content optimisation guide

Content, content, and more content! That is what SEO is all about these days, right? In the last five years,  content has consistently been one of the most popular topics in the domain of digital marketing. There are various tools out there that focus on content analysis and optimization, and overall, for the most part, it seems to dominate the SEO tips and tricks lists.

Are you taking your website content seriously? If you are not, this might change your mind:

This graph shows the growing popularity of ‘Content Marketing’ in Google searches in the last three years. And with this popularity, its influence on SEO is truly obvious.

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But why is content dominating the SEO scene now? How important is content to your SEO strategy? Most importantly, how can you strategize the content of your website to work for both the user and the search engines? Word games aside, this post is meant to help you figure out possible causes of your below par content and how to improve it.

Why does a certain type of content underperform?

Over 90% of all content does not receive any traffic from Google. Ninety damn percent! This means nine out of ten pages are unlikely to get any organic traffic at all – food for thought.

There can be many reasons that your content isn’t doing well, but the brutal truth is often simple: your content just isn’t good enough, isn’t optimized, and simply doesn’t deserve ranking in the top 3 organic positions.

Here are the most common reasons your content might be performing poorly: They’re listed in no particular order, and we have decided to highlight some of the most common issues:

  1. The content is not user intended,
  2. It’s not in an ideal format in the eyes of Google,
  3. It’s way too “thin” compared to the other comparable ranking,
  4. Your technical format changed the indexing status of the page,
  5. Your site is a victim of duplication or cannibalization,
  6. Your page has lost visibility after drastic SERP changes, or
  7. Your content has no backlinks.

How to fix underperforming content

Below is a list of suggested actions to improve the underperforming content that you can implement to expand on individual concepts.

Make sure your page can be crawled and indexed “properly”

  • Make sure your page doesn’t fall under the blocked resource sections of Robots.txt
  • Make sure your page isn’t tagged with a meta robots tag with no index or a canonical tag that points to another location (a self-referencing canonical tag is something you might want to consider, but not at all is mandatory.)
  • Check to see if there is a canonical tag pointing to your focus URL on other pages. Irrelevant or poorly created canonical tags are often ignored by Google. You can check to see if this is the case through the URL Verification Tool.
  • Make sure your website (not just your page) is free of any non-SEO-friendly JavaScript. This allows important elements on the page to be changed (e.g., headings, text content, internal links, etc.).
  • Make sure that your page is linked internally on the website and that your website has an XML sitemap.

Understand search intent

Search intent is a fascinating topic in and of itself, and there are plenty of great resources on the topic if you want to dig deeper. Simply put, you should always research what the SERP looks like for the topic in question: by analyzing the SERP and all of its functions (organic and non), you can get a much better understanding of what search engines are looking for and match intent.

By examining the SERP, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What kind of content does Google prefer here: transactional, navigational or informational content?
  • How competitive are the keywords in focus and how relevant are these competitors to you?
  • Which content format does Google present in the SERP?
  • How comprehensive should the content be to be able to rank on page one or first overall?
  • What keywords are used in the competitor’s metadata?
  • Which organic functions should be considered to address them within the content (e.g., featured excerpts, questions from people, top images, etc.)?

Hopefully, all of the above questions give you a realistic view and overall idea of your chances of ranking on Google’s first page. Don’t be afraid to also dabble in PPC for some of the very competitive keywords where your opportunities for organic rankings are extremely slim and unprobeable.

Write great metadata

  • Title tags are still an incredibly important on-page ranking factor. Make sure you are to the point and clear when writing unique and keyword-rich titles.
  • Meta descriptions are no longer a ranking factor, but they still play a role in enticing the user to click on a search result. From a CTR point of view, they’re still very important.
  • SEO keyword research is an obvious choice to write compelling metadata, but don’t forget about PPC ad copies too – check out which PPC ad copies are best for your website and draw inspiration, learn from them.
  • However, rookie mistake, don’t change metadata too often. Make sure you do your homework and give enough time to properly test new metadata once it’s implemented.

Final thoughts

Content underperformance is a very common problem and it shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially considering that content is one of the, if not the top-ranking drivers in 2020. With the right tools, technical team, and processes, anyone can learn to solve this problem: SEO is not black magic, the answer is more logical.