Training Programs

Using the Mequoda SEO Scorecard to Optimize Your Posts (Steps 1-9)

18 steps to getting your content to rank well in the search engines

18-Step Mequoda SEO Scorecard

Kim Mateus:
Now we’re going to get into the scorecard. Steps three through 20, if you will, are right within this 18-step scorecard, and we’re going to walk through each one to show you what it looked like before, and how we optimized it. All right. So, here’s the post, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and Power in Negotiation.

SEO Post Audit Exercise

SEO Audit Step #1: Does the post title include the targeted keyword (KCI of .5 or above if possible) from the keyword universe?

SEO Audit Step 1

Kim Mateus:
Step number one was post title. Does the post title include the targeted keyword from the keyword universe? In this case, it did. So, they got the 15 points on that one, and it had the right KCI.

SEO Audit Step #2: Does the subhead include the targeted keyword, plus a secondary keyword if possible?

SEO Audit Step 2

Kim Mateus:
The next one was on the post subhead. Does the subhead include the targeted keyword plus its secondary keyword if possible? And the answer was no, they hadn’t written a subhead. So, our solution was to write a subhead. And as you can see, we snuck two keyword phrases in there. We repeated the primary one, which was the self-fulfilling prophecies, and we added negotiator. And I would say, Amanda, when you’re writing subheads, it’s always the same, you always try to get the primary keyword phrase that you’re targeting in that subhead, right? Is that kind of a rule that you always follow?

Amanda MacArthur:
Yep, that’s the rule, we always get it in the subhead.

Kim Mateus:
Okay. Headline and sub, and then when possible, even both in the headline and in the sub, you add in a secondary keyword phrase if it’s natural and fits.

Amanda MacArthur:
Yeah, if it’s natural and the secondary one, and we’ll also try to use it in the different section heads throughout the post too if we have them.

Kim Mateus:
Yeah, like as an example, if this was like, Five Self-Fulfilling Prophecies to Avoid Whatever, it’s like, self-fulfilling prophecy number one, self-fulfilling prophecy number two. It’s a good way, the whole listicle thing is a good way to get those keyword phrases in without it looking obnoxious to the reader, because that’s the other thing is like, it’s always a balance, right? You are writing for the reader and Google, but Google wants it to be natural, it doesn’t… One of the violations, of courses, is to stop. So, that is part of what you’ve got to pay attention to is achieving that balance.

Amanda MacArthur:
Exactly. Try to do it as naturally as possible.

SEO Audit Step #3-5: Is the article more than 300 words, more than 500 words, or more than 800 words?

SEO Audit Step 3-5

Kim Mateus:
Okay. Steps three through five are all about post links. We mentioned that the original post that we audited several years back was only 335 words. So, pretty much on the short side. So, we expanded that pretty significantly, added more depth to the post. Anything to add here, Amanda, about how, I’m sure this is something you probably ran into a lot in the beginning when you were trying to get all of their blockbusters to be in compliance, is there any tips for adding depth to posts? Because you’re just adding words to add words, right? They’ve got to be relevant and helpful, just like research, right? Just additional research on the topic.

Amanda MacArthur:
Yeah, additional research, there’s also a lot of updating too. For example, a lot of Program on Negotiations articles are news articles, and so, we have to go in and tweak certain parts to update it too if they’re talking about a case that was from 10 years ago or five years ago, we have to say, “Oh, has something changed?” Sometimes the post would have said, “Last week,” or, “Last month,” we have to make those updates. And then in terms of adding word count, we actually will source from across the site and try to excerpt from other articles as well to beef it up if they’re relevant, if it needs more definition to it. And so, we excerpt a little bit too to fill that word count.

Kim Mateus:
Yeah, that’s a great tip and solution for that. And then you’re getting the benefits and other step in the scorecard, which is the whole hyperlinking thing, right? If you’re going into your own content to beef up other content, I mean, you can link to it, right?

Amanda MacArthur:
Yep, yep.

SEO Audit Step #6: Are there at least 3 hyperlinks from additional proximity keywords to other content?

SEO Audit Step 6

Kim Mateus:
Okay. Related content links, that’s basically the next one. So, are there at least three hyperlinks from additional proximity keywords to other content? And that’s something that the original post did not have. So, we basically added proximity phrases and hyperlinks, negotiating styles, negotiation techniques, and negotiator. And I think what you just described is a great way to achieve this, but what else? What other tips do you use to try… I mean, obviously as the editor, you become more and more familiar with the content as you go on, and you might just remember, “Oh, we have a great post on this,” is there anything else that… kind of any other tips that help you to figure out how to go about doing the hyperlinking in the best way?

Amanda MacArthur:
Yeah, I think if you’re familiar with your content, you’ll probably just naturally say, “Oh, I know we have a post about this,” but what we tend to do is we try to, as I mentioned, we’re linking to different proximity pages. And so, I have a list in the back of my head of different posts that are more definitional, so, if they’re not familiar with a phrase, for example, it might be good to link to a post that’s more definitional about that phrase. And so, that’s how I go about it.

Kim Mateus:
Makes sense. Excellent. Okay.

SEO Audit Step #7: Is the targeted keyword in the first 100 words of the article?

SEO Audit Step 7

Kim Mateus:
Number seven is asking if the targeted word is in the first 100 words of the article. In this, they had that correct from the start, right? So, it’s headline, subhead, and first 100 words is key for that primary phrase that you’re targeting.

SEO Audit Step #8: Is the keyword density on the targeted keyword phrase between 1 and 3%?

SEO Audit Step 8

Kim Mateus:
Next is keyword density. This is the whole idea of having a balance and not trying to stuff. And between one and 3% is key. So, in this particular case, they hit that just fine. They used it twice. They only had 335 words. So, that was a good balance. Obviously, with the longer phrases, you’d have to use it a few more times, but what else do you think about, Amanda, when you’re targeting this? And isn’t it right that, like we use, Haven is on WordPress, and we use the Yoast plugin right back there, does that help you with this?

Amanda MacArthur:
Yeah, the use of plugin is pretty helpful because it’ll tell you if you should add the keyword in more or less. I think I just keep in the back of my mind, I know if it’s about an 800-ish word post that usually if a keyword’s used about five times in 800 words, as long as it has three or more words in the phrase, that’s usually a good density, ends up being a good density.

SEO Audit Step #9: If the post is recycled, does it include a four-digit year in the bottom?

SEO Audit Step 9

Kim Mateus:
Excellent. Okay. Recycled posts. As we mentioned, this scorecard is good for when you’re running something fresh, and also when you’re going back and tweaking the blockbusters. When you’re going back and tweaking the blockbusters, we have found it to be the, I suppose, fair and astute thing to do to reference the original date at the bottom of the post. So, you’ll sometimes see, “This post was initially published in 2012, and it’s updated frequently.” But we don’t always do it, Amanda. So, can you talk about when it makes sense to list this sort of a disclaimer, if you will, at the bottom, and when it’s okay not to?

Amanda MacArthur:
Yeah, I think the most important time is when a blockbuster post has a lot of comments, because when you’re republishing, you’re putting a new date, and then people might get really confused when they scroll to the bottom and they see entire conversations from last year or a few years ago. So, I think it’s important to put it on those posts. The only time we don’t is when we’ve updated it so much that we feel like it’s a new post, and we think it would actually do the post a disservice, and also if it doesn’t have any comments. So, it’s a decision you’ll probably make on a per post basis.

Kim Mateus:
Based on judgment. Yep. And we should mention too, with the whole blockbuster concept, a question we often get is, “Are we supposed to be leaving the URLs the same?” And the answer is ideally yes. If the original URL from 2010 is still aligned even if the post is completely refreshed, I mean, that’s the best scenario, right? But there are times where you just can’t, you have to write a new post because the URL would be too far misaligned with the content.

Amanda MacArthur:
Yeah. We try to keep the URLs intact. You can’t always redirect. But the thing is, these blockbuster posts are getting a ton of traffic, so, you can only improve the post. And it’s that URL that’s getting ranked, so, it’s not to your detriment to just leave it like that, but if it is really confusing, maybe if like really, really changed the title, then we might go and do like a URL redirect and change the URL. But we try to avoid that when we can.

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