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10 Actionable Content Optimization Tips

Insights April 20, 2017

Are you wondering how to optimize a blog post for search? Writing excellent content is a staple for brands and their content marketing campaigns, but you should always optimize your post before hitting publish. Creating good, unique content is a lot of work, so don’t sell it short.

Regardless of the content’s mission, you want it to get as much exposure and engagement as possible. Who are you helping? Who’s your audience? What’s the value-add? What part of the purchase funnel are you targeting? These are questions you need to answer.

Easy Content Optimization Tips for Increased Visibility

1. Choose a Dedicated Keyword or Set of Keywords

Ideally, keyword research should start before you author any piece of content. Look at what your competitors are writing about. What questions are your target consumers asking in the discovery, research, and buying phases? Use tools like BuzzSumo to analyze the topic and what has performed well historically. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, but you do have to be compelling. There are many keyword research tools on the market, choose your favorite.

2. Analyze the Top 10-20 Sites Ranking for the Keyword(s)

Competitor information is important, especially if you haven’t created your post yet. Make a spreadsheet and label headers to record information around word count, readability, content gaps, subtopics, intent, schema markup, and any other important qualitative factors. Your goal is to create a piece of content that’s better than all of them combined — a post that makes the searcher say, “Wow, that was awesome.”

3. Answer Relevant and Related Questions

If you’re writing for the user, explore related questions searchers ask about the topic and consider answering the questions where your brand can provide unique information. If you’re a brand, you’re the expert, right? Let’s use the example query of ‘how to get rid of spiders’ (eek). A quick search returns a list of results with a goldmine of related topics to cover (e.g. ‘getting rid of spiders with peppermint oil’ – that sounds interesting!) to fully develop your piece of content. Just look at the screenshots below from related searches and from Google’s new “People also ask”  feature that suggests questions:

 

4. Use Headers Properly

Search engines are getting smarter every day, but they still need our help figuring out what’s most important for your content and readers. Use your keywords naturally in your title and H1 and H2 headers. Incorporate synonyms and tangential topics into subsequent headers as you explore the topic. You should only have one H1, but other headers are okay. Headers also serve the added benefit of breaking up your content into digestible sections for the reader, so make them informative and useful. We scan and scroll to the sections that are most important to us, so make it easy for a visitor to accomplish that.

5. Embed Original and Sourced Video

Everyone digests information differently. Some prefer to read content in its entirety, while others may prefer to scan or watch a video. Support different users when necessary and include video to reinforce and/or explain certain concepts. This is also how you can stand out from competitors if they are not utilizing this form of media. Instead of linking out to a YouTube video, embed the media directly. This increases engagement and dwell time too. Pro tip: add video markup, specifically transcript, which can give search engine spiders more information about your content without adding bulk to readers.

6. Optimize Your Images

Page load speed has become increasingly important as users demand instant gratification. Optimize your images for the web so they retain image quality, but are the smallest size possible for quick loading. Failure to do so could have users pressing the back button before they ever make it to your content.

Don’t forget to use descriptive keyword-rich image titles to improve your chances of showing up in image searches and to reinforce the topical relevance of your content. Image Alt tags are also extremely important because they are equivalent to the anchor text of a link. Always fill them out and naturally be descriptive around your keywords identified in step one.

7. Use Internal and Outbound Links

Don’t overthink this one. Support your content by interlinking to other pieces on your website that further explain a word, phrase, or topic. If it makes sense for the user, do it. Treat outbound links as citations or references to trustworthy sources of proprietary data, research and content reinforcing what you’re covering. This improves topical relevance and helps users dig deeper into various facts or concepts.

8. Interact and Encourage Engagement

If your content is truly spectacular (place yourself in a reader’s shoes), then it should naturally receive interaction and engagement. This isn’t to say a little help or encouragement doesn’t go a long way because it does. Comments on a post are a sign of content engagement and you should actively encourage that. A simple CTA line at the end of your content asking for comments or installing social share buttons is all it takes.

9. Create a Compelling Meta Title and Description

The meta title and description are what show up in a search engine’s results page when a searcher enters a query. They are scanned before an individual decides to click on a result. Don’t skip out on these; you want to stand out from the rest of the results, right? Coschedule has a neat tool to help you craft better headlines. While meta titles and descriptions no longer have ranking impacts, they are one of the primary ways you can increase click-through-rates. Use them to communicate with a searcher and explain your content’s value-proposition.

10. Optimizing Existing Content

If you’ve been failing to optimize your posts in the past, you can still go back and audit them to make them better. Start with pieces generating significant impressions but few clicks. This data can easily be found in Google Search Console under search analytics. Moving high impression pieces just a few spots can have a huge impact on viewership and other important KPIs.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of optimizations you can do for a blog or other piece of content, but they are some of the most important. Always place the user at the forefront of your mind and encourage an unbiased coworker or friend to read a draft. After they read your piece, ask questions like: What were your main takeaways? Do any sections need more depth? What’s missing? Take criticism objectively.

For visitor analysis, you may even consider adding real-time feedback after the piece is published with a ‘was this piece helpful’ prompt. Furthermore, if your content is evergreen, it should be constantly revisited and analyzed for improvement. When is content ever actually “finished?” This feedback loop will continually improve your content’s performance over time.

Do you have any questions or other content optimizations you’d like to suggest? Leave them in the comments below. 

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