As an agency, we consult with new prospects and clients on a regular basis.
One area that consistently “needs improvement” during our initial review is tailoring a website’s content strategy for new opportunities and a current-day approach to optimization.
Below are 13 common mistakes, best practices, and trends for 2022. Let’s get into it!
1. Meeting User Intents
We’ll start with the obvious, but a lot of webmasters are still stuck in the “write for Google” mentality. Rather than optimizing pages solely at the keyword level, it’s time to revisit your keyword research and bucket targeted phrases into user intents instead.
Giving users the experience they expect can help with conversions and SEO performance, creating a dual-benefit from the effort.
Often times, restructuring your content efforts to an intent-based approach requires migrating some of the existing copy throughout your website to other areas, providing different ways users can find and ultimately engage with you. The good news is better serving your users contributes to SEO lifts, which brings us to #2…
2. Moving “SEO” content off Ecommerce category pages
I know this one will be a little divisive, but old school SEOs hear me out. A user searching for “party dresses” most likely has transactional intent if the SERPs for the query are any indication.
A good result meeting the user intent would be a category page with different party dresses for sale, with filters for size, color, and other features, perhaps with a blurb of text about why the user should buy your party dresses.
While the SEO in you may want to add 1,000 words at the bottom of the category page and keyword research may suggest there’s a lot of demand for supplementary content about the phrase, that content is better reserved for an informational blog post or resource article elsewhere on your site.
Having extra content about the “best party dresses” or other secondary topics on the category page doesn’t meet the user intent, but you can still capture traffic about those topics with pages elsewhere in your site.
Instead, focus on making the page functional from a UX perspective, allowing users to easily sort and filter items to find what they’re looking for.
3. Formatting content for more search exposure
SERP features like Google’s “People Also Ask” drop-downs continue to appear in an increasing amount of search results. Often times, capturing this visibility requires a reformatting of your existing content with proper headings and presentation of your content into easily digestible formats.
Review the results for your target keyword phrases. Is Google showing SERP features with bullet points, numbered lists, or other formats? If so, this presents an opportunity to restructure your content to make it more digestible for users and more Google-friendly as well.
Take cues from who is already getting this additional exposure, follow their lead when reformatting your content, and apply the practice on new content initiatives moving forward.
FAQ rich snippets are another SERP feature which leverage schema to show answers to related questions within search results, creating the opportunity for more click-thru traffic to your website.
When crafting content where the user intent is informational, make sure there is a questions & answers section on the page to highlight at least two answers to common questions and capture additional search traffic from the effort.
4. Leveraging content for internal and external linking opportunities
Internal linking is an effective, easy way to tie related pages (both informational and transactional) together throughout your website. Often overlooked, it presents a strong opportunity to diversify anchor text pointing to key SEO landing pages within your website, increasing their keyword visibility for mid and long-tail keyword phrases.
If you’re investing in content but aren’t incorporating a strategic internal linking plan, or if you always use the same anchor text to link to pages internally, now is a good time to go through and better take advantage of internal linking opportunities. When properly optimized, it can really make a difference in the quantity of phrases you rank for in Google.
Equally important, there’s no need to be shy when linking out. Your link neighborhood is composed not only of who links to you, but who you choose to link out to.
Associate yourself with resources and experts within your industry, linking out to industry publications, organizations, government and educational websites, and other trusted places on the web where they make sense for the user. External linking helps establish relevancy and trust, and is of primary importance when improving “E-A-T” signals as well, especially for “YMYL” websites.
5. Incorporating Authorship
Authorship is another “E-A-T” signal, especially for “YMYL” sites. Ensuring your content is written by an expert in their field, and reviewed or edited by another expert as needed can give you an advantage in the SERPs.
Some websites may take this a bit too far, having content which is authored by Expert A, reviewed by Expert B, and fact-checked by Expert C, but for good reason – they know that proving expert authorship will help drive more SEO traffic and improve trust with their readers.
If you’re writing about a variety of topics, you may need multiple subject-matter experts to act as authors across your website. Each author should have their own biography page within your site, listing their experience, content within your site, and links out to social media profiles and other areas on the web which feature their work.
This is something Google can algorithmically pick up on, and is part of their Quality Rater Guidelines as well.
If your content is authored by “Staff” or “Admin”, you’ll need to make slight edits to these pieces and retroactively apply authorship to each page. It’s also a good opportunity to bring outdated pieces up-to-date as discussed in #6 below.
6. Maintain content freshness
For certain user intents, there is a benefit of ensuring content is up-to-date and relevant for the query. A user searching for “best TVs” shouldn’t land on a page written 3 years ago, as technology has evolved and the content would no longer be relevant for the query or beneficial for the user.
This isn’t always the case – there are certainly evergreen and factual topics which don’t need this extra attention, but it’s good to review during a content audit to find where improvements are needed.
When revisiting your existing pages to find opportunities to update the content, be sure to add a current date to the article (which you’ll need to regularly maintain every so often), ensure there is proper authorship associated with the page, and incorporate other optimization techniques outlined in this article. It’s easy to ignore old pages, but small updates can help boost their visibility in the SERPs once again.
7. Pay extra attention to your H1 tags
One trend we’ve seen from Google over the past year is rewriting title tags in search results if they believe a page’s title tag is (a) very long, (b) over-optimized, or (c) their rewritten title would create more engagement and better serve the user.
Often, Google will use part of a page’s text when it includes the user’s search query when rewriting a title tag. This is often a H1 tag, especially if it contains all or part of the keyword the user searched for.
Whether Google decides to show your title tag or display one of their own, consider giving users a reason to click on you instead of the other results. Highlighting your company’s unique selling propositions throughout your copy (“free shipping”, “best prices”, “5 star reviews”) can help earn a click-through you may have otherwise missed out on.
8. Reconsider low-quality pages
As sites grow, they often become bloated with excess pages that receive no traffic, no citations in the form of links or mentions, and no longer remain relevant present-day. A yearly content audit (especially for larger sites) can help identify low-performing pages that have no backlinks, get no SEO traffic, and are irrelevant to your current audience.
Depending on each circumstance, these pages can be removed, de-indexed, redirected, or rewritten & improved to maintain overall site authority.
Doing so can lift domain-level quality & help boost the visibility of your other pages, but be careful when making content removal decisions as it’s easy to nix strong pages, especially ones with natural backlinks if you don’t fully understand the potential value of each page.
9. Diversifying content efforts for a variety of purposes
Many webmasters consistently churn out conversion-based content and miss out on opportunities to create content that informs, positions them are an authority in their industry, earns backlinks and brand mentions, and creates goodwill. I can’t begin to tell you how many client publications I’ve reviewed where each post is something about their products with “buy now” messaging.
Creating content for a variety of purposes is the foundation of a well-rounded strategy, and content created for different purposes often has different formats, audiences, and tone. Outside of traditional keyword research, a good place to look for ideas is Google’s own Google Suggest drop-down recommendations for your keyword phrases. This will give you insight into additional topics you can write about which pertain to your business that people are actively searching for.
Further, branded content often gets overlooked but is an important part of any SEO content strategy. Branded content helps build trust & authenticity, creates knowledge panel opportunities, and can insure against any online reputation management issues should they arise in the future as well.
Detailed “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages with clear & consistent contact information is a required “E-A-T” signal and is further highlighted in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines. You can also leverage your brand’s story for corporate social responsibility initiatives and create goodwill with your users and community.
10. Repurpose content across other channels
There’s often opportunity to repurpose content across search, social, email, paid media, and other channels, but it’s rarely done. Often, different teams manage different channels with no insight into what the other teams are working on and it creates missed opportunities.
Data from an ebook or white paper originally meant to generate leads can be visualized and shared across social media channels to selected audiences. Excerpts from it can be sent to your email list, and a blog post could be made with a summary of the findings.
Collaboration amongst stakeholders can help you leverage these cross-channel opportunities and maximize your content investment across your digital presence.
11. Including visual media
Pictures, videos, audio clips – they’re all great ways to provide additional context to a piece of content, break up text, and increase engagement on a page. Incorporating various media on a page can help increase conversions too, building further trust with your visitors and bringing them deeper into your conversion funnel.
There’s a big traffic upside here as well with Google Images acting as the “#2” search engine and YouTube the “#3”. Always make sure efforts with images & video are properly optimized to encourage visibility within those platforms.
When choosing to incorporate additional media, make it’s appropriately sized and properly embedded to ensure page speed isn’t affected. Page Experience rolls out to desktop results this month, so site speed and Core Web Vitals are always something to keep an eye on.
12. “Near me” Optimization
Recent polls and studies within the SEO community suggest adding “near me” to your content can help it rank better for “near me” phrases and other locally-based queries.
I won’t say much more here except this should be done responsibly, honestly, and where it makes sense for the user… but the “near me” radius is up to you 🙂
13. Long-form & link-worthy content
Where appropriate, taking an in-depth dive into a topic can produce greater keyword visibility and more organic SEO traffic to a page. It can also help the page become more link-worthy and act as a “link magnet” that people can’t help but cite.
We’re often asked by new clients how they can become THE expert in their field, and deploying these linkable assets on a regular basis is an effective way to cross the finish line. In-depth resources can help position you as an industry thought leader, especially if you’re able to incorporate proprietary data and original research into the efforts (hint: survey your existing users & email list).
Long-form content isn’t necessary in all instances and we generally recommend shying away from minimum word counts (remember: write to meet the user intent), but we consistently find better performance with long-form pages when the topic warrants a lengthy article.
Examples of this are “Ultimate Guides”, long lists (“50 places to…”), and topics where you can visualize data in infographic or video format.
In addition to helping you rank better and attract backlinks, long-form and in-depth pages improve engagement and create internal linking opportunities to funnel link equity to your key SEO landing pages, encouraging them rank better in Google and ensuring your SEO performance throughout 2022 is the best it can be.
Need help with your content planning from here?
Internet Marketing Ninjas has been a “content first” link building & SEO agency since 1999. Let our proven strategies help grow your business and website traffic today. Contact us and we’ll be in touch soon!