Michael Utley: Hey everybody. Welcome to Episode 52 of the Dodgeball Marketing podcast. I'm Michael, this is Chris.
Chris Raines: Greetings.
Michael Utley: And welcome to another episode. Today, we're going to talk about five content marketing improvements for better SEO.
Chris Raines: Boom.
Michael Utley: Yeah. So Chris, why don't you get us started and talk about the first item.
Chris Raines: Let's talk about the first item. Okay, so the first item is optimizing your top pages. This is a methodology to use, not necessarily a specific directive. But if you've got a larger website or even a small website, you have some pages that are more important than others. So if you're a local service business, for instance, you're going to want to optimize your homepage, your service pages, and your sub-service pages before, say, your about page or your history page or your blog category page or something like that.
Chris Raines: So use everything that we've talked about in episodes one through 51 and tackle those pages first, homepage, service pages, and sub-service pages because those are the most important. They're closer to customer action and people doing business with you, and the homepage is obviously the first impression that a lot of people get of your business or your website. And so tackle those first. And also we'll put in there doing optimizations on your header and your footer will optimize those across the entire site because they show up on every single page.
Chris Raines: So what we've talked about Michael before is doing it for multi-location businesses. So if you have multiple locations in the New England area or something like that, putting those locations in the footer with a link that goes to a location-specific page can really help Google understand what, where. . . well Google and users, actually, understand where you do business, like what's your serviceable area.
Michael Utley: Yeah. I really like a format where you have. . . We like to do three column footers. You can get a lot of good material in there. But yeah, if you have a reasonable number of locations, one, two, three, four, even up to six or seven locations, if you're really creative with the design, getting those addresses listed. And then over on the other side, I like to do some of the left-third of a desktop view of a website, having your service area listed and using all of the state and regional and even major metro names in that body of copy.
Michael Utley: I do this in a paragraph format, and we'll even link that text to a page that says, "Hey, here's the service area. We service, for example, New England, Boston, Massachusetts, Rhode Island." So listing these things and linking those to a page for that service area so that you have standalone location pages.
Michael Utley: But this block of copy in the footer is really good and the addresses in the footer are really good because those are on every page of the website. And then there's a little thing we like to do in the header. I like to have a logo in the top-left corner. We've talked about this on another episode. It's like, stop trying to reinvent the wheel, put the logo on the top left corner of the website for desktop view.
Michael Utley: But I like under that tab, in HTML, the service areas, serving the whatever area. And the reason that's so important to have it is because Google search engines, they're trying to figure out, "Okay, where is this company? What are they trying to do?" And generally they have for the domain connected to a Google My Business page.
Michael Utley: So there are other factors that are more important than what I'm describing. But I like in the header to have a short, simple five to seven states, that's either your value proposition or your service area or both. And then in the footer to have these other elements, and those are great because they hit every page on the site.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Great. Next one is delete irrelevant content. I think you've got this one, Michael.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So one of the perennial questions that come up when someone is looking at working with us as their SEO agency or their online marketing agency is, "We have this old content on the website. We know that it's old, but should we keep it? Maybe we should delete it, but should we keep it since it's attracting some good traffic?" And the answer, for now, and for all time, is yeah, you need to delete it or unpublish it or retire it.
Michael Utley: We think of it as unpublishing content. Content has a lifespan. What is often the case is that businesses change. You have consumer tastes that are changing. So you have different themes that you're highlighting or focused on more or less. You have products and services that come and go. And when they go or change, the content that you have that associates you with those things needs to be retired. An example of this that I use often is if you're offering something in the dermatology space, like a cosmetic service, and that comes and the trend goes and that product or that set of services-
Chris Raines: Or maybe it gets banned by the FDA or something.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Oh, gosh, yes. If there's something about it that you just no longer want to promote, you want to retire that. Because Google essentially sees the internet as a tree of different subject matter and so there are different branches. Like service businesses would be a major branch on that taxonomy and they're understanding, "Okay, where do you fit into this?" And you really don't want to throw them off the scent when they're trying to figure out where you fit in the universe of subject matter.
Michael Utley: And so yeah, if you have content that is outdated, you can either try to recycle it, repurpose it. If it's something that's maybe on the edge and you just got to make some updates to make it correct and relevant again. But if it's something where it's an entire page of content about a product. Like if you're reviewing a construction industry product, like an epoxy paint and you're no longer using epoxy, you're using polyurea. Well, if you've got this great review on some new epoxy from 10 years ago, guess what? You need to just retire that content. Yeah.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Perfect. Okay. Next up is implement question keywords. I love this one.
Michael Utley: Yeah, this is a great one. Yeah.
Chris Raines: Because if I look at my past 100 searches on Google, I bet half of them are questions that I'm asking, trying to get that answer for. A lot of it's work-related, like questions I have about different advertising platforms and so forth. So using those questions inside in your landing pages, like making a blog title or a header as a question is really powerful because, again, people come to search engines to ask questions.
Chris Raines: So imagine, Michael, we've got, the example we have here is, "How much does exterior painting cost?" So if you're a painting company, imagine writing a really authoritative blog post on that, and then having your title tag, which is what shows up in the blue link when people search, imagine having someone search that exact same phrase, "How much does exterior painting cost?" And then your page with the title, "How much does the exterior painting ..." It directly matches their query. A really, really high click-through rate for stuff like that, because it's so relevant.
Chris Raines: And so you can get ideas for question-based content by using ... Well, the first thing you can do is use question engines like Quora. So you can type in the subject matter in Quora. You can use Answer The Public, which is another website, although they charge for that service now. I think you get two free searches per month. But another good one that's free, Michael, is People Also Ask. So it's when you put in a question or a keyword and scroll down to the very bottom and Google has an area called People Also Ask. That's a really great treasure trove of popular searches that are related to the search that you just did.
Chris Raines: So yeah, building content, building landing pages, building blog posts, titles, headers, et cetera, around those questions, really powerful way to be super relevant to what kind of questions people are asking.
Michael Utley: Yeah, that's good. And the one caveat I would add to this is whatever you're proposing, you're going to answer with your title, make sure you deliver on it. And Google is also looking at the rest of that page, but what, if you do answer the question and if you answer it in a way that's succinct, they'll actually show that content right on the search results page.
Yeah. You got to do that because Google knows, Google's measuring. When you click through to a site, Google knows when you, if-
Michael Utley: If a user, yeah.
Chris Raines: Like a bounce. So if a user clicks through and then they're back at the results page 10 seconds later, that communicates to Google that you didn't really answer the question.
Michael Utley: You didn't get what you were looking for.
Chris Raines: Because they're going back to Google to dig for something else. If you really answered the question in a thorough way, Google's going to see click, and they're not going to hear from them again. Yeah, that's a good signal.
Michael Utley: Yep. Yeah, that's right. And all of that behavior comes down to Google is a little bit of a Black Box. We don't know what's going on under the hood and what they always default to in any of their conversations about SEO is just focus on producing good content.
Michael Utley: Now that's true in a superficial way. There's a lot of connecting the dots that SEO agencies do that does make a difference and creates traction in search engines. But at the end of the day, you can't ever get around. Just focus on producing good content. That's 90% of the battle, things that are relevant and helpful. Good. Thank you.
Michael Utley: Next item, check that each of your pages has above the minimum amount of content for search engines to know that they can index the page. Typically around 300 to 500 words. Anything that's below 300 words of content on a page, Google looks at that and says, "I don't know if we know enough about this page to be able to index it." And this is a little bit of a dated recommendation. I would say that this is something that was true for years and years. And frankly, I can't really validate this, this year, but I still think it holds up as a recommendation in terms of the user experience.
Michael Utley: When someone gets to a services page and then just got one line of text, or even if you have a stub or a placeholder page for a sub-service and you know that you're going to build out a page and you've got it there and you want to get the SEO having a standalone page. If somebody gets here and there's just a sentence of content, that's a really dissatisfying experience. And so we, anytime we're developing pages for content for SEO, we're 500 words and up.
Michael Utley: If we're doing a scannable website and we're catching what are technical scan issues, that's going to be around 300 words. And so any of these, we're going in and we're adding content. Like a clear definition of who this is for and what's included, blocks of bullets of what problems this solves, a one, two, three process to show here's how we do this service or activity.
Michael Utley: Also, you can have ... if you have a large block of pages, like I said, a sub-services, you can have blocks that are lower on the page that are not unique to the individual page, but are maybe the one, two, three process of how you work as a company.
Chris Raines: Your appointment block and it's on every page. Yeah.
Michael Utley: Yeah. That's right. So we'll often slice and dice 50 to 100 pages in a spreadsheet with 50% of the content being unique. And the earlier content on the page, say the first full paragraph of copy, needs to be unique about that page and just laser focused on what's unique and special about just that one page. And then you can roll in some boilerplate blocks that are true, either company-wide or service set wide, or just other information that you think is relevant to that person who's interested in that service or sub-service.
Michael Utley: These are the ways that you build out a robust experience for something that's kind of a different way of thinking. And here it is, what if somebody just comes to that one page? They're not going necessarily to your homepage and going through your user funnel the way that they would in an ideal situation. Often they're looking for that sub-service in their market and they're coming to a page that's focused on that sub-service. That might be the first page and the only page on your website they see. So if you're going to have testimonials on your website, you need to have them on these pages too.
Michael Utley: So you can mix and match to solve this problem, but if you have this problem of a lot of pages having below minimum content, it's because you haven't thought through, "Oh, this might be the only page they see." They may not drill in from the homepage and read the entire homepage and then go into a services page, read all that, and then end up on this sub-services page. They may be trying to solve a very specific problem and only hit one page. So depending on how you're thinking about it, you can fix that problem quite easily.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Awesome, All right. Lastly, exploit guest blog opportunities. So guest blogging has been around since blogging has been and since SEO has been around. So it's a really great opportunity for you as the business to get exposure to a new audience and potentially a backlink from another website. And it's a good opportunity for other websites to get content that they need to populate their website as well.
Chris Raines: The thing that I look for here, first, is relevance to you in terms of subject matter in industry. So let me go back to the painting example. A painting company probably doesn't want to guest blog at a website about the local Catholic parish or something like that.
Michael Utley: Right, right.
Chris Raines: It's not really relevant. Where they want to blog is the PDCA website, the industry leader on interior, commercial, residential painting, or some other similar site.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. Now renamed PCA.
Chris Raines: PCA, there you go.
Michael Utley: Yeah, they just renamed it two years ago.
Chris Raines: Cool. There you go. So find out. So what I would say with guest blogging is look around and find what the authoritative industry sources are. Every industry has them, some association, trade organization, some media website that's doing articles around the subject matter.
Michael Utley: And you've done this before?
Chris Raines: Yes. So I did this back when I owned a video production company. I actually, I was in a BNI group, which is a network business, local business networking group. And we produced a video on one of the local BNI members. And after it was done, we pitched it to the national BNI organization.
Chris Raines: So BNI has thousands of locations worldwide, a pretty big organization. And I said, "Hey, listen, we made this for free to promote BNI and would love for you to use it. Only thing we would ask is if, when you post it on the website, give us a link back to our website so people can know who made it." And when we did that, for our top three or four keywords, we jumped 15 spots and we landed on the front page for the first time.
Michael Utley: Yeah. That's awesome.
Chris Raines: For those keywords for the video production in Nashville.
Michael Utley: That's crazy.
Chris Raines: So it can be really powerful effect, this guest blogging if you find entities that first have domain authority. Bni.com had a lot more domain authority than my website. And in my case, it wasn't really industry related. They were about networking and business and I was about video production. But if you can find someone that does both, has good domain authority, and is related topic wise, then that's the home run.
Michael Utley: Yeah. I'd say it was related. It's like, here's some services, here are people who offer services,
Chris Raines: Yeah. And it's still, even if it's not really, there's still value in it. But if you can get a website that's larger, has better domain authority, and is related subject matter, then that's good.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And then super bonus tip. If you can get a couple of links, one to the . . . just with the full URL, but any in the copy links that use your good keywords in the link to your website. That's another super high-level pro tip.
Chris Raines: I wasn't advanced enough to do that. I think it might just be a brand link, but I should have said video production national Nashville, right?
Michael Utley: Yeah. And that's better than click here. Yeah.
Chris Raines: That right. Exactly.
Michael Utley: Good. Hey, thanks everybody for being a part of the podcast and listening in. Follow us on DodgeballSEO on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, subscribe on YouTube. And thank you. We'll see on the next one.
Chris Raines: Later, later.