A situation I have found myself in different SEO processes working for large companies or news related sites with an experienced editorial team, is that instead of starting from scratch developing a content strategy (which is a very hot topic lately) my job is more focused on:
- Aligning the already ongoing content strategy with SEO best practices to optimize and improve its organic search visibility and performance.
- Implementing a workflow along with tools to facilitate the analysis, management and tracking of a large volume of information and make it also more easily scalable.
- Following-up and measuring content results from organic activity and provide the necessary feedback to the editorial team to improve it.
In this post I will share 3 ideas I have implemented to successfully develop the previous activities.
1. Latest News & Content Ideas Dashboard
Create a dashboard with the most recent aggregated news and information about your site topic. This is especially useful and will save you a lot of time if you have a blog and one of your tactics is to frequently publish about the most recent news in your sector, which can be time consuming to follow-up by checking to different sources.
After having tested the most popular customizable dashboards tools that integrate different Web services in a real-time, aggregated interface (such as Ducksboard, Geckoboard or Cyfe) at the moment my favorite is Leftronic, that I use to easily follow Google Alerts feeds, Twitter trending topics and hashtags about a topic.
For example, let’s say I’m working with a UK site that focuses in “celebrity news”. In this case I would like to have a dashboard with a Google Alerts Feed for Celebrity News, Twitter trending topics in the UK and updates with the #celebritynews hashtag that I can check at any moment for new content ideas and share it through a public or password protected address with the editorial team:
This dashboard can be configured with Leftronic following the next steps:
1.1. Google Alerts Feed
Generate a Google News alert with the desired search query (in this case, “celebrity”) to be delivered as a RSS feed and add it to Leftronic by using the RSS service option:
1.2 Twitter Trending Topics
To obtain the trending topics for a specific region, in this case for the UK, I use Trendsmap that also generates tweets with each location’s trending topics through different Twitter account.
So to include the trending topics for a specific location in the dashboard you just need to choose the “user timeline” option from the Twitter service and specify the Trendsmap Twitter account name for the location trending topic:
1.3 Twitter Hashtag Search
To include and follow a hashtag in Leftronic you need to select the “Search” option from the Twitter service and add the hashtag in the search term field, in this case #celebritynews:
2. Sitemap and Layouts with Keyword Patterns
The second idea, is something that I talked about in my MozCon presentation to get things done and avoid confusion: create cheat sheets, checklists, references and documentation that the team can easily verify when working.
In this specific case, with the editorial, content or blogging team the easiest and most straightforward way to implement this principle has been to create a site map for the site and a layout or prototype for each type of content type.
Additionally, this is something that I don’t only share with the team in a digital format but I also print in a big A0 paper and ask them to paste it in the office wall so it’s always visible and they can easily check.
The site map should be specific and include the different areas and types of content along with a set of “fundamental” keywords and patterns to work for each category and content type.
For example, you can take a look at a site map I created and printed last week, where you can see in the upper area the different categories and types of content for each one of them, along with the URL naming system to follow and in the lower area the fundamental keywords to use in each category and the patterns to use them:
To illustrate the idea more clearly, the following is a generic example of what would be the first level (1) specifying the main keywords to use in the home page, the second one (2) for each category where each type of content included is specified along with the URL naming system to follow and the third one (3) with the fundamental keywords to use for each category, in this case, with a “cooking” category:
This should be included in the site map for all of the different areas of the Web, so when the copywriters, bloggers or journalists start writing a new piece of content they can easily refer to the site map and identify which is the most suitable keyword to use for their article.
Going to a more granular level, you might also want to create and print mockups with the layout of each type of content and specify the elements that need to be optimized and the pattern to follow to optimize them (at least for the main ones):
3. Tracking of Content Performance
The third idea is to automate the content performance tracking so it’s faster to obtain the information more frequently, so you can focus more on analyzing it and then creating and executing recommendations based on the analysis instead of investing this time on gathering the data. A couple of ways to do this are:
3.1 Most Popular Organic Keywords and Pages
Create a couple of Google Analytics custom reports to obtain the most important keywords that bring you organic search traffic and the landing pages that receive it, such as the one I already described before in my previous post.
To create these custom reports you need to make sure to only include the organic medium along with the most important metrics (entrances, visits, visitors, pages per visit, bounce rate, goal completions and conversion rate) and then configure to receive it daily by email in a PDF format that is easy to check-out quickly, so you can verify every day what’s your site’s content organic search performance per keywords and landing pages in a much more comfortable way:
To make the most out of these automated custom reports you may want to create one for each content category of the site and configure it to be sent to their specific writers improving their knowledge and “ownership” of their SEO performance, maintaining them always informed about what are the content and terms that bring more traffic from search engines in their relevant sections and help them getting ideas to improve with the support of your SEO recommendations.
3.2 Most Popular content in Social Networks
Besides checking your content performance with organic search you might want to verify its popularity in social networks and identify what content works best in each platform and type of audience, to be able to improve it and make the most out of each social network.
Despite Google Analytics social tracking capabilities I would suggest you to use Social Crawlytics for this, since you can check with it not only your most popular content in social networks but also your competitors, with a simple but very easy to understand report that includes how many times each of your URLs have been shared in the different social platforms.
Additionally, you can also configure it to run scans at the frequency of your choice and send you an alert when these are ready:
I hope that these three ideas are as useful for you as they have been for me! By implementing them (along others) I’ve experienced a great response and involvement from the editorial teams I’ve worked with.
If you have your own tips to enhance the content creation, optimization and tracking activities I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Photo taken from Flickr.