SEO: Keeping Content Customer Centric

Author: Kate Arnold

Another week has been and gone, so that means another SEO blog post from us at Substrakt!

Last week, I shared with you an SEO blog post called Five 5-minute SEO tasks to kick off our latest SEO blog series. If you haven’t checked that post out already go and do that now, and if you have, keep on reading as we dive into some of the bigger, more exciting (n.b. not scary) SEO tasks.

Last week you hopefully got to grips with some of the basics of SEO, have successfully completed those tasks and have set yourself up for some ongoing SEO.

Ongoing SEO is arguably the most important type of SEO you can undertake; with Google’s search algorithms changing daily, the rise of voice search, and various data protection legislations impacting the way we upload content means we also have to keep updating the way we do SEO.

The tasks outlined in this post will build off the tasks we worked on last week, as well as introduce some more nitty-gritty technical updates. So with that in mind, let’s get started.

The Ongoing Tasks

1. SEO KPIs and goals

Before we start any kind of SEO work, we really need to establish what it is that we want to gain from our SEO activities.

Setting out some clear goals and KPIs makes it easier for us to determine what impact (whether positive or negative) any SEO changes we make to our website have on the broader picture.

We might think that structuring our Page Titles in a certain way or adding new structured data to a page will positively impact our search engine rankings, but without setting any KPIs or goals, we would never be able to say for certain.

It is so important to be able to monitor our Search Engine Results Page (SERP) performance in relation to any SEO changes we make, as we could end up doing more damage than good without even realising.

In order to make sure we can monitor all of the changes we make, we need to set completely clear KPIs and goals, and determine a time frame in which you would like the KPI / goal to be met. For example:

  • Google Search impressions to increase by 5% in the next 1 month
  • Google Search click-through rate (CTR %) to increase by 10% in the next 12 weeks
  • Organic search traffic to increase by 20% across the site in the next 6 months
  • Organic search traffic conversion rates to increase by 3% by the end of the year

Setting KPIs alongside time frames means we can refer back to them whenever we make any changes, we can see the progress we are (or more importantly, are not) making and adjust our SEO activities accordingly.

It’s also best to start with KPIs for specific keywords and/or pages, and then have a few wider site KPIs: this way you will be able to monitor what SEO activities work best for each keyword/page, and therefore which audience (you might find different SEO activities resonate with different audiences you have on your site).

2. Keyword research

Once we’ve set out our goals, our next step is to research our users and their intent. The best way to do this is to head to the Google Search Console account we created last week, and head to the performance tab on the left hand side.

Google Search Console Performance screenshot

Here we can see all of the keywords users have been searching that generate both impressions (i.e. our site listed in the SERPs) and clicks (i.e. clicks to our site generated on the SERPs).

We can use this information to see exactly what users are looking for and how they access our site, and use this information to tailor our content.

Looking at user intent means we can speak to them in a way that they understand: using the same keywords they use will show users you have exactly the right content they are looking for.

Search console is great for this because you can sort the keywords and phrases users are searching in relation to your website by both clicks and impressions: you might see that you’re getting lots of impressions for a keyword / phrase you’d like to be associated with, but realise you aren’t generating many clicks for it. You can then make sure you highlight this keyword / phrase in your content.

The same can also be said for keywords and phrases you don’t want to be associated with (e.g. other brands with similar names or offerings that users are confusing you with): you can see which keywords and phrases you might be generating impressions (and even clicks) for, and make sure you prioritise the other, more important keywords you want.

You can also look at competitor keyword trends by using handy tools such as SEMRush, where you can monitor seasonal, branded, and industry trends all in one place. They have a free plan where you can monitor industry trends, and there’s a link to beginners YouTube video here.

Once you’ve collated all of your keyword research, you can think about how each of these keywords relates to your top ten pages you established last week, and how you can utilise these keywords to boost their performance in the SERPs (which incidentally, brings us onto our next task…)

3. Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Page titles and meta descriptions are, in my opinion, the most important attributes to keep in mind when doing any kind of SEO work.

The page title and meta description are the first thing a user sees on the SERPs. This means it is super important that we show the most useful and relevant information for the user to let them know “This is the page you are looking for! We have all the information you need! Click here now!” 

Remember, first impressions count.

Substrakt Search Engine Results Page screenshot

From the work we did last week and from the last few tasks, we have already identified our top ten pages as well as our relevant keywords for each of these pages. Now we can think about how we want to incorporate these when writing our titles and descriptions. In terms of structure, there are no right or wrong answers, as long as you are consistent across all your pages.

You have many options for the structure of your page titles, such as:

  • {{Site Name}} | {{Page Name}}
  • {{Page Name}} : {{Site Name}}
  • {{Site Name}} – {{Page Name}}
  • {{Page Name}}
  • Or something else entirely

You may find that one layout resonates with your users more, and any format is okay to use, as long as you are consistent with the structure throughout all of your pages on your site.

Meta descriptions should be short, sweet, and informative. With one glance, a user should be able to see everything they need to know about the page. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you put at least a generic meta description on your top pages, even if it’s the same generic meta description.

If you don’t have a meta description on your page, Google will try and be helpful and show the first 100 characters on your page. This might sound useful, however more often that not the first characters are in your menu navigation or are entirely unrelated to the purpose of your page, and so a huge opportunity to speak to your users will be missed.

Example of Bad Meta Description featuring Menu Options

And now I know what you’re thinking: “Kate, for me to go in and change every page title and meta description on my site into the same structure is going to take me FOREVER”. Well luckily we have our own, very handy WordPress SEO plugin where you can change the default structure of all your page titles and meta descriptions in one go!

For more info about our SEO plugin, get in touch.

4. Content Review

A review of all the content on your site is also another way to keep your website up to date with the best SEO practices, as well as making sure you have relevant content for relevant users.

Update old blog posts, add new content about new business areas you’ve introduced since the last time you updated the website, and even remove old, out-of-date content that can’t even be updated.

You may find yourself looking at some old content that is technically no longer useful (i.e. a past event), but you want to keep the page as there is still some useful information on there (photo galleries, links to reviews or other reputable sites (quality backlinks are good!), and so on); so what should you do with these types of pages? You can still keep these pages on your site, but you can add a noindex meta tag to make sure that search engines don’t show that specific page in the SERPs.

This way, users would still be able to use your site search to find the page and you would still reap the SEO benefits of any backlinks, but it would not appear in the search results, giving way to newer, more relevant pages in the SERPs.

(The ability to add this tag with the click of a button is also a feature of our SEO plugin).

5. Alt Image Tags

Alt tags on images are super important for so many reasons. Alt tags can make sure your images appear in Google Images and in turn, drive more relevant traffic.

But perhaps more importantly, alt tags are used to help screen readers decipher what is on the page (i.e. what the image displays) so they can relate this back to the user.

Moz has written a wonderful article on alt tags, and there is not much more I could add in terms of the how-tos and best practices. Once you’re ready to tackle the alt image tags, read this article and you’ll be done in no time.

6. Broken Link review

Broken links lead to 404s, which leads to annoyed visitors, which leads to a bad website rep. Websites change every day, so it’s important to make sure you keep all of your internal and external links up to date.

If you change the URL structure of a page, make sure all links to that page are also updated. Regularly check links to third party websites, ensuring that they haven’t done a content rehaul and deleted or changed the page you’re linking to.

The easiest way to do this is to use a website crawler. At Substrakt we use Screaming Frog — a great website crawler that acts just like one of Google’s robots and trawls through all the URLs on your site, and brings back tons of information.

You can easily sort and filter the data to show you what page a broken link is on and what the broken link URL actually is. Then, you can make sure you go through this list and update / redirect / delete any links that lead to 404s.

Both your website users and Google will thank you for this update.

And that’s it for today’s SEO tasks!

How do I start?

Looking at these tasks all together it’s so easy to get overwhelmed thinking about everything you need to do.

My advice would be to do these tasks in stages: start off easy in week 1, and set out your SEO KPIs and do some keyword research.

Then in week 2 you can go through your page titles and meta descriptions using your keyword research and whilst you’re at it, delete or update any old or out-of-date content.

Then once you’ve got all your pages sorted and reorganised, in week 3 you can make sure you update and remove any broken links on your site to satisfy any old content broken links, and then you tackle all of the image alt tags on your remaining existing pages.

How often should I complete ongoing SEO tasks?

Depending on how often you update your website and how often you review your SEO KPIs reflects how often you should repeat these SEO tasks.

At Substrakt, we offer ongoing SEO packages where we review your website every month, or every quarter and make any necessary updates accordingly.

If you make some rules and best practices and stick to them, you’ll be reaping the benefits of SEO in no time.

As always, if you need any assistance or have any questions (there’s no such thing as a stupid one), then email team@substrakt.com and we’ll get back in touch with you so we can carry on your SEO journey together.

What next?

The next blog post in the series will see more technical SEO updates, from content restructuring, trailing slash anomalies, CSS & JS reviews that impact site performance, as well as how to set up detailed reporting so you can monitor the impact every SEO decision you make has on your website.

If you do decide to follow the steps in this article, I would love to hear how you get on! Send us an email (team@substrakt.com) or a tweet (@substrakt); I’m already looking forward to your SEO stories.

Until the next time.