vital in helping IBM grow its organic traffic, especially as they have expanded into different topical areas over the years. Most notably, in 2019 for cloud computing, in 2020 for Data and AI topics, and in early 2021 for automation.

The outline tool applies SEO best practices to IBM's research

IBM's content team primarily uses Clearscope to write content for IBM Topics catalog. The team writes “learn” articles that provide both informational content on various technology topics and help promote the different related IBM products. While their prospects may not be ready to purchase, the intent is that prospective customers will consider them when they are ready to invest in products related to cloud, data, security, and more.

To kick off the content development process, the team establishes the organic search terms they want to rank for. Next, they conduct extensive research on each of these topics. This includes market research, academic research, competitive research, books, and SMEs. From there, they develop an outline, and then plug it into Clearscope to assess content gaps within their research process. Instead of letting the tool drive their research, they use the tool to evaluate their research efforts and content structure.

“If you use Clearscope more at the onset, you might do less research because Clearscope isn't incorporating these words that I might have incorporated otherwise,'" says Eda.

Text editor streamlines the writing process

After the content team has decided on the outline or general structure, they begin writing the article. Their focus at this point is synthesizing their research into an outline. They do not write their content only for SEO; instead, they tailor their writing for their readers first.

As a final step in the process, they plug the article into Clearscope and use the tool's list of relevant terms to see examples of how those terms are being used on other web pages. Then, they figure out how to naturally incorporate those terms into an article and expand upon what's already been written.

"I want someone to actually write the article the way they would without Clearscope first," says Eda. "Afterward, they can plug it into the Text Editor to validate their thinking and identify blind spots within their content research."

The Clearscope report enforces quality control across the content team

The Clearscope Report has helped the IBM content team eliminate some subjectivity around content quality before they publish. This allows them to create a benchmark for content quality that didn't exist before.

Search engines like Google list quality as one of the most important factors for an article's rankability. But how do you know what Google means by high-quality content?

In the past, there was no real metric to help the team measure the quality of their content. "You could only really measure content quality or consistency by looking at general web copy practices that include spelling, grammar, and punctuation," Eda says. That doesn't account for SEO at all.

The Clearscope Report provides an overall content grade based on factors such as word count, content relevance, and comprehensiveness. "We don't ship a page unless it has a content grade of A+. If it doesn't meet that threshold, we do not ship," says Eda.

The report also includes a readability score measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability index. It allows you to see how your grade compares with other pieces of content in your industry.

These simple-to-understand features enable writers to assess their work and identify improvement areas.

"The tool really helps guide someone around where their blind spots are; someone might be able to improve their content over time just by using Clearscope," Eda adds. "They are able to get some important feedback from the tool itself versus relying [solely] on their manager." For example, if a writer isn't sure how to weave a specific term into their article, Clearscope provides examples of how that word is used in other top-ranking articles.

Clearscope's Term usage examples.

It also helps the writer understand where it might fit within a cluster of terms within the Clearscope Report.

Sharpen your writing chops with Clearscope

Content marketing is highly competitive. It's hardly surprising that many content creators focus on SEO content that outranks their competitors. However, in pursuing this goal, many content creators become too focused on creating content for algorithms instead of writing content for the reader.

But Clearscope is more than an SEO tool. The Clearscope Report includes a research tab with key questions to help guide your research process. An outline tab to help you structure your content. And a terms tab to ensure you cover relevant topics your readers will care about. Additionally, the Report includes an easy-to-interpret letter grade to help you write relevant and comprehensive content. All to help you become a better writer and to create quality content for your audience.

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