If you're unsure whether blogging or other content creation will make a difference in your 2018 marketing, you should begin by measuring the health of the content you already have.
Yes. Stop. Seriously. Don’t write a single word until you read this.
Want to save valuable time and resources? Examine and refresh your existing content.
I’m going to give you a head start.
Here are the top things you should look for, and fix in your existing website content:
Does Each Page Have a Goal?
Too much content is being created for the sake of content. Your content will be much more effective if it’s focused on solving your readers’ problems. State your purpose at the onset. It should educate, inform, and even entertain.
Think about your reader: how you want them to feel, behave, and improve after reading. This is what makes the difference between an engaging website and self-serving brochure-ware.
Tip: Lead-off your product pages with benefit-minded phrases and show customers a problem-solving mindset.
Do You Have Unique and Descriptive Page Titles?
Page titles are such important content elements, yet they’re often neglected and misunderstood. Page titles live in your page’s coding and show up on the search results page as the clickable headline. They play a major role in helping both Google and the reader understand what your page is about.
Example of a good title tag from Egoscue.com (notice the keywords and brand inclusion):
Not only does it give the reader an effective preview of the page content, but it also offers search engines something to rank.
Tip: Rewrite your page titles using this basic rule-of-thumb: Unique, descriptive page titles of around 70 characters or less.
Check on Your Meta Descriptions
Meta Descriptions show up in the Google Search results as your page descriptions. They don’t directly influence SEO but they do entice the reader with engaging descriptions of the on-page content. Be sure your Meta Descriptions are complete, detailed sentences from 50-300 characters that effectively preview the page topic.
Here’s an example of a meta description from Google:
Tip: Like your Page Title, the Meta Description can be updated through your Content Management System (CMS). In WordPress, for example, you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO.
Do Your Main Headings Work?
Unlike the Page Titles I discussed above, Main Headings are seen on page and serve as the topic-setting description of what the page is about. Just like your reader, Google sees this as the primary content piece on the page so it’s important to be descriptive and relevant. The Main Heading is formatted in most CMSs with the H1 tag.
Tip: Use the H1 font formatting for only one Main Heading per page. You’ll avoid confusing both readers and search engines alike.
Enlist the Use of Descriptive Subheadings
Subheadings are useful page elements, mostly because they break up long bodies of text and allow your reader to skim. Make sure your content leverages the use of these subheadings with words and phrases that support main heading. If your main heading is the big top, your subheadings are the strong tent poles.
Tip: Subheads should serve as an outline for your topic. Before writing, map out your subheads first.
Avoid the Keyword Jam
Once a common practice, stuffing keywords into your copy over and over is a no-no. It causes an awkward read and is an obvious red-flag for Google. The best SEO engages readers and search engines alike.
Tip: Stay on topic and use the terms your readers search for in a natural fashion.
Is it Readable?
“Nothing makes you want to leave a web page more than landing somewhere and seeing a massive, intimidating wall of words.” My colleague Steve wrote this in a recent blog post on more usable paragraphs. I recommend you read it, because sometimes writers lose objectivity about their content.
Tip: Be kind to your reader, using short, scannable paragraphs. Avoid the mind-numbing wall of text.
Make Images Work for You
People love articles with pictures. In fact, articles with images get 94 percent more total views than those without. This includes photos, design graphics, and infographics.
Tip: The general rule of thumb is one picture for every 150 words.
Using Internal Linking?
You should make a point of cross referencing your blog posts with keyword-rich internal links. It serves multiple purposes:
- Helps search engines crawl your site
- Search engines interpret your content as being related and website relevant
- Keeps the reader on site for longer engagement
Tip: Do a site search on specific keywords and find commonly themed pages.
Finish with Strong Calls-to-action
This is the icing on the cake for every piece of content you have. All pages should finish with a directive for your reader. Tell them what action you’d like them to take next. Learn more, buy now, contact us, sign-up for our newsletter... all of these are useful.
Tip: Be sure your CTAs explain how following-through will make their lives better.
Examining your existing content should be your first step in launching your 2018 content marketing activities. Take some time and diagnose your content’s health with these instructions:
- Focused Page Goal
- Unique Page Titles
- Descriptive Meta Descriptions
- Powerful Main Headings
- Supportive Subheadings
- No Keyword Stuffing
- Short, readable Paragraphs
- Attractive Images
- Internal Linking
- Strong Calls to Action
Perform this task on an annual, or biannual basis. It’s one of the most effective uses of your time and resources, and can boost your decent content into super-performing, high-traffic pages.
Liquid performs dozens of content audits for businesses each year. We’d love to help you diagnose your content and get on the right track for 2018. Give us a shout.
About Jeff Doubek
Jeff Doubek is a Digital Content Strategist at Liquid focused on developing and executing content plans as part of the broader UX strategy for website redesigns, and supporting the creation and execution of content strategies for integrated digital marketing campaigns.