Most people visiting your website will be on the hunt for vital information. Sounds generic, and rightly so. Unless yours is an e-commerce website where the person knows what they want right away, or a doctor’s office website where the prospective patient is merely looking for a phone number, your site’s content will matter.
Before we even get to SEO-specific elements, all of your site’s content should satisfy three primary conditions.
When a person lands on your website, whether they are reading your homepage, About page, or they’re perusing one of the posts on your blog, the content should speak to them.
People visiting your site have problems, questions, or issues. They may want to know how to fix a clogged drain or learn about your latest teeth whitening service.
Every aspect of your content should speak to your visitors’ needs, from text and images to video and sound bytes.
Only professionally-produced content will do for today’s discerning web user. Visitors to your site won’t tolerate poor grammar and misspelled words. They won’t go for boring, rehashed content that’s full of fluff.
Instead, visitors to your site want to be informed. They want an education. Most of all, they’re hoping to be somewhat entertained. Invest in excellent web copy and blog posts, professional images and photography, and put emphasis into putting a sleek polish on your site while giving your audience what it craves.
People landing on your website will be more likely to return if you can help them solve their problems.
Blog posts with step-by-step advice, whitepapers with clearly identifiable information to help prospects make a buying decision, and case studies that showcase your products as the go-to purchase for your prospects’ needs – these are all ways you can provide usefulness and value. Doing so will set your brand apart online.
If your website’s content is sparse or lacks in the way of relevance, quality and usefulness, recreate the content to make it more competitive and valuable for your audience. You’ll be doing your brand a service that will yield benefits long into the future.
If the content is good, it’s time to test the SEO elements that can make or break your website’s Google rankings.
Later in this chapter, we are going to use this tool yet again in our analysis of content, but it’s going to consist of a back-end content check. Most specifically, we’ll be using the tool to check our website’s Meta Titles, Descriptions, and Headings.
This tool is excellent for giving your web copy and blog posts a professional polish. The platform has a Chrome extension and Microsoft Word Plugin, and most recently the app began a beta test on Google Docs. I highly recommend Grammarly, which can check for all types of issues, like grammar and spelling errors, punctuation issues, and more.
You are also encouraged to use the spell-checkers that come with Microsoft Word and Google Docs, for example, just to ensure that your content is web-ready before you publish.
When it comes to SEO, we are going to follow a ten-point checklist. This checklist can be used for web copy and blog posts, case studies and YouTube videos, as well as e-commerce product pages.
Once you’ve completed the checklist, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your website and all the content it contains are optimized for prominent rankings and ready for visitors to land, stick around, and convert.
Google has long had to deal with duplicated content. Typically, scammers will employ what is referred to as “Scrapers,” which represent automated bots that swipe web copy word-for-word from authority sites. The hucksters can then paste that content on their own sites to benefit with higher Google visibility; and, once again, without having to do an ounce of work for those rankings.
Note: Some duplicated content may be unavoidable.
When a person pastes a portion of a site’s content onto a group forum with the intent of informing, educating, or entertaining, that’s okay. Google likes it when people post helpful stuff because it gives the search engine more valuable content to spread around (and thus make more advertising revenue).
It’s perfectly acceptable to swipe a Google review or testimonial from another location online and use it again and again to provide social proof.
If you are an authority on a subject and you’re giving a speech, and the organization hosting the conference uses a portion of your website in quotes, that’s not going to count as duplicate content in Google’s eyes.
The lesson here is that Google is becoming smarter by the day. Using a combination of precise algorithms and artificial intelligence, search crawlers can tell the difference between legitimate duplicated content versus content that is swipped in order to game Google’s system.
As the SEO auditor, your job is to identify any duplicated content that could harm your rankings by sending up one or more Google red flags.
Siteliner will perform a thorough scour of the web to determine if any portion of your website is copied in any way. Type your URL into the search box and, ideally, you’ll receive a message that no results were found.
You can even use Google to search for your site in quotes, to see if anyone has copied your site content outright, URL and all. In some cases, scammers will create a subdomain that looks like your domain, all while using your content to pose as your business. A scam like this could potentially harm your online reputation.
If Siteliner does return one or more results, truly examine them to make sure they’re not false red flags, such as those instances of acceptable dupe content above.
If you find that your content has been scraped, the best solution is to rewrite the copied content so that it’s unique and original.
See, the problem with duplicate content is that even if your site is the original, Google might not see it that way. Google can look at your site and determine its history and longevity, but why take the chance? You can request that the scammer take your scraped content down, but that’s not likely, especially if the trickster has managed to profit off your content already.
Therefore, if you find duplicated content, rewrite it or hire a copywriter to make the content even better than it was before, as that can usually help to avoid any penalties you might incur.
If you want to get good at writing headlines, I can’t recommend enough the free Headline Analyzer provided by CoSchedule.
After you insert your headline and click the Analyze Now button, you will be provided with a host of useful information. First, you’ll receive a score that will tell you if your site is acceptable or if it needs to be scrapped and recreated altogether.
You will also receive information related to how common your words are, and whether the words you use are powerful while striking at certain emotions.
You will also receive a “Length Analysis,” which is important since your headline may be viewed on a teeny-tiny screen. You’ll learn if your headline is the right length if it contains the right amount of characters, and so much more.
Once you use the tool a few times, you’ll start to get the hang of what Google and visitors look for when it comes to engaging headlines.
Aside from power and emotionally-driven words, ensure that your headline always keeps to its promises. If your headline mentions actionable tips, your blog post had better deliver. The lesson is to never mislead, make your headlines clear about what readers can expect, and use the free analyzer to polish up your headline copywriting for even greater effect.
You already know which keywords you should be using. Once again, a good habit to get into is to ensure the keywords appear as early as possible in every sentence, headline, or tag. This isn’t always possible, but getting a leg-up on the competition may be as simple as putting your keywords a little earlier in your content. Here are some examples. The keyword is Vegetable Farm Houston TX.
Vegetable Farm in Houston, TX | Betty’s Bountiful Basket
Our vegetable farm in Houston, Texas serves up all the fresh tomatoes, kale, lettuce, peppers, corn your fridge can hold. Visit Betty’s Bountiful Basket and stock up today!
Welcome to Our Vegetable Farm.
Homepage First Paragraph
As a vegetable farm serving clients in Houston, TX, Betty’s Bountiful Basket serves up fresh varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers of every variety, and several species of corn, among many others. Stop by today and fill up your basket with all your arms can carry. From our garden to your family’s dinner table, we are the farm to visit when you want the best veggies always served up fresh.
See how the keyword appears very early on, no matter where the content shows up or what it’s being used for? Get into that habit and you just might give your site a nice SEO boost over the competition, especially if those competitors fail to front-load their keywords.
Keyword stuffing used to be how scammers would attain higher rankings back before the practice became a penalty-worthy offense. A good way to think of latent keywords is that they are related in some way. A person landing on your site looking for Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills might also be looking for information related to a Face Lift, Tummy Tuck, Rhinoplasty or Nose Job.
These keywords should be sprinkled throughout your site, not to game the system, but to provide more value to your audience. Done correctly, and a side effect will be higher rankings for all or most of your keyword terms.
Earlier you checked the internal and external links throughout your site. When analyzing your site from a content-perspective, see if you can alter any of the hypertext to include your keywords or even latent keywords. The more variety you use when it comes to keywords, the better, as long as the hypertext is relevant to the content and subsequent landing page.
Web pages should be 300 words at least to provide adequate enough information, while blog posts should be at least 1,000 words. Some SEO professionals advocate 2,000 words for article posts. I’ve seen some articles have over 11,000 words and Google seems to like them – for the time being.
As a general rule, make your content long enough to convey the necessary information. In other words, never try to add more words just because. Only include more content if you have more to say, and the extra verbiage is necessary to improve value.
If a visitor lands on your site and finds a wall of text, that person will probably bounce before they read a single word. Whether your visitors are using a desktop, laptop, or mobile device, they should be able to read the words on the page effortlessly.
You can do that by using short sentences and paragraphs. Break up paragraph topics with useful subheadings and use bullet points and numbered lists for added effect.
Most people won’t read every word on a page. Instead, they’ll skim to find what they need. Help your visitors out by making your content easily-digestible with lots of bold, white space, and concise thoughts that add value to the page.
Aside from the headline of a page or post, or even an email newsletter, it’s the initial paragraph that will serve to “hook” the reader. You would be best served telling a story in the initial paragraph. The best stories are ones your reader can empathize with.
For instance, if someone lands on your website looking for information on Facelifts, you might start the page by conveying a story of a recent patient who found a new lease on life and supreme confidence following her facelift procedure.
Storytelling isn’t easy, and it might be worth it to invest in a skilled web copywriter who can tell a decent story. However you go about it, telling a good story can give your site a hefty boost in search rankings and conversions.
Put simply, good stories breed trust and loyalty because your readers feel like you understand where they’re coming from. And that’s always a great thing for your web profile and bottom line.
Google pays attention to which websites experience the most conversions. You can help your visitors convert by telling them what you want them to do. If you have a form, write above it, “Fill out this form to receive a discount on our latest product!” You may simply have a button that reads, “Buy Now!” under your latest product.
Never assume that visitors know how to contact you, subscribe, or make a purchase. Make the assist by writing in clear terms what you expect, and you should receive a conversion and SEO boost.
Here we are going to once again use the power of Screaming Frog, which allows you to view all of your websites back-end content in a single display. Below you see the primary menu, which offers you a chance to view your website’s Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, Meta Keywords, and H1/H2 tags.
When going down the list of titles and descriptions and H-tags, ensure that each one is unique. Never copy metadata from page-to-page. Each element should also be able to stand on its own without context. Your titles, for instance, should be able to tell visitors what’s on the page without reading the meta description. Same with all the other elements. They should be short, sweet, and keyword front-loaded if possible.
When analyzing the website’s content, take out any pages that don’t provide much in the way of value. Or, consider combining the useless pages to a more robust, existing page. Don’t forget to redirect any removed pages to eliminate crawling errors moving forward.
When going through the website’s content, ensure that each page has at least one targeted keyword. If you notice that two pages are optimized for the same keyword, that can pose a problem, as both pages will be fighting for dominance. That’s obviously not good.
Keyword cannibalization, more specifically, is when two pages vie for the same keyword ranking, but a lower-value page is ranking higher than a converting page.
Let’s say you have two pages selling fishing equipment. One page offers a call-to-action to subscribe to your newsletter, where visitors can get discounts, new product line information, and more.
Then, there’s another page on the site that optimizes for the same keyword, but that doesn’t really offer much in the way of value. There’s good content, but that’s all the page offers. Yet that page is ranking higher than the one that actually converts.
If you notice that a low-value page is cannibalizing your rankings, combine it with the converting page and redirect it or purge it all together. You’ll still have to perform the redirect.
Ideally, each page will optimize for a single keyword term. There are always exceptions, of course, particularly with larger websites. Incidentally, it’s those larger websites with tons of pages where keyword cannibalization is more likely to occur.
Finally, use Grammarly to check for spelling and grammar errors before you publish. This ensures that your web copy is polished before it’s considered visitor-ready.
The Word Plugin offers the ability to check for contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and plagiarism.
Of course, you can always upload or paste your doc directly into the Grammarly app. There, you’ll receive tips and suggestions for improving your writing before you commit to publishing.
With even a slight error potentially turning off a website visitor or customer, you should always run your writings through Grammarly or other apps to ensure you’re offering proper readability and the air of authority necessary to remain competitive long into the future.
With the on-site portion of the SEO audit complete, it’s now time to check those elements of search engine optimization that may affect your rankings offsite. We’ll start with your website listings, otherwise known as web citations.