SEO is sometimes assumed to be one of the black arts of digital marketing. True, there are a lot of tricky ways to get your way with Google search, but for the most part, merely making your content more accessible – easier for users to find and use – is what wins the day.
Keeping this in mind, most of my SEO engagements start with the simple harvesting of the SEO content wins that already exist, but are buried in most any website I review.
Here are a few of the things that I often look for and fix to give websites an immediate boost in SEO traffic.
1. Rewrite your headlines
There are two common mistakes I see with most websites headlines (landing page and blog post titles). First, we out-clever ourselves with journalistic flair and confuse the goal of the article. Second, we get the keyword, but we forget to add the benefit.
Let me address the fix to each of these together with a simple set of guidelines on how to write a good SEO headline – actually any headline.
Start with the keyword a close to the beginning as possible and then include a benefit to reading the article. To do this well, I recommend you doing the five to six times and pick the one that rolls off the tongue the best.
Here is an example of my process for this article:
- Get more traffic from your current SEO content
- Common SEO content mistakes you should fix today
- SEO content wins that are already on your website
- 6 SEO content fixes I make every time I audit a site
- 6 SEO content wins hidden in your current website
You be the judge of whether I picked the right headline. The vital lesson is to take a little extra time and make sure your headlines give readers and the Googlebot a reason to read on.
2. Add or rewrite your subheadings
Much like your headlines, the subheadings throughout your content is an essential guide for users and Google. These subtitles highlight where various subtopics and critical concepts that might be of particular interest are within longer pieces of content.
From a technical SEO perspective, these emphasized headlines, often using <h2> HTML tags, are an excellent place to insert your keywords. Don’t confuse this with keyword stuffing, which is not encouraged on, but rather a way to help a reader (or Google) to browse to the subtopics that are most interesting quickly.
Too many websites that I review are completely missing subtitles altogether. Take the time to write good, SEO relevant and reader assisting subheadlines in an article over 250 words. Which, by the way, should be all of them!
Okay, quick side note and tip. Currently, I am recommending that any content that is expected to have any chance of yielding significant SEO traffic must be at least 1000 words or more.
3. Know what is ranking and sending traffic
I know that not every marketing manager is an SEO guru, but I’m surprised at how many don’t have a good understanding of what content is yielding them traffic. Some of my clients came to me already spending a ton on content, most of which got buried on their site and never brought a single visitor.
Don’t do this.
There will be content that doesn’t bring traffic but know that and make adjustments. Don’t just keep churning it out hoping for different results.
Now that we have the obvious out of the way, here is the real value in this analysis – leveraging what’s already working.
When you find a substantial piece of SEO content, start brainstorming how you can make it more authoritative or broaden it to take even more keyword marketplace. I think of SEO marketing more like a battle plan. I’m looking for little strongholds on this vast map of keywords. I then use these strongholds to take more and more keyword territory, to dominate keywords that my customers use to search for my products or services.
4. Better organize your content
Google, and to a lesser extent, customers like neatly organized websites. There is a reason that retail stores – bookstores, supermarkets, department stores – layout their products in logical groupings. How frustrating would it be to find Harry Potter alongside business strategy books, chips in the freezer section, or dresses mixed in with men’s sports coats? As silly as that sounds, that’s what we do with most of our websites.
One of the exercises that I like to do with all new SEO engagements is to inventory and reorganize all of the content into a handful of categories. Categorizing content helps me to think more strategically about keywords and content that I’m using to secure those crucial keywords. Categorization of content also lets me quickly identify frivolous or wasteful content efforts. You should rarely waste time and money on an article that you don’t expect to bring you revenue.
5. Consolidate Your Content
My new favorite money making SEO content tactic is to consolidate content. As long-form content continues to do better in Google search, gets shared more, and gains more backlinks don’t be discouraged. You probably don’t need to write another word to feed your readers and Google more comprehensive content. Instead, you need to consolidate all of the tiny little articles that you have written and scattered haphazardly on your website.
On a recent SEO campaign, my client wanted to rank for (and gain traffic from) a pretty competitive keyword. My first reaction was that we were going to need to start busting out a lot of new content and fight our way into the keyword space since it was a keyword that we didn’t traditionally track. However, after a quick search of his site, I found six articles that touched on this keyword topic. Of those six, one of them already had some traffic and ranking for this keyword.
Long story made short, I took all of those articles, reorganized, and reshaped them into a more comprehensive guide to the broader topic and relaunched it as a rewrite and expansion of the one ranking article. Along with this consolidation, I also took the opportunity to rewrite the article’s headlines and optimized the subheadings, much of which was a slight tweaking of each of the old pieces that I rolled into this new “guide.”
The final product was an article that was over 5000 words in length and almost immediately (less than ten days) shot to position three on the first page and ranked for five additional related keywords that we were targeting. Disclaimer: Your results may vary, but probably not. You might not always get a home run like this, but I can almost guarantee that your rankings and traffic will increase with each of these consolidations.
6. Make sure sitemap is working
Here is one final point that isn’t as common, but if not done correctly can kill the SEO content performance of your website. Your sitemap, which is a more technical thing, is an XML file that lists all of the pages and posts on your site. This XML file is one of the ways that the Googlebot quickly scans your website for new pages and changes to evaluate for indexing into its search engine.
Most content management systems create this file automatically and keep it updated. However, if you’ve neglected your website or gone plugin crazy with WordPress, there is a good chance you have mangled or degraded the effectiveness of this critical SEO tool.
Improving your website’s Google search rankings and resulting organic traffic is often a matter of starting with what you have, building a stronger foundation, and then, and only then, diving into some of the more advanced SEO content strategies and tactics.
Do you want us to take a quick peek at your website? Contact us, and we’d be happy to do a quick SEO site review and give you a starting point to your winning SEO content strategy.