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17 Types Of Content Marketing You Can Use

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17 Types Of Content Marketing You Can Use

For marketers, content is still king. It provides value to your targets, helps establish you as an expert in your field, drives traffic, and tells search engines why your website should be ranked highly.

But what’s the best type of content? You would likely get 12 different responses if you asked a dozen marketers.

Some will swear by blogs, while others will claim infographics are the best way to generate exposure. Ebooks can be a great way to establish your authority, while memes encourage organic shares.

Every type of content has different strengths and weaknesses. By understanding each offer’s unique benefits, you can develop a cohesive content marketing strategy unique to your needs.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at 17 types of marketing content, explain how you can use them to achieve your goals, and give you the knowledge you need to make a bigger splash with your marketing.

Why Content Marketing Is Important

The world has gone digital. As of July 2022, there were 5.03 billion people worldwide using the internet. That means 63.1% of the global population could potentially land on your website.

Thanks to smartphones, the internet has become the go-to source for entertainment, shopping, or settling arguments about Florida’s state bird (the northern mockingbird), no matter where you are.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that a study by the Pew Research Center found 31% of American adults reported being online “almost constantly.”

The heart of any successful digital marketing campaign, content marketing offers several benefits, including:

  • Building trust with your audience.
  • Improving SEO efforts.
  • Showcasing your expertise.
  • Helping maintain your brand’s reputation.
  • Encouraging social shares.
  • Improving conversion rates.

And on top of this, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to attract new leads, as you can often repurpose your content to get added exposure without a lot more work.

Of course, not all types of content will reap the same level of rewards. Your mix will depend on the specifics of your business and your goals, but some types are essential.

17 Essential Types Of Content

1. Blogs

Since 1994, when Justin Hall created the very first weblog, or blog, as it would come to be known, blogging has been a cornerstone of successful content marketing.

A great way to regularly add new content to your website, blogs are a versatile, low-cost, and often evergreen way to boost organic traffic.

Their long-form format lets you focus on your target keywords and the important topics to your audience.

Blogs can also play an important role in your SEO strategy.

Their length (the average blog post is 1,500 to 2,500 words) provides Google’s search bots with a lot of information about their content, which in turn helps it determine how it helps answer search queries.

To ensure your blog posts are generating as much traffic as possible and getting the results you need, make sure they are:

  • Written for humans – not search engines.
  • Use your targeted keywords.
  • Optimized for loading speed.
  • Linked to sites with high authority.
  • Use headers for effective skimming.

And don’t forget your long-tail keywords. Remember, the more detailed a blog post is, the more likely it will attract the traffic you want.

Plus, it’s a great way to show off your brand’s personality.

2. Case Studies

Your target customers have a specific problem. Your goal as a marketer is to show them why your business is the best answer to said problem.

To do this, you have to demonstrate not just that you’re an expert in the field but also that your solution actually works. And one of the best ways to do this is through case studies.

Case studies give your audience a real-life scenario in which someone like them used your offering to solve their problem. They see the buying journey from start to finish, helping them visualize how your product or service works.

They allow you to portray yourself as an expert, which helps reduce perceived risk, particularly for high-cost products and services.

And like blogs, they offer a longer format in which you can effectively add keywords without feeling like they were shoehorned in.

To maximize their impact, you should make sure your case studies:

  • Focus on an issue your target audience can relate to.
  • Feature a cohesive narrative from start to finish.
  • Include real statistics wherever possible.
  • Accurately portray how your business solved the issue.

3. Checklists

Santa Claus is not the only one making a list and checking it twice. Many people love a step-by-step guide to performing a task or solving a problem.

By dividing tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, checklists can make even the most complex jobs less daunting. And from a marketing perspective, they’re a great way to generate leads.

Audiences use them as a simple, easy, and free way to make sure all the right steps are being followed. They create ownership, establish expectations, and set deadlines, all of which contribute to productivity.

In addition to creating a useful tool for customers, checklists also let your targets know you understand what they’re facing. Good checklists will include:

  • A title establishing the purpose of the list and why it’s useful.
  • Step-by-step tasks that outline the overall process – including subtasks.
  • Timeframes for each step – this could be a hard date or a range.
  • Status indicating whether a step is completed, in progress, or not started.

4. Customer Reviews And Testimonials

You know your business is great, but let’s face it: saying it yourself doesn’t count for much. What does matter, however, is what your customers are saying.

Word of mouth for the digital age, customer reviews, and testimonials give you a level of credibility no amount of paid marketing can ever achieve.

Studies have shown 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their shopping choices, which makes them extremely valuable.

Reviews and their less-celebrated-but-no-less-important-counterpart testimonials help reduce the feeling of risk and provide a useful way to overcome potential objections. Plus, because they’re customer-generated, they cost you nothing.

There are several ways to encourage them, including:

  • Directly asking for reviews and testimonials.
  • Incentivizing customers to create them.
  • Creating automated replies that make creating reviews easy.

Google factors in positive reviews when determining Search Quality Raters Guidelines.

These do not have a direct impact on search rankings but do help ensure your pages meet the minimum quality threshold the search engine demands.

You should prominently feature testimonials and reviews wherever they logically fit, including on webpages and in emails.

5. Ebooks

One of the best ways to present yourself as an authority is to demonstrate thought leadership. And one of the best ways to do that is by creating an ebook.

These long-form texts are not advertisements, at least not in the traditional sense, but instead, they offer value to potential customers.

By deep diving into a subject particular to your field, you demonstrate your expertise while simultaneously providing value to your targets.

If your ebook covers a particularly under-covered topic or presents information in a new light, it can lead to significant interest in your company. And even better, because these long-form texts are generally hidden behind an email or contact form, they offer a great way to generate new leads.

6. Email Marketing

The bread-and-butter of marketing in the 21st century, email marketing is a fast and flexible way to reach a highly targeted audience.

Whether you’re trying to stay top of mind for existing customers, reach new ones, or build brand awareness, email marketing gives you a measurable way to engage with targets.

You should be using email to contact people regularly at each stage of your sales funnel.

Limited-time offers can help persuade that hesitant lead to finally give you a chance. Birthday messages to existing customers help keep your brand at the forefront, and abandoned cart emails can entice people back to complete purchases.

No matter what your business goals are, there’s an email strategy to help you achieve them.

Make sure you keep your strategy centered on those goals, segment your audience to speak to specific audiences, and measure your results. Then, take what you have learned from this campaign and apply it to the next one.

7. Guides And How-Tos

In-depth guides and how-tos are necessary for any company offering a complex product or service.

Another way to demonstrate how knowledgeable you are, they are a great way to expand your online presence.

For example, if you are a software company, providing how-to content in the form of printable guides or online training courses will help your clients get the most from your product.

They can also help eliminate frustration and minimize learning curves – both things customers love.

8. Infographics

Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words. Infographics are this adage applied to marketing.

By allowing you to present a significant amount of information in a quick and easy-to-understand format, they provide an easy way for viewers to understand information.

Great for catching the eyes of people who only scan the text on your webpage (which is almost everyone), infographics give marketers control over which information is highlighted.

Create infographics that call out statistics, events, or timelines that help pitch your business. Quick and low-cost, they often act as standalone content that can be shared on social media.

To ensure you’re getting all the credit (and backlinks) you deserve from your content, include a snippet of HTML code that allows other webmasters to embed them on their sites.

9. Interactive Content

In the old days (i.e., before the internet), marketing usually talked “at” an audience. But now, the power of technology has given marketers the ability to speak “with” people.

Interactive content is a great way to harness this functionality to gather information, boost engagement, or find new customers. Plus, they’re a great way to provide value and/or showcase your creativity.

Create quizzes to help people decide on which product is perfect for their needs, build games to distract them while increasing your brand’s exposure, or create an app that adds value to their lives.

While this type of content may require a bit more technological knowledge (or outsourcing) than some of the items on this list, it can also be one of the highest-performing.

10. Interviews/Q&As

Want to massively expand your audience with just one piece of content? All you need to do is secure an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Simple, right? Well, maybe not, but don’t let that discourage you from putting the power of interviews and question-and-answer segments to work for you.

A great way to build relationships (and links) with other websites, these are a great way for your internal thought leaders to showcase their knowledge to external audiences.

By going “on the record,” you’re showing the world that you stand behind your offering. This implies quality customer support, helps with reputation management, and can improve overall engagement.

11. Listicles

Unfamiliar with the word “listicle?” You’re not alone. But they refer to something you’ve definitely seen before. In fact, you’re reading one right now – it’s an article structured as a list, hence the name.

While the most popular of these are often Buzzfeed-esque pieces like “15 Hedgehogs With Things That Look Like Hedgehogs,” they don’t have to be mindless entertainment but instead can be used as powerful pieces of marketing content.

People love listicles because they are easy to skim, you know what to expect, and they break information down into digestible chunks.

Marketers love them because they’re easy to plan and write.

Create your own marketing listicles following these steps:

  1. Choose a topic and angle.
  2. Select a keyword.
  3. Write the list points.
  4. Wrap up with a solid conclusion.

12. Podcasts

No longer solely the domain of true crime junkies, podcasts are a great way to build your brand with effective content marketing that people can consume on their commute, on a walk, or at any other time they find convenient.

Podcasts allow you to share your stories and experiences directly with your audience, building relationships by speaking to your targets on a personal level.

To maximize the impact of your podcasts, ensure you’re providing useful information in an entertaining format. You can also use guest hosts or interviewees as a way to expand your audience.

13. Social Media Posts

Everyone from your grandmother to the teenager next door is using social media these days.

While it’s true they might not be on the same platform, they’re all using it for the same purpose – to stay in touch. And there are literally billions of users worldwide.

Providing a way to initiate and maintain conversations with targets, social media has become an important part of every marketing mix.

Of course, how you use it will vary dramatically from one company to the next.

For example, a candy manufacturer may have good luck with recreating viral videos on TikTok, but that approach will probably fall flat for a software developer.

To ensure your social media efforts are reaping maximum rewards, you need to identify which platform or platforms your audience is using, then create content that will speak to them.

Seek to build relationships with both your audience and any influencers who can help expand the impact of your content.

And don’t forget, social media is also a great place to repurpose content you’ve already created.

Have a great infographic? That would be perfect for your Facebook. That tutorial video about your product’s hidden features should be on your YouTube page. Linking to your ebook on Twitter can help you land new leads.

Find where your content fits, then put it on your social channels.

14. User-Generated Content

Much like testimonials, content created by your users gives you an authenticity no amount of self-promotion can match. Even better, because it’s generated by a third party, it doesn’t take much investment on your part.

User-generated content, or UGC, could be anything from someone tagging your brand in a selfie to a recording of them using your product. It provides social proof while simultaneously providing word of mouth and encouraging engagement.

Encourage your fans and customers to make content by:

  • Regularly posting UGC on your social media channels.
  • Inviting user-submitted content, with or without rewards.
  • Creating and using your own branded hashtag.

15. Videos

If you’re looking for a way to engage your audience, there’s nothing quite like video.

Platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Meta’s Reels have made videos a ubiquitous part of digital marketing. And with good reason – video content works.

While this type of content generally requires more time and resources to produce than text or static content, video content has been shown to increase dwell time, improve customer understanding of your product or service, and lead to higher lead volume.

Part of the strength of video content lies in its versatility.

From short demo videos and social media clips to interviews and long-term videos that tell your story, video can help you connect with your audience in a way most other forms of content can’t.

16. Webinars

When you think of content marketing, webinars are probably not the first thing that springs to mind. However, they can be a very valuable part of your strategy.

Whether you’re using on-demand webinars to provide round-the-clock value or live sessions to create personal connections, these online education sessions are a great way to educate existing and potential customers, attract new leads, and establish your authority in your field.

To create successful webinars, first, identify an area of need. Maybe there’s a new law that impacts your industry, and there are many questions surrounding its implementation.

Maybe there’s a certain aspect of your offering that customers don’t seem to understand clearly. Or perhaps you just want to offer expert insights on a relevant topic.

Whatever it is, your webinars should provide unique content that adds value. Require an email list for registration, and they provide a great way to build new contact lists.

17. Whitepapers

Not to be confused with ebooks, whitepapers are lengthy papers filled with data, statistics, and information – sort of like business research papers.

The information they include can be the results of your own studies or a compilation of information compiled from other sources. Either way, they should offer key takeaways and provide credible insights.

Keep your design clean and visually appealing for easy scanning, and allow others to link to it to help generate backlinks.

Takeaway: Why Use Different Types Of Content

Though they may have common features, every prospect, lead, and customer you’re targeting differs.

Some people are visual learners and like videos and infographics. Others prefer to be taught new information and retain information from webinars best. And yet, others prefer downloadable texts they can peruse on their own time.

If you’re only creating one type of content, you’re not reaching as many targets as possible with a more varied approach.

It’s often tempting for busy marketers to take the easiest approach, but this isn’t the best recipe for long-term success.

Instead, determine what your goals are and how you will define success. Then, use this to create a multi-channel content plan that will help you reach it.

Regardless of which content mix you opt for, there are certain things every element, regardless of format, must do:

  • It should provide value.
  • It should promote your brand and product/service.
  • It should be targeted to your specific desired audience.
  • It should actively move customers along the purchasing journey.
  • It should be shareable.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks. Not every type of content works for every brand, but if you put in the work, you’re sure to see rewards.

More Resources:


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11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT Content

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11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT Content

ChatGPT produces content that is comprehensive and plausibly accurate.

But researchers, artists, and professors warn of shortcomings to be aware of which degrade the quality of the content.

In this article, we’ll look at 11 disadvantages of ChatGPT content. Let’s dive in.

1. Phrase Usage Makes It Detectable As Non-Human

Researchers studying how to detect machine-generated content have discovered patterns that make it sound unnatural.

One of these quirks is how AI struggles with idioms.

An idiom is a phrase or saying with a figurative meaning attached to it, for example, “every cloud has a silver lining.” 

A lack of idioms within a piece of content can be a signal that the content is machine-generated – and this can be part of a detection algorithm.

This is what the 2022 research paper Adversarial Robustness of Neural-Statistical Features in Detection of Generative Transformers says about this quirk in machine-generated content:

“Complex phrasal features are based on the frequency of specific words and phrases within the analyzed text that occur more frequently in human text.

…Of these complex phrasal features, idiom features retain the most predictive power in detection of current generative models.”

This inability to use idioms contributes to making ChatGPT output sound and read unnaturally.

2. ChatGPT Lacks Ability For Expression

An artist commented on how the output of ChatGPT mimics what art is, but lacks the actual qualities of artistic expression.

Expression is the act of communicating thoughts or feelings.

ChatGPT output doesn’t contain expressions, only words.

It cannot produce content that touches people emotionally on the same level as a human can – because it has no actual thoughts or feelings.

Musical artist Nick Cave, in an article posted to his Red Hand Files newsletter, commented on a ChatGPT lyric that was sent to him, which was created in the style of Nick Cave.

He wrote:

“What makes a great song great is not its close resemblance to a recognizable work.

…it is the breathless confrontation with one’s vulnerability, one’s perilousness, one’s smallness, pitted against a sense of sudden shocking discovery; it is the redemptive artistic act that stirs the heart of the listener, where the listener recognizes in the inner workings of the song their own blood, their own struggle, their own suffering.”

Cave called the ChatGPT lyrics a mockery.

This is the ChatGPT lyric that resembles a Nick Cave lyric:

“I’ve got the blood of angels, on my hands
I’ve got the fire of hell, in my eyes
I’m the king of the abyss, I’m the ruler of the dark
I’m the one that they fear, in the shadows they hark”

And this is an actual Nick Cave lyric (Brother, My Cup Is Empty):

“Well I’ve been sliding down on rainbows
I’ve been swinging from the stars
Now this wretch in beggar’s clothing
Bangs his cup across the bars
Look, this cup of mine is empty!
Seems I’ve misplaced my desires
Seems I’m sweeping up the ashes
Of all my former fires”

It’s easy to see that the machine-generated lyric resembles the artist’s lyric, but it doesn’t really communicate anything.

Nick Cave’s lyrics tell a story that resonates with the pathos, desire, shame, and willful deception of the person speaking in the song. It expresses thoughts and feelings.

It’s easy to see why Nick Cave calls it a mockery.

3. ChatGPT Does Not Produce Insights

An article published in The Insider quoted an academic who noted that academic essays generated by ChatGPT lack insights about the topic.

ChatGPT summarizes the topic but does not offer a unique insight into the topic.

Humans create through knowledge, but also through their personal experience and subjective perceptions.

Professor Christopher Bartel of Appalachian State University is quoted by The Insider as saying that, while a ChatGPT essay may exhibit high grammar qualities and sophisticated ideas, it still lacked insight.

Bartel said:

“They are really fluffy. There’s no context, there’s no depth or insight.”

Insight is the hallmark of a well-done essay and it’s something that ChatGPT is not particularly good at.

This lack of insight is something to keep in mind when evaluating machine-generated content.

4. ChatGPT Is Too Wordy

A research paper published in January 2023 discovered patterns in ChatGPT content that makes it less suitable for critical applications.

The paper is titled, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? Comparison Corpus, Evaluation, and Detection.

The research showed that humans preferred answers from ChatGPT in more than 50% of questions answered related to finance and psychology.

But ChatGPT failed at answering medical questions because humans preferred direct answers – something the AI didn’t provide.

The researchers wrote:

“…ChatGPT performs poorly in terms of helpfulness for the medical domain in both English and Chinese.

The ChatGPT often gives lengthy answers to medical consulting in our collected dataset, while human experts may directly give straightforward answers or suggestions, which may partly explain why volunteers consider human answers to be more helpful in the medical domain.”

ChatGPT tends to cover a topic from different angles, which makes it inappropriate when the best answer is a direct one.

Marketers using ChatGPT must take note of this because site visitors requiring a direct answer will not be satisfied with a verbose webpage.

And good luck ranking an overly wordy page in Google’s featured snippets, where a succinct and clearly expressed answer that can work well in Google Voice may have a better chance to rank than a long-winded answer.

OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT, acknowledges that giving verbose answers is a known limitation.

The announcement article by OpenAI states:

“The model is often excessively verbose…”

The ChatGPT bias toward providing long-winded answers is something to be mindful of when using ChatGPT output, as you may encounter situations where shorter and more direct answers are better.

5. ChatGPT Content Is Highly Organized With Clear Logic

ChatGPT has a writing style that is not only verbose but also tends to follow a template that gives the content a unique style that isn’t human.

This inhuman quality is revealed in the differences between how humans and machines answer questions.

The movie Blade Runner has a scene featuring a series of questions designed to reveal whether the subject answering the questions is a human or an android.

These questions were a part of a fictional test called the “Voigt-Kampff test“.

One of the questions is:

“You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. What do you do?”

A normal human response would be to say something like they would scream, walk outside and swat it, and so on.

But when I posed this question to ChatGPT, it offered a meticulously organized answer that summarized the question and then offered logical multiple possible outcomes – failing to answer the actual question.

Screenshot Of ChatGPT Answering A Voight-Kampff Test Question

Screenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

The answer is highly organized and logical, giving it a highly unnatural feel, which is undesirable.

6. ChatGPT Is Overly Detailed And Comprehensive

ChatGPT was trained in a way that rewarded the machine when humans were happy with the answer.

The human raters tended to prefer answers that had more details.

But sometimes, such as in a medical context, a direct answer is better than a comprehensive one.

What that means is that the machine needs to be prompted to be less comprehensive and more direct when those qualities are important.

From OpenAI:

“These issues arise from biases in the training data (trainers prefer longer answers that look more comprehensive) and well-known over-optimization issues.”

7. ChatGPT Lies (Hallucinates Facts)

The above-cited research paper, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts?, noted that ChatGPT has a tendency to lie.

It reports:

“When answering a question that requires professional knowledge from a particular field, ChatGPT may fabricate facts in order to give an answer…

For example, in legal questions, ChatGPT may invent some non-existent legal provisions to answer the question.

…Additionally, when a user poses a question that has no existing answer, ChatGPT may also fabricate facts in order to provide a response.”

The Futurism website documented instances where machine-generated content published on CNET was wrong and full of “dumb errors.”

CNET should have had an idea this could happen, because OpenAI published a warning about incorrect output:

“ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”

CNET claims to have submitted the machine-generated articles to human review prior to publication.

A problem with human review is that ChatGPT content is designed to sound persuasively correct, which may fool a reviewer who is not a topic expert.

8. ChatGPT Is Unnatural Because It’s Not Divergent

The research paper, How Close is ChatGPT to Human Experts? also noted that human communication can have indirect meaning, which requires a shift in topic to understand it.

ChatGPT is too literal, which causes the answers to sometimes miss the mark because the AI overlooks the actual topic.

The researchers wrote:

“ChatGPT’s responses are generally strictly focused on the given question, whereas humans’ are divergent and easily shift to other topics.

In terms of the richness of content, humans are more divergent in different aspects, while ChatGPT prefers focusing on the question itself.

Humans can answer the hidden meaning under the question based on their own common sense and knowledge, but the ChatGPT relies on the literal words of the question at hand…”

Humans are better able to diverge from the literal question, which is important for answering “what about” type questions.

For example, if I ask:

“Horses are too big to be a house pet. What about raccoons?”

The above question is not asking if a raccoon is an appropriate pet. The question is about the size of the animal.

ChatGPT focuses on the appropriateness of the raccoon as a pet instead of focusing on the size.

Screenshot of an Overly Literal ChatGPT Answer

11 Disadvantages Of ChatGPT ContentScreenshot from ChatGPT, January 2023

9. ChatGPT Contains A Bias Towards Being Neutral

The output of ChatGPT is generally neutral and informative. It’s a bias in the output that can appear helpful but isn’t always.

The research paper we just discussed noted that neutrality is an unwanted quality when it comes to legal, medical, and technical questions.

Humans tend to pick a side when offering these kinds of opinions.

10. ChatGPT Is Biased To Be Formal

ChatGPT output has a bias that prevents it from loosening up and answering with ordinary expressions. Instead, its answers tend to be formal.

Humans, on the other hand, tend to answer questions with a more colloquial style, using everyday language and slang – the opposite of formal.

ChatGPT doesn’t use abbreviations like GOAT or TL;DR.

The answers also lack instances of irony, metaphors, and humor, which can make ChatGPT content overly formal for some content types.

The researchers write:

“…ChatGPT likes to use conjunctions and adverbs to convey a logical flow of thought, such as “In general”, “on the other hand”, “Firstly,…, Secondly,…, Finally” and so on.

11. ChatGPT Is Still In Training

ChatGPT is currently still in the process of training and improving.

OpenAI recommends that all content generated by ChatGPT should be reviewed by a human, listing this as a best practice.

OpenAI suggests keeping humans in the loop:

“Wherever possible, we recommend having a human review outputs before they are used in practice.

This is especially critical in high-stakes domains, and for code generation.

Humans should be aware of the limitations of the system, and have access to any information needed to verify the outputs (for example, if the application summarizes notes, a human should have easy access to the original notes to refer back).”

Unwanted Qualities Of ChatGPT

It’s clear that there are many issues with ChatGPT that make it unfit for unsupervised content generation. It contains biases and fails to create content that feels natural or contains genuine insights.

Further, its inability to feel or author original thoughts makes it a poor choice for generating artistic expressions.

Users should apply detailed prompts in order to generate content that is better than the default content it tends to output.

Lastly, human review of machine-generated content is not always enough, because ChatGPT content is designed to appear correct, even when it’s not.

That means it’s important that human reviewers are subject-matter experts who can discern between correct and incorrect content on a specific topic.

More resources: 


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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

In this article, we’ll see how to find and fix technical SEO issues, but only those that can seriously affect your rankings.

If you’d like to follow along, get Ahrefs Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console (both are free) and check for the following issues.

Indexability is a webpage’s ability to be indexed by search engines. Pages that are not indexable can’t be displayed on the search engine results pages and can’t bring in any search traffic. 

Three requirements must be met for a page to be indexable:

  1. The page must be crawlable. If you haven’t blocked Googlebot from entering the page robots.txt or you have a website with fewer than 1,000 pages, you probably don’t have an issue there. 
  2. The page must not have a noindex tag (more on that in a bit).
  3. The page must be canonical (i.e., the main version). 

Solution

In Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT):  

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Indexability report 
  3. Click on issues related to canonicalization and “noindex” to see affected pages
Indexability issues in Site Audit

For canonicalization issues in this report, you will need to replace bad URLs in the link rel="canonical" tag with valid ones (i.e., returning an “HTTP 200 OK”). 

As for pages marked by “noindex” issues, these are the pages with the “noindex” meta tag placed inside their code. Chances are most of the pages found in the report there should stay as is. But if you see any pages that shouldn’t be there, simply remove the tag. Do make sure those pages aren’t blocked by robots.txt first. 

Recommendation

Click on the question mark on the right to see instructions on how to fix each issue. For more detailed instructions, click on the “Learn more” link. 

Instruction on how to fix an SEO issue in Site Audit

A sitemap should contain only pages that you want search engines to index. 

When a sitemap isn’t regularly updated or an unreliable generator has been used to make it, a sitemap may start to show broken pages, pages that became “noindexed,” pages that were de-canonicalized, or pages blocked in robots.txt. 

Solution 

In AWT:

  1. Open Site Audit 
  2. Go to the All issues report
  3. Click on issues containing the word “sitemap” to find affected pages 
Sitemap issues shown in Site Audit

Depending on the issue, you will have to:

  • Delete the pages from the sitemap.
  • Remove the noindex tag on the pages (if you want to keep them in the sitemap). 
  • Provide a valid URL for the reported page. 

Google uses HTTPS encryption as a small ranking signal. This means you can experience lower rankings if you don’t have an SSL or TLS certificate securing your website. 

But even if you do, some pages and/or resources on your pages may still use the HTTP protocol. 

Solution 

Assuming you already have an SSL/TLS certificate for all subdomains (if not, do get one), open AWT and do these: 

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Internal pages report 
  3. Look at the protocol distribution graph and click on HTTP to see affected pages
  4. Inside the report showing pages, add a column for Final redirect URL 
  5. Make sure all HTTP pages are permanently redirected (301 or 308 redirects) to their HTTPS counterparts 
Protocol distribution graph
Internal pages issues report with added column

Finally, let’s check if any resources on the site still use HTTP: 

  1. Inside the Internal pages report, click on Issues
  2. Click on HTTPS/HTTP mixed content to view affected resources 
Site Audit reporting six HTTPS/HTTP mixed content issues

You can fix this issue by one of these methods:

  • Link to the HTTPS version of the resource (check this option first) 
  • Include the resource from a different host, if available 
  • Download and host the content on your site directly if you are legally allowed to do so
  • Exclude the resource from your site altogether

Learn more: What Is HTTPS? Everything You Need to Know 

Duplicate content happens when exact or near-duplicate content appears on the web in more than one place. 

It’s bad for SEO mainly for two reasons: It can cause undesirable URLs to show in search results and can dilute link equity

Content duplication is not necessarily a case of intentional or unintentional creation of similar pages. There are other less obvious causes such as faceted navigation, tracking parameters in URLs, or using trailing and non-trailing slashes

Solution 

First, check if your website is available under only one URL. Because if your site is accessible as:

  • http://domain.com
  • http://www.domain.com
  • https://domain.com
  • https://www.domain.com

Then Google will see all of those URLs as different websites. 

The easiest way to check if users can browse only one version of your website: type in all four variations in the browser, one by one, hit enter, and see if they get redirected to the master version (ideally, the one with HTTPS). 

You can also go straight into Site Audit’s Duplicates report. If you see 100% bad duplicates, that is likely the reason.

Duplicates report showing 100% bad duplicates
Simulation (other types of duplicates turned off).

In this case, choose one version that will serve as canonical (likely the one with HTTPS) and permanently redirect other versions to it. 

Then run a New crawl in Site Audit to see if there are any other bad duplicates left. 

Running a new crawl in Site Audit

There are a few ways you can handle bad duplicates depending on the case. Learn how to solve them in our guide

Learn more: Duplicate Content: Why It Happens and How to Fix It 

Pages that can’t be found (4XX errors) and pages returning server errors (5XX errors) won’t be indexed by Google so they won’t bring you any traffic. 

Furthermore, if broken pages have backlinks pointing to them, all of that link equity goes to waste. 

Broken pages are also a waste of crawl budget—something to watch out for on bigger websites. 

Solution

In AWT, you should: 

  1. Open Site Audit.
  2. Go to the Internal pages report.
  3. See if there are any broken pages. If so, the Broken section will show a number higher than 0. Click on the number to show affected pages.
Broken pages report in Site Audit

In the report showing pages with issues, it’s a good idea to add a column for the number of referring domains. This will help you make the decision on how to fix the issue. 

Internal pages report with no. of referring domains column added

Now, fixing broken pages (4XX error codes) is quite simple, but there is more than one possibility. Here’s a short graph explaining the process:

How to deal with broken pages

Dealing with server errors (the ones reporting a 5XX) can be a tougher one, as there are different possible reasons for a server to be unresponsive. Read this short guide for troubleshooting.

Recommendation

With AWT, you can also see 404s that were caused by incorrect links to your website. While this is not a technical issue per se, reclaiming those links may give you an additional SEO boost.

  1. Go to Site Explorer
  2. Enter your domain 
  3. Go to the Best by links report
  4. Add a “404 not found” filter
  5. Then sort the report by referring domains from high to low
How to find broken backlinks in Site Explorer
In this example, someone linked to us, leaving a comma inside the URL.

If you’ve already dealt with broken pages, chances are you’ve fixed most of the broken links issues. 

Other critical issues related to links are: 

  • Orphan pages – These are the pages without any internal links. Web crawlers have limited ability to access those pages (only from sitemap or backlinks), and there is no link equity flowing to them from other pages on your site. Last but not least, users won’t be able to access this page from the site navigation. 
  • HTTPS pages linking to internal HTTP pages – If an internal link on your website brings users to an HTTP URL, web browsers will likely show a warning about a non-secure page. This can damage your overall website authority and user experience.

Solution

In AWT, you can:

  1. Go to Site Audit.
  2. Open the Links report.
  3. Open the Issues tab. 
  4. Look for the following issues in the Indexable category. Click to see affected pages. 
Important SEO issues related to links

Fix the first issue by changing the links from HTTP to HTTPS or simply delete those links if no longer needed.

For the second issue, an orphan page needs to be either linked to from some other page on your website or deleted if a given page holds no value to you.

Sidenote.

Ahrefs’ Site Audit can find orphan pages as long as they have backlinks or are included in the sitemap. For a more thorough search for this issue, you will need to analyze server logs to find orphan pages with hits. Find out how in this guide.

7. Mobile experience issues

Having a mobile-friendly website is a must for SEO. Two reasons: 

  1. Google uses mobile-first indexing – It’s mostly using the content of mobile pages for indexing and ranking.
  2. Mobile experience is part of the Page Experience signals – While Google will allegedly always “promote” the page with the best content, page experience can be a tiebreaker for pages offering content of similar quality. 

Solution

In GSC: 

  1. Go to the Mobile Usability report in the Experience section
  2. View affected pages by clicking on issues in the Why pages aren’t usable on mobile section 
Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console

You can read Google’s guide for fixing mobile issues here.  

8. Performance and stability issues 

Performance and visual stability are other aspects of Page Experience signals used by Google to rank pages. 

Google has developed a special set of metrics to measure user experience called Core Web Vitals (CWV). Site owners and SEOs can use those metrics to see how Google perceives their website in terms of UX. 

Google's search signals for page experience

While page experience can be a ranking tiebreaker, CWV is not a race. You don’t need to have the fastest website on the internet. You just need to score “good” ideally in all three categories: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. 

Three categories of Core Web Vitals

Solution 

In GSC: 

  1. First, click on Core Web Vitals in the Experience section of the reports.
  2. Then click Open report in each section to see how your website scores. 
  3. For pages that aren’t considered good, you’ll see a special section at the bottom of the report. Use it to see pages that need your attention.
How to find Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console
CWV issue report in Google Search Console

Optimizing for CWV may take some time. This may include things like moving to a faster (or closer) server, compressing images, optimizing CSS, etc. We explain how to do this in the third part of this guide to CWV. 

Bad website structure in the context of technical SEO is mainly about having important organic pages too deep into the website structure. 

Pages that are nested too deep (i.e., users need >6 clicks from the website to get to them) will receive less link equity from your homepage (likely the page with the most backlinks), which may affect their rankings. This is because link value diminishes with every link “hop.” 

Sidenote.

Website structure is important for other reasons too such as the overall user experience, crawl efficiency, and helping Google understand the context of your pages. Here, we’ll only focus on the technical aspect, but you can read more about the topic in our full guide: Website Structure: How to Build Your SEO Foundation.

Solution 

In AWT

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to Structure explorer, switch to the Depth tab, and set the data type to Data table
  3. Configure the Segment to only valid HTML pages and click Apply
  4. Use the graph to investigate pages with more than six clicks away from the homepage 
How to find site structure issues in Site Audit
Adding a new segment in Site Audit

The way to fix the issue is to link to these deeper nested pages from pages closer to the homepage. More important pages could find their place in site navigation, while less important ones can be just linked to the pages a few clicks closer.

It’s a good idea to weigh in user experience and the business role of your website when deciding what goes into sitewide navigation. 

For example, we could probably give our SEO glossary a slightly higher chance to get ahead of organic competitors by including it in the main site navigation. Yet we decided not to because it isn’t such an important page for users who are not particularly searching for this type of information. 

We’ve moved the glossary only up a notch by including a link inside the beginner’s guide to SEO (which itself is just one click away from the homepage). 

Structure explorer showing glossary page is two clicks away from the homepage
One page from the glossary folder is two clicks away from the homepage.
Link that moved SEO glossary a click closer to the homepage
Just one link, even at the bottom of a page, can move a page higher in the overall structure.

Final thoughts 

When you’re done fixing the more pressing issues, dig a little deeper to keep your site in perfect SEO health. Open Site Audit and go to the All issues report to see other issues regarding on-page SEO, image optimization, redirects, localization, and more. In each case, you will find instructions on how to deal with the issue. 

All issues report in Site Audit

You can also customize this report by turning issues on/off or changing their priority. 

Issue report in Site Audit is customizable

Did I miss any important technical issues? Let me know on Twitter or Mastodon.



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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin has announced that account-level negative keywords are now available to Google Ads advertisers worldwide.

The feature, which was first announced last year and has been in testing for several months, allows advertisers to add keywords to exclude traffic from all search and shopping campaigns, as well as the search and shopping portion of Performance Max, for greater brand safety and suitability.

Advertisers can access this feature from the account settings page to ensure their campaigns align with their brand values and target audience.

This is especially important for brands that want to avoid appearing in contexts that may be inappropriate or damaging to their reputation.

In addition to the brand safety benefits, the addition of account-level negative keywords makes the campaign management process more efficient for advertisers.

Instead of adding negative keywords to individual campaigns, advertisers can manage them at the account level, saving time and reducing the chances of human error.

You no longer have to worry about duplicating negative keywords in multiple campaigns or missing any vital to your brand safety.

Additionally, account-level negative keywords can improve the accuracy of ad targeting by excluding irrelevant or low-performing keywords that may adversely impact campaign performance. This can result in higher-quality traffic and a better return on investment.

Google Ads offers a range of existing brand suitability controls, including inventory types, digital content labels, placement exclusions, and negative keywords at the campaign level.

Marvin added that Google Ads is expanding account-level negative keywords to address various use cases and will have more to share soon.

This rollout is essential in giving brands more control over their advertising and ensuring their campaigns target the appropriate audience.


Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock



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