Monthly Archives: September 2014

5 Optimization Tips for Auditing Online Content


orange-tinted robotIncreased brand awareness is one of content marketing’s major goals. Copywriters often use online content as a way to attract organic traffic, gain social shares, and increase direct traffic. These activities help brands reach more qualified visitors and increase their chances of converting prospective clients into paying customers.

To determine whether your content is optimized for the above tasks, perform a content audit. A content audit lets you identify whether your content is shareable and optimized for search engines.

Here are five components of a content audit worth considering:

  1. Whether you’re using “nofollow”

“Nofollow” is a search engine-specific attribute that lets you avoid transferring SEO “link juice” or page authority from your website to an external page. When a page carries the “nofollow” attribute, search engines will index the page but they won’t follow any of the links on that page. When a specific link uses the “nofollow” attribute, search engines will not follow that link. This prevents your page authority from being diluted when:

  • Spammers or other entities try to use your webpage to add back-links to their own site
  • You are linking out to a page you don’t necessarily want a search engine to associate with your own site or you don’t want to boost someone else’s page rank

Pages that benefit most from “nofollow” are pages where visitors are allowed to make comments, such as blogs and forums. It won’t stop 100 percent of spammers from adding useless comments with links to their own sites to your blog, but it will help a lot. To do this, or to check whether “nofollow” is being used for a page, at the page-level meta tag, look for this:

<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow” />

For linking out, if you want to use “nofollow” to avoid passing authority to an article you’re linking to from your blog, insert it in an <a> tag along with the href:

For example, for the article, Google to Remove Author Images and Circle Counts from Search Results. What Now?, you would do this:

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”> Google to Remove Author Images and Circle Counts from Search Results. What Now?</a>

This helps you retain your authority and most importantly, search ranking.

  1. Whether you’re getting poison links

Poison links are inbound links from spammy sources such as pornography, casinos, or hacking websites. Google will penalize you for these links, and your online content will rank lower.

To determine whether you’re getting poison links, go to Google Webmaster Tools. This Google tool lets you see all the inbound links you’re getting and evaluate whether they’re quality links. If they aren’t, and are in fact poisonous, disavow them.

Here’s how you can disavow poisonous links:

    • Go to Google Webmaster Tools.
    • Go to the Dashboard, click Search Traffic, and then click Links to Your Site.
    • Under Who Links the Most, click More.
    • Download more sample links to download all of your inbound links
    • Add each poisonous link you want to disavow in a text file line by line.
    • Go to the disavow links tool page.
    • Click Disavow links.
    • Click Choose file.

Once you’ve uploaded the file, Google will disavow the links.

  1. Whether you’re using alternative text

Alternative text, or “alt text,” is textual or semantic descriptions of your images. These descriptions help Google gain a better understanding of what your images are about so that it can rank the pages that the images are on better for relevant keywords. For example, adding the description “Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31″ helps Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31′s product page rank better for those keywords.

In addition to improved organic page ranking, alt text helps you rank for relevant keywords in Google Images. Visibility in a Google Images search will help you generate more visits in addition to traditional organic traffic.

hubspot example-alt text

Source: HubSpot Quick Answers

Note: While adding alt text is beneficial to your search ranking, don’t just spam keywords or stuff keywords into your alt text indiscriminately — Google will penalize you for doing this, either by lowering your rank or removing your page from search results altogether. Instead, you want to be concise and honest. For example, if you want to write an alt text for Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31, just use those keywords as the alternative text. Don’t try to keyword stuff by using keywords such as “Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 Running Shoes Nike Sportswear Nike Shoes Nike Runners Nike Athletic Training Shoes.”

4. Whether you’re using social media sharing buttons

Social sharing buttons are icons placed on articles to helps readers share content effortlessly. These icons can increase social sharing tremendously.

example-social sharing buttons-soccer ball image

According to, social sharing buttons can improve articles’ social sharing by up to 700 percent. This means that if an article without social sharing buttons gets one social share, a blog post with social sharing buttons will get seven!

These buttons are particularly crucial to content marketers because they let you maximize reach without spending extra advertising dollars.

You can add social sharing buttons by using plug-ins such as Shareaholic, AddThis, or ShareThis.

5. Whether you’re using internal linking

Internal linking refers to linking from one of your online content pages to another. An example would be linking this article to this CMI post on conducting an SEO audit.

This link building approach helps you pass SEO link juice from one page to another and vice versa to improve the search rankings of  both pages. This tactic is most effective if you link from a highly authorized web page, since it would have the most SEO juice. For example, linking from your home page (most likely your page with the highest authority) would create more impact than linking from a single blog post page.

In addition to improving search ranking, internal linking helps you tell Google what your web page is about since you control the anchor text. By frequently linking to your social media marketing service page using the anchor text “social media marketing, “social media services,” social media marketing services,” Google will think that the page is related to social media marketing and rank the page higher for those keywords.


As content marketing plays a more important role in attracting potential prospects, it’s vital to perform regular content audits to ensure your content is optimized for search engines and social media. By conducting a content audit, you can identify whether your articles have poisonous links or are missing “nofollow” attributes, social sharing buttons, or alternative text. This assessment helps you uncover content issues so that you can resolve them and improve your search ranking and shareability.


Author: Ray Wang

Ray Wang is the Marketing Coordinator at Smartt, a Vancouver-based digital consulting agency. He’s interested in copywriting, social media marketing, and SEO.

Other posts by Ray Wang

Optimize Your Online Content: Quick Tips You Haven’t Thought of Yet


hands joining wrists in circleBy the time you read this, you could have already been capturing and analyzing information on your most valuable consumers — those who share your content.

While brands and publishers spend a lot of time and effort creating and promoting content, less time is usually spent optimizing the sharing of that content for consumers. And that’s a lost opportunity.

Consumers demand multiple sharing options

One of the biggest oversights brands make is offering only Facebook and Twitter sharing options, assuming consumers only want to share content or products on the largest social sites. In reality, today’s audiences are continuing to shift to new social networks, fragmenting their social and web activity across multiple channels. By offering only major social sharing buttons, brands dramatically limit new user acquisition and page views. Our data — based on access to share and click-back data for hundreds of thousands of websites — indicate that websites giving users a minimum of five choices generate the largest volume of sharing.

Less mainstream share buttons such as email, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+ (among others) are still effective in drawing in a larger audience. And using a third-party sharing widget that consolidates multiple sharing channels into one JavaScript tag is a smart choice to simultaneously limit downward drag on page load time and increase sharing of your content. Don’t leave valuable click-backs (i.e., free users!) on the table.

Let your users promote the value of your content

Another content optimization technique is including counters to show share volumes. You can display one universal counter that tallies all of your shares across channels, or show individual counters beside each sharing channel. Websites with counters see an average boost of 8 to 20 percent in sharing volume within one month, according to our data. Visual indicators of sharing volume add credibility and affirm the popularity of the content. Digital consumers, like it or not, follow the herd, paying more attention to content with higher shares.

Don’t overlook the number one way people share

Facebook and Twitter get a lot of buzz, but in reality, 80 to 82 percent of all shares on the web occur from users copying and pasting text. This activity is often referred to as “dark social” since marketers and publishers don’t have an easy way to track it unless they use a third-party tool like Advanced sharing platforms can track not only how many users are sharing text from certain articles or product pages, but also which keywords they are sharing. This keyword information can help inform your SEO and SEM efforts in addition to offering unique consumer insights.

Another strategy to gain access to dark social activity is to include a link-back to the page where the text originated, driving users back to your website. This way, when the content is shared by the copy-and-paste method, friends who see the shared text know that it came from your owned or earned media.

For example, on our own blog we put thoughtful consideration into the share functionality around our copy-and-paste tracking. When a user highlights then copies and pastes any portion of text on our articles, a customized “read more” attribution link and text is added underneath:

read more-sharing example

Leverage social analytics and virality to boost results

While all marketers want their content to be shared and even go viral, we find there’s often an over-emphasis on outbound performance versus the inbound acquisition results.

Let’s take a look at an example: Say a content marketer looks at the analytics dashboard and sees that Video A drove 2,000 Facebook “likes,” while Video B had 800 Facebook shares, 500 tweets, and 200 Tumblr shares. The content marketer may consider Video A a bigger win because it earned more “likes” than the combined number of shares for Video B. However, looking back at the click-back volume, Video A only drove 150 new viewers to the video, whereas Video B drove 400 new viewers. So Video B actually performed better overall — even though the team was initially more excited about 2,000 “likes.” (And creating and promoting more pieces of content similar to Video B will likely drive more new traffic for the brand.)

Virality is an important indicator of successful user acquisition, reflected by the number of click-backs derived per shared piece of content. When we dug into data from the past year, we found several interesting insights about virality trends:

  • Technology, news, humor, and entertainment content has higher virality.
  • Travel, business, and food content has lower virality.
  • Facebook and StumbleUpon have a short time lapse between the share and click-back.
  • Tumblr, Google+, and blogging platforms have a longer time lapse between the share and click-back.
  • Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr provide the most click-backs per one share.

The bottom line: Simple tweaks, all of which are free, to your owned media pages can drive an immediate boost in content viewership and user acquisition. By executing the approaches mentioned above, you’ll be on your way to increasing your content marketing’s ROI.


Author: Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson has over 12 years of experience building digital media startups from the ground up with an expertise in monetizing online content. As Vice President of Business Development at RadiumOne, she leads strategic partnerships and is responsible for two of the fastest-growing social media products on the market: the URL shortener for brand advertisers and the sharing tool for publishers.

Other posts by Rebecca Watson