Feeling overwhelmed and burned out from all the Panda Updates? (It is supposedly continuous and rolling live right now!). With much to be done, you’re probably in a state of distress wondering where to start.
Over-worrying about the severity of the Panda Penalty and your ranking is probably not going to help. Last week, we’ve talked about how indeed the panic is often unjustified. Yet, there’s always that thought in the back of your head: am I even doing this correctly?
We’ve consolidated 4 direct steps to help you cut through the noise, and get straight down to what really matters for your SEO content. All is well, my friend. Catch a breath and I hope this helps you embark your onsite strategy with clarity!
1. Plan and proceed
You basically need a roadmap to know where you are heading. Are you taking on the challenging rocky paths, or you’ve decided to tread on smoother paths and take the long distance strategy? You’ll have to first do a fitness test to find out.
You can do a quick content audit by looking at the number of URLS that are currently indexed for your website. Use Google Search Console, your go-to ‘mirror’ in the world of search.
Prune or Improve?
Two paths to choose here: to prune or to improve. You can start with looking at the size of your site to determine how much of it needs to be pruned, and how much can you realistically improve at the moment.
Smaller sites need less pruning and should invest in keyword research to determine if topic areas for the various stages in the customers’ buying cycle are covered.
The larger sites, say >100 indexed pages, have the complete opposite problem. Excessive and overlapping pages covering on the same topic is going to make Google’s crawlers confused with what you are trying to rank for. On top of that, you’re at risk of being penalized by Google Panda as we’ve talked about in our earlier postings.
However, sometimes a discerning eye is needed to judge which pages are doing well. Don’t end up pruning all your good pages from the index. Here’s a good read to keep yourself in check.
Determine your relative “priority”
When budget and time is a concern, which is common amongst busy marketers and business owners, head for the good ole’ trusty 80/20 rule. Spot your top 20% performing pages and write great content for them right away — and do the other 80% of the pages over the course of 6 months.
From this, you should be able to come up with a list of URLs in order of importance, labeled as prune or improve.
Alright, let’s do this!
If you’re simply too constrained in terms of resources, the good news is you can pace yourself using the noindex¹ method. Go ahead and remove the other problematic pages from the index until you’re ready to work on them.
2. One improvement at a time
Some paths are longer than others. But we all start somewhere, don’t we? Depending on your plan, you will already have an idea how scalable you want your onsite optimization strategy to be. Don’t start with a sprint. Now that you’ve planned your route, work with a comfortable and realistic pace.
Any improvement plan is going to start with a Keyword Research. Two things to look out for: search volume and purchase intent. Use tools like Google Search Console and Keyword Planner to glean data-backed insights to identify what your user’s queries are.
Spend some time building up on a Keyword Inventory list — this is good practice so you’re clear headed in the SEO game.
Content Gap Analysis
Move forward with a content gap analysis. Go through some questions to decide which pages should be prioritized.
Q. What content needs to be improved to prevent penalties?
Q. What should you be including in your website that relates to your business goals?
Content-related penalties typically fall under three major categories: quality, relevancy, and duplication. I’ve broken them down into:
- Typical Low-Quality Content
- Poor grammar
- Keyword stuffed headers
- Thin content that is glossed over with too few words
- Irrelevant Content
- Titles/keywords for content that doesn’t answer the query that the visitor was expecting to find
- Outdated indexable blog pages
- Internal (i.e. Product variants, archives)
- External (i.e. Product descriptions on Amazon or other shopping comparison sites, etc)
Writing with an SEO Mind
SEO is both science and art. Your content has to be both user-centric and crawler-centric at the same time. This should be kept in the back of your mind when you’re writing.
A direct page title on your heading tags provides your users an overarching view of what the page is about. And this applies for our dear search crawlers as well. The search engine compares your content with your heading tag to determine relevancy. The primary keyword that speaks of your business should be included somewhere in your h1 tag. (That said, please do not stuff all the keywords in the world onto your h1 tag, Google hates that).
TIP: Do not use the same h1 tag on multiple pages of your site. You’re confusing search crawlers on the pages you want to rank for.
Also, place your core keywords on meta titles and descriptions. Remember that these should convey to the users what they will find on the page.
3. You don’t need to be a pro to monitor data
The D word – is not daunting at all. You don’t need a magic eye to understand what is going on for your website traffic. There are great tools out there that help you track your progress.
Start by using Google Analytics. It is the foundational tool for everyone – you’ll be able to see what are the organic keywords and their respective CTR to measure effectiveness.
Knowing that your efforts are paying off well is definitely a great way to not get burned out in this race.
4. Kaizen: A Continuous Improvement Mindset
I’m always fond of this productivity catchphrase — the idea of a collective and continuous effort to improve. This is the better alternative I’d recommend to anyone who thinks that onsite optimization is just a website cleanup.
Bearing the kaizen mindset will definitely aid you in the race of consistently writing better SEO content, eventually putting you on a strong foothold against your competitors who will sadly realize they have too much to catch up with you.
I’ve also discovered an interesting view on how republishing content gets rewarded. This is definitely something to explore as you consistently seek to get better and stronger at SEO content.
The long-haul is worth it.
With Panda being a core ranking signal, you’ll even receive boosts in rankings if you consistently meet the expectations of your users.
A Google’s spokesperson mentioned:
“At the end of the day, content owners shouldn’t ask how many visitors they had on a specific day, but rather, how many they have helped.”
At Appiloque, we have walked the distance through with our clients and have proved the long-haul philosophy right. One of them, a local legal service provider, has seen 96% growth in their lead generation performance in a span of 7 months. The SEO-optimized structure on their website has also pushed the company further into integrating content marketing with relationship-building — a valuable brand equity that they are now known for.
Every situation and scenario are unique in terms of business context. Alongside the changes and algorithmic changes from Google, you’ll only stand to win when you work at the forefront of technology’s latest updates.
Get in touch with us if you’d like us to safeguard you against ranking shifts on the SERP.
¹A noindex leaves a page will still be viewable by people who visit your site, but it’s content will not negatively affect your site’s authority, and users will not be able to find it through a search query.
Zachary is a Business Development Executive in Appiloque. In the after-hours, he serves as a Division Agent, taking back the city of New York when all else fails.