How to write the perfect copywriting brief

How to create the perfect copywriting brief template

Do you have a blog post, homepage content or a series of product descriptions you need writing? Before your freelance writer can put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – you’re going to need to create a brief. Thankfully, we’ve put together some simple tips on how to write the perfect copywriting brief.

What is a good copywriting brief?

In a nutshell, a good brief tells your writer everything they need to know about:

• Your company
• Your product or service
• Your audience and how you talk to them
• What you need producing

Signs of a good copywriting brief are:

• Lots of detail
• Examples, such as links to your website or product photos
• The agreement of certain contractual aspects

The benefits of a good copywriting brief

Some freelance writers charge by the hour, others by each round of amends, so it saves you money (and time) if you can get your finished piece spot on the first time around. That’s where the perfect copywriting brief comes in.

As copywriter Emma Cownley states, “Even if not all the information ends up in the final piece, the more we know, the better our creative response will be.”

How to write the perfect copywriting brief template
Ken Teegardin (www.seniorliving.org)

In essence: when your writer knows exactly what you want to communicate to your reader, they’re well equipped to provide you with the content that engages, informs and above all converts.

Ultimately, according to Forbes, “the test of a good creative brief: if the editor, client, or company leader looks at the finished piece and says, ‘This is exactly what we wanted!’ the creative brief is a smashing success.”

Tips and template for a perfect copywriting brief

If you came here looking for a copywriting brief template, you’re in luck. Below we speed through what to include in your freelance writing brief:

Project detail

Type of content

First things first, tell the writer what you want to be written. Is it an article, a blog post, a piece of web content, or a bunch of product or category page descriptions for your e-commerce site?

Length

You may have a strict 500-word limit or be willing to let a copywriter run with it. Always state whether this will impact payment.

Subject

Now, what is it about? Perhaps the subject is fashion if you need to promote your new range of womenswear, or health if you want to add insight to a medical surgery blog. If you need a piece of content to pitch higher than general readership, mention if you’d prefer a copywriter with industry-specific knowledge.

Project context

Is this part of a larger project – have you already produced similar content in-house or using other writers? Your writer won’t know, so state how this copywriting job fits into your overall content marketing campaign and provide examples where necessary. Also, don’t forget to tell them where this piece of content will appear.

Company information

Getting your company ethos and tone of voice right comes down to the writer understanding as much as they can about you. Let them know if you’re a start-up, if you’re rebranding in a particular area or if you have a niche. How do you communicate with your customers? Are you humorous, personal and friendly, or professional and formal?

Audience

Any information you can supply about your customer demographic will help. This includes data you’ve pulled or customer profiles you might have produced as part of your business or marketing plan.

Call to action

Don’t forget the reason you want a piece of content written! Should the call to action be to link to your contact page, push customers towards taking advantage of an offer, or sign up to your newsletter?

Keywords

In the age of Google, search engine optimisation (SEO) can be the difference between making it onto page one and being lost to the recesses of the internet. Let the writer know what search terms (including any localisation or variables) you want to be included, such as ‘plumbers in Croydon’.

How to write the perfect copywriting brief template
Global Panorama (Flickr)

Images

Be aware, not all freelance copywriters offer a service for providing images of other multimedia content. Include details about what kind of image as well as quality, size and orientation you’re looking for.

The task

Here you can flesh out your concept. If you want a writer to plug a certain event, you need to provide them with the information or links to sources that can help them. Got a specific layout you want? Provide a style guide for them to follow.

Additional information

This is where you can get really specific. Any phrases you think sound awful and really don’t want your copywriter to use? Mention them here. You could also detail required formatting such as HTML, or the number of words or characters in a section (relevant if you need a meta description writing or have limited space). What about where you wish keywords to appear and keyword density? Should they include any external links?

Contractual agreements

Fee

This is the bit most copywriters are interested in: how much does this project pay? They will also want to know how they will be paid and when.

Deadline

State the time frame you need the work to be delivered by. You also need to agree with the copywriter what the situation will be regarding amends. Will you be entitled to any ‘free’ edits? Will you pay more per amend?

Signing off

All contracts need to be signed off. Include the following at the end of your brief:

• Date of writing the brief
• Name and signature of hiring company/client
• Name and signature of copywriter
• Date of agreement

How to write the perfect copywriting brief template
Perzon SEO (https://perzonseo.com/)

Who will supply the brief?

If you’re approaching a freelance copywriter, you may find they already have a copywriting brief template on their website for you to download and fill in. However, not all copywriters are prepared for this and you may need to produce your own. That’s not to say you should jump in at the deep end with a super detailed brief. Start with a speculative email and see if the writer is interested in your project before you commit to getting the details down on paper.

Doesn’t writing a copywriting brief take too much time?

When you need some content writing, you’re always going to need to provide a writer with a copywriting brief. It’s the only way to ensure you receive the end product you need while safeguarding both yourself and the writer in the process.

Australian marketing analytics company Digital Balance states that you should “make it your goal to put as much effort into writing your brief as you expect to get back from your writer.”

At the same time, use your judgement. Copywriter Liz Ernst writes about the fine line between providing enough detail to help your copywriter and writing so much that you overburden your writer – and yourself in the process. Your brief should be comprehensive but streamlined; remember, you’re hiring a writer to make your life easier, so don’t fall into the trap of practically creating the content yourself!

Of course, one way to get around the pitfalls of sourcing a freelance copywriter and having to remember all of the above is to use a copywriting agency with a set copywriting brief that you can customise. This can save you time, money and a lot of hassle.

 

Image credit: Perzon SEO ‘business office morning coffee’

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How to measure content marketing success

How to measure content marketing success

If you want to use content marketing to get your business website found online and convert that traffic into customers, you need to know how to measure content marketing success. But how exactly can you find out whether or not your web content strategy is actually having the reach you expected and providing an adequate return on investment (ROI)?

The truth is that content marketing takes time, effort and money, whether you turn to a copywriting agency or in-house staff to produce your content, or even choose to write it yourself. While online marketing often enables you to gain more tangible and useful data than offline marketing, it’s unrealistic to expect immediate success with the click of your fingers. That’s why an analysis of your content marketing strategy should take place over a period of time.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways you can measure the reach of your content marketing through different avenues, analyse this to work out your ROI, as well as how to ensure success going forward.

Monitoring the reach of your content marketing strategy

1. Web analytics

To begin with, one of the most helpful ways of monitoring the impact of your website’s content is with an analytics platform like Google Analytics or your website and/or blog host’s inbuilt metrics. Here, you can view data such as the number of page views, the length of time visitors spend on your site, the crawl rate, the bounce rate and the inbound links visitors clicked on, as well as visitor demographics.

'Digital Britain Final Analytics' - Joss Winn
‘Digital Britain Final Analytics’ – Joss Winn (Flickr)

Conversion rates should be another key point of focus. You aim is to secure loyal visitors by feeding them through the sales funnel. That means engaging them, seeing what they respond to, and making necessary adjustments to your web content or layout based on your findings.

2. Search engine ranking

SEO plays a large part in content marketing; however, it can take months for you to see success from your efforts. Therefore, monitoring SEO campaigns over a period of weeks and months is crucial when it comes to the success of your website or blog content. Ways of measuring your SEO strategy include:

  • Search engine results page (SERPs) ranking
  • The number of organic visits to your website
  • Which of your pages are more popular and reviewing/comparing the use of your keywords and content
  • The customer journey through your website and whether they cross over to other platforms (e.g. your social media pages, blog, etc)
  • Conversions (newsletter signups, purchases, eBook downloads…)

There are numerous tools you can use online that can help you pull data on the success of your web content, including SEM Rush. You can also find out what content is performing well across the internet (and on which platforms) using a tool like Buzzsumo, which can influence the topics you discuss on your blog or social media as well as show you how many backlinks you have secured.

When working out the ROI of your SEO campaign, you will need to analyse the success between natural SEO against a paid strategy such as PPC (pay per click advertising), for example. You will need to work out the sales growth and subtract any marketing costs, in order to analyse whether paid content marketing has been a successful investment.

Having unique, keyword-rich web content is important to drive up your organic search results and ensure you are not penalised by Google for having poor-quality content on your site. Hiring content writers who specialise in creating effective, on-brand and targeted copy is an ideal way to do this.

3. Social media metrics

Another useful way of monitoring your digital content strategy is through analysing social media metrics. Most social media platforms come with some analytics options so that you can gauge:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Buzz
  • Participation
  • Transaction
  • Advocacy

This enables you to monitor the success of your posts, videos, photos and infographics on social media and helps you see whether you need to change your tactics to achieve higher results.

'Social Media & Marketing' - Rosaura Ochoa
‘Social Media & Marketing’ – Rosaura Ochoa (Flickr)

Some social media platforms also offer more in-depth analytical tools, such as Twitter analytics and Facebook business pages which provide post stats and insights into customer demographics, as well ways to boost your posts further by paying for a wider exposure/audience imprints. If you use this option, monitoring your ROI through the available insights into post reach will be crucial. You’ll need to subtract the amount you spent from the monetary value of imprints. Again, tools such as Buzzsumo are another way to monitor your social footprint and see which posts have performed well.

4. Feedback

Qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data when it comes to measuring your content’s impact – perhaps even more so. The way in which your visitors engage with your business online through comments on your blog, social media or review sites allows you to understand how your content is coming across to new visitors and potential clients. It also allows you to step into the conversation and build relationships which are vital for a strong online presence and credibility amongst your online audience.

View negative comments in a positive light so you can change up your strategies to aim more towards your target audience. By treating any type of comment as a positive, you can make the necessary amendments to your website to gain more visitors. However, you should ensure you have a moderator who can check comments over before publishing them, in case they contain offensive, potentially harmful or spam content which, if left unchecked, could put readers off, cause damage to your brand’s reputation and eventually even impact your ROI.

5. Subscribers

If you have a video channel or blog, one way to keep a check on your success would be to see how many subscribers you are gaining on a regular basis. Building a loyal following is a good way of getting return visits to your page, with each new content piece you create. If you notice that you aren’t gaining as many subscribers as you were previously, it may be that your content just isn’t cutting it or you have new competition.

You will need to look into aspects such as the quality of your posts, the subject you are discussing or the in-depth value that visitors are looking for. Compare your most recent posts to previous posts and try and work out where the problem may be.

You can also monitor how many people subscribe to your newsletter. Use A/B testing and regularly switch up the content on your newsletter subscription page and inbound links through social media to monitor over time the content which most effectively results in signups.

6. Email statistics

One of the oldest forms of marketing is sending email newsletters to existing clients or new website visitors. One way to monitor how well your emails marketing strategies are doing would be to monitor metrics such as:

  • The number of emails opened
  • The number of emails clicked on internally
  • Conversions
  • Sender score

Through monitoring the top scores, you can use these figures to change your email marketing strategies to gain a higher success rate of sales. Use A/B testing in subject lines to see which content is more inviting to recipients. You can also do this with the time of day you send your email to see whether this has an impact on your open rate.

If you present new products or offers to your audience through emails, ensure you take these leads into account when working out your ROI. It can also help to compare how much your subscribers spend compared to those who don’t subscribe.

Do I need to measure my content marketing return on investment (ROI)?

Measuring ROI in marketing is an essential part of monitoring your success as a business. Essentially, it entails offsetting the money you have paid out on the necessary marketing strategies against revenue from these campaigns. Expenses refer to the costs of hiring marketing staff, the money put into an SEO or PPC campaign/agency, and the money invested if you hire a copywriter.

'Money' - Pictures of Money (Flickr)
‘Money’ – Pictures of Money (Flickr)

Your revenue will chiefly be in the form of sales. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge there is more than one kind of return for your efforts. While monetary value is key, so is building a position as an authority in your field, inspiring discussion and attracting/connecting with new customers – all of which may not yield immediate monetary gain but will help you benefit from customer loyalty (and ultimately sales) in the long term.

Doing this for each aspect of your strategy will show you where you are most successful. You can compare this ROI against offline marketing to gain a perspective of how successful it is for your company as a whole; however, since results from digital marketing take time to accrue, it’s important not to make any hasty conclusions.

Want to find out more about monitoring your success? Check out this helpful guide to measuring return on investment for all you need to know.

Actioning changes to improve content marketing success

Now you know how to measure content marketing success, how can you improve your content marketing strategy to maximise reach?

1. Awareness

You should keep a lookout for recent trends in your industry and amongst your target audience. This doesn’t just mean an awareness of the amount of web traffic, followers and search engine rankings but new social media platforms your customers or clients are using, what they are passionate about and how they choose to interact with businesses or organisations online.

For example, a recent survey found that over 15 million consumers turn to social media as the first point of call to find out about products and services and review the company on whether they are reliable. If your content marketing strategy is neglecting social media, you may be missing a trick when it comes to attracting new leads.

You’ll need to decide on your goals, which may include creating brand awareness, building relationships, generating leads and making those clients then take action (for example, signing up to receive a newsletter or purchasing a product). Try not to focus on too many goals at once but narrow them down so you have a better focus on how to monitor your content success.

2. Consideration

Next, you should use this awareness to consider taking new steps. Your motivation should be to allow users to engage with your content, therefore constantly reviewing and adapting your strategies. Your main goals within these sectors should focus on reach, engagement and conversion.

Reach

Your main aim should be to reach out to as many visitors, customers, followers and subscribers as possible, through non-paid and/or paid reach such as PPC. Buying your reach, whether through search engines or social media, should not be your sole emphasis. This is because long-term sustainability is developed through a loyal audience, and that relies on having great content that engages and inspires. However, your content strategy can be bolstered by paid advertising such as Google AdWords to get your great content seen by more people initially.

Engagement

Once your visitors arrive on your site, you need to impress them in order for them to engage with your landing page content. Therefore, create content which is unique, timely, informative and relevant to your audience and which will keep them returning to your site. Think: tutorials and guides, news pieces, competitions, regular updates, videos, infographics…

Conversion

Finally, you should aim to fulfil conversion. Conversion aims to turn the acknowledgement of engagement into action; for example, taking out a subscription, using a coupon code, or another form of action which entices visitors to make a move. With a clear call to action on your landing pages (such as a ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’ button) you can monitor the success of your content.

3. Getting the balance

Although it seems like a great idea to use as many forms of reach and engagement as possible, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin and risk neglecting content (and customers) in one particular area. Find out which is your strongest marketing avenue while striking the right balance to attract new customers on key platforms across the web, so you focus on building a sustainable and far-reaching customer base which helps you monitor the success of your efforts.

Crucially, ensure you know how to write great web content which is regularly refreshed and reviewed, or hire a professional copywriter who does. Once you’ve built up a cohesive web content marketing strategy, measuring its success using the techniques above is essential to understanding your position online and is the key to strengthening your marketing and outreach.

 

Image credit: Trevor King, ‘Measuring Up’

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The relationship between content marketers and graphic designers

Collaboration is key: the relationship between content marketers and graphic designers

The advertising and marketing industry is a collaborative world, and at the centre of this is the relationship between content marketers and graphic designers. Frequently working together, the two departments need to communicate in order to overcome problems that will inevitably arise during the creative process.

Copywriters and graphic designers have two distinct ways of thinking, particularly when it comes to creating content for their audience. While their thought processes may share some similarities – pragmatism; originality; creativity – there will be hurdles that need addressing at some point in many, if not all, projects.

It’s essential that these problems are overcome in order to successfully meet a brief, keeping the client and/or the audience happy. While both professions may have strong opinions about their work, collaboration is essential to effectively communicate and reach an agreeable outcome, where the copywriting and graphics complement one another seamlessly.

Why content marketers and designers must resolve their problems

Any piece of advertising or marketing material will likely comprise text and design. That’s why effective collaboration between content marketing and designers is key to producing an end product which is attuned to the needs of the target audience.

Each party should ultimately be working to the same KPIs for small business, and employing teamwork when doing so will mean there is a greater impact.

Nevertheless, each project will vary, so some degree of flexibility in approach between content marketers and designers is necessary.

For example, a financial website targeted toward older adults will likely have more copy and fewer visuals. However, to make the website more effective, a designer might include occasional visual content to explain complex topics.
On the other hand, an ad campaign aimed at young adults will have a dominant visual focus. But, you still might need elements of text written by a copywriter to get the full message across, even if it is incorporated into design work.

Even if graphic designers and content marketers don’t always work side by side, they will usually intersect at some point. In fact, 24.1% of marketers use a freelance designer to create visual content, and 30.4% use an in-house designer. Because of the high number of instances when marketers and designers must work together, they must be able to resolve any problems that come up so that the finished piece is on brief, as well as completed on time and within budget.

Problems to resolve

When copywriters work with designers, there are a number of problems that can arise. However, when these are identified, they can be swiftly resolved, leading to positive results that adhere to the brief and the successful completion of a project.

Frustrated woman on computer - Jerry Bunkers
Image credit: Jerry Bunkers

Visual vs. verbal thinking

The difference between graphic designers and copywriters/content marketers can be succinctly summarised via two modes of thought: visual versus verbal. For designers, visual thought processes take precedence. Briefs become realised through imagery. By contrast, copywriters approach briefs and projects verbally, taking a communicative approach as wordsmiths. The success of these modes of thought is based on alternative digital marketing metrics, which can lead to further disparity.

Consequently, achieving an outcome that satisfies both copywriter and designer can be challenging. For copywriters, text is likely to be most important, in order to effectively relay the necessary details and benefits of a product or service persuasively. Designers, on the other hand, will naturally prefer to convey a concept through imagery.

This does not mean that the two modes of thought cannot cooperate, though. Visual and verbal thinking can work in tandem to produce a balanced result.

“A good art director or copywriter can magnify the power of their ideas by overlapping their skill sets with the skill sets of the other,” said Michele Kamenar in a Speckyboy article. “To pit them against each other totally misses the point and can even compromise the strength of the idea they are trying to pitch.”

The key to tackling this issue is simple: communication. How much text is practical? Where could images work well? Are there certain details that would be too difficult to try and create as images, or is there content that would be particularly effective as an illustration? Is audience understanding achieved more easily via words for a particular section, or would it be simpler to use an image?

Infographics are a strong example of where these questions have been asked and implemented to produce strong results for both parties. As 65% of the population are visual learners, infographics appeal to a large audience, while breaking down copywriting into easily digestible chunks helps with information absorption. This is particularly effective for complex topics, especially those involving statistics.

The balance between visual and verbal is also dependent on the type of content involved. Blog posts will naturally be primarily verbal, with visual aids assisting understanding. Conversely, posts for social media are likely to grab readers through strong visuals, with copywriting clarifying certain areas. By working harmoniously, a balanced result can be easily achieved.

Visual vs. content knowledge

It’s a given that graphic designers and copywriters/content marketers have a sound understanding of their respective fields. However, they may only have an elementary understanding of the other’s profession, based on their collaborative work. This limits the design aspect of a brief to purely the designer, whereas the content aspect is restricted to the copywriter/content marketer.

Potential problems can arise precisely because of this. Even if both have their best intentions at heart in order to effectively meet the brief, making suggestions regarding work outside of their profession could be, at best, patronizing; at worst, a source of conflict that could cause deadline delays.

Respect is therefore integral to getting the job done. Again, communication is essential to combine the two areas of expertise – more importantly, the ability to listen. This doesn’t mean meeting their ideas with a wall of silence; it means making suggestions that have room for an open response and honest opinion. Statements such as “I think this would be better if…” or “I have an idea for…” invite discussion, as opposed to announcing ideas with a command, such as “We should…”. Teamwork is of paramount importance.

Deadlines

The demands of client work dictate the length of time designers and copywriters can commit to a brief. This can become particularly pressurised when deadlines overrun, or even when they’re shortened, as indicated by the command of “I need this right now” from a colleague.

All content production takes time. Both graphic designers and copywriters need a period to jot down and play around with ideas before committing to one route and doing the appropriate research, content creation, edit(s) and review.

Image credit: Daniel Novta, 'tictac'
Image credit: Daniel Novta

According to freelance graphic designer Janie Kliever, some of the worst things someone can say to a creative include “Can you have this done by tomorrow?” and “Can I get you to do something really quick?”. More often than not, a designer/copywriter will have a packed schedule where they need to meet multiple briefs per week. It’s essential that other agency roles, such as content strategists, respect the timescale needed to do something “really quick” – just as graphic designers and copywriters need to appreciate that the combination of their respective ideas takes time.

With this in mind, setting estimates is an important way to gauge content creation. If a designer estimates that an infographic will take them four hours, the copywriter needs to give them space to commit to this project, and contribute their opinion afterwards, when the environment is less pressured. Similarly, if a copywriter establishes that developing slogans is going to take them an hour for the initial brainstorm, the designer needs to be patient before weighing in on the brand/company in question. Naturally, different forms of content are going to require different time allocations, so this needs to be borne in mind.

“Designers are good at giving estimates and will let you know how much time they need if you ask,” Kliever said in an article. The same is true for copywriters. It’s a case of discussion, awareness and respect for the other’s work process. Key to this is being reasonable with expectations – schedules can’t simply be opened up for one request. If it’s going to take a copywriter two weeks to develop an amount of content, then the designer must work round that timescale, and vice versa.

At particularly busy times of the year, outsourcing may be a solution. Online copywriting services can facilitate this, giving an internal copywriter the time to commence with other projects, and designers time to receive the copy they need to progress with the visuals.

Content creation ability

Naturally, all designers and copywriters/content marketers have their limitations in terms of ability. Making the relevant professionals aware of this is essential, as if a copywriter has an idea as to how the visuals should look, then this needs to be discussed in collaboration with the design department to ensure it’s feasible and not too time-consuming.

Similarly, if a copywriter has a heavy workload, the designer needs to ensure that they can create content that fits the brief without being dependent on the copywriting department. This is also true the opposite way round. Being open to compromise is essential: the end result may not be exactly as initially imagined by the copywriter and/or graphic designer, but if it fits the brief in question and the content is created within the timescale available to a high enough standard, then this needs to be accepted by both parties in order to progress with further projects.

Finding solutions

While there may be periods where communication between copywriters/content marketers is difficult, the goal is an end result that meets the brief to the standards the agency is looking for, and within the agreed deadline. Despite the alternate thought processes and modes of content creation, copywriting and design are intrinsically linked, and collaboration and open, clear communication can comfortably achieve an excellent result.

By keeping compromise in mind, as well as realistic expectations and idea discussion, copywriters and designers can form an effective, strong working relationship.

 

Author Bio: Kaylee Riley is a content writer for Patriot Software, LLC and Top Echelon, LLC. Kaylee writes about payroll, accounting, recruiting, and other small business topics.

Image credit: Rawpixel.com, ‘Man and woman using electronic device’

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Drive more traffic with this simple, 4 step SEO content audit

Continually reviewing and improving your on-site content is an integral part of any SEO campaign. In this post, I’m going to show you how you can keep on top of things by providing a step-by-step guide for auditing your pages, identifying what’s working and what isn’t and targeting areas for improvement.

Step 1: Gather your site’s content using Screaming Frog

In order to perform an effective SEO content audit on your site, you’ll first have to gather all of your content. The best way to do this is to download Screaming Frog, which will scan your site’s URLs and analyse pages from an SEO perspective, saving you browsing through each page manually.

After Screaming Frog has completed its crawl through your site – this could take a few minutes, depending on how much content your site contains – filter as necessary and export the URLs and page titles you want to check to a spreadsheet; leaving plenty of columns free – you’ll need these to add the ‘SEO data points’ that you’re going to be analysing later.

There are many different data points you could consider. In his guide for Quicksprout, Neil Patel recommends creating columns for:

  • URLs
  • Date Audited
  • Title
  • Description
  • Content
  • Keyword
  • Alt Tags
  • Last Updated
  • Internal Links

Feel free to add and delete columns as appropriate.

ScreamingFrog (2)

Step 2: Pull in data from Google Analytics to work out what you’re doing well

For the next step, you’ll need to sign in to Google Analytics. Navigate to ‘All Pages’ (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages in the toolbar) so you can obtain a list of your site’s most popular pages. As Patel highlights, “this will help you audit your most important pages first… [giving] you results as soon as possible.” Narrow or expand your dataset using the filters and, when you’re happy with the selection, export to a new page in your spreadsheet.

You should now have a list of your content, in descending order in terms of performance, with the following data: page views, average time on page, entrances, bounce rate, and exit percentage. Kristi Hines suggests doing this so you get an insight into what you’re doing right on your top performing content; you can then apply this to the rest of the pages you’re auditing or optimise further.

GA (1)

Step 3: Analysing your pages

Now comes the difficult part: going through each page on your site in order to determine its effectiveness. There’s no quickfire way of doing this, you’ll simply have to trawl through each page, analysing content in terms of the ‘SEO data points’ mentioned earlier and make a record of how each page performs – several sources, including DynoMapper, recommend grading content on an A to F scale, with pages ranked ‘A’ being the very best and requiring little improvement and those awarded D, E, or F meriting action, which I’ll come to later.

As a minimum, you should analyse the following:

Page titles and URLs – Page titles and URLs should be unique, containing a maximum of 65 characters and, ideally, the keyword you’re targeting on that page.

Page description – If you’re using WordPress as your CMS, download Yoast’s excellent SEO plugin to make the auditing process easier. The plugin flags up missing aspects of your on-page SEO with a red light, so you should easily be able to edit your auditing spreadsheet accordingly. Page descriptions should be 160 characters or fewer, and should adequately convey to your audience what your content is about.

  • Content – Check each piece of content to determine if it’s relevant and insightful to your audience, grammatically flawless and well laid-out.
  • Keywords – Content should contain a selection of your targeted long-tail keywords, so ensure you have this information to hand at this stage of the auditing process.
  • Alt tags

 – Images should be under 100KB to minimise page loading times, but alt text should also be filled out. Remember: search engines can’t ‘look at’ an image the way humans do, so you need to tell the bots what’s included in the picture with a descriptive tag containing relevant keywords.
  • Internal links – Content should contain at least three links to other pages or blogs on your site, as well as external links, if possible.

If your page is missing any of the above, make sure you flag it up in the corresponding column of your spreadsheet. Moz’s exhaustive guide lists other aspects of your content you can examine for SEO, but how far you go is up to you.

Step 4: Actioning the changes required

The whole SEO content auditing process is worthless if you don’t take any actions to remedy the faults you’ve found. 

Remember the rating scale we talked about before? A good starting point in terms of recommended actions would be to either rewrite, remove, or optimise any pages which scored a D or less. The elements in Step 3 are fairly easy to change (if your page is lacking a meta description, include one, fix any broken links or images etc.); just remember that, if you’re removing pages or changing URLs, you should redirect the user accordingly.

Set yourself a deadline to implement the changes, and also outline the date you’re going to perform your next audit, so you can deduce how effective the process has been. As long as you’ve been thorough, and you’ve done what you said you would, you should see results.

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