Once you’ve gone through the technical checklist, there’s still plenty more to get your teeth into when going through your site’s SEO with a fine toothed comb.
On page factors could be having an impact on your site. By carrying out a content audit and a making sure that you are targeting the right keywords, you could boost your organic traffic or find what it is that has been holding it back.
A Content Audit
Any content strategy, which should be a major component of any halfway decent SEO plan, should include a content audit. It means having a look over all the existing content on the site to ensure that it is relevant, consistent, and accurate.
Firstly, a content catalogue needs to be created so that you can see exactly what you have. Organise it all into a single Word doc or spreadsheet with clear section and sub- headings. For example, you might have it listed in the spreadsheet as WeaselCorp > About Us > The Team > I R Baboon.
To help you keep everything in order, you can try colour coding different parts of the site or numbering them in sections, i.e. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 etc.
The Task at Hand
Now you can carry out the content audit. Grade each piece on a scale from 1-5, 1 being “chuffing awful” to 5 being “possibly the best blog post ever created.”
But what should you be looking for in your great content?
Does the content deal with things that really matter to your business?
The pages, titles, subheadings and headlines should all point to a relevant topic for your business. In addition, does all the content as a whole deal with all of the aspects of your business or are some areas covered in more details?
Accurate and Timely
Is the content still saying things that are important to your business, or are they full of dead hyperlinks and products which you no longer sell or service?
Make sure that everything is factually accurate and anything that is not should be updated or even just binned.
Serving Both the User and the Business
With many people in your company often having a say on your website, sometimes there can be confusion as to who the content is for. Remember, anything that appears on your website needs to be both for the person reading it and it needs to be good for the business. For example, calls to action need to be clear and direct but not impact on the user experience.
People Reading the Content
Analytics come in when carrying out a content audit to help you to see which pieces of content are really working for your business.
Which articles and pages are being found and read? Is it getting shared? Does it have a low time on page/high bounce rate – Are people quickly moving off the page or off the website? Are people following the call to actions? Content needs to be working for readers or it’s just pointless.
Any content needs to be free from errors, grammatical, spelling or in the tone. Read content aloud to ensure it sounds right and use spell check along with having a proper read through of everything to check for mistakes. Create a style guide for content and stick to it, keeping all acronyms and idiosyncrasies standard across the site. Hyperlinks should all open in the same way, such as opening a new tab within the browser. Captions and headlines should be consistent.
Make sure content is ordered in a sensible way, that links go to the appropriate places and that there isn’t any redundancy, such as multiple menu items that say the same thing in different places.
A Consistent Voice
Your brand will have a particular way of talking, all of them do. Compare Innocent Smoothies to an insurance firm. Both are valid and appropriate but very different. Whether your brand voice is high and professional, or fun and chatty, this needs to be consistent across the board.
Make sure you review all of the titles, keywords (more on this later), headings, subheadings, metadata and image tags.
You need to ensure that you are using the keywords that you need to be, that everything is used correctly, and that images have alt-text and title tags to ensure that they are search engine-friendly.
Once you’ve done a full content audit, you will be able to see what you have that is great, where there’s room for improvement and where there are gaps. Perhaps you need to look at your industry as a whole, or create more content about shipping for example, if you find this area lacking. This can drive your content strategy in the direction it needs to go.
On page content for SEO does still need to be keyword driven. After all, keywords are what people enter when searching on Google and Bing.
Here are some key areas you need to consider when doing any keyword research.
If you are operating in a specific area geographically, then you need to use location terms – specifically the ones that people in that area are using. If you use these, you make your search targets less generic and this will help you to rank.
A long tail keyword is one that uses more specificity. They are longer and less generic, generally receive much lower search volumes and usually are easier to rank for. Long tail keywords are also linked to higher success rates when visitors use them to visit your site.
Look out for terms relating to services or products which you don’t provide but that are related. It can help with cross selling and additional traffic to target these terms.
Consumer and Business Terms
Make sure that any search term targeted is done in the right way. For example, someone looking for a label printer will be looking for something different if they are a simple consumer who wants to print labels at home or a business who is looking for a company to produce labels to affix to their products.
Google Analytics and Keyword Planner can help you with your keywords in relation to your business specifically when there is lots of competition for your preferred terms.
User intent must be clear. To analyse this, we can break keywords down to three distinct types. Navigational, which is specific to a site, informational, which is when a user is looking for specific information or transactional, which is when a users wants to mediate their activity with a number of sites.
You need to make sure you are using any appropriate variations in the terms that users are searching for. This means synonyms, nicknames and all possible names that people could be searching for.
With many people using voice to search, it can be good to cover long tail keywords that come in the form of W questions – who, what, when, where and why. And how. Just to ruin the alliteration.
What tools can I use for Keyword Research?
Übersuggest is one of the most popular tools for SEO folks. It’s really simple, you just type the term into a box, select the language and source, and voila, there are the suggestions. You can click each term to get some suggestions based on that and every suitable keyword is added to the basket of terms by clicking the plus sign which means they are all in one place after you’ve explored thoroughly.
While Google providing us with (not provided) keywords is frustrating, Google Analytics is still a very useful tool. You can find keyword data in Acquisition Tab > Campaigns under Paid Keywords and Organic Keywords.
If Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools) and Analytics are linked, you can go to Acquisition Tab > Search Engine Optimisation and look under Queries.
Site search is another good place to find info. Go to Behaviour Tab > Site Search > Search Terms.
All data gathered can be exported using the Export button.
Another great free tool is Google Trends. This can help you see search trend data stretching back to 2004. You can filter by location to see what people are searching for in your country vs. everywhere else. If you add popular services or products of yours you can see how they trend. There is also a forecast function when there is enough data.
Keywords data in Search Console can be found via Search Traffic Tab > Site Search Analytics.
Used for organising PPC campaigns, can help you see trends and identify keywords you should be using. You do need a Google AdWords account to do this but you don’t have to be actively using it.
One great way to use the planner is to use competitors’ websites to help you come up with keywords. Simply enter their landing pages into the ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’ dropdown and click Get Ideas, then Keyword Ideas. Set the column to descend from LOW and you have low competition terms to use on your own site.
Using Google can bring up helpful long tail terms. Autocomplete fills in search results with genuine common queries from users. Make sure you set it to incognito before you search so that it doesn’t use your own searches a la Louise Mensch!
You can come up with vast lists of synonyms for your keywords using Meta Glossary.
Answer The Public
If you are looking for keyword searches for content marketing, then Answer the Public is great. It uses W questions to generate popular queries relation to an item. These can be found in beautiful data trees and also in tables where they can be easily exported to CSV for ease of viewing in Excel. This means that you can tailor your keyword content to the terms that people are actually searching for.
To really make the most of these tools, we recommend the three tool cheat:
- Use Übersuggest for your main keyword and get all of the results.
- Post into Excel and click Remove Duplicates.
- Now use Google’s Keyword Planner and add the de-doubled list to the ‘Find New Keywords section. Add your targeting criteria and then click Get Ideas. Load up a page with Ad Group Ideas as the default tab.
The Keyword Ideas will now have a full list of long and short tail keywords you can target, along with the information about average monthly searches, competition levels and suggested PPC bids.
Coming up in part 3: Off-site tips – link building and social media.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.