Face time with a variety of content creators is part of my job and most want SEO (search engine optimization) assistance. Specifically, a deeper understanding of why it’s integral to website performance and how they can better utilize it for achieving their unique set of goals. More often than not, the publisher has at least one person who is semi-familiar with Google SEO best practices but wants to run through some concerns or ask general questions to ensure they’re not overlooking any rules or hacks. Professionally speaking, this is called an SEO audit and if done correctly, it should pay off (in time) with increased page views, which typically lead to more ad dollars and profit for a product you may be selling.
One of my standout SEO audits with a SHE Media Partner Network member resulted in a 37% increase in organic traffic, year-over-year, in addition to ad revenue. Here’s exactly how that we made that happen.
A few examples of what the SEO audit checks:
Mobile search best practices like AMP, responsive design & page speed
Title tags and meta descriptions
Using tools like Screaming Frog, SEM Rush and Google Analytics, I ran through a checklist of various SEO elements to see where they can improve and where they have the opportunity to grow. Part of the audit is technical, part covers different on-page SEO best practices, and the last part introduces some evergreen content strategies that have worked for other sites I consult, including SheKnows and StyleCaster.
After reviewing technical factors, best practices, and content recommendations, I worked with the publisher to prioritize the importance of the audit call-outs. One advantage I’ve had when working with these publishers is the ability to see results from a single implemented change. Within a larger publisher, there are typically multiple teams working on different things simultaneously. When a change that may impact organic search is pushed to production, several other unrelated changes also usually pushed live, too. This makes it almost impossible to get a clear picture of the impact from SEO recommendations.
With this particular partner, we were able to work through each individual issue before moving onto the next one. Ahead are four tactics they implemented to pull off that impressive year-over-year percentage.
Did I mention that this site specializes in shoppable content? The majority of their content covers different beauty and style topics, with product links included. The SMPN member mentioned a slow and steady decrease in traffic to their older evergreen articles and didn’t understand why. I took a deeper look and found several broken or ‘no longer available’ product links. I recommended that they take some of the pieces that were doing well several years back, update the content with current and available products, replace any outdated content references and update the publish date. Eventually, the pages began to recover some traffic. There are some rules to Google’s freshness factors but forget about them and think of the user. How irritated would you be if that really cute pair of shoes a website was touting hadn’t been available since 2013? If you’re dealing with product pieces or content that regularly gets outdated, update it appropriately.
Structured data is code that websites can use to give Google another layer of information. There are several structured data options that publishers can take advantage of. We use Schema.org to provide Google with information on our company, our navigation elements, and our different types of content. This publisher used both breadcrumb and organization schema, and saw a payoff.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
This publisher reported (and I verified) that almost immediately after implementing Google’s accelerated mobile pages (AMP), their organic mobile traffic skyrocketed, For shopping-related search queries, Google only places AMP pages in their mobile carousal SERP placements. Google has been able to prove that almost 70% of purchase-intent search queries are happening on mobile devices so it makes sense that they would want to display the faster loading page version on mobile when it comes to these queries.
In the audit process, unless it has a tie-in to user experience, I avoid recommendations for site aesthetics. Although this particular site had a solid team building custom content and images, the site background color was black with enlarged, spammy-looking anchor text; not exactly easy on the eyes. The navigation was also confusing, which was something I called out in the audit. So they simplified the navigation, swapped out the black background color to white and changed the font and font-size. It made a huge difference to the perceived quality of the site, giving it a cleaner look. While background color and font aren’t Google-ranking signals, it improved user experience.
If you’re brand strategy includes improving your SEO tactics, an audit is the best way to start. Though there are digital audit tools that may be less time-consuming, one-on-one time with an SEO (human) expert can’t be beat. I connected with this publisher through the SHE Media Partner Network, which helps operate your site’s economic model, in addition to slew of other exclusive opportunities, including opportunities to participate in BlogHer events. Learn more about how you can join the SMPN community here.