Underperforming Content, Part 2: Improvements You Can Make
February 15, 2023
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In Part One of our deep dive into underperforming content, we talked about why your posts might not be garnering the page views you wish they would. Unfortunately, articles that don’t deliver are typical in SEO, but you don’t need to stay with the status quo. If you’re determined to address the issues that plague your content, here is a list of things that could help you realize your content’s potential.
Pay Attention to Your Google Search Console
Your Google Search Console does more than report on the keywords and queries that affect your traffic. The different tools and sections let you improve your on-page SEO. For example, the URL inspection tool lets you determine if Google has crawled or indexed your pages and whether or not you are allowing the search engine to do so. The Coverage feature lets you see the data Google has gathered about your pages’ indexability and crawlability.
Meanwhile, the Indexing section mentions user- versus Google-selected canonical pages. If you and Google did not put in the same canonicals, it means the search engine does not respect your canonical directives, which is worth examining. Check what Google has to say in their Webmaster Resources about the matter. Besides canonicals and data on crawling or indexing, the search console can also provide status reports on Rich results, AMP pages, and your website’s mobile usability.
After running these tests, you can check the rendered HTML to see if the central part of your content is visible. Get a sentence in your post and Click CTRL + F with the sentence to see if the rendered page contains it. You can do the same with internal links. See if Google can access headers, products, pagination, comments, and other vital elements as well.
Analyze SERPs for User Intent
Whether you’re using Ahrefs, Semrush, or another SEO tool, you should be able to get data on what the results page is for the specific keywords you’re targeting. For example, if you target a topic-rich but competitive keyword like “makeup for summer,” you will get different results on the page.
The screenshot above only shows video links. The entire SERP shows more types of results, including People Also Ask, organic links, and photos, which is typical for a keyword like “makeup for summer,” with its approximately 559,000,000 results. Besides having various results, you could also see that the top organic spots belong to established brands like Good Housekeeping, Allure, Bobbi Brown, and Elle. As such, it can be challenging to break into the organic results by just focusing on creating blog posts that incorporate “makeup for summer.”
It would be more productive to redirect your focus. Instead of writing an article on summertime shades or products, you should take a couple of steps back and see the bigger picture. Are there ads on the page, or is it full of organic results? What rich results appear? Do the organic results target transactional, informational, or navigational keywords? You could also gather insights on the top results’ domain rankings, the number of keywords they rank for, and the traffic per page.
A crawl of the top results in the SERPs of your target keyword will give you an overview of your competitors’ content and metadata. You can also manually check some pages to see if their content directly affects yours.
Watch Out for Content Duplication or Keyword Cannibalization
Many SEO tools and plagiarism checkers can also help you monitor duplicate content or keyword cannibalization. There are several tell-tale signs that these things are affecting keywords you want to target. First, if the rankings are flip-flopping between two URLs, it means the search engine is having a hard time deciding which URL should rank for the keyword. If multiple URLs appear for the keyword or different URLs rank for similar keywords, you might have keyword duplication or cannibalization. A site search for keywords of interest can give you an idea of how many pages on the topic Google has indexed.
It should not surprise SEO marketers if their website has underperforming content. This issue is quite common, especially since content is a vital ranking factor. Since many companies produce content, it can sometimes be an uphill climb trying to distinguish yourself from competitors. It isn’t impossible, though—SEO tools and processes can help you find a logical way through. Understanding what is causing you to underperform and checking if your page complies with Google’s guidelines are the first steps. When you’re done with this, you need to research user intent carefully. When you do this, you can create a content plan that genuinely responds to your customers’ needs.
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