Content Optimization: 6 Steps to Boost your SEO
If someone asked you what you most want to happen when you post new content online, what would your answer be? It wouldn't be to get the most hits or even the most sets of eyeballs reading your carefully crafted content. That's great, sure. But your ultimate goal is to stay in business, then grow your business, then trounce the competition to dominate your industry.
To produce truly effective online content that can pull this off, you are going to need a lot more than just an SEO-based marketing strategy. You are going to need to bring in the big guns of content optimization.
What Is Content Optimization?
Content optimization could easily be nicknamed “changing with the times” for online businesses. The goal of content optimization is to periodically revisit your website copy to make it more relevant, more appealing, more accessible and more search-friendly – and here’s the catch – for both people and machines.
In other words, you want to make sure people and search engines can find what they need quickly on each page of your website.
Here are common examples of how you might optimize a page of content on your website:
- Adding colorful, easy-to-scan infographics where plain text information used to sit
- Adjusting keywords and key phrases to reflect the most current industry language
- Changing content organization and flow to conform to any algorithm updates
- Revising statistics and information as new data becomes available
- Expanding on popular content to provide even more value to readers
SEO vs. Content Optimization
SEO and content optimization are both important for the success of your online marketing strategy.
While SEO refers to strategic CHOICE of keywords and key phrases, content optimization refers to strategic USE of those keywords and key phrases to provide deep value to the reader.
In other words, today’s sophisticated algorithms are not just screening the exact keywords or key phrases a person searches for in search engines. Today’s algorithms are also looking for specific ways that those keywords and key phrases interrelate with the rest of the content on a webpage to deliver the most value to the reader.
Here is a simple example to explain how this might work:
Let’s say your company sells multi-vitamins for women, so you decide your main SEO keyword is “multi-vitamins for women.” But someone who searches online for multi-vitamins for women might have more than one reason for seeking out information about your products.
You brainstorm and come up with three key reasons someone might want to learn more about your vitamins:
- They want to buy multi-vitamins for women.
- They want to discover why they should take multi-vitamins for women (the benefits).
- They want to know which brands are the top-rated multi-vitamins for women.
This brainstorming then helps you generate additional useful keywords and key phrases, such as these:
- Buy multi-vitamins for women
- Benefits of multi-vitamins for women
- Top brands of multi-vitamins for women
With that, you have selected your SEO keywords.
Next, it is time to optimize those keywords by crafting rich content. Rich content is optimized content that answers every potential question a shopper might have around each SEO keyword or key phrase. For example, for the key phrase “buy multi-vitamins for women,” you will want to craft content that answers all the questions about what a shopper should look for before they select multi-vitamins for women.
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Why Is Content Optimization Important?
There is an old saying: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
By now, you are starting to become aware that you don’t just want to create content that performs well. “Well” is not nearly good enough. Rather, you need to produce online content that works everyday miracles, like bringing new prospects through your doors (virtual or brick-and-mortar) and turning them into repeat loyal customers. Luckily, this is precisely the sort of everyday miracle that content optimization is perfectly suited to pull off.
As a bonus, you will also reap these benefits of content optimization:
- Boost in search engine rankings and website traffic
Carefully crafted content that seamlessly blends SEO and content optimization together will absolutely produce a boost in your brand’s rankings online.
- Reusable evergreen marketing media
What is even better than producing high-performance, fresh online content? Producing content that you can reuse over and over and over again with just a few key tweaks
- Trusted voice in the industry
Perhaps you have heard of the “Skyscraper Technique”. This strategy starts with what is already out there online and then goes it one better, creating media that is quite simply better than all the rest. In other words, nothing builds trust like creating online content that covers a topic in your industry more thoroughly than any of your competitors.
- More organic shares and (thus) referrals
Building trust in your industry also produces a handy little ripple effect: Trustworthy content becomes eminently share-worthy content. While this is more of a brand awareness or PR strategy than a straight-up marketing strategy, you can’t go wrong when the content optimization solutions you incorporate result in content that can do both.
- More leads (and sales) from organic traffic
Every strategic marketer’s goal is to spend as little on advertising and marketing as possible while getting as much in return as possible. A big part of the importance of content optimization for many small businesses in particular is how this strategy can cut expenses for paid ads. More inbound website traffic from organic (non-paid) search queries equals less overhead for paid advertising.
What Is Content Optimization?
It is natural to want everything to work perfectly all the time. However, it is important to remember that developing a foolproof content optimization strategy can take time and the willingness to experiment to see what works best for your products or services in your specific industry.
Developing that foolproof content optimization strategy isn’t something you can tackle all at once in an A to Z sort of way. But you absolutely can tackle and master it in an A to B to C kind of way, which is exactly what we are about to do together now.
1. Topic and Keyword Research
The adventure starts with topic and keyword research . This probably doesn’t sound either fun or glamorous, but it has the potential to be business-shifting.
Identifying the right keywords is no longer the sole goal of the accomplished online content marketer. It is still one of the hands-down best places to start, though.
2. User Intent Matching
“User intent” is a fancy way of saying “why customers visit the internet.”
Every day, some customers head to Google to do preparatory research before making a purchase. Others visit to make a purchase. And still others are there to find information or instructions they need. Whether that person’s intention for visiting is informational (research-based), transactional (purchase-based) or navigational (go-based), the keywords they will enter will contain the intent, or reason, behind their search.
When content optimization and intent matching align, you gain the invaluable opportunity to begin nurturing a relationship with a new prospect or continue developing your relationship with an existing customer.
However, making use of user intent matching doesn’t have to mean having a whole new set of keywords for each type of optimized content you create. More often, it means simply tweaking how your core keywords are used based on the type of user your content is designed to attract.
Do this well, and you may not have as many eyeballs viewing your content, but the eyeballs that find your content will stay and likely turn into paying customers.
3. Technical SEO
Even if you started now and dedicated the rest of your days to studying the technical (back-end) aspects of SEO and AI, it would be impossible to learn all there is to learn. To compound this challenge, the entire vista of online marketing continues to change daily.
The good news is, you don’t have to do a deep dive into understanding the “how” of what Google’s algorithms do to bring new inbound traffic to your online content. You just need to know a few basics. In short, you need to know how to tell Google’s algorithm where to find you online and how to find the information the user is asking for within your content.
The first is known as “crawling.” The second is known as “indexing.”
Let’s say you want to find something you need online. You head to your device, open Google and enter a few search terms. Then, you wait.
What is Google’s algorithm doing while you are waiting for the search results to come back? It is crawling, meaning it is very rapidly scouring millions of websites, going through them to find the best matches for your needs.
Once it finds the websites, it then needs to look for the specific pages that are the best content match for what you queried. For this, Google’s algorithm relies on indexing.
You can improve your site’s crawlability by making sure there are no broken links (404 errors) or dead ends (pages inside your site that do not have any cross-links to other pages inside your site).
You can improve the Google algorithm’s ability to index your website by making sure your sitemap has been submitted to Google Console and ensuring your robots.txt file is error-free and updated.
4. SERP Optimization
Publishing web content without first tending to SERP optimization is like beautifully remodeling the inside of a home for sale but then leaving the yard muddy and unappealing. Even though the interior is gorgeous, modern and updated, no one wants to tour the home because it is unattractive on the outside. There is no curb appeal.
SERP optimization is what gives your web content curb appeal.
Done well, this is the part of the process that will boost click-throughs – that all-important measure of user interaction (and satisfaction) with your carefully optimized content.
A page of SERP-optimized content will generate a higher click-through rate (CTR), and a higher CTR will boost browser page rankings. In other words: More clicks, more boosts and finally, your webpage makes it to the first page of browser search results.
Optimizing Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
Meta titles and meta descriptions are like street signs in the online world.
These short descriptive bits of text tell algorithms whether your content is a good match for a search query.
When you optimize your webpage meta titles and meta descriptions, users can easily identify what your content is about. This drives additional clicks, increasing your CTR and improving your page ranking over time.
Adding Schema Markup and Optimizing for Rich Snippets
While it is often hard to remember this, there will always be at least two pairs of eyeballs reading your online content: an AI (robot, machine) and a human user.
This means you need to write your content in two languages – a language your human users can readily absorb and a language your machine readers can crawl, index and send back to the user through SERPs.
For the former, you will be using nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. For the latter, you will be using structured data to optimize for rich snippets.
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5. Optimizing User Experience
There is no doubt that “optimizing user experience” sounds a bit daunting. It doesn’t have to be.
Basically, you just want your user – the human doing the querying – to easily find and absorb your content. There are four key components to optimizing user experience.
Responsiveness and Mobile-friendliness
Consider this: 80% of consumers today shop regularly from their smartphones, yet more than 93% of small businesses do not have mobile-friendly websites.
Start today by running the Google Search Console mobile-friendly test on your website.
Choosing a responsive site template, testing your site functionality and load times on different devices and browsers, ensuring pop-ups and opt-ins work properly on mobile and keeping your site navigation simple and clear will all work in your favor in attracting customers who prefer to shop from small screens.
When you visit a website, you probably want to get in, get what you need and get out fast. When someone visits your site, they are seeking the same.
This is where website usability comes in. To increase your website’s usability, make sure it is accessible to all types of customers (including those with vision or hearing issues), quick to load, simple to navigate and congruent across different device types and screen sizes.
If someone who is hearing- or vision-impaired (or has some other disability) wanted to make use of your online content, could they do so easily? This is accessibility in a nutshell.
An accessible website offers the same information in multiple formats using a simple and consistent navigation menu with options for audio control, color contrast adjustment, text resizing and use via keyboard only (no mouse needed).
Images, Videos and Other Multimedia Elements
Images, videos, photos, infographics and other multimedia visuals can all help to optimize user experience by providing information for a variety of learning styles.
6. Optimizing Conversion Rate
“Conversion” is where all the rest of the information you just read about is leading up to. You want each set of eyeballs that lands on your content to do something specific.
If the eyeballs are machine/AI, you want them to deliver your content to human users.
If the eyeballs are human, you want them to make a purchase, share your content with others, trust your brand and interact with you again and again in positive ways.
You also don’t want to leave any of this to chance.
This is where the time-honored CTA (call to action) comes into play. There are many kinds of CTAs to conform to the many types of marketing content. Each time a user interacts with one of your CTAs, you will be able to see that in your website analytics.
This is how you will know which CTAs are performing best.
Here are some of the most commonly used examples of CTAs:
- “Request more information” forms
- Email subscriber boxes
- “Read more” buttons
- Sign-up forms
- Social sharing buttons
- Free trial invitations
- Event invitations and registration forms
Content Optimization Tools
Even a casual search for content optimization software will turn up more plugins, apps, online content optimization services and more, more, more. You don’t need to use every content optimization checker tool out there, though. You just need to assemble your own little suite of tools you like and trust. This list will get you started out on the right foot.
SEMrush offers an entire content marketing toolkit. The ever-popular SEO Content Template and the Writing Assistant tools help you quickly standardize and optimize your existing content site-wide.
The Content Audit and Post Tracking tool then help you evaluate how that content is performing so you can make adjustments to boost search rankings, CTR and sales.
Not every writer is a marketer, but with a little help from the Hemingway Editor App, every marketer can be a writer.
As an SEO content writing tool, the Hemingway Editor can transform average copy into sharp, snappy, shareable snippets through on-page content optimization.
Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
Yoast SEO for WordPress is an SEO tool for content writers.
Yoast can quickly deliver targeted suggestions for improving each page and post on your site. As an SEO content check tool, it will help you pinpoint and correct potential issues with everything from your schema to your sitemaps.
Best Practices for SEO and Content Optimization
Remember, there are experts who spend their whole careers studying just one small facet of the overview you just took in.
Start with the big SEO content optimization best practices – site responsiveness, mobile-friendliness, sitemaps and load times.
Next, populate your site with excellent content.
Then, keep analyzing, checking, surveying, assessing and refining. Focus on producing one excellent piece of optimized web content at a time.
Before you realize it, you will be tackling content optimization with confidence, paying it forward by sharing what you know and reaping the benefits as your business grows and grows.
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