man starting a Google search on a laptop
Findability is the foundation of any successful digital customer experience. Here are some tips on how to ensure customers can find your content PHOTO: Benjamin Dada on unsplash

The foundation for every successful online experience is discoverable digital content. 

The majority of today’s digital interactions are initiated by people using search engines to find information on the products and services they are interested in purchasing. If customers cannot easily find your company and your products online, they may never engage with your business.

Improve Your Findability, Indexing and Ranking

Although digital marketers have shifted much of their attention to social media in recent years, achieving a high search ranking remains a critical contributor to a company’s online success. A simple and low-cost way you can boost the discoverability of your web pages is to re-examine how well you deliver on the basic elements of effective on-page search engine optimization (SEO).

On-page SEO has been around for decades, yet companies are still missing out on its benefits in part due to a lack of basic knowledge among content authors and ineffective oversight by managers. At its core, on-page SEO is about removing any potential barriers to search engines finding, indexing and ranking your web pages. This means building pages that make it as easy as possible for search engines to analyze them and quickly determine each page’s meaning.

A logical place to start is to examine your existing web pages to ensure each page has a clear purpose and function. As you go through this process, identify any broken links and make sure navigation is clear and intuitive, and includes text links.

Think Like a Website Visitor

In its Webmaster Guidelines, Google’s basic quality principles include some great advice for all companies: “Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” This means that everything you do is human-readable — from a page’s title to its header and sub-headline tags, its meta description tags and its URL.

The aim is to be clear, useful, accurate and specific. So spend time writing compelling meta descriptions, which appear below the title tag in search results. Think of meta descriptions for each of your web pages functioning as tiny ads for your company and your products. Although it doesn’t directly impact search rankings, a well-written meta description can help significantly improve click-through rates.

Automate SEO Compliance with DQM

When dealing with multiple websites and hundreds or thousands of web pages, manually policing and enforcing SEO compliance can be a daunting, near-impossible task. By using digital governance software to automate SEO compliance, you can make sure all of your digital content adheres to a standard set of best practices.

Digital Quality Management (DQM) helps companies ensure that content authors and publishers are following established SEO principles. When integrated with your web content management system, DQM makes it possible for your staff to centrally manage, flag and fix issues on existing web pages or when reviewing new pages prior to publication.

DQM includes standard checkpoints relating to SEO rules including mandating that all pages contain headings, limiting the length of those headings, and flagging images that are too large. When thinking about customer experience, large images may be responsible for slow page load times which is another way you can lose your audience.

Some of the other standard checkpoints in DQM relate to both SEO and accessibility, for instance, stipulating that all PDFs include a meaningful title and that all images specify an “alt” attribute, a clear text alternative that describes the image accurately. DQM will flag pages where this information is missing.

A company can also add custom checkpoints within DQM, based on the organization’s unique SEO strategy.

Regularly Revisit Your Approach

It’s particularly important to refine and adapt your SEO strategy over time because Google is continually updating and refining its search algorithm. In recent years, this work has included adding more artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into the algorithm which has increased its sophistication.

For instance, Google’s search algorithm today has a much better understanding of keywords and of synonyms. This means that you no longer need to include multiple mentions of a particular keyword or use multiple keyword variants in your content. In fact, doing so can be counterproductive, given that Google is placing an increasing emphasis on websites that provide visitors with high-quality content, rather than fluff or keyword stuffing.

Quality matters, not quantity. Google interprets duplicate content or very similar information across web pages as poor quality content.

Create EAT-able Content

Google’s definition of high-quality content focuses on web pages demonstrating “expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness” or “EAT,” according to the general guidelines Google provides to its human search quality evaluators. This translates to well-written and well-structured content with correct spelling and grammar.

Hundreds of factors influence how Google both automatically through its algorithm, and by its human evaluators, ranks your web pages. These factors also regularly shift in terms of how they’re weighted. For instance, providing mobile-friendly web pages continues to increase in importance. Best practices here include optimizing images to reduce page loading speed, avoiding using fonts that are too small, or placing links too close together that make it hard for the user to access the one they want.

Fix Errors, Avoid Duplication

In regularly crawling your web pages, DQM compares issues against a list of checkpoints and produces reports via dashboards on the errors it encounters from broken links, spelling mistakes and SEO violations, to other inconsistencies. DQM enables a company to quickly identify errors and fix them across multiple websites. For example, you can easily see where you might have exactly the same descriptions for titles or metadata, which, if uncorrected, could negatively impact your search ranking.

You can use DQM to track your progress towards on-site SEO compliance and monitor improvements over time, as well as benchmark your scores against those of the broader DQM customer community. Larger organizations can also compare website scores across different regions or product lines.

DQM can alert you to errors which are not readily visible on your web page, but which can be seen in your source code. For instance, an editor may have deleted the visible text, but the underlying empty link remains in the source code. This can appear as spam-type behavior to Google and negatively impact your search rankings.

Make SEO Compliance Your Standard Practice

DQM helps organizations document their best practices and then adopt a single standard approach to SEO which encompasses all of a company’s relevant constituents. This means not only internal editorial and marketing staff but also includes external partners such as agencies. Using DQM ensures companies have one standard set of guidelines that everyone understands and observes, which is particularly important given the prevalence of outdated and misleading information about SEO.

With an effective on-page SEO strategy in place, you can rest assured that your content is fully discoverable and well-positioned to attract new customers and retain existing ones. 

This is the third in a series of articles from Crownpeak making the case for customer adoption of Digital Quality Management (DQM) software. The first article in the series, which introduces the concept of DQM, is here. The second article, which looks at DQM and accessibility is here.