Here’s a sad truth about content marketing: not every crawled page in a search engine’s index appears in the search results. Even if Google crawls your content, that’s not a guarantee that it’s going to rank for any topic or keyword. It’s not just frustrating, but it’s a waste of time, money, and resources to create content that never makes it in front of an audience. A thorough SEO content analysis helps you find and eliminate problems that may stop your pieces from ranking. Today, we’re discussing how to do an analysis to improve your positioning with topics like:
An SEO content analysis is a process of reviewing the words and phrases you use in your content to improve its performance on search engine results pages (SERPs). You can do an SEO content analysis on both existing pieces and any new ideas that you plan to create. There is no set method or order for conducting this kind of analysis. Instead, it’s more about looking at all the right areas of your content to make sure they’re functioning at the highest performance to get the best traffic and reach. These areas include:
Content is the most important resource in your SEO strategy. These pieces help you get traffic to your site, engage visitors, and ultimately drive conversions and sales. Without content, there’s no need for SEO. The metrics that affect your traffic and rankings don’t matter if you don’t have well-optimized, valuable content to push to your audience.
An SEO content analysis helps you find those factors that help or hurt your organic content performance. When you find the factors that help your rankings, you can use them to influence new content you create or optimizations you do to make other pieces better. When you find those factors that damage your rankings, you can fix them. Some of the most common SEO issues you may find through an analysis review include:
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the content itself. In these cases, it’s an issue of targeting the wrong keywords. For example, let’s say your team developed a blog post on content audit tools for the finance industry. If you target “content audit” as a keyword and see it has a high competition rate, it’ll be harder for your content to rank for that term in search engines.
But if you target the term “content audit tools for marketing teams,” you may have a better chance of ranking because there’s lower competition. You’ll need fewer backlinks from other trustworthy sources to get your content up to page one for that term.
Another common issue you may find during an SEO analysis is targeting search intent across multiple funnels. You might even notice missing search intent altogether. Search intent gives the reason behind someone’s online search. Your audience has an obvious goal in mind when they’re looking for content on the internet. They want to do one of the following:
Even if you have good overall content, an article that pushes someone to buy a product when they’re only looking for information won’t help them convert. Instead of pulling them into your sales funnel, you’re pushing them away because you’re failing to understand their needs.
Content without enough information on the topic hurts your SEO. Marketers and SEO professionals typically consider any written content under 500 words to be “thin.” By thin, that means the content is lacking enough information to make it valuable to the reader. Since search engines consider reader value and behavior as top ranking factors, thin content pieces often never see page one of SERPs.
Sometimes, the writing quality is to blame for poor SEO. Content that’s confusing, difficult to understand, or full of typos and unchecked facts doesn’t provide value to your audience. When people encounter content they can’t understand immediately, they often click away and look for a better resource. When people abandon your content quickly, that tells search engines your pieces aren’t worth ranking. Those signals prevent your pieces from rising through the ranks or cause their positions to slip.
An SEO content analysis of existing pieces focuses on how to tweak and update the work you’ve already done to make it perform better for your brand and marketing strategy. Consider the following improvements to optimize your content:
Duplicate content occurs when you have two or more pieces that cover the same information on your website or blog. This situation also includes using the same information word-for-word on multiple pages of your site. You don’t want duplicate content on your pages because each piece you have on the same topic makes you compete against yourself for rankings. Instead of sending all your traffic on a topic to one page, you have to spread that out among two or more. Now, they’re all trying to rank for the same keywords and none are getting the maximum amount of traffic.
The more content you create, the greater chances you have of developing duplicates. This may happen because you’re trying to stay uniform when discussing a certain product or service. You use the same wording about them across all your content. This situation also happens when you don’t realize you’ve covered a topic before and you end up writing and publishing a new piece when you could have optimized the old one instead. The easiest way to avoid creating duplicate content is to keep a spreadsheet or record of every piece you publish and the topics they cover.
When your team works through ideation, reference these ideas to make sure all new topics are unique enough that they don’t produce duplicates. If you find clone content already exists on your site through SEO analysis, the easiest way to fix it is to combine information and create a redirect. Incorporate the best information from all the duplicate pieces into the article or post with the best search engine rankings. Then use a 301 redirect from the other content pieces to that page. This type of redirect shouldn’t hurt your SEO rankings.
Keyword cannibalization happens when two different pieces of content target the same search keywords or phrases. Unlike duplicate content, these pieces might have different angles or cover slightly different topics, but try to rank for the same keyword. For example, if you have one piece called “How To Create an SEO Strategy For a Finance Blog,” and one called “How Does SEO Help Financial Content Creators,” those are two different topics. But if both target the keyword “SEO,” that’s keyword cannibalization.
As with duplicate content, this is another situation where you’re creating more competition for yourself. Cannibalization is also one of the easiest ways to confuse search engines accidentally about what your content is really about. Someone looking for steps to create a strategy plan may already know how SEO helps their industry. If that’s the article they find first, they may bounce away quickly. That behavior tells search engines your content isn’t what they want to see. Then, your page goes further down in the rankings, even if it’s well-written.
The best way to fix keyword cannibalization is to get more specific with your focus keywords. Use long-tail options like questions to better target the topic and search intent of every piece. Instead of using “SEO” as the focus keyword in the example, you may use keyword phrases like “create an SEO strategy” for the first piece, and “SEO benefits for finance” for the second. These more descriptive keywords help tell searchers and search engines the context of the piece. That context helps people find the right information to answer their questions or solve their problems.
An SEO content analysis helps you find pieces that once had a good ranking, but lost traffic or slid to a lower positioning over time. This happens for several reasons, such as search engine algorithm updates, outdated information, or situations like keyword cannibalization. When you come across a piece that’s slid in its ranking, first identify why that happened. If it’s because of a search engine update, research the new ranking factors or expectations and fix both the on-page content and technical SEO aspects accordingly.
If the slippage comes from outdated content, make the necessary updates. Do more research to find out what’s changed on the topic. Update statistics, references, and resources to the most recent information. You can also do general optimization checks for things like broken links, missing images, or a bad readability score. Addressing these issues improves the user experience and increases a visitor’s chance of staying longer on the page once they find your content.
Even if your search engine positioning doesn’t change, your organic click-through rate (CTR) might. The organic CTR is the number of clicks your content gets from SERPs. A CTR research study from seoClarity showed organic clicks dropped significantly between 2014 and 2021, and it might have to do with the way Google and other search engines structure results pages today.
Introducing featured snippets reduced the need for people to click on content to get the information they need or the answers to their questions. Featured snippets appear in position zero above all other organic search results. With the information readily available, their existence results in many zero-click searches. For this reason, a decrease in organic CTR isn’t a cause for SEO panic, but it should serve as a motivator for you to target position zero for any keyword that triggers a snippet.
While targeting the featured snippet may not increase your organic CTR or even change your positioning, it gives your content prime real estate on the results page. Even without clicks, this helps build brand awareness and recognition. The better people remember your brand, the more it may encourage them to click your content later if they see it appear for another search query that doesn’t have a featured snippet.
Getting a plan together to conduct your SEO analysis may take time and strategy to get it right. You want to make sure anything you implement works best for your team and your company. Luckily, there are a variety of tools to help, like the CopyPress Content Marketing Analysis Tool. This report scans your entire web domain and all its assets to give you feedback on how your site performs compared to your top competitors.
Your results also include suggestions about how to improve your rankings, target missed-opportunity topics and keywords, and increase your backlink profile through legitimate link-building strategies. Requesting your free report below is just one step to take and a tool to use to make your analysis process more efficient.
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It is possible to do an SEO content analysis even before you write a word. This type of analysis takes place during the content research phase and helps prepare your pieces to rank as high as possible from the second you hit the publish button. Use these tips during content planning to increase your chances of ranking:
Most content that ranks on page one for any keyword share a lot of similarities with one another, from titles to meta descriptions.
Let’s look at the page one results for the term “SEO best practices.” Beyond the paid ads, and the featured snippet, the first set of organic results include lists. Many boast several tips or checklist features. These results tell you a lot about how you need to craft your own content to rank up with these listings. For example, you may try to beat the ranking lists with more tips or provide an additional valuable feature that makes working through the list easier. It may also apply to date your content and update it each year with new information.
Noting the similarities of the page one rankers helps you write the content briefs for your team. This knowledge allows you to incorporate the right elements to rank for the current term and search intent while still providing new information that makes your audience think outside the box.
As you’ll notice in the screenshot above, Google now includes your first few H2 headings as clickable links under each organic search result. While page structure and H2 text have always mattered to SEO, they’re even more important now that they appear right on the results pages. These headings are another place to look to get information about what’s ranking for a topic and what your audience wants to see.
For the term “SEO best practices,” you’ll notice that most H2s list the features or some type of instructional language to introduce each new section. These headings are direct and to the point. That means for this keyword, your H2s aren’t a place to be clever or use puns. The audience wants the facts upfront. This information helps influence how you develop your content briefs. It also helps you instruct your writing team on the best ways to develop a piece that ranks from the start.
The information you find from SERPs and your competitors is a wonderful guide for what format has the best chance of ranking for your keywords. But you don’t want to copy the top-ranking content exactly. Beyond avoiding plagiarism, creating cookie-cutter copies of information that already exists doesn’t provide any value to your audience. What is it about your piece that should make them want to click and read above all those others, aside from the convenience of showing up on page one of a SERP?
This part of the SEO analysis focuses on the angle of your content and what makes it unique. The best way to do that is to find out what people still want to know on the topic that other top-ranking sources may not provide. The “People also ask” section of Google is a good place to find this information.
For our sample keyword, “SEO best practices,” people want the most up-to-date information on the topic, which only appears in one of the top organic search results. This could be an angle to show how best practices change from year to year. These questions also show that besides getting steps and tips, people want to know what the most important areas or functions of SEO are. While that subject might be a different keyword or piece entirely, you could also mention the topic within your new content and then link internally to a longer article on the same topic.
Beyond the People also ask section, Google also includes additional search questions at the bottom of the SERP. These provide even more insight and context into what your audience wants to see. You’ll notice here that the topics get more niche about SEO best practices for websites like Wix, or specifically for Google itself. These results present more angles to cover in your piece and more long-tail keywords to target.
Though many of the things you do to improve your SEO and ranking potential take place on-page, doing them alone may not get you the traffic and traction you expect. You also need to focus on the technical aspects that happen behind the scenes. One way to fix the problems you can’t see is by running a site crawl analysis. For marketers most comfortable with on-page SEO, the back end of optimization can feel intimidating. With the right knowledge and tools, you can learn all you need to know to improve organic traffic on both sides of your content.
CopyPress has you covered with our free eBook The Importance of a Site Crawl Analysis. Inside, you’ll learn what a site crawl is and the information it can tell you about your website and content health. You’ll also get tips on how to build regular site crawls into your content marketing strategy, so you’re always ahead of potential ranking issues that could happen on your website. Request your free copy today to get started on improving the SEO segments of your content marketing strategy.
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