This article was co-written with Tonni Wenck, Senior SEO Manager at Siteimprove.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is among the most vital tasks that any business must accomplish on an everyday basis. Since users rely so heavily on search engines to find what they need, any business that does not view SEO as an essential part of their marketing will soon be rendered invisible to the very customers they are trying to attract.
In a recent webinar hosted by Magnolia and Siteimprove, we illustrated the need for a consistent workflow to manage SEO tasks and get the most out of the SEO work. Together with Tonni Wenck, the SEO Product Manager for Siteimprove, we presented a set of tasks designed to help digital marketers and website owners manage their SEO workflow effectively.
All marketers know the importance of search engine optimization, but when it comes to managing content at scale, i.e. in an enterprise-grade company, new challenges await.
At its core, SEO involves optimizing a website or individual page so that search engines can read the content and rank it according to the search terms users enter to find that content. The objective of SEO is to get your web page ranked at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords, questions, and phrases.
But again, when it comes to managing content at scale, you need to establish an iron-clad SEO workflow if you are to hit the 200+ ranking signals— including on-page content, user engagement, and social media interactions—to catch Google’s attention whenever you publish content.
The SEO Workflow helps website owners and content authors manage their SEO tasks. These tasks can show stakeholders the areas where they can improve their search engine performance.
Before content authors can make a plan for the SEO tasks, they must first understand their current SEO situation. The most effective tool for determining the status of a site’s SEO issues is to conduct a website audit. The results of this audit can form the foundation of any SEO strategies.
These audits can be accomplished with tools such as on-page diagnostics that grade the page or site based on mobile compatibility, user experience, content relevance, and technical structure. For example, Siteimprove utilizes a diagnosis of more than 70 checkpoints from four critical categories (technical, content, UX and mobile) to provide a prioritized list of issues and recommendations of what needs fixing.
Another vital aspect to the SEO workflow involves researching various keywords. While choosing the most relevant keywords may seem like the best option around which to build an SEO strategy, these keywords are also often among the most competitive in terms of search engine rankings. For instance, an auto dealership may not be best served by centering its keyword optimization efforts around terms like “cars” or “auto sales”.
Instead, keyword research can involve tools such as Google Auto-Suggestion, Google Related, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Search Console. These tools can generate “long tail” keywords that can help authors generate more relevant and niche content. Also, research into “buyer intent” keywords can help authors find keywords that their prospective audiences use to find their products and gain an edge on their competitors’ sites.
Furthermore, it's highly recommended to focus on keywords where there is untapped potential. You can find this potential by looking into Google Search Console and picking up on keywords where you already rank on 2nd or 3rd page in SERP. Getting for these keywords on the top of the search results can then be a realistic target.
On the subject of competition, the next step in the SEO workflow should involve analyzing the keywords and techniques that other businesses in the same industry use to achieve their results. This level of analysis can eliminate hours of trial and error, while also helping content creators gain an understanding of what keywords and which techniques attract the audience that they seek.
The biggest difference-maker in the SEO game is, of course, the content itself. In this case, “content” extends beyond the simple text the user sees. Search engines evaluate “content” that includes meta tags, titles, headings, images, and videos. Search engines also grade your content on how accessible it is to different devices, including smartphones and tablets, as well as to audiences with disabilities, such as vision impairment or mobility issues.
The most effective content offers unique perspectives on the products or services offered, and search engines penalize sites that post duplicate content. The ideal page ranges from 500 to 1,000 words of content, with keywords as vital phrases used throughout the text. Keywords must be used in context and must not be repeated too often, a banned technique known as “keyword spamming”.
Perhaps the most important SEO rule is that each of your pages should be specifically optimized to rank for one (not more) target keyword or cluster of related keywords.
One of the best ways to optimize a page for a keyword is by having that keyword in the page’s URL slug. The URL is one of the first pieces that search engines index, so having keywords in the URL is of vital importance. The meta titles and meta descriptions should also contain your target keywords, as these appear in the SERPs and can make the difference on whether a user clicks or not on the link to your page.
The target keywords should also appear once in the page’s main heading (H1), subheading (H2), and subject headings (H3-H6). Each keyword should appear in the main text once to avoid keyword spamming.
The tasks involved in SEO are never “one-and-done”. They require constant monitoring to determine if the steps taken by content creators are delivering the results desired by the stakeholders. Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console can show which keywords are delivering the most traffic, as well as which pages are receiving the most views.
It's highly recommended to track SEO success on a monthly basis, with a dashboard that looks at metrics such as traffic, impressions, pages that rank for target keywords, and how each keyword performs in Google’s ranking.
Magnolia’s connector to Siteimprove provides authors with website diagnostics and on-page SEO feedback, helping them to improve the technical platform, content quality and accessibility, all without ever leaving the Magnolia interface. This is very powerful, in a context where they have to deal with an ever growing number of channels and tools to do their work.
See below how this works and good luck with your SEO efforts.