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SEO Tips and News for Content Marketers - Issue #3

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The more content audits I conduct, the more I realize there's a gap between the quality we demand in
 

SEO Tips and News for Content Marketers

October 30 · Issue #3 · View online
Each month, I curate articles that I believe will be interesting to SEO-focused content marketers. Please subscribe to receive future issues!

The more content audits I conduct, the more I realize there’s a gap between the quality we demand in pieces of content we’re preparing to publish and the quality of our sites and content libraries as a whole.
We focus on making individual pieces of content as high-quality as possible, but that focus tends to end the moment a new piece of content is published.
Post-publishing, content decays, becomes outdated, delivers a poor experience to the misfortunate users who stumble into our blog graveyards.
We write new content on topics we’ve already covered. We keep publishing, always looking forward, never looking back.
Sometimes, we fail to even look around.
But truly focusing on quality means more than just making sure each piece of content you publish is high-quality. A true commitment to quality demands a more holistic approach.
To truly deliver on quality, you have go beyond just publishing high-quality pieces of content. You have to be willing to stop cranking out content every so often to consider the quality of the things you’ve already published, the quality of your user experience, and the quality of your site as a whole.

Why You Need to Take a Holistic Approach to Quality
“I’ve often said there’s never one smoking gun… Instead, there’s usually a number of things that can be improved across a site, from content quality to user experience to aggressive and disruptive ads to technical SEO problems causing quality problems, and more.”
“My advice has always been to thoroughly analyze your site through the lens of quality, which can mean several things. Don’t just cherry pick a few things to improve. Instead, improve the site overall.”
Gabe calls this the “kitchen sink” approach and provides many examples of how businesses increased their traffic significantly by taking a look at the quality of their sites as a whole.
Do you have technical issues that are making it difficult for search bots to crawl and index your site?
Do you have low-quality pages (created intentionally or unintentionally) that are making search engines perceive your site as lower-quality overall?
Do you have auto-playing videos? Do visitors have to close a series of pop-ups to view your content? Can people easily find what they’re looking for?
These are all questions you should be asking about your site regularly. Waiting for your site to suffer from an algorithmic penalty to start considering these things is the wrong time to do it.
In many companies, content marketers are the only people focused on SEO. If you’re in that situation, you have to consider more than just getting your keywords, intent, and quality right for the next post you’re publishing. It’s important to take time to consider the overall quality of your site.
Where to Start When Auditing Your Site's Quality
Gabe recommends running user studies to uncover quality issues. But there are lots of other things you can do as well.
When I start working with new clients on a content update project, I spend some time reviewing the content Google has indexed for their sites. You can see everything Google has indexed for a site by searching for site:yourwebsite.ext (ex: site:jessicagreene.marketing or site:youtube.com).
It’s a brutally boring task, but it’s as useful as it is boring. By reviewing everything Google’s indexed for your site, you can find pages that are indexed that shouldn’t be, pages that are broken and don’t redirect, pages that you didn’t know existed, etc.
One client recently had hundreds of author, tag, and category archive pages being indexed. These pages were just paginated lists of blog posts with titles and excerpts. They had no original content on them and received very few views. They were simply hundreds of pages of low-quality content.
Now, imagine you have 500 high-quality blog posts on your site. Additionally, you have 500 low-quality author, tag, and category archive pages. Google isn’t just looking at your 500 blog posts individually. It’s also looking at your site as a whole. And as a whole, your site is 50% quality and 50% garbage.
If you’re the only person at your company thinking about SEO, it’s not enough to just focus on optimizing individual pieces of content and promoting them to earn links. You also need to understand the basics of technical SEO and how you can audit your site for technical SEO issues that are dragging down the overall quality of your website.
Here are a couple of recently published resources I’ve found very helpful for coming up with a list of things to look for when auditing sites:
SEO Audit Checklist – A Step-by-Step Guide in 17 Stages (Sadly, this link isn’t working as I’m editing the post on Tuesday, though it was working when I added it over the weekend. I’m leaving it in anyway in case it’s just a temporary glitch because it’s a great resource.)
User-Generated Content Can Also Impact Site Quality
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m not a fan of blog comments. One of the best responses I’ve ever received to a Tweet was this, which pretty much perfectly sums up my overall sentiment on blog comments:
James Cook, I'm Pro-Crastinating
@JessGreeneMktg Somebody (not me) once compared the comment section of a blog to a long piece of tissue paper stuck to the shoe of an otherwise well-dressed person.

I see no value. In a fledgling blog, they reveal zero interest. In popular blogs, it's full of trolls and weird people.🤷‍♂️
4:05 PM - 12 Sep 2019
Personal feelings aside, Google’s John Mueller responded to a question in a recent Google Webmaster Hangouts about spelling errors in UGC, saying:
“If you provide this content in a way that we can index it, we will assume that it’s content that you want to have published. It’s not that our system will look at your site and say, ‘Oh, this was submitted by a user. The site owner has no control over what’s happening here.’”
“We look at it and say, 'Well, this is your website. This is what you want to have indexed. You stand for the content you are providing there.’ So if you’re providing low-quality user-generated content there for indexing, then we’ll think this website is about low-quality content.”
Lots of blogs leave their comment sections open for indexing, and lots of content marketers neglect blog comments, letting letting anyone post anything. But if you’re focusing on improving the quality of your site overall, that means getting rid of low-quality comments, too.
Other Interesting Things I Read/Watched This Month
6 Ways to Get More Organic Traffic, Without Ranking Your Website - Successful SEO isn’t always about getting your page ranked highly in the SERPs. Sometimes, it makes more sense to get your product listed on a page that’s already ranking highly. This post covers some interesting ways to leverage other websites’ content to drive traffic to your site.
150k Small Business Website Teardown Part Three: WordPress - Every part of this series so far has been awesome, but my favorite takeaway from this part is that “you knock 3.2 points off of your Google PageSpeed score for each and every WordPress plugin you install.”
How has Blogging Changed? 5 Years of Blogging Statistics, Data and Trends - Orbit Media’s 2019 survey of bloggers found that “bloggers who are also SEOs report ‘strong results’ at much higher than average rates.” Since this newsletter is for SEO-focused content marketers, I assume you all fall into that group, so high-fives all around.
The State of SEO Careers in 2020 and Beyond w/ Eli Schwartz - If you’re looking to grow your career in SEO over the next several years, take 40 minutes to listen to this video and learn more about the opportunities and challenges around building a career as a professional SEO.
Did you enjoy this newsletter? My goal is to send you useful information, so I’d love to hear your thoughts—positive or negative. You can let me know using the voting options below, or you can reply to this email to send me your thoughts directly.
I hope to see you next month!
Jessica Greene
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