How To Complete A Content Audit

When you have a blog, or a writing website of any kind, and you come back from sabbatical, one of the first things you need to do is complete a content audit. In order to complete a content audit, you’ll need to understand it. What this idea boils down to is going through the process of evaluating content elements.

Now I know what you’re thinking, audits are horrible, but I promise that this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Besides, it’s all your own creation right? If you can’t enjoy reading your own posts, you shouldn’t post it for someone else to read. But reading every post you have to find the less than decent ones would be extremely time consuming, not to mention hard to organize.

So here’s my method of tackling this huge, yet crucial, task.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you know what your website is about. If you have a business, you already know. If like me you just have a website for a blog, think about your theme. I started my blog originally for creative writing, but after a year off for a new job, I realized I could be putting my site to better use with the knowledge I have that could be helping others. For me, I added a page and a category that will separate my more professional writing from my creative outlet.

Secondly, you need to do a thorough check of your content stats. There are a few steps to the second checklist. The key factors you should look for are the following:

  1. Run traffic stats for each post. But what is website traffic? Website traffic just tells you how many visitors your pages are getting. Thankfully WordPress has tools to show you this kind of information. It even tells you where in the world your visitors are coming from! I have yet to find a use for that information, but it’s really cool to see where my page is popping up. These stats will let you know which topics are doing well and which aren’t so hot.
  2. Reevaluate target keywords where needed. Your keywords are the very words that bring people to your website from places like Google, and Bing. This factor falls under the SEM umbrella. The definition of Search Engine Marketing has evolved over the years, so it really depends on how you want to view things, or how your hired marketing agency views things. Most of the things I’ve found seem to lump in paid search and organic search into the same SEM group. So figure out which keywords are drawing people in more, and maybe edit the ones that aren’t.
  3. How much engagement does each post have? You can check the number of visitors on each post, but you can also look at your stats and see how many people have liked, commented, or shared your post. During this process you want to make sure you have social share buttons on each of your posts. If you’re not getting a lot of interaction and you have all your sharing features turned on, you need to take a closer look at the content on that page.

Ok, now what? I know which posts and pages are ranking better than others, what do I do with that? Simple, you move to the third stage of the audit and put it them in categories. It’s just like cleaning out your closet. There’s things you keep, things that can’t be saved, and things that someone else could use. Your content is the same. Can you keep it, improve it, or does it just need to go? This is also where you have to keep your website theme in mind, is there something that’s so left field it doesn’t fit? Probably time to trash it. Or start a new blog?

The forth stage of the audit is to inspect your media. Do you have any old images or videos that need to be switched out? Have you used the same image multiple times? Do all of your images seem to be of the same style? How many pictures of laptops do you have? People on their cell phones? Yeah, I’m guilty of it too. This could be the time to update your photos too. How old is that picture of you? Do you need to update it? Yeah, me too.

And the last thing to do for the content audit is by far the most tedious. The URL dump. WordPress has a business level for their site subscriptions that seem to have a feature to do this for you, but if you’re like me, you have to opt for manual. Take every link to ever page, post, or reference to your website, and stick it in a Google doc.

  1. How many links do you have that point away from your site? Do you need this link? If it’s a reference to avoid plagiarism or stealing of any kind, definitely keep it. But maybe add it as a footnote for those who are interested? Can any be replaced to route to another of your own articles? This is how you keep people on your site, by leading them to your site.
  2. How many links do you have that keep your users internal? Any time you can point back to your own website, do it. You don’t want your whole page to be covered in hyperlinks, but if you have another article that would support what you’re saying, you could link it!
  3. Are all of your links functional? If you have broken links, they need to be replaced or deleted. That drives me crazy when I go to a website and I click on a link and get that 404 error, website not found message. On the same wave length, do your links lead where they are supposed to? If I click a link that says I’m going to get redirected to a page with character profile worksheets and really get directed to a page that has a long post about this tv show I’ve never heard of, I’ll be mad. I will be far less likely to come back to that site in the future.

So there you have it. A content audit in a nutshell. Questions? Concerns? Wanna chat more about this? Need a hand? Subscribe, or like, or fill out the contact form here. And good luck!

What Does SERP Mean?

Nothing frustrates me more than acronyms. You can make them up whenever you want to, and they can stand for anything and you’d never know. IHTP. What does that even mean? I have to pee? Igloos have terrible posture? Infamous hummingbirds take precedent? See? Could be anything I want it to be. That’s what I felt like when I first started working with content and SEO.

  1. What the heck is SEO? Search Engine Optimization.
  2. What is SERP? And why does it keep coming up?

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Pages, and to a business, that is the most important page on the internet. Other than their own website of course. The search engine results pages are the pages of results that you get after typing in a search phrase on a search engine, like Google or Bing. Pfft. I got that, I know what that is. Why is that so difficult? Well, when you’re a business or you have a website of any kind, you want to be at the top of that page right? You want anyone searching in your niche to come to you for advice. But how do you get to the top of that page? That…is a whole different thing.

How do SERP’s work?

Well, as stated, this is the results page that web users receive upon searching keywords or phrases into the search engine. Your listing may not show up for someone in Arizona if your business is based in Maine. This is because the artificial intelligence behind all search engines tailor the SERP’s for users based on different things. There are some factors that you can’t change such as physical location, or the user’s browser history, or the social settings surrounding the user. As the “a.i.” behind the engine changes, the factors for the SERP’s change. That means your keywords may make you appear further down or even higher up on the page. So you need to do regular check ins.

Types of Results

Yes, that never ending supply of suggestions based off your two word Google search has more than one kind of result. It’s not a right or a wrong. It’s more a question of how did they get there? Was it natural? Or did someone pay somebody for a favor? No, seriously. There is an option to pay for that prime real estate at the top of the results page. If you have the budget for it, it doesn’t hurt.

Organic searches are totally free! This involves a lot of SEO to optimize the visibility of your site on that search results page. But it’s not always foolproof. You could have the best SEO team member your company has ever seen, but that competitor of yours hired someone to do their SEO professionally and keeps coming in above you. If you’re really tired of playing cat and mouse in these organic searches, you can pay to win. Your call.

Types of Searches

There’s just one right? Type in the keyword and and get results. Well, that’s the process, but the different types of searches drastically change the types of results that a user will get.

Informational searches are just that. A search for information. Say you wanted to search for information on a historical writer: Shakespeare. It wouldn’t do a company much good to pay to have ads on this SERP, “William Shakespeare” isn’t usually a search that will provoke much commercial follow through. It isn’t intended to be a search to buy anything, the search is only looking for information.

Navigational searches aren’t necessarily related to location, though it does work somewhat like a compass. This is the search that we all know well. You remember seeing that one book somewhere, but you can’t remember who wrote it, and you don’t remember where you saw it. Was it something you saw on the local bookstore page? No, it didn’t show up on their website search, time to go to Google (or whatever search engine you prefer). “Undercurrent book” That type of search will pull up a ton of results right? (I tried, there are a ton of results.) But where is that one website that jogs your memory? There it is! The one result the user couldn’t think of without a little help from the all knowing SERP.

Transactional search, sounds promising right? That’s because if you’re a business trying to do online business, this is the type of search you need to focus on. Yes, organic searches will pop up on the results page, but paid results will also do great here. These are the searches that have commercial intent, aka, intent to buy. (Buy being a strong keyword in this branch of SERP.)

With me so far? This is a lot to take in, so let’s take a quick break and answer some questions.

  1. What does SERP mean? – It means Search Engine Results Page. You know, the one that links anything remotely close to what you searched.
  2. Does one time SEO last forever? – NO. You have to keep doing it. Over and over. Until your niche either stops changing, or becomes obsolete.
  3. Are you an organic result? Or can you drop some coin to get that penthouse results spot?
  4. What type of search are you? 411, Compass, or the Dolla Dolla Bill?

Questions? Ask me through the contact page. Want more info on the SERP’s? Join me on Sunday, February 28th, at 10:00 am EST to find out HOW all of this determines the order of the results.

Free Google Keywords Planner Walkthrough

Google Keywords Planner

  • Search for “Google AdWords”
  • Select Start Now when prompted
  • You’ll get to a screen that asks “What’s your main advertising goal?” – At this point, you can opt to create an account and pay for the actual ad, OR, you can scroll to the bottom and select “Switch to Expert Mode”
  • You’ll unlock the Google Ads campaign screen and you can do all kinds of things from there, but for today’s discussion you’ll want to select the small link beneath the main options once again, “Create an account without a campaign”
  • You’ll be asked to confirm your business information and should hit submit. Worry not, no credit cards will be asked for.
  • Click Explore Your Account
  • Select the Tools/Settings and Switch to Expert Mode. This allows you to continue without making a paid account.
  • The Keyword Planner is also located in the Tools menu.

How to Use Google Keywords Planner

  • You have two choices when beginning the Keywords Planner. Find keywords or Get search volume and forecasts. Both paths lead to the Keyword Plan, but they will be a teensy bit different.
    • Find Keywords: This is where you should look to get an idea of what keywords you should be picking for your website.
      • Enter the products or services related to your business or website when prompted, along with your URL.
      • Depending on the items you entered, you’ll get a general report showing you the average monthly searches, competition rate, prices to get to the top of the SERP’s (search engine results page) and some suggestions on other keywords.

Fiddle around with these suggestions as much as you like, and when you have the list of words you want to use, move to the search volume and forecasts.

  • Get search volume and forecasts: If you already have your list of keywords to research results on, you can come straight here. If you’ve used this after the “Find Keywords” tool, that’s fine too. This is where you get reports and stats.
    • Here you add all your desired keywords to get an idea of how well your ad would do with such keywords attached.
    • You’ll see how much it will cost per click, how many clicks you could get, projections for impressions (how many times your digital ad appears on a web user’s screen), and CTRs (click through rates: measures how many clicks your advertisements get based on the impressions).
    • If you’re just trying to find the best AdWords to use, you’ll also want to click on the Historical Metrics tab. This shows you the range of searches from the last year.

Now if you’re like me, you’ll see these ranges of 1K-10K or 10K-100K and be very very annoyed. That doesn’t tell you much does it? For example, one of my keywords was content. Why? I produce it! Well that range was 100K-1M. Well which is it? There’s a 900,000 difference! You can find other programs out there that will give you exact numbers (or at least closer), but they won’t be free.

Another way to get ideas for your keywords is to check out your competitors. Now, you don’t want to do this for your content, as that’s a cheap way to steal, but definitely look at their keywords. They may have a better insight to your niche than you do. Especially if you’re like me these days and trying to find those free tools that don’t really exist. Do some research into your area or your products. Maybe there’s something you’re missing altogether. Maybe you’re just advertising the wrong way. Are you aiming your keywords too broad or too narrow? It will all depend on your niche and your audience, so you’ll need to know those too.

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment. Want to have a more detailed discussion? Check out the contact form and drop me a line!

A Door To The Weightless

He’d never noticed a door there before. He stood there staring at it, at first in confusion. But the longer he watched the frame, the more it became a beacon drawing him closer. He looked around the room but nothing else seemed different. How could he not have seen this before? A great rusted metal door would certainly stand out in an old home made mostly of stone and wood wouldn’t it?

Schwyn Jones walked towards the door like something might jump out and bite him, but nothing did. Either to his relief or his dismay, he couldn’t say. He reached an uneasy hand out and touched the door, quickly retracting his hand as he jumped away. “hah!” He said as if it would move on its own. Nothing happened.

There was a very dim glow seeping through the small crack between the door and the ground. He hung upside down trying to look inside, but he could see nothing. A gentle hum was singing through the strange metal that comprised the door, so he pressed his ear to it. The door must have been hollow, as the hum began ringing. It sounded almost like a generator, but for what he had no idea. This part of the house had barely any electricity to generate.

He gripped the door knob gently, then squeezed as he sucked in a deep breath. He pushed the door open and saw nothing in front of him. The light seemed to be directed from a funny angle and yet there was nothing in the room itself. He stepped inside.

Instantly he felt sick. A dropping sensation hit him in the gut split second before his head hit the floor. The room was full. And he was…on the ceiling?! What just happened? The open door shut on its own at what looked like the ceiling now. Did the room turn? He was on the floor in the room he was in, but this was the ceiling when he walked in.

Schwyn walked around the room, looking for something he might climb to get back out. He found another door and bit his lip considering going through it. He closed his eyes and charged through the frame, only to slam to the “floor” that should have been the right wall.

“So this is how it feels to be in an Escher painting..” he said as he stood up and walked around, looking for another way out. Gravity must be confused in this part of the house, he thought. The further into this new wing he got, the stranger things became. Metal grated flooring, and sheets of metal were curved to make up the rounded walls.

He went through another door, and another. Falling each time in a different direction. Right, left, straight down. He found a small door and crawled through it, finding that this time he fell straight ahead. When he stood up he found himself in a room full of people.

“Welcome to the experiment.”

The Passing

My name is Garret Narlin, and I should be dead.

In Mirrudge everyone is born with a birthmark on their forearm bearing the date they will die. Within the week of their death date, people are moved into the Expiry Thoroughfare as their final resting place; a final earthly Utopia. On their last night, the Eve of the Pass is held in the grand ballroom. During the celebration of passing from one life to the next, caregivers dress the beds. As the passing draws near, people retire to their beds with a final goodbye.

My death home is quiet, and I’m alone. The minutes are ticking by, and I can’t help but feel scared. I get to my room and look at my bed, the white floral draped gently around the edges and the satin sheets glimmering in the moonlight. Looking at it now, I feel stronger. I feel ready. With one last look out of the skylight, I let my eyes shut for the last time. Or so I thought…

I feel a hand grip onto my arm and jump. My eyes open and the morning light stings my eyes.

“Lornen! Lornen! He’s alive!”

My breathing hastens, and my heart feels constricted. I climb out of my bed and stare at it. It stands vacant, but in the wrong way.

“You must come with me now Garret.”

I fearfully shuffle one foot in front of the other across the floor after them. In all the history of Mirrudge, this has never happened. No one has ever survived their death day before. I stumble from my supposed resting place and through the city to the labs where the doctor rushes to me, slamming his hand on my chest and breaks into tensely triumphant laughter.

“Shena, come here.”

A young girl joins us in the room, and I know her immediately. My sister. I can see her quivering arm, and her date. Three weeks ago. Doctor Hesher places his hand gingerly upon her chest and feels both our hearts beating at once.

“In sync. It’s happening. A new age in Mirrudge. The pair of you will heal our world together.”

Hesher looks to us both, hopeful and proud. Shena reaches her hand out for mine, which I grasp, before locking her into a taut clinch. The hug releases a powerful burst of golden light around both of us. Flashes of a future appear to us both as we share a gaze, no death marks, no Eve of the Pass. Just life. We know what we must do, and we begin with Hersher. Together we place our hands over his heart, one atop the other, and watch as his death mark fades away. His laughter turns to pure delight and relief. Kissing us both on the cheek, he rushes us out of the lab and towards the city. With my sister’s hand in mine, our marks fade, and we march toward our destiny.

“Deliver us.”

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