Your complete guide to content optimization
Coming up with new ideas taking up too much of your time?
Are you currently a stressed, middle-aged marketing manager staring at your Google Analytics dashboard and trying to hide the coffee stain on your shirt?
A steady 30-day dosage of website content optimization can help.
This guide will walk you through the reasons why marketers are pivoting from creation to optimization and what you need to know to get more eyes on your content.
Life will be easy.
What is content optimization?
Content optimization is the practice of updating and adjusting on-page copy and coding to make content more appealing to search engines and, by extension, human searchers. You can call this high-quality content, or as some prefer, SEO content.
In the vast majority of cases, there are certain steps one can take to enhance organic search rankability, as it’s unlikely that every page that exists on a website is 100 percent optimized.
And with Google processing 63,000 search queries every second and making thousands of behind-the-scenes algorithm updates annually, optimizing content to align with the latest changes is a continuous process.
Content that’s search-friendly one day may be stale and outdated the next. Hence the need for ongoing optimization that’s built into standard digital marketing operating procedures.
This is the defining purpose of SEO.
Why search engine optimization is so important
Search engine optimization ensures your content is crawlable by search bots and formatted ideally for user consumption.
Fluffy, thin content is penalized for not meeting these SEO criteria, while comprehensive, relevant content is rewarded with higher rankings in SERPs.
SEO is mandatory simply to get websites a foot in the door of SERPs, meaning structured data and technical site markup are bare-minimum techniques to exist in 2018.
But beyond these ground-floor practices, SEO is important for the value it adds to businesses’ bottom lines.
SEO is ROI.
More than 82 percent of marketers state their SEO effectiveness is increasing (i.e., search presence competition is more heated than ever). Another 61 percent report SEO is their top inbound marketing priority.
These trends make sense, as SEO is proven to generate:
- More clicks: Searchers are 8.5X more likely to click on organic results than paid ads.
- More traffic: SEO brings 85 percent more traffic to websites than PPC.
- More purchases: Consumers are 131 percent more likely to purchase after reading a piece of content.
- More leads: Inbound marketing produces 3X more leads than outbound.
- More conversions: Content marketing prompts 6X more conversions than traditional marketing.
- More visibility: Companies with updated, optimized content have 434 percent more search-indexed pages.
Of equal importance is understanding how both on- and off-page SEO factor into the effectiveness of your content.
What’s the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO?
As the name suggests, on-page SEO refers to all copy and metadata that can be adjusted within your content management system. That’s the focus of this post.
Off-page SEO is everything else that influences organic rankings that occurs outside the parameters of your CMS or website, such as link-building, brand mentions and, as adjuncts, social media and influencer marketing.
So how do you optimize on-page content?
Below are the primary factors that writers, content managers and digital strategists take into account when optimizing their website content:
- Title tags.
- Meta descriptions.
- Alt tags.
- URL structures.
- Media (images, videos).
- H1, H2 and H3 tags.
- Internal linking.
- Outbound linking.
These factors are step-one, no-brainer SEO techniques. But the content – i.e., blogs, images, videos – that populates the majority of your web pages must be optimized for search as well.
Optimizing older posts, rather than creating new ones, can have an enormous impact on organic rankings and search presence. Brafton.com is a perfect example of this methodology.
Content optimization priorities: Where to start and what to do
When optimizing content, you should optimize the entire page for a single keyword.
Yes, secondary and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords will play a role, but it needs to be absolutely clear to search engines and consumers what your page (blog) is about and how relevant it is to the topic, its title, subheads and metatags. To do that, laser-focus on an individual keyword.
(For this very post, ours is “website content optimization,” so we’re attempting to tackle this topic from all logical angles. Additionally, long-tail keywords that are three to four words long tend to be the best targets.)
Pinpoint pages for improvement
To start, use Google Search Console/Moz Keyword Explorer to determine pages that are already on the cusp of ranking on page one for a given keyword. (You can choose any page, really, but the quickest way to see tangible ranking improvements is to focus first on pages that already perform reasonably well and just need a small shove across the SERP goal line.)
Say, for instance, you currently rank in position 12 for “content strategy consulting.” This means you likely need to jump just two more positions to appear on page one, which is where 90 percent or more of all clicks occur.
Provided your page is properly marked up on the backend and all metadata is keyword relevant, you’ll need to update the depth of your copy. We call this “content depth.”
Perform a content depth audit
Essentially, your blogs aren’t ranking as well as they could be because there are certain gaps within your content that other companies are exploiting. They are covering topics more thoroughly than you are, so of course Google correlates their posts with better value for users.
A content gap analysis reveals the ideas you need to include in your updated copy to better serve searcher intent. It’s a step-by-step blueprint for what to keep and what to change.
With these newly uncovered ideas, you need to write each of them methodically enough to add value to the reader: No skimping or glossing over important aspects of the keyword.
Plus, these ideas must flow well into the larger narrative and be relevant to the root keyword you’re targeting. In most cases, this means expanding content length by several hundred or even a thousand words – Yes, that’s what’s required to rank today. Extrapolate this step across every sub-optimal page on your site, and you can see how it can be a lengthy, time-intensive process. The benefit, though, is that fully optimized content makes your content marketing results snowball, as each updated page confers value upon any to which it is linked.
Written By Michael O’Neill
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