Publishing content on the web can often seem a futile game. You can spend hours crafting long-form, information-rich blog posts for them to pick up few readers and fewer conversions, and waste countless afternoons tweaking your product/service descriptions for them to make no impact whatsoever.
But we often forget, publishing online follows different rules to publishing in the real world, where edition number one of your first hardback novel really has to count. Web content offers the invaluable advantage that after you send it out, you can edit, change, test, and alter it as many times and as often as you like. And you’d be crazy not to: updating and republishing old content has been shown to increase traffic by more than 100 percent. Not to mention that high-quality content is up there with link-building as one of the most important SEO signals that Google uses to rank your site.
So take some time off from churning out new content and make sure what you’ve already published is performing at its best with a quick, but thorough, SEO content review.
The who and why of user intent
As search engines get smarter and smarter, user intent only becomes more central to the art of search engine optimisation. User intent goes way beyond what keywords a page contains and looks at the semantics, context, and tone of the surrounding copy to see who and what needs it’s serving.
As a ranking factor with such deep roots, you want to check your content for its user intent before anything else. You can do this by running your content past an accurate and up to date description of your audience, containing everything from general demographic info to what they had for tea last night. With advanced insight tools like Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics, it’s easy to build up an incredibly detailed picture of who’s reading your content and why, and then use it to ensure your content is targeted and fulfilling a purpose.
User intent can also be broken down according to stages in the customer journey. For example, depending on how close to purchasing they are, a user may be looking for content that is navigational, informational, or transactional. And that brings us to keywords: although they’re not the be all and end all of intent, they do provide important markers for search engines and users. A quick assessment of title tags, image alt attributes, URL, and the body will make sure your keywords still align with the needs of your audience and the goals of the content.
Refining the package and tying the bow
After reviewing the meat of your content, you want to assess the package it comes in. User experience is becoming increasingly important in SEO, not only because of its direct effect on search rankings but also its ability to increase impact through organic sharing and distribution.
This part of the review process is best performed by splitting it into two parts: writing and design. And by using a grading system, like this one from Moz. Whatever system you choose, though, on the writing side, it should cover spelling and grammar, paragraphs, emphasis/bolding, headlines and subheadings, images, and voice. And on the design side, continuity, call to actions, brand alignment, hierarchy, and layout.
With a rubric that grades your content according to these criteria, you can quickly see which pages and pieces need the most attention. Then it’s simply a matter of bringing them up to standard while keeping in mind your audience, their intent, and the particular stage in the customer’s journey it serves.
And there you have it, a simple but effective SEO content review. Easy as it sounds, though, keeping your content performing at its best is a never-ending process that requires regular auditing and updating. And so you should make reviewing web pages and blog articles a part of your content strategy to ensure you stay fresh in the eyes of Google and your audience.