We’re proud of the fact that over 65% of the traffic to the SHE Media Partner Network is from organic search. But it didn’t happen overnight, nor did it happen without partners, editorial teams and writers that take their content seriously. They’ve educated themselves on the workings of Google and lean into data to make their content decisions. If you’ve been hustlin’ away on your blog and aren’t seeing any traffic from Google organic, it’s time to ask yourself the hard questions!
1. How much do you know about SEO?
That’s a fair question, right? There’s an entire industry dedicated to understanding and consulting on search engine optimization. I’ve been working in SEO for over a decade and I still learn new things all the time. Google changes things all the time, it’s hard to keep up. But as a blogger, you should at least know the basics of optimizing your content for search. Otherwise, how will you know what factors into Google’s algorithm? There are some SEO tools that will certainly make optimization easier, but more important than tools is the general knowledge of how Google & SEO actually work.
Google’s organic rankings are more competitive than ever. Your blog post is up against literally millions of others targeting the same topic and key-phrases. It’s important for you to know both technical SEO best practices and also on-page SEO best practices. If you’re looking to learn more, here are some resources for you:
2. How often are you posting on your blog?
“How often should I be posting?” is one of the most common questions I get when working with our SHE Media partners. It’s also one of the most common issues I see when first looking at their blogs. I always stress that yes, of course, it’s quality over quantity, but also that one of the very first SEO mantras was “content is king”. Not all niches require the same rate of content published, but for the typical blogger, your goal should be to publish at least 3-4 high-quality blog posts a week. Bloggers in the News biz would aim for higher. When I see bloggers publishing content once a week or only several times a month, I have to wonder how serious they are about their brand. The question then becomes, will Google consider you authoritative for your subject matter if you rarely publish content?
Read more on publishing frequency recommendations.
3. Is there thin, low-quality content on your blog?
Partner I talk to about thin content are usually thinking of the content they’re creating now. They seem to forget about the first five year’s worth of posts about what they had for dinner or what they’d done that day. But that content counts too. Every single page of your site should be able to stand on its own as useful and usable to the reader. When it comes to cleaning up thin content, you should start with a content inventory. Use Google Analytics to tell you the posts that no longer get traffic. Once you’ve found those posts, do one of two things with them. If it’s a topic you would still write about today, it’s still relevant to your brand, then make it better. Flesh it out, get new images, rewrite paragraphs, make it not thin. If you find content on your site with angles that you’d never in a million years write about today, dump them!
And as you move forward with your content, keep the evergreen pieces up to date from year to year by refreshing them.
4. Are you over-doing it with affiliate links?
A common myth is that affiliate links are bad for SEO, but that’ not necessarily the case. If your blog post has exceptional content that happens to link to a product via an affiliate link, that’s fine. And even better if truly believe in the product and think your audience will too. Products repped throughout your posts should align with your niche so they don’t feel out of place. If you are using affiliate links throughout your content, make sure your content goes above and beyond on the user value. Thin content plus affiliate links is the kiss of death when it comes to SEO, you won’t stand a chance.
I recently worked with a blogger who posts fashion and style content, an easy match for affiliate opportunities. But the published posts were more like two intro sentences and then 20 product links. This isn’t helpful for the user and can seriously jeopardize the trust of your readers. Strategies like this will likely keep you far from the top of Google rankings.
More details on SEO and affiliate marketing working together.
5. Are you (or the blog post author) an expert on the topic you’re writing about?
Several years back, Google came out with some guidelines on E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trust. You can read more about it here, but Google has gone on record saying that it is a part of their algorithm. The details of exactly how remain unknown, but the idea is that for certain content niches (primarily ones where misinformation can result in actual harm to your life and well-being, like medical information, legal advice or finance), Google has stricter qualifications for the results.
Even if your content doesn’t fall within those YMYL (your money, your life) topics, Google heavily favors qualified experts in the search results. It’s important that you too, know what you’re talking about on your blog. It helps with the quality, the authenticity and the passion behind your words. Readers can tell.
6. How is the user experience on your blog, particularly on mobile?
Have you checked? When was the last time you spent 30 minutes on your iPhone, navigating through your blog the way a user would? We do this manually for each site we audit and there are a few big things we’re looking for:
Speed – did it take too long to load? This is a serious issue from a user perspective. If the content hasn’t loaded on the site in several seconds max, the odds are the user will head back to the results and pick again.
Navigation – can the user move seamlessly throughout your pages? Adding related internal links towards the bottom of your post can assist in getting the user to view one more page on your site. Can the user get back to the homepage easily? It’s also helpful to have a search feature so users can look even deeper into the site for information they’re looking for.
Security – users care about this now more than ever. It ties back to the topic of trust. Make sure your blog is on a secure server (https vs http).
And leading to the next question on our list, we’re looking at what the ad experience are like.
7. What is the ad experience like?
For publishers, traffic equals revenue. And because often times, the majority of that revenue comes from display ads, it’s critical that they’re, well, on the page where users can see them. We believe you can have ads on your posts and also have great success with organic search. Make sure ads don’t pop up over the content, or pop up at all for that matter. Videos shouldn’t auto play, especially with sound, this is such an awful experience for the user.
Don’t overdo it on the number of ads per post. A major benefit of being a SHE Media Partner is that we work with you to find just the right set up for your ads. The content on your pages should load before your ads, this takes a lot of the general annoyance from the user.
Read more on how to make more money with the same number of ads.
8. Did your post fully cover the topic you’re writing about?
There was a time when SEO best practice was to actually break out every little sub-topic into its own piece. But this can be a very bad user experience. With engagement metrics such as time on page factoring so heavily into Google’s algorithm, it’s better now to fully cover a topic in one piece. This way the user gets all the information they need in one place without having to click through multiple sites or pages to find what they’re looking for.
This can also help ensure that your content isn’t thin. If you go to the search results and Google the topic of your blog post, Google will actually tell you what other, related questions users want to know when it comes to that topic. Include supporting content that addresses some of those things into your post. Be thorough, but don’t just write more to write more. Make it intentional and aim for content where the user finds all they need to know, right there on your blog.
9. Did you complete the on-page SEO for your post?
Each blog post published should have all the SEO fields filled out. On our owned & operated properties, we’ve built an SEO checklist for the editors to remind them of each place they need to optimize for search. Our checklist in the CMS includes an SEO title, meta description, image alt text, an optimized slug on the URL, the correct category/sub-categories selected and tags. Each of these elements should be relevant to one another, yet natural and not over-optimized.
10. Is your blog post better than those currently ranking for your target keywords?
Think to yourself, if you were the searcher and you landed on your post, would you be satisfied? If not, what is it missing? A good place to check is the Google search results. Google the search query that would make the most sense for your almost-published new piece and see who is actually ranking. Do what they do but better! Look at article length, information included, media assets like images, video or infographics, etc.
Organic search traffic doesn’t happen overnight for most bloggers. It can take many months and lot of hard work on a consistent basis. But keep writing interesting articles for your audience, optimize your posts and value your user above your revenue. It will pay off in the long run!