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In order to be able to improve your SEO through content marketing, you have to take a couple of key actions right off the bat.

Action item 1: Run an SEO audit

What an SEO audit will do is it will identify various areas that are problematic for search engines to index your website. For example, the audit will identify problems with page load speed and broken links in your site, as well as how your site is viewed on mobile devices… and so much more.

When is the right time to do it?

There’s a couple of schools of thoughts when it comes to timing. I always recommend doing an SEO audit before updating your website. This is because you need to understand what is wrong with your current website before rolling out a whole new website. Otherwise, you’re going to end up risking making the same mistakes you made in the prior website. This can make it even more difficult to fix in the long run.

The second time that you should do an SEO audit is after you’ve launched your new website. The purpose of why it’s being done at this point is to identify where you’ve made mistakes in implementing your new website. This way, you can quickly correct them before they have a negative impact on your search engine rankings.

I actually had a customer several years ago who launched a new website and did not do an SEO audit. They then immediately panicked because all their traffic started to drop precipitously within 30 days of launching their new site. So they immediately called and said, “What can we do?”

What we ultimately found out at that time is that customer was inadvertently creating duplicate copies of their content on their site. One for the HTTPS version of their site and another for the HTTP version of their site, so the search engine was saying, “hey you’ve got a bunch of duplicate content on your site. Therefore I’m going to penalize you.” Not surprisingly, they fixed the error. Their traffic went back to normal within 30 days.

The last recommendation regarding timing for an SEO audit is when there has been a major change to your company’s operations. Let’s say you launched a new product or service or you’ve gone through a brand re-positioning or you’ve consolidated brands into one brand. That is a great opportunity to run an SEO audit.

Those are proactive ways to do it. The only other thing that I would recommend that is more reactive is if you see a major drop in your traffic. Run the SEO audit on it.

Action item 2: Fix the issues found in the SEO audit

The things that come up in the SEO audit have to be fixed first. Once those are fixed, you’ve built a strong baseline or foundation. It’s at this point in time that you can start overlaying content marketing to improve your SEO.

What to do next

What I recommend to my customers is that they identify a couple of low, competitive (or not very competitive) keyword phrases that are within their industry segment that they’re trying to go after. They should focus on developing content around those. The reason I go right to the source of that, which are keyword phrases, is because your prospective audiences are typing those into the search engines. They’re trying to look for something that they can become educated on and make a decision and ultimately a purchase. So identifying those keyword phrases and understanding where they fit on the buyer’s journey will determine how well you’re able to do your content through an SEO marketing program.

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