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How To Conduct A Content Audit Step-By-Step

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How To Conduct A Content Audit Step-By-Step

It’s a fact that even the best content writers and search engine optimizers occasionally strike out with a new piece of content.

For whatever reason, and despite your best efforts, not everything you publish is going to be a hit.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it will get buried, fail to rank in search results, and basically contribute nothing to your overall goals.

Don’t erase things you worked hard on or leave them to slowly fade into obscurity.

Instead, use these less-than-successful pieces of content to figure out where you went wrong, take action to correct it, and use that new knowledge to create stronger new content.

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But before you can do that, you need to know which of your webpages are underperforming. And that requires a content audit.

If you’re not sure how to do that, don’t worry.

In this piece, we’ll explain what a content audit is and why it’s important and then give you step-by-step instructions for performing your own.

What Is A Content Audit?

A content audit is a process of systematically inventorying and evaluating your website’s currently published content.

Often, it will be directly linked to SEO efforts, as the goal is to have content that is not only packed with important keywords but also answers specific search queries.

The content you could be auditing runs a gamut of formats and could include:

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  • Webpages.
  • Landing pages.
  • Blog posts.
  • Product descriptions.
  • Videos.
  • Slide decks.
  • Whitepapers.

If you’ve never done a content audit before, this can sound like a daunting and boring task.

Don’t worry – it’s not nearly as bad as you imagine. But before we dive into the process, let’s talk about why it’s an important process for organizations of all types and sizes.

Why Do You Need To Audit Your Content?

Nothing is immune to the passage of time, including your content.

From geocentrism to who discovered the Americas, things that were once considered irrefutable facts become incorrect all the time. And if anything, the internet age has accelerated this process.

This is exactly why regular content audits are important. They will help keep your content up-to-date and improve your search engine rankings by addressing the following questions:

  • What is your existing content?
  • Is this content valuable?
  • How do people find it?
  • How is it performing?
  • Is it still accurate?

The answers to these questions will help you ensure your content is of high quality while helping you stay aligned with your content marketing strategy.

How To Conduct A Content Audit

Now that you know why you need to audit your content regularly, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of how to do it.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

There’s a lot of work involved with content audits, so to ensure you’re not wasting your time and energy, it’s important to start with clearly defined objectives about what you want to accomplish.

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You should have at least one goal that will be the driving factor behind the audit and then determine the metrics with which success will be measured. These could include things like:

  • Improving SEO results for specific pages or your entire website.
  • Increasing engagement and/or conversions.
  • Removing outdated or redundant content.
  • Improving the standard of existing pieces of content.
  • Deciding on a new organizational structure for your site.

Step 2: Collect And Categorize Content

Once you have defined what you’re hoping to accomplish, it’s time to work on inventorying what you have published.

First, determine which types of content you’re going to be reviewing and collect their URLs.

You can either do this manually via an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet, or you can use an online tool like HubSpot, Semrush, or Screaming Frog.

(Pro tip: If your site is larger than a few pages, you will likely want to use a content audit tool.)

Once you have a spreadsheet with the content targeted by your audit created, it’s time to categorize it. (Note: Some online tools can do this for you.)

You’ll want to track the following for each piece of content in a separate content details audit spreadsheet:

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  • URL.
  • Author.
  • Which team produced it? Content team, social team, SEO team, etc.
  • Time: How long did it take to produce the content in its entirety?
  • Title.
  • Date.
  • Content type: Is it a blog post, infographic, case study, etc.?
  • Content goal: What was the point of producing the content: backlinks, traffic, conversions, etc.?
  • Word count.
  • Comments.
  • Shares: break this down by social network and total.

This will keep you organized as you determine which existing pieces are okay and which need to be updated or removed. How you structure this information will be determined by your goals.

You may also wish to indicate what products or services this content supports, the keywords it’s targeting, and the word count.

Step 3: Track Metrics And Analyze Data

Now that we’ve got the bones of our audit created, it’s time to take a deep dive into how it’s performing.

You’re looking for tangible KPIs that allow you to assess the health and performance of your site.

The content data portion of your audit needs to come with its own handy dandy Excel doc, just like this one I created

Perform A Past Audit

Before we get into the data, you must backtrack and audit your past-produced content.

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Knowing how the content you’ve published performs will help you gauge what kind of content you need to create in the future — and what kind not to create.

This part of your content audit will be time-consuming, at least in the beginning.

You’ll need to decide how far back you want to begin your content audit and then gather all of the content URLs for that time period.

I recommend going back at least one year and gathering data for how your content performed the year before.

Collecting all of your past content URLs doesn’t have to be a manual process, though.

Luckily, many website analytics tools like Google Analytics or Semrush’s Content Audit tool can quickly inventory your content based on your sitemap data. These can provide you with a list of content URLs to audit.

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Screenshot from Semrush, January 2023

Prepare Yourself For Ongoing Audits

Once you’ve caught up and added all of last year’s content to your Excel doc, you can repeat this audit activity for new content weekly.

It will be much easier to keep track of your content and audit it regularly when you’re only having to go back one week to input data.

Add the data from the next section to your Excel doc and upload the most recent numbers and statistics every week.

Over time, take note of any drastic changes.

Sometimes content, especially evergreen content, can take months before it really takes off.

Metrics To Track

Here are the metrics you’ll want to track for your content data audit:

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Comments

A properly moderated comments section can add valuable user-generated content to your blog posts and articles.

If one of your content goals is to build a community on your website, you will want to know what content types and topics generate conversation.

Use the UGC link attribute to ensure you’re compliant with Google’s requirements for link markup.

If you don’t allow comments on your blog, check for comments on your social media posts about your content.

Social Shares

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Some marketers brush off social shares as vanity metrics. However, monitoring your content’s social popularity can help you discover the topics most likely to intrigue specific social audiences.

Businesses that know most of their conversions come from Facebook, for example, would want to create content popular with Facebook audiences.

Analyzing which posts had the most social shares on Facebook in the past is a good way to find out what topics may do well in the future.

Organic Traffic

Ideally, your content will receive a lot of organic traffic.

If you aren’t getting organic traffic, that could be a potential red flag.

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Perhaps there is something wrong with:

  • Your content strategy.
  • How you’re distributing the content.
  • The content type.
  • The content itself.

By evaluating the organic traffic metrics regularly in your audit, you’ll know when you can pat yourself on the back or when you need to start over.

Bounce Rate

Are website visitors arriving on your webpages and exiting without engaging with your content?

If Google Analytics cannot detect scrolling, clicks, or other interactions with your content before a user leaves, it is considered a bounce.

And if you have a high bounce rate, that could be a sign of bad content.

Ideally, your content is a gateway that leads a user from a search to your website, entertains or informs them, and then guides them to more content, depending on their needs.

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An extended time on the page in conjunction with a low bounce rate signals “sticky” content that keeps users intrigued enough to continue on to more of your content.

Unsure of what a good bounce rate is?

A range of 26% to 45% is average for retail and ecommerce sites, whereas B2B sites will fall into the 25% to 55% range. For blogs, this number can be as high as 90%.

What’s acceptable for you will depend on your niche.

Backlinks

Bring on the backlinks – but only the good backlinks that give us a lot of boost and credibility, please!

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You need to track the backlinks that your content regularly produces for two big reasons:

  • Your backlinks will change over time. The first day you publish a new piece of content, you may gain two to three backlinks. Let a week go by, and maybe now 10-12 backlinks have appeared. A year down the road, you could have 589 backlinks to one piece of content as it is promoted, discovered, and shared.
  • Not all backlinks are good. Sure, 589 backlinks might sound like a good thing, but not if 500 of those backlinks are potentially dangerous to your website, lead to spam, paid, or lead to a poor website. You may want to consider removing those unnatural backlinks.

Time On Page

If your content is a long-form blog post of 2,500 words and the average time on the page is 18 seconds, something is wrong.

This metric will inform you if your content just isn’t right for your audience or if it is, and you need to create more content focusing on topics just like it.

Unique Visitors

We want lots of unique visitors viewing our content and increasing the number of views the piece of content gets.

The more views, the more chances of return on investment (ROI) from content like conversions, engagement, shares, and backlinks.

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Pages Per Session

How many pages is the user looking at after viewing your content?

What pages are they going to?

A blog post about the best winter coats can encourage a user to click on links within the blog post and shop around on your website for different coats. They may even make a purchase, which is the ultimate goal of any business marketing.

New Vs. Returning Users

Are you attracting a new audience with this piece of content?

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Returning users are great. Returning customers are even better.

But we also need to aim to attract new users with our content. Ideally, you want to see a good mix of both.

Traffic Sources

Learn where your traffic is coming from by defining your main traffic sources.

If a majority of your content’s traffic is coming from Facebook, post more of your content on your Facebook page.

If hardly any is coming from your email newsletters, it may be time to restructure them.

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Conversions

If your goal for a new piece of content is to generate 100 conversions in the first quarter (let’s say email opt-ins for your email newsletter), you need to add a column and track the number of conversions coming in from that piece of content.

Perhaps in the first week, there are only two conversions, and you begin to doubt the content entirely.

Let two months go by, and continue to audit each week. You may notice that now, the content has produced 140 total conversions, not only hitting your goal but surpassing it.

Auditing on an ongoing basis helps to give the figures you’re seeing valuable context, enabling you to make smarter, data-backed decisions.

Additional Information To Track

If you want to add more details about your content, here are some ideas of what to track.

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SEO Title & Meta Description

Add columns to your spreadsheet for these SEO fields on each piece of content.

It will help when optimizing your content in the future to see all of the SEO titles and meta descriptions you’ve used in one place.

UTM Parameters

Keep track of specific promotional campaigns for each piece of content by logging any custom UTM parameters you used to track your content.

These may come in handy when you’re creating UTM parameters for new content or when you’re looking for data on past content in Google Analytics.

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Leads Sales

If you have conversion events set up in Google Analytics, you can see which landing pages generate the most revenue.

Visit the Pages and screens report under Engagement to see which pages on your website are leading to conversions.

This will give you insight into the types of content and content topics that make a positive impact on your ROI.

Email Metrics

How well did your content perform when you shared it with your email list?

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If email engagement is an important goal for your content, you’ll want to keep track of your opens, clicks, and forwards to see which content performs best.

Repurposed Content

Have you taken a collection of posts and turned them into an ebook or vice versa? Keep track of the content you’ve repurposed.

Combine metrics from the main content and additional pieces of related content to see how repurposing benefits your content strategy.

Top Keyword Ranking

Did a particular piece of content stay at the top of the SERPs for its target keyword phrase?

Note the best keyword rankings and how long they lasted to determine which types of content have long-term search wins and which types have short-term search wins.

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Influencer Reach

Did you work with any influencers to get the word out about your content? Note the influencers that generated the most traffic or social shares for content.

You may want to work with them again in the future for similar types of content.

Step 4: Take Actionable Steps And Develop A New Content Strategy

By now, you should have all the information you need to determine what content is working and what isn’t. Now it’s time to use that information to create a plan to improve it.

Add another column to your spreadsheet to indicate what action you need to take for each piece of content. This could include deleting, refreshing, rewriting, or reusing.

Determine the priority for each action. Deleting content is quick and usually easy.

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Refreshing may consist of minor updates to facts or links. A complete overhaul, on the other hand, could be a massive undertaking.

You may find it helpful to add a priority column to your spreadsheet to keep track of what’s most urgent.

Because your content audit should have hot topics and successful posts at the top of your mind, this is also the perfect time to develop a new content strategy.

Define how and why your marketing content will be used, as well as how it will help you achieve specific goals.

For more information on creating your own content strategy, click here.

Summary: Audit Content Often

Content audits are not the most glamorous part of marketing, but they’re absolutely essential.

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Remember that what works today may not work tomorrow, and your top-performing pieces can become quickly outdated.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your hard work, you should regularly perform content audits.

It’s the best way to keep an eye on the overall health of your website. It will also help you spot new opportunities and reach your goals.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices For Mobile SEO

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Mobile SEO: An In-Depth Guide And Best Practices

Over the years, search engines have encouraged businesses to improve mobile experience on their websites. More than 60% of web traffic comes from mobile, and in some cases based on the industry, mobile traffic can reach up to 90%.

Since Google has completed its switch to mobile-first indexing, the question is no longer “if” your website should be optimized for mobile, but how well it is adapted to meet these criteria. A new challenge has emerged for SEO professionals with the introduction of Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which replaced First Input Delay (FID) starting March, 12 2024.

Thus, understanding mobile SEO’s latest advancements, especially with the shift to INP, is crucial. This guide offers practical steps to optimize your site effectively for today’s mobile-focused SEO requirements.

What Is Mobile SEO And Why Is It Important?

The goal of mobile SEO is to optimize your website to attain better visibility in search engine results specifically tailored for mobile devices.

This form of SEO not only aims to boost search engine rankings, but also prioritizes enhancing mobile user experience through both content and technology.

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While, in many ways, mobile SEO and traditional SEO share similar practices, additional steps related to site rendering and content are required to meet the needs of mobile users and the speed requirements of mobile devices.

Does this need to be a priority for your website? How urgent is it?

Consider this: 58% of the world’s web traffic comes from mobile devices.

If you aren’t focused on mobile users, there is a good chance you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of traffic.

Mobile-First Indexing

Additionally, as of 2023, Google has switched its crawlers to a mobile-first indexing priority.

This means that the mobile experience of your site is critical to maintaining efficient indexing, which is the step before ranking algorithms come into play.

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Read more: Where We Are Today With Google’s Mobile-First Index

How Much Of Your Traffic Is From Mobile?

How much traffic potential you have with mobile users can depend on various factors, including your industry (B2B sites might attract primarily desktop users, for example) and the search intent your content addresses (users might prefer desktop for larger purchases, for example).

Regardless of where your industry and the search intent of your users might be, the future will demand that you optimize your site experience for mobile devices.

How can you assess your current mix of mobile vs. desktop users?

An easy way to see what percentage of your users is on mobile is to go into Google Analytics 4.

  • Click Reports in the left column.
  • Click on the Insights icon on the right side of the screen.
  • Scroll down to Suggested Questions and click on it.
  • Click on Technology.
  • Click on Top Device model by Users.
  • Then click on Top Device category by Users under Related Results.
  • The breakdown of Top Device category will match the date range selected at the top of GA4.
Screenshot from GA4, March 2024

You can also set up a report in Looker Studio.

  • Add your site to the Data source.
  • Add Device category to the Dimension field.
  • Add 30-day active users to the Metric field.
  • Click on Chart to select the view that works best for you.
A screen capture from Looker Studio showing a pie chart with a breakdown of mobile, desktop, tablet, and Smart TV users for a siteScreenshot from Looker Studio, March 2024

You can add more Dimensions to really dig into the data to see which pages attract which type of users, what the mobile-to-desktop mix is by country, which search engines send the most mobile users, and so much more.

Read more: Why Mobile And Desktop Rankings Are Different

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How To Check If Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

Now that you know how to build a report on mobile and desktop usage, you need to figure out if your site is optimized for mobile traffic.

While Google removed the mobile-friendly testing tool from Google Search Console in December 2023, there are still a number of useful tools for evaluating your site for mobile users.

Bing still has a mobile-friendly testing tool that will tell you the following:

  • Viewport is configured correctly.
  • Page content fits device width.
  • Text on the page is readable.
  • Links and tap targets are sufficiently large and touch-friendly.
  • Any other issues detected.

Google’s Lighthouse Chrome extension provides you with an evaluation of your site’s performance across several factors, including load times, accessibility, and SEO.

To use, install the Lighthouse Chrome extension.

  • Go to your website in your browser.
  • Click on the orange lighthouse icon in your browser’s address bar.
  • Click Generate Report.
  • A new tab will open and display your scores once the evaluation is complete.
An image showing the Lighthouse Scores for a website.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

You can also use the Lighthouse report in Developer Tools in Chrome.

  • Simply click on the three dots next to the address bar.
  • Select “More Tools.”
  • Select Developer Tools.
  • Click on the Lighthouse tab.
  • Choose “Mobile” and click the “Analyze page load” button.
An image showing how to get to Lighthouse within Google Chrome Developer Tools.Screenshot from Lighthouse, March 2024

Another option that Google offers is the PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool. Simply add your URL into the field and click Analyze.

PSI will integrate any Core Web Vitals scores into the resulting view so you can see what your users are experiencing when they come to your site.

An image showing the PageSpeed Insights scores for a website.Screenshot from PageSpeed Insights, March 2024

Other tools, like WebPageTest.org, will graphically display the processes and load times for everything it takes to display your webpages.

With this information, you can see which processes block the loading of your pages, which ones take the longest to load, and how this affects your overall page load times.

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You can also emulate the mobile experience by using Developer Tools in Chrome, which allows you to switch back and forth between a desktop and mobile experience.

An image showing how to change the device emulation for a site within Google Chrome Developer ToolsScreenshot from Google Chrome Developer Tools, March 2024

Lastly, use your own mobile device to load and navigate your website:

  • Does it take forever to load?
  • Are you able to navigate your site to find the most important information?
  • Is it easy to add something to cart?
  • Can you read the text?

Read more: Google PageSpeed Insights Reports: A Technical Guide

How To Optimize Your Site Mobile-First

With all these tools, keep an eye on the Performance and Accessibility scores, as these directly affect mobile users.

Expand each section within the PageSpeed Insights report to see what elements are affecting your score.

These sections can give your developers their marching orders for optimizing the mobile experience.

While mobile speeds for cellular networks have steadily improved around the world (the average speed in the U.S. has jumped to 27.06 Mbps from 11.14 Mbps in just eight years), speed and usability for mobile users are at a premium.

Read more: Top 7 SEO Benefits Of Responsive Web Design

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Best Practices For Mobile Optimization

Unlike traditional SEO, which can focus heavily on ensuring that you are using the language of your users as it relates to the intersection of your products/services and their needs, optimizing for mobile SEO can seem very technical SEO-heavy.

While you still need to be focused on matching your content with the needs of the user, mobile search optimization will require the aid of your developers and designers to be fully effective.

Below are several key factors in mobile SEO to keep in mind as you’re optimizing your site.

Site Rendering

How your site responds to different devices is one of the most important elements in mobile SEO.

The two most common approaches to this are responsive design and dynamic serving.

Responsive design is the most common of the two options.

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Using your site’s cascading style sheets (CSS) and flexible layouts, as well as responsive content delivery networks (CDN) and modern image file types, responsive design allows your site to adjust to a variety of screen sizes, orientations, and resolutions.

With the responsive design, elements on the page adjust in size and location based on the size of the screen.

You can simply resize the window of your desktop browser and see how this works.

An image showing the difference between Web.dev in a full desktop display vs. a mobile display using responsive design.Screenshot from web.dev, March 2024

This is the approach that Google recommends.

Adaptive design, also known as dynamic serving, consists of multiple fixed layouts that are dynamically served to the user based on their device.

Sites can have a separate layout for desktop, smartphone, and tablet users. Each design can be modified to remove functionality that may not make sense for certain device types.

This is a less efficient approach, but it does give sites more control over what each device sees.

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While these will not be covered here, two other options:

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which can seamlessly integrate into a mobile app.
  • Separate mobile site/URL (which is no longer recommended).

Read more: An Introduction To Rendering For SEO

Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

Google has introduced Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as a more comprehensive measure of user experience, succeeding First Input Delay. While FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your page (e.g., clicking a link, tapping a button) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction. INP, on the other hand, broadens the scope by measuring the responsiveness of a website throughout the entire lifespan of a page, not just first interaction.

Note that actions such as hovering and scrolling do not influence INP, however, keyboard-driven scrolling or navigational actions are considered keystrokes that may activate events measured by INP but not scrolling which is happeing due to interaction.

Scrolling may indirectly affect INP, for example in scenarios where users scroll through content, and additional content is lazy-loaded from the API. While the act of scrolling itself isn’t included in the INP calculation, the processing, necessary for loading additional content, can create contention on the main thread, thereby increasing interaction latency and adversely affecting the INP score.

What qualifies as an optimal INP score?

  • An INP under 200ms indicates good responsiveness.
  • Between 200ms and 500ms needs improvement.
  • Over 500ms means page has poor responsiveness.

and these are common issues causing poor INP scores:

  1. Long JavaScript Tasks: Heavy JavaScript execution can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to respond to user interactions. Thus break long JS tasks into smaller chunks by using scheduler API.
  2. Large DOM (HTML) Size: A large DOM ( starting from 1500 elements) can severely impact a website’s interactive performance. Every additional DOM element increases the work required to render pages and respond to user interactions.
  3. Inefficient Event Callbacks: Event handlers that execute lengthy or complex operations can significantly affect INP scores. Poorly optimized callbacks attached to user interactions, like clicks, keypress or taps, can block the main thread, delaying the browser’s ability to render visual feedback promptly. For example when handlers perform heavy computations or initiate synchronous network requests such on clicks.

and you can troubleshoot INP issues using free and paid tools.

As a good starting point I would recommend to check your INP scores by geos via treo.sh which will give you a great high level insights where you struggle with most.

INP scores by GeosINP scores by Geos

Read more: How To Improve Interaction To Next Paint (INP)

Image Optimization

Images add a lot of value to the content on your site and can greatly affect the user experience.

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From page speeds to image quality, you could adversely affect the user experience if you haven’t optimized your images.

This is especially true for the mobile experience. Images need to adjust to smaller screens, varying resolutions, and screen orientation.

  • Use responsive images
  • Implement lazy loading
  • Compress your images (use WebP)
  • Add your images into sitemap

Optimizing images is an entire science, and I advise you to read our comprehensive guide on image SEO how to implement the mentioned recommendations.

Avoid Intrusive Interstitials

Google rarely uses concrete language to state that something is a ranking factor or will result in a penalty, so you know it means business about intrusive interstitials in the mobile experience.

Intrusive interstitials are basically pop-ups on a page that prevent the user from seeing content on the page.

John Mueller, Google’s Senior Search Analyst, stated that they are specifically interested in the first interaction a user has after clicking on a search result.

Examples of intrusive interstitial pop-ups on a mobile site according to Google.

Not all pop-ups are considered bad. Interstitial types that are considered “intrusive” by Google include:

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  • Pop-ups that cover most or all of the page content.
  • Non-responsive interstitials or pop-ups that are impossible for mobile users to close.
  • Pop-ups that are not triggered by a user action, such as a scroll or a click.

Read more: 7 Tips To Keep Pop-Ups From Harming Your SEO

Structured Data

Most of the tips provided in this guide so far are focused on usability and speed and have an additive effect, but there are changes that can directly influence how your site appears in mobile search results.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) haven’t been the “10 blue links” in a very long time.

They now reflect the diversity of search intent, showing a variety of different sections to meet the needs of users. Local Pack, shopping listing ads, video content, and more dominate the mobile search experience.

As a result, it’s more important than ever to provide structured data markup to the search engines, so they can display rich results for users.

In this example, you can see that both Zojirushi and Amazon have included structured data for their rice cookers, and Google is displaying rich results for both.

An image of a search result for Japanese rice cookers that shows rich results for Zojirushi and Amazon.Screenshot from search for [Japanese rice cookers], Google, March 2024

Adding structured data markup to your site can influence how well your site shows up for local searches and product-related searches.

Using JSON-LD, you can mark up the business, product, and services data on your pages in Schema markup.

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If you use WordPress as the content management system for your site, there are several plugins available that will automatically mark up your content with structured data.

Read more: What Structured Data To Use And Where To Use It?

Content Style

When you think about your mobile users and the screens on their devices, this can greatly influence how you write your content.

Rather than long, detailed paragraphs, mobile users prefer concise writing styles for mobile reading.

Each key point in your content should be a single line of text that easily fits on a mobile screen.

Your font sizes should adjust to the screen’s resolution to avoid eye strain for your users.

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If possible, allow for a dark or dim mode for your site to further reduce eye strain.

Headers should be concise and address the searcher’s intent. Rather than lengthy section headers, keep it simple.

Finally, make sure that your text renders in a font size that’s readable.

Read more: 10 Tips For Creating Mobile-Friendly Content

Tap Targets

As important as text size, the tap targets on your pages should be sized and laid out appropriately.

Tap targets include navigation elements, links, form fields, and buttons like “Add to Cart” buttons.

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Targets smaller than 48 pixels by 48 pixels and targets that overlap or are overlapped by other page elements will be called out in the Lighthouse report.

Tap targets are essential to the mobile user experience, especially for ecommerce websites, so optimizing them is vital to the health of your online business.

Read more: Google’s Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool Now Measures Tap Target Spacing

Prioritizing These Tips

If you have delayed making your site mobile-friendly until now, this guide may feel overwhelming. As a result, you may not know what to prioritize first.

As with so many other optimizations in SEO, it’s important to understand which changes will have the greatest impact, and this is just as true for mobile SEO.

Think of SEO as a framework in which your site’s technical aspects are the foundation of your content. Without a solid foundation, even the best content may struggle to rank.

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  • Responsive or Dynamic Rendering: If your site requires the user to zoom and scroll right or left to read the content on your pages, no number of other optimizations can help you. This should be first on your list.
  • Content Style: Rethink how your users will consume your content online. Avoid very long paragraphs. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” to quote Shakespeare.
  • Image Optimization: Begin migrating your images to next-gen image formats and optimize your content display network for speed and responsiveness.
  • Tap Targets: A site that prevents users from navigating or converting into sales won’t be in business long. Make navigation, links, and buttons usable for them.
  • Structured Data: While this element ranks last in priority on this list, rich results can improve your chances of receiving traffic from a search engine, so add this to your to-do list once you’ve completed the other optimizations.

Summary

From How Search Works, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

If Google’s primary mission is focused on making all the world’s information accessible and useful, then you know they will prefer surfacing sites that align with that vision.

Since a growing percentage of users are on mobile devices, you may want to infer the word “everywhere” added to the end of the mission statement.

Are you missing out on traffic from mobile devices because of a poor mobile experience?

If you hope to remain relevant, make mobile SEO a priority now.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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HARO Has Been Dead for a While

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HARO Has Been Dead for a While

Every SEO’s favorite link-building collaboration tool, HARO, was officially killed off for good last week by Cision. It’s now been wrapped into a new product: Connectively.

I know nothing about the new tool. I haven’t tried it. But after trying to use HARO recently, I can’t say I’m surprised or saddened by its death. It’s been a walking corpse for a while. 

I used HARO way back in the day to build links. It worked. But a couple of months ago, I experienced the platform from the other side when I decided to try to source some “expert” insights for our posts. 

After just a few minutes of work, I got hundreds of pitches: 

So, I grabbed a cup of coffee and began to work through them. It didn’t take long before I lost the will to live. Every other pitch seemed like nothing more than lazy AI-generated nonsense from someone who definitely wasn’t an expert. 

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Here’s one of them: 

Example of an AI-generated pitch in HAROExample of an AI-generated pitch in HARO

Seriously. Who writes like that? I’m a self-confessed dullard (any fellow Dull Men’s Club members here?), and even I’m not that dull… 

I don’t think I looked through more than 30-40 of the responses. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt like having a conversation with ChatGPT… and not a very good one! 

Despite only reviewing a few dozen of the many pitches I received, one stood out to me: 

Example HARO pitch that caught my attentionExample HARO pitch that caught my attention

Believe it or not, this response came from a past client of mine who runs an SEO agency in the UK. Given how knowledgeable and experienced he is (he actually taught me a lot about SEO back in the day when I used to hassle him with questions on Skype), this pitch rang alarm bells for two reasons: 

  1. I truly doubt he spends his time replying to HARO queries
  2. I know for a fact he’s no fan of Neil Patel (sorry, Neil, but I’m sure you’re aware of your reputation at this point!)

So… I decided to confront him 😉 

Here’s what he said: 

Hunch, confirmed ;)Hunch, confirmed ;)

Shocker. 

I pressed him for more details: 

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I’m getting a really good deal and paying per link rather than the typical £xxxx per month for X number of pitches. […] The responses as you’ve seen are not ideal but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take as realistically I dont have the time to do it myself. He’s not native english, but I have had to have a word with him a few times about clearly using AI. On the low cost ones I don’t care but on authority sites it needs to be more refined.

I think this pretty much sums up the state of HARO before its death. Most “pitches” were just AI answers from SEOs trying to build links for their clients. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing shade here. I know that good links are hard to come by, so you have to do what works. And the reality is that HARO did work. Just look at the example below. You can tell from the anchor and surrounding text in Ahrefs that these links were almost certainly built with HARO: 

Example of links build with HARO, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of links build with HARO, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

But this was the problem. HARO worked so well back in the day that it was only a matter of time before spammers and the #scale crew ruined it for everyone. That’s what happened, and now HARO is no more. So… 

If you’re a link builder, I think it’s time to admit that HARO link building is dead and move on. 

No tactic works well forever. It’s the law of sh**ty clickthroughs. This is why you don’t see SEOs having huge success with tactics like broken link building anymore. They’ve moved on to more innovative tactics or, dare I say it, are just buying links.

Sidenote.

Talking of buying links, here’s something to ponder: if Connectively charges for pitches, are links built through those pitches technically paid? If so, do they violate Google’s spam policies? It’s a murky old world this SEO lark, eh?

If you’re a journalist, Connectively might be worth a shot. But with experts being charged for pitches, you probably won’t get as many responses. That might be a good thing. You might get less spam. Or you might just get spammed by SEOs with deep pockets. The jury’s out for now. 

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My advice? Look for alternative methods like finding and reaching out to experts directly. You can easily use tools like Content Explorer to find folks who’ve written lots of content about the topic and are likely to be experts. 

For example, if you look for content with “backlinks” in the title and go to the Authors tab, you might see a familiar name. 😉 

Finding people to request insights from in Ahrefs' Content ExplorerFinding people to request insights from in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

I don’t know if I’d call myself an expert, but I’d be happy to give you a quote if you reached out on social media or emailed me (here’s how to find my email address).

Alternatively, you can bait your audience into giving you their insights on social media. I did this recently with a poll on X and included many of the responses in my guide to toxic backlinks.

Me, indirectly sourcing insights on social mediaMe, indirectly sourcing insights on social media

Either of these options is quicker than using HARO because you don’t have to sift through hundreds of responses looking for a needle in a haystack. If you disagree with me and still love HARO, feel free to tell me why on X 😉



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Google Clarifies Vacation Rental Structured Data

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Google updates their vacation rental structured data documentation

Google’s structured data documentation for vacation rentals was recently updated to require more specific data in a change that is more of a clarification than it is a change in requirements. This change was made without any formal announcement or notation in the developer pages changelog.

Vacation Rentals Structured Data

These specific structured data types makes vacation rental information eligible for rich results that are specific to these kinds of rentals. However it’s not available to all websites. Vacation rental owners are required to be connected to a Google Technical Account Manager and have access to the Google Hotel Center platform.

VacationRental Structured Data Type Definitions

The primary changes were made to the structured data property type definitions where Google defines what the required and recommended property types are.

The changes to the documentation is in the section governing the Recommended properties and represents a clarification of the recommendations rather than a change in what Google requires.

The primary changes were made to the structured data type definitions where Google defines what the required and recommended property types are.

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The changes to the documentation is in the section governing the Recommended properties and represents a clarification of the recommendations rather than a change in what Google requires.

Address Schema.org property

This is a subtle change but it’s important because it now represents a recommendation that requires more precise data.

This is what was recommended before:

“streetAddress”: “1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy.”

This is what it now recommends:

“streetAddress”: “1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Unit 6E”

Address Property Change Description

The most substantial change is to the description of what the “address” property is, becoming more descriptive and precise about what is recommended.

The description before the change:

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PostalAddress
Information about the street address of the listing. Include all properties that apply to your country.

The description after the change:

PostalAddress
The full, physical location of the vacation rental.
Provide the street address, city, state or region, and postal code for the vacation rental. If applicable, provide the unit or apartment number.
Note that P.O. boxes or other mailing-only addresses are not considered full, physical addresses.

This is repeated in the section for address.streetAddress property

This is what it recommended before:

address.streetAddress Text
The full street address of your vacation listing.

And this is what it recommends now:

address.streetAddress Text
The full street address of your vacation listing, including the unit or apartment number if applicable.

Clarification And Not A Change

Although these updates don’t represent a change in Google’s guidance they are nonetheless important because they offer clearer guidance with less ambiguity as to what is recommended.

Read the updated structured data guidance:

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Vacation rental (VacationRental) structured data

Featured Image by Shutterstock/New Africa

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