This Week In SEO 102
Fresh Content, Better Content, Google News, & More!
Keeping Your Content Fresh
If you pay attention to SEO at all, you’ve probably heard that Google <3 freshness. It makes sense when you think about it: their penultimate goal is to try and serve up an absolutely relevant set of SERPs for their ultimate goal
doing good in the world ad revenue.
This posts tackles the topic of decaying freshness, strategies for updating content, and this one weird trick for getting around Google showing the initial post’s published date, rather than the updated date (jk: it’s a plugin).
We had a lot of content that had been touched up over the year but still displaying the original publish date.
What will happen if we change both the displayed date and schema data of the post to focus on the last updated date and dropped any mention of the original publish date?
To implement the change, we have used the excellent Last Modified Info plugin from the WordPress repository.
Might be a good idea to keep an eye on the rankings of the example they use in their post, to see if Google continues to put up with these tweaks, or decides they’re being a bit too clever.
Update: We tested this in-house and received so-so results. Nothing definitive yet, but it’s possible that maybe it’s more niche dependent (niches that crave fresher content might be rewarded higher)
Better Page Titles
Page titles are important. Not only do they give a shot of relevancy to whatever topic you’re writing about, but they are also the shiny lure your site dangles in the water of the SERPs to try and hook a potential visitor. ?
You’re spending many hours on your content (hopefully), but just how much thought do you give to your page titles?
In this fantastic post, Ryan Stewart gives you a very tidy framework for thinking about and creating A+ page titles.
- Main keyword = white shoelaces, secondary = flat white laces
- Using the sizes lends a level of detail that specifically helps the searcher, which helps drive clicks
- The numbers, ” and / draws the eye and distinguishes the results from other sites
Better Site Content
Gone are the glory days when you could throw a couple thousand words at a topic and collect traffic all the way to your #1 ranking. Now, writing content that works requires studying the competition, diving Google’s interpretation of intent, and hitting some more advanced concepts, like topic clusters.
The content game gets tougher each year:
Now, in B2B SaaS, you may actually have to invest in a “topic cluster” that consists of many slightly related blog posts if you want to have a chance ranking any of them, let alone all of them. It might require significant link building as well.
In general, the best way to gauge the content quality necessary to rank is to look at what’s currently ranking for keywords you want to go after. This can be as simple as a Google search (even better if you’ve installed Mozbar to see DA and backlinks):
This post does a great job of introducing you to, and walking you through some of those more advanced concepts. I recommend doing a deep dive if you’re interested in things like creating personas, the “cost” to rank, content audits, and more.
Lots to focus on with content this week.
This post, by the Growth Editor at Buffer.com will be most helpful to you if you’re just about to do a big content push, and you’re looking for a little direction.
Similar to silo-ing pages, this post explores how some of the content at Buffer is created and structured on the site.
So far, I have seen two styles for the main page. The first is a pillar page — a long-form guide, often known as an “ultimate guide” that covers the topic comprehensively. The second is a hub page — something like a table of contents with a summary of each sub-topics and a call to action to read the respective supporting articles. We have tried both at Buffer (pillar page example and hub page example). To determine which style to use, I like to search for the topic on Google and see which style most of the top 10 articles use.
It also covers some of the mistakes they’ve made, which is helpful to see:
A highly recommended read.
Google News is Broken
If you’ve been doing SEO for longer than a minute, you know that Google LOVES big, established publishers, and has no time for smaller, independent publishers.
Here’s a tidy infographic on this topic:
This post documents a disheartening journey for a small, independent tech blog trying to get in to Google News, an entirely frustrating, opaque experience:
Essentially, Google is choosing the winners and losers in the news race, with small independent publishers left to their own devices if not approved. It isn’t the end of the world, but it’s certainly bizarre given the current media climate.
What’s strange is that this is really misaligned with how Google talks about the industry and the work it does with the Digital News Initiative (DNI). I’ve attended the company’s industry events since the DNI was founded, and it loves touting how it’s supporting publishers of all sizes—without really giving the details of how.
Hopefully the attention this story gets prompts Google to be more transparent with this process, but… do you really think that’ll happen?