Not all SEO experts work for clients, some work for themselves creating websites that generate traffic through SEO. These sites can make money thanks to affiliation, Google AdSense and sponsored content. Imagine that Rich – an SEO expert we met in an earlier case study – meets Mike at an SEO conference and they get chatting. Remember: These are fictitious characters to illustrate why and how you could audit on-page SEO for a WordPress site.
Mike works for himself. He creates a lot of websites on various subjects using WordPress. For every site he creates, he adds content and links from his own network of sites in the hope of making them rank on popular keywords in Google. By targeting niche subjects with some search volume and a relatively high CPC in Google Ads, he says he can earn thousands of dollars per month from a successful website.
Seeing that Rich has good knowledge of WordPress and specifically on-page SEO, Mike offers to sell him a website that he created 2 years ago. The site already ranks for some keywords, gets 10.000 visits per month on average and generates a $100 monthly revenue. It is a blog with How-To articles for Windows 10. Mike says, “It is an interesting niche, easy to write about with the potential to generate 10 times more traffic, but there’s too much on-page work for me. That’s not my thing”
Mike shows Rich the site and the reports from Google Analytics, Google AdSense and Amazon on his computer to prove what he said about traffic and revenues and says, “I can keep the site and keep making $100 per month, but I’d like to see someone move it on and that person could get 10 times more money out of it if they know what they are doing.” He leaves his business card with Rich and says there is no pressure, that Rich can get back to him next week after the conference. His asking price is $1900.
Auditing on-page SEO
Rich is interested in the idea of using his knowledge to make money from running website. Either as a way of making extra money or quitting his job to become an independent SEO. Once he gets back home, he starts looking into Mike’s site to see what on-page SEO work needs doing.
Checking the site out in SEMRush, Rich sees that the site has 500 pages, over 50,000 backlinks and is ranking in Google for 790 keywords in the US. However, it is only in the top 10 positions for a handful of keywords and the estimation of traffic based on keyword volume and position is that the site gets 1,100 visits from Google per month. Which is less than Mike suggested, but the potential for traffic is confirmed by the search volumes. If the site can move from page 2 in Google to page 1 it could gain a lot more traffic.
PageSpeed / Core Web Vitals
The site looks very professional. It uses a familiar WordPress theme and ads are not too intrusive. The footer of the site displays a Copyright 2022 notice and the text “All Rights Reserved”, but there is no indication of who owns the site or the copyright. The contact page has a contact form, but no contact details. Rich immediately thinks that a simple on-page optimization he can perform on the site is identifying himself as the owner – if he buys it. This should increase the site’s EAT and ranking.
Checking a few articles, Rich sees that titles are optimized with keywords and the titles are correctly used in URLs and the TITLE tags. Keywords are used in H1 and H2 headers, in the text of articles and in the ALT text of images. This part of on-page SEO appears to have been carried out correctly.
He wonders if SEOPress has been installed, impossible to tell from the source code because unlike other SEO plugins for WordPress, SEOPress leaves no footprints in the source code.
Articles are variable in length, most are very short – under 100 words. The pages that are ranking for keywords appear to be longer – around 1000 words in length but with lots of screen shots as illustrations. One article contains a video with a tutorial on how to customize sounds in Windows.
Schema / Structured Data
Testing articles with Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool, Rich sees that there is no structured data at all in articles. That is a real shame and an opportunity for optimizing the site would be to add Schema to posts and pages. This could be done very easily using SEOPress PRO using automatic or manual schemas. The How-To schema would be particularly interesting for the How-To articles.
Rich notices that the longer tutorials read well but that the shorter posts are strange with text such as “Free now download the beta version.” He suspects that this is machine generated content.
By copying text from the longer articles and pasting it into Google, he sees that other pages on the web use the same text or very similar text including pages on Microsoft.com.
Rich concludes that the major on-page work needed on the site is to write better content. Machine-generated content or copied content may create problems down the line including getting penalties from Google that could see the site lose positions.
Does Rich buy the site?
Although an SEO expert like Rich would see some on-page optimizations that he could do to this site – improving page speed, adding schema, identifying the owner – he would also see a lot of work to do in producing content. Let us say that he decided that he did not have enough interest in the subject matter to see himself producing the content needed to continue the site and he does not recontact Mike.
In another possible ending to this story, Rich may have sent a payment to Mike and never received access to the WordPress site nor ownership of the domain name. There are lots of scams in the sale of websites. Be very careful, make sure to do due diligence and ensure you have a contract for your transaction.