Thanks to my awesome colleague Alba Vargas Jimenez for this awesome guest post!
As a Channel Consultant at HubSpot I see hundreds of blog articles being pumped out to the net every day.
Agencies and clients plan elaborate content strategies which require time and resources to materialize. They do so because they want to ‘rank’ on Google; they want to be ‘first’; they want to be found…You name it.
It’s understandable that they do so since they constantly hear that “Content is King”.
This post will introduce the 5 reasons you are not giving your King the throne it deserves to bypass all your competitors’ content.
Before I break it down let’s get a little bit of context on how search engines work.
How Search Engines Actually Work:
Search engines find, store and deliver information in a three step process:
The journey of a query starts before you ever type a search query, with crawling the web of trillions of documents. Crawlers look at webpages and follow links on those pages, just like you would if you were browsing content on the web. The bots, as the crawlers are called, go from link to link and bring data about those webpages back to Google’s servers. Everything begins with a list of web addresses from past crawls and sitemaps provided by website owners. As the bots visit these websites, they look for links for other pages to visit. The software pays special attention to new sites, changes to existing sites and dead links.
The web is like a huge library with trillions of books that never stops growing. All the information that the ‘bot’ gathers in the crawling stage is then categorized in an index much like books would be at a traditional library.
This is the part of SEO that users care most about. When you enter a query, the search engine machines will search the index for matching pages and return the results that are the most relevant to the user. Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is the PageRank for a given page. PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site's PageRank. In addition to Page Rank, Page authority is key to perform well in the Ranking. Page Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines. The best types of links are those that are given based on the quality of your content by pages with high authority.
So when you consider the above, you learn that SEO is broken into two things:
- Content: this provides relevancy to a keyword.
- Links (internal and external): this provides authority to that keyword.
Internal links can be just as valuable as external links for SEO. The internal structure of a site is an extremely important and often overlooked influencer of internal links. Some SEO issues can be solved by simply adding links internally (like links in the navigation bar) as internal links pass authority from one page to another.
Google evaluates authority on a web PAGE by web PAGE basis, not actually on a site. A page that links to another page transfers its authority to the linked page. The amount of authority it transfers depends on how many pages it's linking to. For example, if one page links to 3 further pages it would transfer 1/3 of its authority to each of the 3 pages.
The deeper into the architecture of the site you go, the less authority you are going to have for that page in particular. So for example, as a blog is published, it goes deeper into the site, to page 1 or 2 of the blog and so it becomes less and less authoritative. The blog will stop performing well, unless it’s good enough to get external links to make it more authoritative.
Now that you know the basics let’s jump to the five biggest mistakes you might be making in terms of SEO:
The 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes:
1. You have not submitted your site map to Google
Failing to submit your site map to Google would be like trying to find the treasure without the map. Here’s a link that explains the process so that you don't do this painful mistake.
2. You have no/few links
Okay, fair enough, external links are hard to get. However, there are links under your control you might not be getting the juice out of. Now that we know how page authority gets diluted as we get deeper into web architecture (think Forbes' complicate web structure, just dig into their website and see how many pages and subpages and subpages they have), we can imagine how little authority a single blog post of the typical web can have. A great way to go around this would be to leverage the homepage's authority by including the 3-4 latest blog posts as in the example below.
3. You are not using your footer right
Your footer is present in most, if not all, the pages on your site. Use it for links and keywords you actually care about. You can even change it every now and again according to your strategy. Check out HubSpot’s current footer. Be selective, be strategic.
4. You don’t have an SEO efficient content structure
Content should be thought of in a Topic - Head Term - Long Tail Term logic. Let’s take a HubSpot example. A topic could be, for example, Blogging; a head term: Blogging topics; and a long tail term: How To Think Up A Year’s Worth of Blog Post Topics in an Hour.
This content logic would have a Pillar content at its core, i.e something that several blog posts could naturally relate to from different angles and something that could generate leads for you. In this case the pillar content offer is:
Using links connecting posts of the same topic can be a great way to pass authority from one page to another (that includes your own pages, not just external websites!). True story, the blog topic generator is the second most vistied page on all of HubSpot.
5. Your page speed is low
Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the parameters used by its algorithm to rank pages. A slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget and this could negatively affect your indexation. Go back to your designers and programmers and get it right!
Now it's time to give your site a few tweeks to help it perform. Log your current rankings (data is essential to understand trends), fix those five mistakes and check back in a couple of weeks.