7,292. That’s how many articles have been posted on EliteFTS.com as of Monday. November 13th, 2017.
But the title of this post is a bit misleading. If you add on the 2,000 monthly Q&A posts, 500 monthly blog posts, the library of 14,000 videos you’re actually looking at content that numbers in the tens of thousands. And we haven’t even touched the archived material from 1998-2014.
Apparently, there’s a crisis in content marketing – but somebody forgot to let Dave Tate (founder and CEO of elitefts.com Inc.) know. EliteFTS has been educating & outfitting the strongest athletes around the world for almost 20 years.
It wasn’t called content marketing when Dave started 20 years ago, and he’s never stopped writing since.
“Today we are still adding more than 1,000 pages of top quality content each month and have refined an even more robust credentialing system to ensure we are providing you with trusted content. In the coming year, we will continue to expand our wide range of free educational articles, blogs, Q&A’s, videos and more. We will keep adding columnists who are well-respected professionals in the field.”
EliteFTS is a company that utilizes video (both amateur from the gym floor and pro quality), a Q&A forum, blog posts, training logs, long-form pieces and even a suite of books to educate the public. If there’s a medium that exists, Dave Tate has probably experimented with it.
- Dave Tate is Serious About Content
- They Publish Dozens of Coaching and Training Logs
- They Host an Immense Q&A Section
- They’ve Made Video Content a Huge Priority
- Their Long Form Content is Loooooong!
- An Interview with EliteFTS Managing Editor, Sheena Leedham
- Did I Mention Dave Tate Also Writes Books?
- They Dipped Their Toes Into Long-form Journalism
- Live Seminars and Events
- They Host and Champion a Special Needs Section
- HTTPS, Site Migrations & Featured Rich Snippets
- What I’d Improve On
- Your Content Marketing Takeaways
Dave Tate is serious about content. Like really serious. Maybe more so than any other CEO I’ve ever come across in a midsized business.
And more importantly, as a lifter he’s walked the walk. Check out this impossibly long list of injuries he’s incurred over a 3+ decade lifting career.
So what about the content? Let’s take a look…
- Over 700 articles per year are published. A rate that’s been maintained for over a decade.
- Around 500 blog posts/month for the past 15 years.
- With the Q&A, EliteFTS publishes close to 2000 pages of content per month.
- Number of Ranking Keywords Phrases: ~57,900 keyword terms
- Monthly Search Traffic Volume: 78,600 monthly visitors via Google search. This only accounts for search traffic estimates. Add in social, newsletter, referral and direct traffic and the number would climb much higher.
- Monthly Search Traffic Value: $46,900 – A competitor would need to budget approx. $600K in annual PPC spend to buy the valuable traffic that EliteFTS fetches organically.
Social Media Stats
- Facebook – 432,374 Followers
- Instagram: EliteFTS – 12,800 Followers / Dave Tate – 272,000 Followers
- YouTube – 45,861 Sunscribers
- Twitter – EliteFTS – 51,400 Followers / Dave Tate – 260,000 Followers
Confession. I’m a long-time fanboy. Here’s a pic of my stash of EliteFTS accessories. I’ve “battle-tested” them in various gyms. I’m a true convert. And I found them through their content.
So call this a love letter to a fitness company if you will – or admiration for a decades long commitment to educational content. This whole article is dedicated to Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose’s ‘Rants & Raves’ section from their PNR With This Old Marketing Podcast.
They Publish Dozens of Coaching and Training Logs
There are currently 17 coaching logs and 15 training logs on the site, running and updating simultaneously. Read motivation and theory from pro coaches or follow along with every set and rep from powerlifters and bodybuilders.
They Host an Immense Q&A Section
“With the QA EliteFTS publishes close to 2000 pages of content per month.”
EliteFTS long-running Question & Answer section has over 50 experts answering thousands of questions a year. Nobody waits long for an answer. The answers are located and archived in a searchable database.
They’ve Made Video Content a Huge Priority
EliteFTS has amassed over 45,000 subscribers and almost 9 million views on their current YouTube Channel as of this writing.
They’ve made great use of playlists to organize their growing archive of videos.
And if you want to see how granular they get – here’s a playlist of 33 short videos demonstrating their cable grenade ball attachments.
And 38 more for resistance bands.
You get the point.
Rather than overwhelm you with a 20-30 minute video, you can simply watch clip after clip. And it worked. Do you have any idea how much it cost me (exchange rate, shipping, and duty) to have those cable grenade attachments shipped from Ohio to Canada? I don’t care – it was worth it.
Their Long Form Content is Loooooong!
EliteFTS has been a progenitor of long-form articles for years. When it comes to the writing – Dave Tate handles a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ himself.
And these articles are hefty. The word counts and depth-of-knowledge in these pieces wouldn’t be out of place in a Texas Monthly feature or NYTimes Weekend read. We’re talking 9, 16, 23, and 26-thousand word tomes.
And admittedly it was these epic posts that made me want to write this piece about them in the first place.
Take his 12 Tips for the Advanced Lifter piece from July 2015. It clocks in at over 9,000 words. Because that’s how many it took to get the job done.
He dropped a free ‘Dave Tate’s Free Squat Manual’ on the world in late 2013. It now sits as a 16,000-word article on the site.
Not to be outdone, he then published the 26,000-word Benchipedia: – Dave Tate’s Free Bench Press Manual as a follow-up.
“We are an education company that happens to sell the highest quality equipment, accessories, goods and services to lifters (our target market) who place training as one of the highest priorities in their life – so as long as we keep putting out content for free like we do now we’re gonna have people that are going to support us because it’s through that content or through those products that we sell that allows this content to be given out for free.
So it’s one hand feeding the other, and that’s that’s the business model that we have. That’s the philosophy of live, learn, pass on. That’s why this company was founded.”
And the deadlift manual is also clocking in at 23,000 words. These are educational novellas.
“The company wasn’t founded to compete with company ABCDE. I don’t give a shit about any of that. What I want to do is to educate and help people to become better, to break PR’s and learn that those same skills that they have in the gym can be applied to their own life or their business and become better there as well.
That’s what drives me. That’s why I do this.”
An Interview with EliteFTS Managing Editor, Sheena Leedham
EliteFTS’s managing editor, Sheena Leedham was kind enough to take some time out to break down their editorial process for me. As you’ll see, managing the tidal wave of content that they publish is a very involved process.
MK: Dave Tate wrote earlier this year – ‘There are 7859 articles live on the site (We deleted thousands of others with the site migration a few years ago). All of these run through our editorial staff from vetting > concept > check > edit > format > publish. It can take up to 6 weeks for some articles to publish.’
What does that process look like in more detail? How chaotic does it get when you’re looking down the barrel of coordinating 50-70 pieces of content from dozens of contributors each month?
SL: The schedule comes together very organically believe it or not. As our foundation, we have 34 columnists that follow monthly writing schedules with submission deadlines and publishing dates. Therefore this gives our monthly schedule cadence.
To supplement the schedule and based on the columnist topics, we consider sponsored coach and athlete submissions, including outside submissions. We want a mixture of what’s trending in the industry and what our readers come to our site to read daily: topics including powerlifting, bodybuilding, strongman, motivation, nutrition, training programs, strength and conditioning, coaching, special needs, and more.
The typical editorial path that each and every submission takes begins with a review by Dave and myself. At this point if it needs more clarification or development the article is sent back to the writer — this process takes as long as it needs until the piece is what we’re looking for. Once the article is complete (initially or through further development) it then is assigned to our associate editor for an edit.
Once edited, the article is reread, formatted (includes collaboration with Creative Director and/or Digital Media Editor ), and published on its appropriate date.
MK: Does the Editorial team at EliteFTS take SEO, keyword & topic research into consideration when you’re planning out your editorial calendar? Or is it more by gut instinct?
SL: We’re not choosing articles solely based on SEO. Instead, we package each article picked for the month to be SEO appropriate.
MK: EliteFTS.com appears to be a marriage of the Magento Commerce platform – for the online store – and WordPress acting as the content management system for all of your educational content. I realize there was a massive site migration a couple of years ago. How does your current setup compare with the old site?
SL: Our current setup, after the initial site migration, is much more customer-friendly and internal-friendly, comparatively. Just based on the new site’s configuration, we were able to provide a lot more options (sales and editorial) that we couldn’t provide before. We still have a lot of room to improve and are securing ways to be more mobile responsive — continuing to best serve our customer experience.
MK: EliteFTS has several hundred thousand backlinks pointing at it from close to 2000 different website domains. Does your team do any outreach to other sites? Or do sites just link out naturally to EliteFTS as a result of years of posting quality information?
SL: We don’t pay any sites to link out. I’d imagine it’s a combination of both. We’re an established company that has always produced quality information. Our customers, staff, and team members (past and current) allow this outreach to continue to evolve and stretch without limit.
MK: What does your distribution process look like these days when you publish new content? Is it simply a matter of posting it on your various social media channels and e-newsletters? Do you add anything else to the mix?
SL: We distribute our content via the website, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (occasionally), and Flickr. Our authors share their content through their social media channels and websites of choice.
MK: Dave Tate, Louie Simmons, Westside Barbell, John ‘Mountaindog’ Meadows, Rogue Fitness, etc.…
What’s in the water in Ohio?!??
SL: When boiled down to rid of all the chemicals, bacteria, and other microorganisms, it’s passion. Passion is contagious.
EliteFTS Book Collection
Speaking of long-form content…
The EliteFTS team has been writing and publishing books for many years. I get the feeling Dave would be writing no matter what his station in life was. The man has put out too many hundreds of thousands of words for me to think otherwise.
Here’s some brief synopses of select books that he’s penned.
Raising the Bar
“In Raising the Bar, Dave tells his entire story, warts and all. From a troubled childhood, passed off from one special education program to another and labeled “stupid” and “learning disabled,” to the pitfalls of success, Dave takes the reader through the entire experience, demonstrating and teaching the strategies he’s used throughout his life to prepare, perform and prevail in even the most hopeless situations imaginable.”
Under the Bar
“The book is not about training, but it is. This book was not written about business but it was. This book was not compiled to help you better your relationships, but it could be. This book was not written as a road map to help you achieve your goals, but it ended up that way. This book was written to show you that you already have all you need to achieve success in anything you choose to do. You just need to know where to look.”
Dave Tate’s Iron Evolution
“This is the story of his life. Originally published in multiple segments on www.t-nation.com, reprinted on www.elitefts.com, and read by thousands of aspiring lifters, it is now compiled into one ebook. This is as close to a Dave Tate autobiography as you will ever get. It is his life and training story, with an uncensored chapter for every step of the way.”
Gym Talk 5: Business Tips from a Mashed Up Meathead
“If you are a business owner, the chances are strong that you’ve read a few guides on how to operate a successful business. The chances are even greater that each of these guides has gone through a stringent editorial process that leaves the final product as a watered-down collection of ideas that includes roughly 50% of the original author’s message. The information that isn’t fun to hear gets cut, and empty encouragement replaces it.”
And They Dipped Their Toes Into Long-form Journalism
EliteFTS experimented with long-form journalism with ‘Price of the Platform‘ back in 2014, when Bryan Krahn was enlisted to research and write an expose on the long-term effects of powerlifting on the body and mind. It’s a powerful piece and one of the best on the site.
As I said, if the format exists, Dave Tate has tried it.
Dave Tate has been a guest columnist on sites like T-Nation enabling him to educate other audiences. He has 65 entries on there dating all the way back to July 2000. It’s actually on that particular site where I was first exposed to his writings, as were thousands of other EliteFTS customers.
Live Seminars and Events
Over the years EliteFTS has hosted and planned various live events such as:
- Sports Performance Summit
- Learn to Train Seminar
- Powerlifting Experience
- Open Underground Strength Session
And recently they just held the Strong(er) Business Summit 2017 at the Ohio State University – geared to helping others create the strongest businesses possible.
They Host and Champion a Special Needs Section on the Site
“Elitefts is the only strength site I know of that has an article category for Special Needs. While most the articles published are about Autism, there are also articles on Suicide, Addiction, Depression, PTSD, and others. Autism is much easier to write about as the others are “taboo” for those who have real-world experience to write”
How did migrating the entire site, killing off thousands of old pages and switching over to HTTPS affect search traffic?
The EliteFTS website underwent two major projects in 2016. First was the major site redesign. Second was the migration over to the more secure HTTPS.
From what I could see – other than a brief dip in the summer-fall of 2016, it looks like things only improved for them after. I’ve attached a graphic that tracks (estimated) search traffic. It looks like it absolutely skyrocketed around April 2017 – and then settled back down to a new high this past summer.
So from my take – the migration, switch to HTTPS (recommended by Google) and the EliteFTS editorial content workflow have only continually improved things for the site/business. In other words – they’re winning!
Featured Rich Snippets
EliteFTS is ranking on the first page of Google for 100 ‘How To’ search phrases.
[how to use lifting straps] – Volume: 1,300
[how to get yoked] – Volume: 880
[how to hit harder in football] – Volume: 880
[how to open a gym] – Volume: 720
[how to use a weight belt] – Volume: 720
[how to get into powerlifting] – Volume: 720
[how to sumo deadlift] – Volume: 590
[how to become a powerlifter] – Volume: 590
And they’re starting to capture a lot of those coveted featured rich snippets (position zero) in Google. They currently show up in the top search box for 2,841 keyword terms according to SEMrush.
Recommendations For Improvements
I know. I just spent 2500 words telling you how awesome EliteFTS is. But when you’re running such a juggernaut of an operation, small things either get back-burnered or de-prioritized.
My minor recommendations:
- Fix the broken links on the older videos on YouTube. It would be thankless and grueling work – but a lot of the links to products and articles (under the descriptions of the videos themselves on YT) now lead to either 404 pages or nothing. And some of those videos have tens of thousands of views and continue to find new viewers.
- Initiate an internal links campaign, directing traffic to under-performing pages with a lot of potential. With such an incredible inventory of articles, I’d run the content portion of the site through an audit with software like Screaming Frog (or similar) and find candidate pages to funnel link equity to.
- Make those deadlift, bench press, and squat mega-guide pages into ‘super powerhouses’. They deserve to rank much higher. Reformat them (table of contents, H2’s, H3’s, <ol>’s and <ul>’s to capture more rich snippet rankings, and I’d also layer in some videos throughout the sections.
- Remove that ‘Elitefitness.com’ link from the footer – or at least rel=”nofollow” it. That’s quite a powerful backlink being delivered from the footer of thousands of pages.
- Build an actual one-page super index for your Exercise Index – possibly broken down into categories (powerlifting / bodybuilding / programs / body part). The current index is a great start – but it runs 18 pages deep.
Your Content Marketing Takeaways
So what can we learn from this company who has basically delivered you a masterclass on content marketing over the past decade?
- The author(s) of your content should be writing with deep knowledge and passion for the subject. Authority matters!
- Go all in on a platform or format. Don’t shoot 10 videos. Shoot 200. Keep shooting videos until you’ve covered all your bases.
- Answer every question! Be the go-to resource of your industry. Be the answer to the search query entered into Google.
- This is a long game, not a campaign. Show up every week, for months, for years. It’s the accumulation of the info that you publish over time that will reap compounding benefits.
Alright – that’s it for tonight. I have to go attempt one of Mark Dugdale’s workouts in the morning.