There are always new ways to use content and optimise pages to increase the quantity, quality and traffic to your websites via organic search. While the SEO basics can get you up and running, more advanced tactics are often the difference in more competitive sectors. Here are four ways that you could gain an edge in your industry heading into 2021.
Turn something old into new
Greenlighting new content campaigns will help you to engage with more customers amid a spike in demand for digital content, but you may already be sitting on a treasure trove of articles and blogs that can be refitted to your purposes for the next few months.
Returning to older content also gives you the chance to effectively right some wrongs and make small changes that could unlock its full potential in search. Remember, it is rare for a new piece to soar to the top of SERPs immediately.
However, you need to be selective in your process here as some content may not be worth your time. You should base your research process on current trends and data you can analyse in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Any blogs or articles that did deliver rankings and traffic initially but have since fallen away may be ripe for a refit. To confirm this, head over to Google Search Console and navigate to the Pages section within Performance and Search Results. You should now be able to see the search queries for your pages.
From here, click on the impressions header to sort the queries by impressions and take note of the ‘position’, which is the search ranking, for each one. Any queries that are making an impression but are not taking top spots in Google are classed as ‘striking distance keywords’.
You can now increase the visibility of published content again by updating the copy based on these keywords and queries, as well as new trends and facts. A drop-off in key metrics is likely related to it being less relevant, so bringing it up to speed could give content a new lease of life.
Take action on underperforming content
While older content often still has value, especially when it can be recycled, there are probably pages on your site that do not really serve a purpose. If this is the case, it may be best to remove them entirely as low-quality or thin content does not align well with Google’s search algorithm.
The process of removing content, also known as SEO pruning, is simple enough. All you have to do is run a content audit. This audit should highlight the URLs that are simply not pulling their weight. Cutting these lacklustre pages will make your site stronger and more relevant as a whole.
There are software tools that will help you conduct an audit relatively quickly. Basically, you need to crawl your site and assess its performance based on key metrics. You can build out a spreadsheet from this information to make the pruning process easier.
Now that you know how each URL is performing, you can start taking affirmative action based on a ‘keep, improve and merge’ template.
- Keep pages that are performing well
- Edit pages that need improvements
- Merge or consolidate pages that have failed to deliver any meaningful traffic
While you can roll out these changes immediately, SEO experts recommend covering the process in stages so that you can better gauge the impact. Getting rid of underperformers is a good place to start, and if this has a positive impact, you can move on to the rest. Pruning should be conducted once every six months to a year, but be wary of doing it too regularly.
Consider topic clusters
If you have been working with an agency and want to pursue new projects based around a certain topic or keyword, you will find great value in the concept of topic clusters and pillar pages, both of which can support SEO.
Topic clusters are defined as pages or content that are built around a core topic. While they don’t all cover the same information, these pages are all linked to and feed into a greater whole. For example, if you were covering SEO, you could create content that goes into detail about technical SEO, local SEO and backlinks, as well as Google’s algorithm updates and SEO best practices.
Internal linking is central to this concept as, ideally, you want to create connections between content that is related. Covering topics in detail and linking to them will make it easier for you to showcase your authority and expertise. It also increases the relevance of each piece – this will make it more valuable for readers, which then leads to better performance in search.
Using topic clusters in content creation is a great way to build content with a specific purpose. However, updating your site to fit a topic cluster structure is a greater undertaking as you need to think about secondary clusters. That said, it can really be worthwhile in the long run.
Fix issues with 404s
Google’s Gary Illyes has confirmed in the past that it ignores links leading to 404 pages entirely. While these links may have been active at publication, the presence of 404 pages undermines a targeted linking strategy. Fortunately, you can address this issue and clean up any errors by using a Backlink Analytics tool.
By running your domain through the tool, you will be able to see pages that other domains have linked to that are no longer delivering any authority. All you need to do is put a 301 redirect in place or relaunch the page to fix your 404 woes.
This is also a great opportunity to capitalise on the 404 issues that competitors might have. Running a rival’s domain through the tool will also surface any pages that are pointing to a 404. If your content covers a similar topic or subject, you could reach out to the site owners and request that they use your URL as a replacement.
If you have already got the basics covered, implementing one or two advanced tactics, or even more if time permits, can increase your organic visibility and drive more traffic to your pages.