Content marketing is more than publishing promotional blog posts. Content optimization is the key to successful inbound marketing campaigns. It should be crafted with your specific marketing goals in mind to reach readers at the various stages of the sales funnel.
Whether you’re using search engine optimization (SEO) to get your blog posts to rank on the first page of Google, paid search to drive traffic to your content, or social media marketing, your content should support your goals. It should deliver to readers what they expect, based on the promotions you share.
Most importantly, content optimization is not just a “one-and-done” task. You can revisit older articles to optimize them for the needs of your readers today, and always make sure your newer content remains up to date to reach the largest audience possible.
What Is Content Optimization?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content optimization as the practice of “providing essential data that search engines will use to determine what your content is all about.”
But SEO is only one element of content optimization. At its heart, content optimization ensures that your written content can reach the largest possible target audience — and that it encourages them to engage with it and respond to it. That means your blog posts, articles, interviews, guides, landing pages, and other content must be written so that the search engine algorithms recognize that content as relevant and informative.
But your human readers are the most important piece of the puzzle. They must deem your headlines worth clicking on. Once they’re finished reading, ideally they will be called to act by either sharing the article, commenting or clicking the call-to-action link.
Content Optimization Requires the Following Elements
SEO is, no doubt, a critical element of content optimization. To write optimized content, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of how Google ranks articles. Google takes into account a variety of factors when determining if an article should appear on its first page for any number of search terms.
These factors include the following elements:
- Backlinks to the article
- On-site SEO (proper use of keywords, meta tags, descriptions)
- Technical SEO on the back-end of your website (such as user experience and site speed)
- Optimized photos (proper use of alt tags)
- Content quality
- How many people click on the article
Some of these elements, such as technical SEO, are outside the scope of an article covering content optimization, but are no less important. A marketing consultancy firm with experts in content strategy, SEO, user experience and web design can help bring all the elements together to help you get the best performance out of your content.
When it comes to on-site SEO, it’s important to make sure every article includes a meta-description that uses the keyword you want to rank for, a photo with an optimized description, relevant tags, a keyword-rich URL, and proper keyword placement and frequency throughout the article.
These standards and best practices, especially the best placement and frequency of keywords, change over time and with Google algorithm updates. A content marketing consultancy firm can help ensure your website stays with the times and doesn’t get penalized by Google for outdated practices like keyword stuffing.
How a Content Audit Can Help You Optimize Existing Content
If you already have substantial amounts of content on your website, a good place to get started is auditing that content. The first step is to determine what keywords you want to rank for now, as the words your target audience uses to describe your industry, products or service offering may change over time.
For instance, an ecommerce fashion site might have optimized content for “purses” in the past, but now people call them “handbags” or “totes.” You want to be sure your keyword strategy matches the terms people use to describe your products.
Once you’ve refreshed your keyword list, you want to evaluate your customer’s pain points and the questions they are asking on Google. What problems can you solve for them?
Now, you’ll want to look at every existing piece of content on your website and ensure it uses at least one of your keywords, along with semantically related terms, or words that are related to your primary keywords and add context for the search engines. Take a look at where the content is ranking now and at what steps you’ll need to take to improve the ranking.
You also want to make sure it addresses the questions customers are asking today. To determine the effectiveness of existing content, look at some of the following metrics:
- Bounce rate
Focus on These Areas to Optimize Existing Content
When you’re optimizing existing content, it’s best to focus on the following areas first, as these will have the most impact as it relates to SEO.
- Slug, or URL (if you change this, you’ll want to make sure to properly execute a redirect so you don’t have a dead link on your site)
- Images and optimized photo descriptions
- Headers (H1, H2, H3)
- Keyword placement and frequency within the article
You may want to do some A/B testing to determine which headlines or calls-to-action perform best on existing content. You can also take some time to experiment with different photos. You may find that some articles require a complete overhaul to appeal to your readers today.
Create a Content Strategy for New Content Optimization
When you’re creating new content, it’s crucial to approach it with an eye on your overall content strategy and your content optimization goals in mind. While it may not be realistic to set goals of ranking on Google’s page one for all your top keywords, simply because there is so much about Google algorithms that is out of anyone’s control, you can set goals for CTRs, reduced bounce rate, and conversions to sales. A primary goal for content optimization should be to continue steadily moving up in the search engine results pages.
Consider How Your Content Works Together
When you’re considering optimization for new content, you want to look at how the new content on your site will relate to existing content. Your digital strategy should focus on content clusters, where one piece of pillar content focuses on an important primary keyword and semantically related keywords and answers your audience’s burning questions on a specific topic.
Then, you can create pieces of content “clustered” around that article, which supports and expands upon the information to give readers more in-depth insights around the topic. You can get creative with supporting articles and blog posts, even creating infographics, surveys or quizzes around the topic.
You’ll want to plan your strategy to have pillar content for readers at every stage in the buyer’s journey, and then supporting articles that reach those who are in different places in the sales funnel for each topic. Of course, each article should be optimized for the relevant keywords.
In the same way you use SEO elements to make your existing content stronger, you’ll want to ensure each post or article includes a relevant, optimized meta description, optimized photos, and the right keyword placement and frequency.
A Digital Marketing Consultancy Can Help
Once you’ve created a solid digital content strategy, you may think content optimization is the easy part of building your brand and increasing your web traffic. However, if it’s not executed correctly, it can do more harm than good. Keyword stuffing, using the wrong keywords, or just not speaking to your audience using the right language based on where they are in the sales funnel are dangerous pitfalls when you execute your content optimization plan.
There are also a lot of moving parts and it’s easy to forget a small detail, which can have a big impact on your search rankings. Add these challenges to Google’s ever-changing algorithms and it’s too much for many business owners to manage on their own.
Hawke Media is here to help you create a content strategy and optimize new and existing content on your site. With an eye on the future, we understand that content optimization is an ongoing process. New content must be created and old content reviewed for maximum impact.
We want to be your partner in content optimization and digital marketing. Reach out today for your free consultation.
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who frequently covers marketing, e-commerce, finance, real estate, and technology. She is also the owner and founder of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel and lifestyle website.
ContentMarketingInstitute.com- A Guide to Content Optimization for 4 Key Content Types
CampaignMonitor.com – Content Marketing Terms