SEO content optimization tips

how to do content optimization and content optimization website and expert search engine optimization
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ErrolFord,France,Professional
Published Date:03-08-2017
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Content Overview One of the most important elements of any web site is the content on that site. And content optimization is no easy task. It requires an understanding of what content draws users and how they interact with that content. To truly understand how content optimization affects your site, you need some metrics to tell you how each aspect of the content performs. How does the content on your web site affect your trafc fi patterns? Does it lead users to the site? Does it drive users to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, or fill out a form that you have on the site? Is there content on your site that performs better than you expect it to? These are all questions the reports in this section can answer. The content on your site—the content users land on when they arrive—plays a big role in how long users stay and how much deeper into the site they go. If you have an e-commerce site, there might be a natural driver that pushes users deeper. Maybe users come to your site because you have a great price on laptop computers. But how is your content going to direct users once they land there? If you do the content well, you might be able to drive additional sales or create return users. The only way you’re going to know if your content is done well is to analyze the metrics associated with how users use your site. The reports in this section will show you exactly that. What you do with that information determines just how useful it is for you. 323 324 Part IVn The Reports Determining the Value of Web-Site Content People who own content-only web sites but don’t sell actual products often assume that their content has no value. Even people who have e-commerce sites may assume that the content on their site is of little value. What’s important, they may feel, are the products that sell and create a stream of revenue. That assumption would be wrong, however. Content is one of the most important drivers for your web site. It’s one of the reasons so many different types of content—articles, blogs, newsletters, podcasts, training videos—have become so popular on the Web. People want information, and they want it in a variety of ways, depending on what they’re looking for. That’s what makes determining the value of your web-site content so very important. You can even go so far as to assign a monetary value to the content, which is something you learned about in Chapter 11. Now, however, we’re just going to focus on what content interests your site visitor. That content is of value to you, because it results in visits and stickiness, or the quality of visitors staying on your site longer. The longer visitors stay, the more likely they are to make a purchase or to return to the site in the future. But how do you determine which pieces of your content are most valuable? The answer is in the metrics, which Google Analytics provides through both the Content Overview report and the other reports in the content section. Each report tells you something a little different about each piece of content you’re tracking. And when you take those different facts as a whole, you can see a pat- tern that points to what users want, and to what doesn’t interest them. Content Overview The Content Overview report, like all the overviews you’ve seen to this point, is a bigger-picture look at your different content metrics. The report, shown in Figure 17-1, gives you a quick glance at the number of page views and unique views, and the bounce rate. But there is also a report module for Top Content, which we’ll look at a little more closely later in this chapter, and links to addi- tional information including Navigation Analysis, Landing Page Optimization, and Click Patterns. Most of the report links in the Content Overview report actually lead deeper into some aspects of the Content reports. For example, when you click Navigational Summary you’re taken to a sub-report for the Top Content report section. However, this is the only way you can get to that particular report. If you were to click Top Content the report you’d see would differ greatly from the Navigational Summary. Chapter 17n Content Overview 325 Figure 17-1: The Content Overview shows the most important data on your content. Here’s a closer look at the subsections for the Content Overview report. Navigation Analysis Understanding how your site visitors navigate your site can give you insight into what catches and holds their attention and what doesn’t. The links in the Navigational Analysis section of this report take you to Top Content sub-reports, which are designed to show you a little more about how your visitors navigate your site. Where your visitors come into your site, where they leave it, and what they do while there are all clues to what they want from your site. When you know the path a user is taking, it’s easier to determine that user’s final destination. Navigational Summary The Navigation Summary report, shown in Figure 17-2, shows you how often the given web page was an entrance page, what pages were viewed before this page, how many visitors left your site from this page, how often visitors exited your site from this page, and what pages were viewed after this page. 326 Part IVn The Reports Figure 17-2: The Navigation Summary shows how the page fits into the path users took through your site. By default the page shown is your main web page (your index page or the page that ends with /). You can, however, change this setting to reflect the navigation summary of any page on your web site. Use the Content drop-down menu, shown in Figure 17-3, to select a different page on your site or to search for a page if it is not included in the drop-down menu. You are also not limited to just navigation data. You can choose to view the data through other standard filters as well: n■ Content Detail n■ Entrance Paths n■ Entrance Sources n■ Entrance Keywords These filters are available through the Analyze menu, shown in Figure 17-4, and they enable you to see different details for the pages of your web site. Once you have these reports, they can give you a picture of how your users come into, navigate through, and then leave your web site. They also provide additional detail about the way users use your site. This all gives you a clearer picture of what works for your visitors. It will also point out, in no uncertain terms, which pages don’t work. Chapter 17n Content Overview 327 Use the content drop-down menu to view the Navigation Summary for a different web page. Figure 17-3: Examine navigation data for any page on the site using the Content menu. Analyze additional content data. Figure 17-4: Use the Analyze menu to see navigation data that’s filtered differently. 328 Part IVn The Reports You can then use this information to further hone your page styles and con- tent until you have successful pages throughout your site. Combining what you learn from analyzing this data with what you learn from analyzing other data (such as the e-commerce data or goals data) should give you a clear picture of how users use your web site. Entrance Paths An entrance path is quite literally the page on which a user enters your site. For example, most web sites have a high entrance path that starts at the page whose name ends with a slash (/), as inwww.JerriLedford.com/. Another fre- quent entrance page is labeled/index.html (as inwww.JerriLedford.com/index .html). In both cases, this is where users jump onto the site, and in both cases that’s usually because they type the web site’s address directly into the address bar of their web browser (in some cases, the number of visits to these main pages can be attributed to search engine referrals). The Entrance Paths report, shown in Figure 17-5, illustrates where visitors came onto your site and where they went from there. In the Content drop-down menu you can choose any page that you’re tracking as a starting point. In Figure 17-5 the start page is the main index page. From that page, users visited the pages in the list (labeled “Then viewed these pages”). You can then select each page in that column to find out where visitors went from there (in the “And ended up here” column). Figure 17-5: Use the Entrance Paths report to learn where visitors started and ended. Chapter 17n Content Overview 329 This information helps you g fi ure out where your visitors enter and exit your site, but it also does more. For example, if the majority of your visitors come into your site via your main page (the page denoted by a slash) and also leave from that page, what does that tell you? To me, it would say there are a high number of bounces on that main page, and that it needs to be made more ree fl ctive of the topic you want users to see. So if your site is showing as a search result for ice skates when you actually sell skating c fi tion, you need to make it much clearer that your site is about content related to skating, not about ice skates as products. Then when users find your content through a search engine, they’ll actually find what they’re looking for. Landing Page Optimization Landing pages are the pages that site visitors land on when they come to your site. This is important, because you may have a different landing page for each cam- paign you’re running. It’s essential that you track all the pages and see which perform the best in terms of stickiness and keeping your visitors on your site. Landing-page optimization is an industry all its own. You can find hundreds (or thousands) of articles about the best way to optimize your landing pages to ensure that the right visitors find your site and stay there once they find it. A first impression is important and you want it to be the best possible. That’s where the reports in the Landing Page Optimization section come in handy. The Entrance Sources and Entrance Keywords reports give you some insight into what’s drawing visitors to your site. And knowing what gets them there might make it easier for you to decide how to satisfy the need that leads those visitors to you. Entrance Sources Entrance sources differ from entrance paths in that sources are where the trafc fi comes to your site from and paths are where the trafc fi on your site starts. Of course, the Entrance Path is just the first page in the navigational path that a user might take through your site. But that trafc fi has to come from somewhere, and that’s what the Entrance Source is. The Entrance Sources report, shown in Figure 17-6, shows what sources sent trafc fi to each page of your site. By default the data for the main site page is displayed, but you can change that setting using the Content drop-down menu. 330 Part IVn The Reports Figure 17-6: The Entrance Sources report shows where users came to each page from. Entrance Keywords The Entrance Keywords report, shown in Figure 17-7, is similar to the Entrance Sources report, except that here you see which keywords led visitors to your site. This information is helpful when you’re looking at the keywords that seem to work for your site. For example, if you find that the keywords included in the top positions on this report are organic keywords, then you know that you’re spending money unnecessarily on paid keywords that aren’t as effective as you need them to be. As with the other reports that you’ve seen in this chapter, you can use the Content drop-down menu to see what keywords draw visitors to other pages on your web site as well. Click Patterns The Click Patterns heading contains a link to only one report: the Site Overlay report. The Site Overlay report shows you navigational information directly on your web page. For now, it’s enough for you to know that this report can give you detailed information about how users click through your content. For more detailed information about this report, including screenshots that show you what it looks like, keep reading. It’s covered near the end of this chapter. Chapter 17n Content Overview 331 Figure 17-7: The Entrance Keywords report shows which keywords bring in the most traffic. Additional Content Reports As useful as the Content Overview is, especially with all the sub-reports that it leads you to, there’s still much more you can learn about the content on your web site. Google Analytics supplies additional reports in the navigation links on the left side of the page. Each of those links leads to a different report that you can use to learn even more about the content on your web site. Top Content In many cases the top content on your site (the page your users came to directly most often) will be your front page—also called your index page. This is usually the first page that users see when they type your URL directly into the address bar on their web browsers. But that’s not so in every case. If you’re running a marketing campaign that pushes users to a page that’s deeper in the site, that could be your top content. The only way to know for sure is to look at the Top Content report, shown in Figure 17-8. 332 Part IVn The Reports Figure 17-8: The Top Content report shows the pages users came to directly most often. In this report, content pages are listed according to how frequently they were visited. You’ll also find measurements for the number of page views for each page, the average time users spent on that page, the percentage of exits, and the value index. This last measurement (the value index) helps you see what content is leading visitors to goal conversions, and this will come in handy later when you’re tracking your funnel-navigation process. Another measurement on this report to which you want to pay special atten- tion is the percentage of exits for each page. If you have a page that seems to have an unusually high number of exits, the content on that page could be the reason visitors are leaving. If you can use this report to locate the pages where you’re losing visitors, you can change or update those pages in an effort to improve stickiness. You may also want to make note of the average time users spend on each page. There’s no guideline that says users should spend x amount of time on each page, but obviously some (such as content pages) will require more time to view than others. You have to g fi ure a baseline for your site using the measure- ments available to you. Then if you decide that, on average, users should spend a minute and a half to two minutes on each page, and you find you have a page (or pages) on which users spend less than a minute, you know you should analyze it to find out why users are clicking through (or worse, exiting at) that page. Chapter 17n Content Overview 333 Of course, each of these measurements alone is valuable only for that mea- surement. When you look at them as a whole, however, you begin to see a larger picture—such as how many users are exiting a page after only 15 seconds or how many users are clicking through a page after two minutes to make a large purchase or complete some other goal you’ve established. These traffic patterns give you insight into the minds of your users. Use them to improve goal conversions and sales through your site, and to funnel visitors to the pages that you consider most important in reaching those conversions or sales. Content by Title Another way to view the trafc fi to your site is with the Content by Title report. This report, shown in Figure 17-9, shows the value of your web pages by page title, using the same measurements as before: page views, unique views, aver- age time spent on the page, bounce rate, percentage of exits that occur on the page, and value of goal conversions that result from the page. Figure 17-9: The Content by Title report shows content metrics by title, not URL. It’s not at all unusual to see a page that has not only the highest number of page visits but also the highest number of exits. It’s just naturally the way visitors 334 Part IVn The Reports tend to come and go from a site. However, if you happen to notice that a page with a low number of visits has the highest percentage of exits, you know that there’s likely some kind of problem with that page and it needs to be changed or updated in some way. The most important factor for you to know about this report is that page titles are determined by HTML titles. In the design of your page there was probably some titling algorithm that set the HTML tagging and titling for the page. It’s also possible that you set the titling manually. Either way, that’s what is used to classify the page for this report. Here’s the catch: if you happen to have mul- tiple pages with the same HTML title, those pages are going to be counted as a single page for measurement purposes. (It’s possible to tinker with the HTML to separate them, but your skills have to be pretty sharp.) So while these measurements are useful, they can be a little deceiving in their presentation. However, as long as you remember that each of these measure- ments could feature more than one page, you should be able to use the informa- tion to determine where you need to change or improve your content. Content Drilldown How is your web site designed? Do you have pages that have subpages? Maybe you have a page on your site that includes articles about issues related to the products on your site. And on that page maybe there are links to past articles. Those past articles are probably located on subpages. So how do you know if those pages are of any value to your site at all? Another consideration to keep in mind when looking at this report is the pages of dynamic content that might exist on your web site. When you think of dynamic content you probably think of things such as articles or blogs—content that changes frequently. But that has nothing to do with dynamic content here. Most blogs are actually static pages—pages pre-built and stored in their final form on the web server—which were created on submission of individual entries. Dynamic content refers to pages for which one file may be associated with multiple pages of content. Dynamic pages are built on the y fl with a technology such as PHP, ASP, or JavaServer Pages (JSP). These technologies use variables in the URL, called page-query terms, to dictate what content goes together to form the finished page. Site-search and catalogue functions are generally dynamic pages. Other sites implement dynamic pages for various other reasons. Dynamic pages present unique tracking challenges because what differenti- ates one dynamic page from another is not the file name, but the query term or combination of terms. The Content Drilldown report, shown in Figure 17-10, shows how each of your pages performs, and whether that page is considered dynamic content or static content (which is content that rarely, if ever, changes). Chapter 17n Content Overview 335 Figure 17-10: The Content Drilldown report shows how valuable subpages are. For every page that you’re shown in this report, there is a set of measure- ments that includes the unique views and pages, the average time spent on the page, the percent of visitors who exited from that page, and the value of pages that are commonly visited before a high-value conversion during that visit. The conversion could be a sale or another type of goal conversion, depending on how you have your conversion goals set up. You can also click each page title to see more detailed information about the visits to that page. The purpose of this information is much the same as the purpose of the Top Content report. Use it to determine which pages need to be changed or updated and which pages work well, as indicated by visits, goal conversions, and the value of those conversions. Top Landing Pages As we’ve discussed before, a bounce occurs when a visitor arrives on a page and immediately leaves. It differs from an exit, which refers just to the page from which the visitor left the site, possibly after visiting other pages. A bounce means “Did not visit another page. Did not collect 200.” For the purposes of this report (and only this report) a visit, a visitor, and a page view are pretty much all the same thing (subject to the caveats about counting unique visitors and the length-of-visit limitation discussed in Chapter 7). 336 Part IVn The Reports The Top Landing Pages report, shown in Figure 17-11, illustrates how often visitors entered your page through a specic fi page and how often they bounced right back off your site from that page. Figure 17-11: The Top Landing Pages report shows where visitors landed—and bounced. Bounce rates can show how effective a particular page is. For example, in Figure 17-11, the top landing page on the site (which also happens to be the main page) has the most bounces. The bad news is that about 62 percent of the visitors who arrive on this page also leave immediately. The good news is that at least some of those people were looking for the information on the front page of the web site. Having found what they wanted, they left. That’s not a bad thing. Giving visitors what they’re looking for is what a content site is supposed to do. However, the main page also has another specic fi goal—to lure visitors deeper into the site. And the bounce rate ree fl cted in this report shows that’s not hap- pening in about 62 percent of the cases. This could indicate that your site is classified wrong in search results, which could mean you need to retag the site, or it could mean that you need to reconsider how you see your site versus how visitors see it. If I haven’t made this point enough, I’ll say it again: it’s important to remem- ber that you can’t look at Google Analytics’ metrics in isolation from other Chapter 17n Content Overview 337 information about your business. As capable as Google Analytics is, it’s still a medium-tier product. It won’t function like a high-end (read: expensive) analyt- ics package. You’re going to have to use your head when applying data—such as bounce rates—to an analysis of your site. Analytics won’t do everything for you, and sometimes understanding what the metrics mean requires a little experimentation on your part. Top Exit Pages While knowing where visitors arrive is important, so is knowing where they’re leaving from. You’ll note that it’s fairly common for your busiest pages overall to also be the busiest from the entrance and exit standpoints. In Figure 17-12 you can see this effect. Unlike with the entrance pages, you can’t assume that each page view on the Exits report represents a visitor. A visitor could load the page, then wander off deeper into the site and eventually wander back. However, because you can assume each page view here represents a visitor in the Entrance Pages report, you can do interesting things with the Exits report. You can isolate how many visits ended on a particular page when it’s not the first and last page visited. Figure 17-12: The Top Exit Pages report shows the pages from which visitors leave most often. 338 Part IVn The Reports For example, let’s say SkateFic’s index page is ranked number two in exits and in bounces. Each entrance is a page view, so subtract entrances from page views for that line. So, if SkateFic has 3,575 page views and 2,086 entrances, the equation would look like this: 3,575 – 2,086 = 1,489 What this tells you is how many page views came from visitors who had come in from other parts of the site. Now, assume that SkateFic has 1,243 bounces and 1,824 exits. Technically speaking, bounces are exits, so subtract Bounces from Exits to remove duplicate exit counts. 1,824 – 1,243 = 581 This indicates how many of the visits entering from other parts of the site left once they hit this page. That in itself is an interesting metric, but it means more if you translate the two new figures to a percentage. 581/1489 = .39 or 39% So overall, while 51 percent of page views mark the end of a visit and 60 percent of new visitors leave from there immediately, only 39 percent of visits that include other pages leave from here. To put it another way: Once visitors get into the site they are much less likely to leave from this page. For the homepage (which SkateFic.com is), it may not mean much, but this kind of additional analysis can be helpful for other pages, such as those involved in the sales process. Site Overlay Sometimes it’s easier to understand a complex set of metrics if you draw a pic- ture. That’s exactly what the Site Overlay is. Each page of your web site has an overlay, and on the overlay are small boxes, one for each link on the page. If you click a box you get an overview of information for that link. But the point is that you can see at a glance how the various links on a single page are performing compared to one another. Figure 17-13 shows the Site Overlay for one of Jerri’s web pages. As you can see, most of the small boxes show little or no activity. However, one of the boxes, shown in Figure 17-14, seems to be responsible for all the trafc fi . And when you hover your pointer over that box you get a quick view of some of the most important metrics for that link. That view includes the number of clicks for that link and the goal value for the link (that is, the revenue it generates). Chapter 17n Content Overview 339 Figure 17-13: The Site Overlay report shows how many clicks each link gets. Hover the pointer over a data box to display overlay information. Figure 17-14: The quality of your links is displayed in the pop-up box. So essentially the Site Overlay illustrates very clearly what links on your page are performing, and how well. It’s a graphic representation of where users are taking action on your pages. 340 Part IVn The Reports And One More… There’s one additional report in the content section that you’re probably going to be interested in. It’s the Site Search report. But we’re not going to get into it in this chapter, because it’s pretty involved. Instead we’ll cover it in the next chapter, so flip on over whenever you’re ready. We’re all done here.