1. Currentness: If your content is outdated, it should either be updated or made explicit. For example, with an article like “The 5 Best Coffee Grinders” you could either update it yearly or add a year to the title (e.g., “The 5 Best Coffee Grinders of 2019”).
- If you encounter articles that are outdated and cannot be updated, consider removing them from the site rather than letting them linger. Removing index bloat can help improve your site’s overall ranking.
2. Photos: Add high-quality images throughout each article. Try to make sure they appear cohesive (i.e., all in the same general style). Be sure to optimize your images for search by including both alt text and a photo caption; make the alt text and caption different and rich—these are two places to capitalize on keywords. Filling out this information will help Google “see” your image as it crawls through your code.
- When creating photo galleries, add a title and caption to the whole gallery. This is better for both the reader and Google.
- Include a promo image and alt text for each article. (This is especially important for video articles, where the promo image is what will show up as the video thumbnail.)
- Where possible, consider adding infographics. For more information, check out Maven’s Best Practices for Infographics.
3. Headers: Add relevant headers (H2) and subheaders (H3 and H4) to give articles structure and capitalize on keywords. Here’s more on optimizing keywords.
- Here’s a great example of H2/H3 nesting on PetHelpful: 10 Helpful Tips for How to Find a Lost or Missing Cat.
4. Organization: When organizing content, think of the inverted pyramid; the answer to readers queries (e.g., the title and headers) should appear immediately after the relevant title/header. The vast majority of the time, online readers don’t want to follow the same patterns as paper-and-ink readers, where the story builds to a climax; they want the answer right away (and if they don’t get it, they’ll likely click back and find it elsewhere).
5. Paragraph Length: Try to keep paragraphs to 5–6 lines to reduce walls of text on mobile. To check how your article appears on mobile,
- Control click on the article page.
- Click “Inspect”.
- Click the small mobile/desktop icon on the top row of tabs (see screenshot below).
6. Layout: Implement bulleting, numbering, and tables wherever possible to improve the visual look of the page, provide Google with easy Featured Snippet content, and help readers skim.
- For tables, include a source name and link (the name of the source will be hyperlinked). Including sources helps boost E-A-T.
- For more on how a page’s layout can affect SEO, check out Maven’s Article Structure and SEO Video Series.
7. Videos: Embed relevant content (e.g., YouTube videos) where it makes sense throughout the article. These videos will help increase time on page. (Note that embedded videos won’t autoplay, but that this is not usually a strong deterrent for readers.)
- If you have a YouTube channel, be sure to use smart SEO practices (e.g., easy-to-understand titles with good keywords, comprehensive descriptions, etc.); this will make it easier for Google to crawl your embedded content.
8. Rich Terms: Include specific rich terms in your article. Rich terms live in the HTML code and indicate the main topics of the video/article/etc. and better help Google see and crawl that content. They also appear as tags at the bottom of your article.
- If the article/video/etc. already has rich terms but they’re vague or unrelated, make them more specific so that it’s easier for Google to understand them.
9. Quotes: Use block quotes to add structure to the page (e.g., fun facts, quotes, etc.). These can also add authoritativeness (e.g., a quote from a well-respected financial analyst).
10. Dek and Meta Description: Make sure your dek is different from your meta description. While you can copy/paste this information, it’s better to have two good options for Google to choose from. And as with alt text and captions, these are two places to capitalize on different keywords or keyword phrases. This is just one of the many ways you can optimize your post for search.
11. SEO Title: Include an SEO title as well as a regular title. This way, a fun, clever title (within reason!) can be used as the H1, while a savvy, SEO-friendly title can be used as the meta title. The SEO title (“meta title”) will show up in search results and take priority when Google crawls the page. That said, in the end, Google chooses which title it thinks is best for the searcher. The vast majority of the time it chooses your meta title, but on some rare occasions the meta title will fail to appear on search and the H1 will be used instead. That’s why having two good title options is important.
12. Sourcing: Add sources to any YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content. This will help establish E-A-T, both for readers and for Google.
13. Proofread! For a deeper understanding of Maven’s best practices when it comes to grammar, punctuation, formatting, and layout, check out the Maven Online Writing Style Guide.
To learn more about how editing your preexisting content can help boost and sustain your traffic, check out Maven’s webinar on Growth by Editing.