Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Create a Great Content Strategy for an Established Website

Establishing a comprehensive content strategy for existing pages on your website is a key piece of the search engine optimization (SEO) puzzle, especially considering Google’s ongoing Panda quality updates.
Let’s look at one strategy you can use to both Panda-proof and better optimize your site to grab more of the long tail traffic in your space. Who doesn't like that?

Eliminate Bloat Pages

Before starting to look at where you need content, critically evaluate your site and see if there are unnecessary pages being indexed. Some common examples of this extra fluff that bloats your Google pages indexed are paginated product pages, indexed internal search result pages, and sort options for product pages.
Keyword Research Blueprint for Content Optimization & Content Creation
Keyword research is the blueprint of any content strategy. Although much of the methodology you will use will be determined by the size of your site, here's one good method for small to mid-sized sites.

Keyword Research for Your Strongest Subpages

Assuming that you've fixed any internal duplicate content issues on your site and removed unneeded pages, it is time to beef up existing pages.
Since you're making an investment in content for your site, you want to make sure that pages are well optimized for both relevant and valuable primary keywords. You also want to make sure that you include important variations and synonymous keywords as part of the content strategy for existing pages.
The natural starting point for this kind of research are ranking based keyword tools. Some popular paid tools for this information include SEMRushSpyFu, and Ahrefs. These tools provide keywords for your site and your competitors, which you can export into a nice spreadsheet. They are great for giving you a good idea of what the valuable keywords for pages across your site are and identifying gaps in your content strategy. You'd be surprised how common it is for pages not to even include the powerful keywords that they rank for in the copy.
Once you vet the data a little bit, you can get a good idea of the powerful keywords that are already bringing traffic to your site. If you have some budget constraints and can’t use a paid tool, you can attempt some of this research using analytics and the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
Keyword Research For Your Thin Deep Pages
Adding content to your deep pages is a funny thing because if you have a large site, there is definitely a cost associated with it. If adding unique content to a large number of pages falls outside your given budget, consider going back to see what additional pages can be done away with in the index.
Depending on the nature of your products and the amount of SKU's you have, SEO based keyword research strategy will vary dramatically. However, let's assume that a given site has a couple hundred or couple thousand SKU's, there are several things to look at for sites of this scope.
First, check that all of the given pages are cached. That may seem like a 'duh!' proposition to some of you, but you'd be surprised how often this is overlooked.
Second, check if there are relevant high value phrases that you can pair with your thin non-ranking pages. It is hard to speak generally on this because so much of this level of keyword research ties into your specific space and how people 'talk' about your kind of products online. One general method that can be used is throwing large swaths of product names into a keyword tool and 'sampling' to see what gets search for and deserves deeper inquiry but this method is not ideal.

Competitor Based Keyword Research

Once you’ve exhausted keyword research for existing pages and exploratory keyword research, it’s time to go gem hunting on your competitors keywords. Use the tools mentioned above for doing this by running keyword reports for all of your competitors and comparing them against your own list and filling it in with keywords that make sense for your site.
Tips for Content Creation
Once your site is cleaned up of all unnecessary pages and you have a plan for the rest of the pages on your site, it’s time to get the pages optimized and the content created. Here are some general pointers:
  • Keep word count varying from page to page: Try not to have the exact same non-linked word count from page to page. This will make your content look more natural.
  • Make sure that there is a good saturation of synonymous phrases: Google is getting very good at understanding synonymy and they’re working hard to decipher language meaning. Inclusion of secondary phrases is an important part of any keyword strategy.
  • Add value on your pages: See if there is anything that you can add to your pages to make them more interesting. Consider adding widgets to pages or looking at competitors to see how you can improve the value of individual pages or templates on your site.

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