Work Smarter Not Harder: How to Dominate 2019 with Reusable Content!
- The Importance Of Auditing Your Existing Content
- Should You Ever Delete Content From Your Website?
- Should You Always Update Your Old Content?
- Best Ways To Repurpose Content
- Tweaks You Can Make To Move Posts Higher In SERPs
- How To Become Less Reliant On Google Search Traffic
- Does Video Content Help Rankings?
- Creating A Good Roundup Post
- Updating Posts And Falling In SERPs
- Are Header Tags Important For SEO?
Casey: Oh, hey! We're live. Okay, everyone, if you can see me, we are about ready to go.
Oh, man, we are so pumped, everyone, to be here with you today. First of all, I wanna introduce you to my very learned colleague. Ashley, introduce yourself, tell them a little bit about yourself.
Ashley: Thank you so much for having me, super excited to be here. A little bit of background about myself: I own a social and content marketing agency in San Diego. I've had the agency for almost eight years now, and when first started with the agency, it was a one-stop shop; let's do all the digital marketing things.
And then, about a few years ago, I really narrowed in on what I love doing the most, and that's focusing on creating and developing content and posting it on social media. Learning all about how you could actually promote content in a variety of different ways on social.
The Importance Of Auditing Your Existing Content
Casey: That is fantastic. One of the things that I always hear from a lot of bloggers, Ashley, is, again, we don't necessarily need to be publishing a ton of new content. We have a lot of content that resides on your domain, that's not working for you, tell us a little bit about that. It isn't, necessarily, that Google wants us to publish substantially more content.
I was reading something the other day that there's literally 5 million blog posts or something published every day, that is a lot of noise. What do bloggers need to do? How would they start cataloging their content on their site, to begin with?
Ashley: That's an insane amount of blog posts happening. I always recommend starting with a basic content audit. Look at the assets that you already have, and this can be from years and years and years ago. This is not just what did you do in the last quarter, especially if you've never done a content audit before, go back and audit all of your content assets, everything.
There's quite a lot of awesome spreadsheets out there, there are even tools to where it'll run through the audit for you. SEMrush has one. What you're really looking for here is which pieces of content actually helped me accomplish my primary and secondary goals and which pieces of content literally did nothing for me?
The ones that actually helped get you a little bit closer to your goal, if not accomplish your goals, obviously, those are the topics that you want to duplicate. You wanna create more topics or more posts based on those specific ideas.
The other ones that are just sitting in your website cyberspace, you don't wanna delete them, but you need to be able to take note of, okay, this is not what my customer or my audience actually wants to engage with, so I need to stop creating infographics or I need to stop using so many imaged-based posts and do more longer texts or shorter texts.
Once you run a content audit, you're gonna find out, okay, my bulleted posts are what's working best. This is not going to be the same for every single website; all of the results are gonna be totally different for websites, that's why you need to run your very own content audit instead of reading all of the top 10 ways to make your blog kick ass.
Casey: I know there's a lot of food bloggers, a lot of do-it-yourself bloggers, a lot of lifestyle bloggers on the call today, when we're specifically looking to do a content audit, we wanna be focusing on bottom-line metrics.
I know a lot of you might be doing posts where you have Pinterest pins, those Pinterest pins are tied to your posts, the pins are doing great, the posts aren't doing very well. So you might wanna remember that Pinterest ties those pins to your URL, so it's not like those pins are ever gonna go away.
We can certainly republish that content in a way that'll make it a little bit more widely acceptable, so let's talk a little bit about how you would go upon doing a content audit. You mentioned a spreadsheet... how would we go about it?
Should You Ever Delete Content From Your Website?
Ashley: My rule of thumb is to not delete your babies. Do not delete posts, even if they aren't performing very well, let them live on your site because it's still content. I've found that a lot of time, when clients will go in and they have this bucket now, they've gone through the audit and they've developed these different sections, then they go through and they see this bucket where nothing's performed, they're like, "Oh, I'm just gonna delete everything."
That can affect your other content as well and that can affect your website, so leave it as it is. Leave your content pieces as is, but just notate, okay, “if the content pieces in this bucket have terrible bounce rates, then look at where they're coming from”. If it's Pinterest and your pins are getting tons of engagement, but once they hit your site, they leave, it's probably because you're not getting an honest user experience.
Casey: Now, you mentioned not to delete content. I'm a big believer in the content garden, so if we have low-quality content or content that maybe it's expired giveaways, maybe it's content that we know has no value, longterm, I'm all for pulling the weeds of that content, because if I pull the weeds, then I feel that the flowers have a chance to bloom.
Ashley: I may have to disagree a little bit, only because you can go back. An example, I had one client who had 500 pages of one paragraph pieces of content, one paragraph of blog posts, and after we went through the content audit and discovered this terrible section of their blog, they're like, "Okay, so we'll just delete all of these." I was like, "No, no, no, no, no. Don't delete them, let's update them instead."
Once you've gone through the audit and figured out what works, then you can go back to those pieces of content that didn't work, optimize them based on what worked. So if it's you need to add more bullets or you need to add more images or your sweet spot is 750 words, and all of those posts are only 500 words, add 250 more words.
Do some keyword research and figure out what you should talk about, how you can actually fill in that content a little bit more versus just removing it entirely. That's what I've found has worked fairly well when a client is like, "Oh, I'll just delete everything."
Casey: Right. Now, let's talk a little bit about consolidation too because, like I said, I think you and I are in agreement, we try not to change URLs when at all possible because we don't wanna reset things.
Nevertheless, one of the great examples of content cleanup was Danny Goodwin did a fantastic job over at, God, Search Engine Journal where he, basically, deleted almost 30% of their content, they consolidated a ton of them and had a huge uplift with Google.
I believe that there are certain specific issues where...if you've got some very identical posts, maybe you've got three apple pies, there's some content cannibalization going on there where we might, necessarily, decide, okay, which of these posts is the best? Maybe I can go ahead and take the other two posts, take what they did well, put them all in one master post and redirect the two that are not performing well to the one that I want to keep.
Would you disagree with that? Do you think that that's a good way to consolidate authority on the site?
Ashley: Yes. When you're looking at duplicate content like that, then that's definitely an exception. That's the best way to go through it because, like you said, we don't wanna be changing our URLs, so pushing it all to the post that has the same topic, has the similarities but was the most effective would be a good strategy around that.
Casey: Wendy has a good question, because Wendy asked, "Why use a plugin? Why not just revise, update, indicate on the post that it's updated and republish?" The issue that we're talking about is that when someone is trying to do a rewrite, for example, they have a post that's three or four years old, maybe they've had an audit with me, they realize, oh, my gosh, I didn't do all this stuff in my post. Well, instead of you just updating that and hitting update, we might wanna go ahead and change the date and schedule that so it pops onto your homepage, goes out and new to your RSS feed.
Well, I don't want you to just make all those changes right there because you're continuing to ping Google. Google's coming back and getting all the information when it's not done. So what I like to do is clone the post, make all the changes you wanna make, schedule the new post out and it's gonna go live and replace the current copy that's live. There's no interruption there. I find that that tends to work better.
Now, we talked a little bit about there's a lot of content myths that go on out there, Ashley, with regards to content. Freshness updates, things like that.
Now, the freshness update, the Query Deserves Freshness push that Google did. God, I can't believe it's been that long, it's like 2012, 2013 when they really introduced the concept of Query Deserves Freshness, that used to be for news content but now we seem to have it applying to a lot of non-news content.
Should You Always Update Your Old Content?
Do people have to continually refresh and update content for Google to value it?
Ashley: There's a couple of answers to this. First, you need to audit your content every quarter, so once you do your first initial audit, that first audit you've ever done on your content, this is gonna be extremely lengthy, especially depending upon how much content you have.
A food blogger's gonna have a tremendous amount of content to run through, but then, moving forward, you're just looking at doing a content audit on a quarterly basis. That's quick enough to let you know, okay, last quarter, this happened, this happened, I'm getting these metrics, I'm not getting these metrics, and you can make adjustments moving into the next quarter.
In terms of evergreen content, sometimes the best performing pieces of content I've found with clients is content from years ago. They're working so hard on trying to create this all-new interactive content and make sure it's video content, and this and that, and those posts do great, but then they still have a post from 2015 that is just killing the game for them. There's nothing wrong with that.
What you should do if that post from 2015 is going to be one of your best posts, is not touch it, let it keep living out its life. Let it keep doing its thing, but create similar posts around that idea because something that you did there worked so well.
A lot of my clients’ best performing pieces are going to be their older pieces, and then they basically manipulate those ideas but in the more modern-day form of content, so now that would be taking that topic from 2015 that worked well and now making it into video content and seeing how that performs.
Best Ways To Repurpose Content
Casey: We call that content repurposing. What are some ways that the typical blogger... can repurpose, say, their most successful content? If they've done the content inventory, they've got a list of posts that are doing really well, maybe they wanna go ahead and venture out in other platforms, what would you suggest?
Ashley: There are so many different ways that you can repurpose your content. I mean, really, no one should ever say, "I don't know what to write about anymore," because just go back to your gems that worked, and you can change the medium that they were in. Say they were originally a video post, you can take that video and you can make three different videos out of that one.
Or say they were originally a text post, you can now make that an audio, duplicate it and now turn it into an audio post with a little play button inside, and now you have your interactive content. You can add imagery with it, you can make infographics out of it, just changing the medium alone is probably one of the quickest ways to do it because you're not coming up with brand new content.
Casey: Philip asked, "What if cannibalized pages are each generating clicks and impressions? I'm conscious about lowering the value of them, but I'm positive that cannibalization is hurting my website," so how would we evaluate what to do in that case, Ashley?
How would we evaluate? Could we look at consolidation there? Would we possibly, just like you said, maybe find the post that's doing well and possibly update and re-publish the other two posts and make them a little dissimilar?
Ashley: Yes, because if it's generating clicks and impressions, that's great, but you also need to look at is clicks and impressions really what you're going for? Is that a secondary goal? Is that a third goal, or is that your primary? That's going to help answer if you should start duplicating more of those topics or start leaning away from that.
Casey: Okay. Very good point. Very good point. We've got a great question here from Paula Montenegro, Paula says, "What is the next step if you already did a lot of things wrong?" Well, first of all, welcome to my life.
You asked if you've already deleted posts, you've already edited, posted drafts, what would you do? Well, I would probably advise you to just stop those bad practices.
Now, what would you do to someone who would be in that situation? Would you have them audit those 100 plus drafts and decide which ones they're gonna keep and then maybe would we re-publish at a new URL since we know that we've sent a mixed signal already to Google and redirect the old draft to the new one? Or would we just go ahead and take our chances, put it live and have it show back up in the sitemap and see if Google treats that post competitively again?
Ashley: It's important to have the post live because you need some metrics to base things off of. If this is the first time you're doing an audit, so Paula, to answer you right off the bat, if everything, quote, unquote, "you've been doing is wrong", start with a content audit immediately.
If you're in a similar situation, like Casey's talking about to where a third or a fourth of your posts are still in draft mode, you're going to discover this inside of your content audit and then you're also going to be able to see, okay, well, the other two-thirds or three-fourths of posts that I have, what are the base metrics that I can get?
Give it a quarter, depending upon how much traffic your site gets. You could either be able to go back in a week or it may take up to a quarter for you to generate enough traffic to actually get metrics to say, "Okay, by republishing these drafts or by editing these drafts slightly and publishing them again, I was able to hit the benchmark of the other post or surpass it, or I didn't hit it at all."
Casey: Okay. Yeah, very good, very good point. We got an admin question here, do you recommend changing tags on a repost, for example, tags on images or the description tag? Well, first of all, you shouldn't be putting tags on images, so let's talk a little bit about that.
One of the things I see a lot of people mistakenly do is stuff their alt tags, their alternative text field, with the description with hashtags or with things that are not at all related to the point of that field, which is to provide visual interpretation for accessibility crawlers.
This is a common issue, is that people have been told for years that alt tags should be stuffed with keywords or that we should be writing some kind of a marketing description in there for Pinterest, that's terrible.
Please, work on those alt tags. Work on the rest of that stuff. Let's take this back a little bit, do you recommend changing categories or do you even recommend the use of tags? Because in many cases, I tend to recommend that we noindex tag pages because they are the epitome of thin content. Do you not agree, Ashley? Do you noindex tag pages?
Ashley: Yeah. I mean, categories are one thing, and categories can be helpful for a user if they're actually used by users. Often, I find that categories aren't labeled well on a site and the posts aren't actually categorized very well, and so users don't wanna click on the categories and will go to your menu bar to access your post versus your actual category section because you're not categorizing specific enough.
If you are categorizing specific enough, then you're doing that specifically for users. Updating the category, that's not gonna do much for your SEO, from what I've seen, it's just going to help the user better find certain posts when they're looking for certain categories.
Tweaks You Can Make To Move Posts Higher In SERPs
Casey: All right. We'll have you do this one really quickly, Ashley. “I have a post on page two or three or lower because there are so many similarly titled post, how could we make ours rise to the top? What unique words could be added to tweak the search results so that it would boost our post?” That's a general question, but I know you'll have a good take on that.
Ashley: It's such a common issue, you're totally not alone. What I would do at that point is go into the topic research tool inside of SEMrush and, based on the keyword that you put in, you're able to see the who, what, when, where, why, how questions that people are actually searching for and asking for.
You're gonna get a ton of ideas on how you can better optimize that headline, and even get the top 10 best-performing articles and highest traffic articles based on those keywords.
Casey: What would you consider for someone who, basically, gets all of their traffic from Google or Pinterest? Where should they branch out to?
When we're talking about content repurposing, is there a specific video platform or are there other things that they could be working on to republish that content a little bit more effectively?
Ashley: It depends on what resources you have. If you're a food blogger, going the YouTube route is a fantastic way to go because that's, realistically, video content that you can create and that people want to actually see on YouTube. They wanna see how you're making certain recipes, how you're putting things together.
Everyone should, for sure, be on Facebook. You have to be on Facebook these days, Instagram, this is all visual content, this is perfect, right up the ally for lifestyle and food bloggers. You definitely need to be on Instagram, Pinterest is gonna be a backbone for your traffic driver, and then the next would be moving to YouTube.
How To Become Less Reliant On Google Search Traffic
Casey: One of the questions I have for you, Ashley, is that clearly, we don't wanna live in a world where we have to rely on Google for all of our traffic, so how do bloggers work to branch out to that?
I know a lot of them use Pinterest. What other categories can they really start to be pulling traffic from? Clearly, that's different for every site, but are there some specific strategies that you would suggest for users looking to minimize the fallout from these crazy issues with Google?
Ashley: 100% social. Social is going to really help drive traffic to bloggers. Also working with influencers, working with other bloggers and having the traffic coming from other similar types of blog posts, from influencers who are looking to develop new content, utilize that in social media. And not just Pinterest; explore the other social media networks, especially if you can create the video content, just like we were talking about. Those are great places to be getting traffic instead of just relying on search queries.
Casey: Here's a good question for you Ashley, this is from Art from My Table, thanks for joining us today, "I was under the impression that YouTube isn't really going to bring traffic to your blog. They don't like it when you link to your blog or link out period, can you speak to this a little bit more?"
Ashley: Definitely. YouTube isn't going to be as high of a traffic driver as, say, Pinterest or Facebook is going to be because of the linking abilities within the social network, but what YouTube is going to do is give your brand a voice that it may have not had before. You can generate such a big following on YouTube to where you may not need them to even go to your blog.
But you're gonna embed the YouTube post, or the YouTube video, inside of your post and you're gonna have it on YouTube, so now you have two separate groups of followings, why not have both groups of followings and increase that versus just having your blog-only followers?
Does Video Content Help Rankings?
Casey: Very good point. Related question. Can embedding YouTube videos in the blog post help rank my posts better on Google search? No, because there's no ranking factor for embedding those videos.
Just because Google owns YouTube doesn't provide any sort of benefit. Video is not a ranking factor. It's amazing how many times I have to explain that to people. If you wanna use video to enhance your posts, great, but whether the post has a video or not have a video, it's not, necessarily, gonna have any impact on the ranking there. Really something to be aware of, because I know there's a lot of people selling video services these days.
"Do you think the video will become a ranking factor? Seems like it will since it's one of the warnings on search console." No, and the reason I don't believe it'll become a ranking factor is the same way that things like word count and social signals are not ranking factors. It's a muddy signal.
Anyone can actually manipulate video considerably, actually. I mean, we could go in, I could buy a million video views on YouTube now. They're getting a little bit better at tracking those down, but it can be done, especially if you own an IP scrambler or something along those lines. No, I don't think it's gonna be a ranking factor.
Creating A Good Roundup Post
Okay, so continuing on down here. "How valuable are roundups with other bloggers and how many recipes should in one post?" Well, let's talk a little bit about inbound linking vehicles specifically, because I know that's something a lot of bloggers struggle with, Ashley.
Roundups are very popular in the recipe, do it yourself, lifestyle niche because it's a great way to interact with other bloggers, especially in similar niches and cross-link related content. On the positive, it doesn't take a lot of resources to do it. You can network with a couple of bloggers, you can pull together a list and you're good to go. On the negative, because they're so easy to do, there's so many of them.
I would say that there's probably a right and a wrong way to do a roundup. For example, I would wanna make sure that we'd have a competent description, I'd wanna make sure that we had a nice introduction, maybe a custom pin. We don't just provide a list of recipes, maybe we tell the user, "Here's why I chose this recipe for this roundup," and then we have a quality conclusion.
Ashley: One of the best ways to do it is to separate that out into multiple posts. Part of that question was how many should be in a post, well, you really should just have one roundup recipe per post, and in that beginning, when you're doing that introduction, make it personal.
Casey: Gotcha. "Is there a rule of thumb for how long to wait before you re-publish a post?"
Ashley: What you're looking at here is going through your audit to see how long it takes for you to generate a decent amount of traffic. For you, a decent amount of traffic could be 100 visitors in a week, or another site it could be 100,000 visitors in a week.
You need to see what your patterns are, and then, based on that, how long is it going to take you to get that traffic? Once you re-publish a post, you need to let it run for that week or that month or that quarter until you hit that amount of traffic to where you can actually get correct metrics from.
Go ahead and publish your post the first round, let it live for that week until you get enough traffic to your site to where you can get metrics from it, then look into reposting it. There's no perfect number, there's no one day, three months, one year, that doesn't exist, it's based on how much traffic your site gets and how long it takes to get that average amount of traffic.
Updating Posts And Falling In SERPs
Casey: Let's see here... "I've heard of experiencing ranking drops after updates to a post, is this normal for the short time? If the decrease ranking persists, what should I do?"
That's a good question. It's funny because Google has an actual patent on this, and of course, the name escapes me, but it's, basically, a patent where it says that Google likes to play around and screw with the emotions of bloggers by providing ranking drops when they detect large changes to a piece of content.
Maybe we can throw some internal links to it from the category page or from a related post. Look externally. Maybe we can go ahead and reshare that on social media. Maybe that'll give it a little bit of a boost from a direct traffic standpoint.
Is there anything else, Ashley, that you think that the user could do if they're concerned about a post that they think is very high quality, but Google has dropped the post considerably and they really want it to bounce back?
Ashley: Yeah. I would just go back into optimizing it with keywords. Maybe the keywords that you're using, maybe it's overstuffed, maybe you're not using the right ones based on what people are searching for now. I would also look at your mobile versus desktop to see if there's any kind of signs that you're seeing with your mobile traffic that's coming through. Maybe your article's just not optimized for mobile the way that it should be, and not just for Google mobile, for users on mobile, as well.
Casey: I've got someone here, "I'm already on page one, but my content has crap photos and content. Can I revamp it or should I leave it untouched? I have a few that are ranking seven or eight that could be better." Ashley, I think we talked about the content unicorns, but what about the content?
I think we've mentioned this previously, as well. If it's lower on page one or maybe it's at the top of page two, then we probably wanna go ahead and play around with it, correct? We wanna go ahead and try to make it as best we can, improve it as much as we can?
Ashley: Yeah. There's still room for optimization there, and that's where, again, I would go straight to the topic research tool to figure out, can I be saying it better based on what users are actually searching for?
That's where, maybe, optimizing a headline, maybe adding more word count, maybe removing some of the words because it's just rambling at that point, and so there's definitely still room for optimization.
Casey: We don't, necessarily, have to change, if a post is ranking at six, seven or eight, maybe we don't even worry about the content itself, maybe we focus on making it load faster. Maybe we focus on making sure that we've thrown some links to it internally and externally. Internal linking is an extremely underutilized benefit for most bloggers.
Are Header Tags Important For SEO?
Okay. Let's talk about H tags. "Should every single updated post have H2 questions added, updated? If so, how many is a good number to shoot for?"
Again, I know that a lot of you've probably seen it yourself, people tend to write longer content because they believe that that does better in Google, unfortunately, in many cases, the longer content is not always better. Nevertheless, using things like H2's to make it easier makes it easier for users to read the content, especially on mobile.
Tell me a little bit about how you would put together the perfect post these days. I mean, H1, H2, H3's, how would you go about it, with regards to the headings?
Ashley: Yeah, definitely. Of course, you have your H1, but having H2's and H3 are helpful for users as well, they're really, really helpful because it gives your mind a break in-between reading a lot of text. I'm so glad you brought up that, having super long, long-form posts is not the perfect answer to ranking it. You can have a short post that ranks just as well, if not better than a post that has 1500 words, something that has 500 can do even better, this is, again, what you're gonna find out when you do your content audit.
If your audience is staying on a page longer when you have 2500 words and they're not bouncing off, they're actually reading that, and there's a bunch of different tools that you can use to see how they're scrolling and what their scroll speed is to see how they're actually interacting with the content.
Casey: All right. Ashley's gonna log off here. Thanks so much for joining us today. We'll speak again soon. Thank you.