A client who I had a short term SEO contract with came to me after not having much success with a previous agency. Their site had some falls and lost traffic, and the agency told them they just needed backlinks. This could be further from the truth. The issues were tech, content and site structure.
Tech was out of our control for the project, but we did send a detailed report with what to do (at least from a starting point). What was under our control is the content on the pages, where it links too, and how the navigation works. After auditing the content, it became clear that this was one of the biggest opportunities to increase their search engine visibility, so that is what we addressed first. It included rewriting, deleting and adding.
The screenshots below are from this tool which I use for rank tracking on specific keywords and phrases. I have it set from when I first added the keywords to be tracked (pre-implementation of the content) to today 6/30/2019 after two major Google updates. Because the contract was short term, we did not get to implement everything I wanted too, but there is a chance we’ll be re-engaging in the future as we did generate positive results.
The niche is noticine and vaping which is highly competitive. The competitive nature is because of the limited ability to advertise on traditional advertising platforms like Facebook and Google Ads.
Below are screenshots with the results from the content implementation. Implementation is not 100% complete yet, so I’m excited to see as they finish and continue with new content creation. After the screenshots you’ll find the steps we took, and how we implemented them to generate these results. The client’s name has been blocked, even though they said I can use it, and you’ll find the results highlighted in the red boxes.
The green numbers show the climb in positions in Google, Yahoo and Bing. The blue number is where the company’s website currently ranks in Google, which was our focus for this optimization. The second red box has the total monthly search volume for these keywords so you can see the level of competition and traffic at stake. Click any image to scroll in and see it closer.
Step 1: Redo product copy and provide education to the product team.
The most important role an SEO can play is to work with the client’s team, and to teach them what you know. Don’t worry, they don’t fire you when you share your “secrets”. If you are good, they will use you as a sounding board and second set of eyes to check and make sure everything is done to work for both their brand and SEO. It also makes your job and your life easier. Start with the product, merchandising and branding teams and educate them on SEO relevance, and how it can work with the brand while making the search engines happy.
Relevance in this instance is staying focused on what is on the page itself is about, defining what the person will find, and helping the end user know what to do when they reach it. Think about selling an iPhone case, don’t talk about the phone, talk about the case and how it enhances the phone. For this client, the flavor of vape juice could be a dessert. Talk about how the juice tastes like the dessert, not how the dessert tastes. You’ll want to avoid the ingredients that go into the dessert and why the dessert is a popular choice. It is about a juice that tastes like the dessert.
Step 2: Write category and sub category copy.
The next thing was to redo or enhance the category copy. Category copy in this case should start with letting the website visitor know that they found the right page where they can locate the products they are searching for, or have a the most relevant selection to choose from if it is a sub-category. It should not define what the products are.
The next step is letting the person know how to use the page including the filters, and narrowing options to locate the best solution and meet their needs. Afterwards we created answers to common questions specific to the category, and only this category. That means no product questions and no overall category FAQs. Just relevant ones to the specific category or sub-category.
Step 3: Map the internal links.
Next we created a map of all internal links by spidering the site. Once complete, we began going through all blog posts, category and product pages as well as landing pages. We changed out all internal links that would:
- cause confusion by linking to multiple pages from similar keywords/keyword phrases and pointed them to the correct or a single page
- deleted any internal links which would not provide value to or help a visitor (this is important for quality raters in my opinion)
- deleted any internal and external links that point to dead pages or pages where product is not available
- changed any internal links that point to redirects so they now land on the final destination page
Step 4: Edit existing copy that isn’t ranking or ranking as well as it could
The next thing we did, and also did in between, is to look at the current content. The main goal here is to evaluate if it is optimized for answer boxes and featured snippets, and serving a purpose for the end user. If the content is not adding value or serving a purpose, then we asked ourselves how can we restructure it so that the copy does provide the best possible experience?
If it is optimized for en experience, then we looked to see if we are we getting traffic from the content or no? If no, we asked ourselves how can we get traffic. The starting point was to go to Google and look at what is showing up for the keywords with larger search volumes. We then did a case-by-case analysis to check the coding and formatting of each piece of content. In some cases, you may find that the content could be better in a table, list or paragraph. By changing this, you may be able to get an answer box or increase visibility because you’re now providing a better experience by displaying your copy better.
Step 5: Monitor how many long tail keywords get added to the top 100 positions in Google
The big volume keywords aren’t the only important ones too look at. If you want to see that your copy is providing solutions and written well for Google, look for an increase in total keywords that appear in the top 100 positions in Google, Bing and Yahoo. By doing this you can get a better understanding of what the search engines think your content is about (by looking at the modifiers added to the main phrases) and also begin to better optimize the copy. If the modifiers that are showing up are not relevant for the page, that means you may need to redo the copy so that it more clearly defines what the person will find if they arrive on the page.
Although backlinks may seem like the go-to option when you’re in a competitive niche or industry, it isn’t always the answer. SEO can and should always be looked at in parts. Backlinks, content, code, structure and user experience. Each of these play a role in how well a website can rank. If the site has a solid backlink profile and quantity, that is unlikely why it isn’t ranking. In the case above, it is a content and structure problem. By working to resolve this, we were able to gain in rankings by creating a better experience for the customers on the pages themselves.