3 “Easy” Questions SEOs Must Ask Themselves

I found myself in a “head-scratcher” the other day during a call with a PR pro as we talked about a new client. They asked the question of what differentiated the client in their market. What makes them stand out? I was a little embarrassed as I thought about how I had jumped whole-heartily into an SEO campaign and had not first addressed basic marketing questions. I thought about this methodology back within the realm of SEO and began to see a parallel that sometimes many of us begin running so fast down the road of organic search betterment that we don’t really ask our ourselves the introductory questions that are rather “easy” and can help pave the way to a well-thought-out organic search strategy. While SEO can be rather difficult at times, it truly is about making a site and its respective content easily read, understood, and sharable to users and bots alike. And yes, while it may be three main questions, you will find yourself thinking about many other site factors.

How “Easy” Are We Making Site Content Available to Crawling and Navigating?

I know you are deathly worried about creating 18 blog posts this week because we have to be creating content in the content marketing rat race. However, first, we must address what is probably the most important question we as SEOs face. How easily is our content/pages accessed by search engines as well as by users? Content that is difficult to reach is pointless in our plan to persuade minds.

In consideration of crawling bots, we have to identify fundamental issues such as how long the server response time is. Google Page Speed Insights can be a handy tool for this. Even if the search engines can access the page, are there disconnects in the page load sequence?

google-pagespeed-insights

You may have requests that are in error that are causing roadblocks to completely rendering pages. My favorite view to understand this is the waterfall display in Pingdom. Do you have an XML sitemap to note all search-critical pages? More importantly, do you ensure that important pages are not excluded via robots.txt and no-index tags from search-bot crawling? Last, we want to ensure that a crawler’s time on-site is efficient and that they are able to reach all search-critical content. With this, does navigational linking employ HTML or CSS formats or do you use image based/JavaScript linking that can impede a crawling bot?

We can’t forget about user accessibility or our efforts in marketing a site are fruitless. Many of the factors for ease of usability also go back to aiding bots as well. Do you provide a URL structure and breadcrumb navigation that allow users to understand where they are on the site? We are also in a day-in-age where the desktop user is disappearing. That post you wrote has to be visible on mobile and tablet devices with ease. I prefer a responsive design to ensure omni-device compatibility.

Great, now we have ensured our content is visible and navigable. Now, onto the next question.

How “Easy” Are We Making It to Understand Our Site’s Message?

Today’s online marketer is very focused on creating great messages, resourceful content, and painting the company in a good light via text, image, and video content. However, we need to slow down and understand what picture we are painting for search engines as to the overall position of our site. We need to ensure that we are not cannibalizing terms across many on-page site areas such as title elements. We may be making it confusing for a search engines to understand what terms are relevant to specific site pages.

Another thing we want to do is to not rely heavily on building a lop-sided site. Do you have a three-page site with 150 blog posts? Do you look like a blog or a brand? Users like the content that brought them to the site but do they understand who you are? Be resourceful in your content strategy but don’t go overboard in any one area; diversify your approach. We don’t want to confuse bots and users. Additionally, don’t pigeon-hole your keyword and topical focus. Review your Google Webmaster Tools profile within the Content Keywords section and get a feel for what Google thinks your site is all about.

content-keywords-google

How “Easy” Are We Making Content Sharing on Our Site?

Now we are getting somewhere! Our message is visible and it’s understandable. How do we amplify it? What has given true meaning to content marketing as the successor of traditional SEO is that we can create content and have a platform, social media, that can help us propel content or a specific message and assist in creating buzz that can drive additional link generation. All of this considered, organic search trust and credibility factors for your site will be the true benefactor. Are we making content delivery to social media easy though? Sure, you have social sharing functionality on your site, but do you have OpenGraph tags set up on your site so that there is a relevant image to go along with the share as well as the title and description in the social share?

Additionally, are your social sharing options easily visible on not just content in the blog but other likely shared content such as a resources or tools section of your site? We have to make it easy for people to share our content but more importantly, make it understandable to their audience in social media that will be seeing these shares.

Conclusion

Hopefully before you have any chances to go down very focused paths in your organic strategy you will have had a chance to ask yourself these few questions that will ensure that before you dial in to specific efforts, your content as a whole is visible, understandable, and shareable.

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