Five considerations for SEO content auditing

Oct. 01, 2013 | by Steve.Hutton

All Google algorithm updates continue to reward content that engages users, gets linked to and builds relevance around the brand and their products. Content audits are becoming a necessity in order to take stock of what content you have, and plan for what content you need.

Nailing your onsite content has a number of benefits for SEO including increased search engine saturation as more web pages become indexed, improved brand awareness, widening the sales funnel and increasing referrals from long-tail keywords that often drive conversions a lot more effectively.

I’ve carried out content audits for a number of clients and here are my top five considerations when putting together this sort of document:

1.       What have you already got?

It’s important to be aware of what content you’ve already got. Focusing your effort on areas you haven’t already covered will have a better return and provide quick wins. Start by listing out categories of products and see what content you have in these areas. For example, if you have a television category, a mobile phone category and a Hi-Fi category, then have you got content around these areas in the form of buying guides, testimonials, FAQs, glossaries of terms and reviews?

Use a simple spread sheet and list out your categories and what extra content sits around them:

content audit

2.       Competitors

This will give you a good basis for planning and visualising what you have and what you’re missing. There are of course more forms of content, and these should be picked as suitable for your industry. Perhaps video and imagery is more important than buying guides if you are a specialist in car valeting, for example.

Most businesses know who is performing well in their industry and it’s possible to take key insight from competitors based on what they’re doing, what sort of content they have, and how much effort they are putting into each category. You can use a simple chart like the one above for each competitor in order to see where you are in relation to them.

Simply spend some time on their sites with a consumer mind-set and see what sort of information they are giving to their visitors, and think about how Google might see this and the effect it’s having on their search engine visibility. You’ll notice the leader in your industry (who is performing well within Google results) will most likely have a strong content offering compared to smaller businesses that are competing in the niche.

3.       Internal linking

Internal linking is one of the most important factors with content auditing as there’s no point adding content to your site if it isn’t going to pass on the relevance and work hard to convert users. Pieces of content need to be linked to from the relevant pages, and link back to the relevant pages in order to create association and add value.

Sometimes content can live in a silo or on orphan pages (not internally linked to) meaning it is not sitting within the site’s structure and search engines can struggle to find and index this content. It’s important to help visualise internal linking and clearly communicate where links on the pages can be placed and on what pages they should be placed on in order to get maximum value.

4.       Keywords & Search Volume

Content should always factor in keyword research so you are able to understand what language people are using when searching for your products and services and any related information. Following up from the previous example, and having a look at your competitor’s content you might have established some ideas, but when you use Google’s Keyword Planner the search volume might be lower than what you expected:

keyword_searches

 

From here you can try other phrasings of similar guides and see what areas of content should be prioritised. In this circumstance Televisions would be the sensible area to explore. There will be a lot of other similar phrases that receive search volume and running them through the Keyword Planner can help you select keywords and phrases to include within your content and see where the potential traffic opportunities lie.

5.       Duplication issues

Work out how much of the site’s content is duplicated as this will play a role in how Google sees the content and assigns authority. This is more of a result of the Panda algorithm update, which aimed to devalue websites that lacked or used a lot of duplicate content. Likely areas for duplication include product descriptions and boilerplate copy that exists on multiple pages on the site and across other sites if it has been copied and pasted (for example generic manufacturer descriptions). Logging all this and creating a plan on how to remove it is important, and should be done alongside a full content audit.

There are technical methods to address certain forms of duplication including URL optimisation, canonical tag implementation, iFrame introduction and applying dynamic content feeds across areas of the site such as product listings with similar attributes and specifications so Google is fed unique content on each page it crawls.

Content is definitely an investment and core areas of your site should always have bespoke content written for them that is relevant, engaging and would add value to a user.

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There are many considerations that must be factored into every content audit in order to provide the right intelligence as an outcome. A successful audit will not only give you an idea of what you have and what your competitors are up to, but also what you need to be doing to keep up or overtake the competition. Having more comprehensive content will essentially bring the site more links and traffic from search engines which will result in more sales and profitable businesses.

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