All right, dealers…
Last month, Dave gave you some actionable steps to check the functionality of your site, create certain types of valuable content, and better understand metas. So let’s take one of those tips, and build it out a little bit further.
When it comes to creating SEO-friendly content, there’s no shortage of misconceptions out there. Many of them revolve around the question of who you’re creating content for: the human audience or Google. By writing informative, authoritative content that anticipates and answers a query, and presenting that content in the right way, you’re ticking both of those boxes.
So, with that in mind, how does your content measure up? Not sure how to answer that? Well, here are 5 metrics you can use to assess the quality of your content – AND – to improve upon it.
Was the creation of your content driven by an SEO strategy? It should be. But what if you’re not looking to partner with an SEO company? Well, you can actually perform keyword research on your own. Simply ask yourself, “what do we want to rank for?”
You might want to outrank a local competitor on searches related to a brand new model, trim level or feature. Maybe you’re looking to generate interest in your slow-moving inventory. Perhaps you’ve heard something negative about a competitor’s service and you want to shine a spotlight on all the reasons your dealership offers a better alternative. Or you may simply want to capitalize on a current trend. A perfect example of the latter? The recent surge in dealer campaigns looking to buy vehicles to supplement their dwindling selection of pre-owned vehicles. These are all examples of topics you can create beneficial content around without relying on a vendor to direct your strategy.
There are also plenty of tools out there that can help you find keywords but – as you might expect – you’ll get what you pay for. A free resource like Google Trends might serve up keywords based on fewer qualifying factors, such as general traffic on a national level. Other free resources like MOZ Keyword Explorer offer a free trial period, but require a purchase for continued use. As with other paid resources like Ahrefs, Mangoolz, and SEMRush you can expect a far greater depth of research. These tools will qualify their keywords based on in-market traffic, competition for that keyword within your geography, and they may even tell you where you currently stand in terms of ranking for that keyword.
Bottom-line: keyword research should be the first step of content creation, regardless of the method or tools that you use. Doing so will help to ensure that you’re writing something of value.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: size matters.
How long should your SEO content be? Google it. You’ll find a wide array of answers but Google themselves have indicated that longer form content – upward of 2500 words is the new benchmark moving into 2022. That’s a lot of words, right?
Don’t be intimidated.
When Google assesses the value of any piece of content they use ‘passage indexing’. Instead of assessing that piece of content as a whole, they determine its value based on its most useful sections. What makes a particular passage “useful” in the eyes of Google? Well, it provides an authoritative answer to a popular inquiry.
Now you might be asking yourself, “If I’m focused on answering a popular inquiry, how can I reach a 2500 word count without padding the hell out of it?” Well, we’ll talk a little bit more about that pitfall in the next section, but it’s easier than you might think.
Remember last week, when Dave talked about FAQ pages? That’s a great example of a single piece of content that answers a number of popular inquiries. It allows for concise, authoritative content that stands out in passage indexing while strategically increasing word count with each query answered. If you were writing a model page, you could create sections around that model’s most popular features, spending only as much time on each feature as is needed to provide valuable insights. You can take a similar approach on a comparison page, or any piece of content where you’ve identified relevant questions that deserve to be answered.
Plus, if you’re looking to increase word count, you can always employ elements of the Skyscraper technique. This is where you continually build upon existing content by updating it when valuable new information becomes available. Not only does this help content to retain its relevance over time, but it will incrementally drive that word count up.
Just remember, it’s a balancing act. Word count is important – but never at the expense of purpose. Anticipate the query, answer it effectively, and move on. If you’re unsure how to do that, here’s a great way to stay on track.
ASK YOURSELF “WHO CARES?”
If you can’t answer that question at any point of your process, stop writing. The question “who cares?” speaks to YOUR understanding of the audience and/or subject matter. It also addresses the value of that particular topic -OR- your lack of preparedness to write about it.
So don’t just start hammering away at a keyboard. Stop blabbering endlessly about a particular keyword just to meet a specific word count. Why? It’s annoying. Have you ever clicked a link to read a review, or to get a recipe, only to be subjected to the author’s attempt to create some sort of immersive backstory?
Imagine you were a customer visiting one of your pages to research the towing capacity of a particular truck. Now, what if – in order to get that info – you had to sift through someone’s heartfelt 1500 word essay about their first time pulling the boat they inherited from their grandfather and what that experience meant to them. You don’t give a damn. That content doesn’t address your need, and even IF the answer is buried in there somewhere, the effort needed to find it makes for a shitty user experience. Bad UX will prompt prospective customers to leave your site, which tells Google not to send other users there moving forward.
Remember, most people visiting your site want to (i) research a vehicle or (ii) schedule a service. Asking “who cares?” about a topic or keyword allows you to identify the intent behind their search, anticipate questions they may have, answer those questions with authority, and build longer form content with a purpose.
So, you’ve identified valuable keywords, you’ve built content around them that identifies and answers relevant questions, AND you’ve managed to accumulate an impressive word count in doing so. Now, it’s time to further enhance your content.
This one’s pretty cut and dry. Any images used in your content should be eye-catching, enhancing the visual appeal of the content and compelling people to continue reading. Images should be consistent with, and complimentary to the subject while avoiding any sort of perceived dissonance.
What do we mean? Well, a dealer blog in Minneapolis exploring the plowing capabilities of the 2021 Ford F-150 wouldn’t jive with photos of that truck in the hot Texas sun, or shown on a sandy tropical beach.
It’s equally important to make sure that supportive images within the content are accurate. If you’re trying to showcase the features of a used Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, don’t use images from the 2022 model.
This might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how many pieces of content are published every day with little-to-no effort put into image selection. Is any of your content guilty of this? You might want to take a closer look. But first…
EASY NAVIGATION & INTELLIGENT LINKING
At this point you’ve either read, or have heard me say 1,338 words. Considering that we’re encouraging you to write content nearly twice as long as that, it’s easy to see how easily a piece of content can begin to look like an intimidating wall of text.
In the previous section, we talked about the inclusion of supportive images within the piece. This, of course, helps to break up the wall of text and provide valuable context to the reader. However, when you’re building a piece of content that touches on a variety of related topics, it’s important to make it easy for the reader to find what they’re looking for.
If someone clicks on your content looking for payload ratings on the new Chevy Silverado, but you covered a dozen different features, a simple header stating ‘Payload Capacity’ provides easy navigation within the article. Not only does it make your content more helpful, but it shows them that their time is valuable to you.
Another step, which Dave touched on last week is to employ intelligent linking within your content. What’s intelligent linking? It’s simple. Whether you cite another page within your content, want to drive traffic to another page, or simply want to highlight a service that you offer, provide a link to the appropriate page within the piece of content. If you make it easier for the reader to visit supporting content, they’re more likely to do so.
Whether you’re looking to assess the quality of your current content, or build a strategy for content creation moving forward:
- Build your content around a keyword strategy.
- Be mindful of word count.
- Ask yourself, “Who cares?”
- Enhance your content through your selection of images. And finally…
- Make your content user-friendly
DOES YOUR CONTENT SUCK?
Now that you have 5 easy ways to help you answer that question, why don’t you tell us?