Learn How to Optimize Content like Landing Pages, B2B Blogs, Buying Guides and eCommerce Websites. Create a content optimization strategy.
Content Optimization is a challenge irrespective of whether you are a relatively new startup or a well-established enterprise. To rank your page on search engines, there are multiple things to consider within a content optimization strategy - search terms, conversion rates, engagement/bounce rate, topical authority, not to mention reaching a qualified audience in the first place.
It gets even harder for larger organizations with millions of pages of content where optimizing a few key pages does not always ensure leads and conversions.
On average a search engine displays millions of results for a search query. A search for the word ‘content optimization’ returns 421M results.
In this highly competitive content marketing landscape, standing out and ranking high on search engines is crucial and improving content quality is key.
When it comes to content optimization, marketers are faced with questions like:
What are the best ways to optimize web pages and rank on search engines?
How can we scale this process and do it quickly?
Should we optimize all pages for top keywords or focus on a select few key web pages?
The content optimization process begins by understanding what it is, why you need to optimize content and how you can evolve your content to meet business goals.
Content optimization is the process of improving content on your website to attract and convert the largest ideal audience. In the context of search engine optimization, this means ranking on page 1 across geographies, devices, and search queries.
Content optimization is the process of improving content on your website to attract and convert the largest ideal audience.
The content optimization process for existing pages involves several steps.
Improving metadata (page title, meta description and H1 heading) to make it rich and relevant for target keywords.
Rewrite content around relevant keywords and add copy for high volume user search queries.
Add supporting images with relevant ‘alt’ text.
Ensuring appropriate schema markups have been added.
Finally, focus on E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness to earn the confidence of both readers and search bots.
Once web pages have been optimized, search engines can crawl them and start ranking them higher on SERPs. Ranking on top means far more clicks and conversions resulting in measurable gains in business metrics and goals.
Imagine this - you wrote a compelling piece of content that is highly relevant to your business. The in-depth piece is published on your website but after a few weeks of traffic generated from organic and owned channels, the traffic enters a state of slump.
Some possible reasons why this could happen:
the content piece does not target high-volume and relevant keyword groups
the piece is very long and lacks structure rich with headings and subheadings
while the content provides all information a user may want with relevant images and videos, the web page is not optimized for search engines
finally, the page lags in creating a conversion or navigating users to a relevant transactional page
If this sounds like something that your content team and pieces are struggling with, then you have entered a cycle of content decay. Companies big and small enter this phase if they do not optimize new content, update existing content and refresh their content frequently to maintain relevance.
Content optimization ensures regular updates are made to the key pieces of content on your website.
Content optimization is required to improve the visibility of your content. Improving visibility is essential on search engines to generate website traffic and score high-winning leads. Using content for lead generation can unlock potential long-lasting digital growth.
Your content may be performing well today, but over the course of time rankings are bound to shift and decrease visitors. New pieces of content by competitors can take away your rankings and result in a state of content decay.
Regular optimization efforts for search engines can reverse this cycle and ensure that your content constantly ranks high on search engines and generates conversions.
It is essential that content optimization become a key and regular practice in every organization. It is only with periodic optimization efforts that you can unlock the full potential of your content and rank high on search engines.
There are several areas that need to be tweaked, edited and optimized for a piece of content to rank well. Page title, headings, images, video alt text and adding educational body copy for multiple topics are just some of the areas that one needs to focus on when optimizing a piece of content.
Building a robust content strategy can help navigate through all these aspects and ensure that your business goals are met.
A content strategy is a comprehensive approach to creating content that supports key business objectives. Think of it as a checklist of things you need to do when optimizing any piece of content across channels. A content strategy is a high-level planning process.
Content strategy is different from content marketing as the latter is the day-to-day process of creating, publishing and promoting content.
A good content strategy does not just ensure that you are ranking high on search engines but also generates compounding traffic every month.
A few things to do when creating a content strategy for your business include:
Know your audience
What key problems does your product/service solve?
How can you communicate your business solutions across different mediums and channels?
Competitor research and benchmarking
What channels will you focus on? And what is the frequency of publishing?
A content strategy is an ever-evolving process and is unique to each business. Thus, a content strategy that works for a B2B company may not work for a B2C company. Every content strategy needs to keep the end business goals in mind.
When creating a content strategy for your business, it is important to map out the consumer journey and provide appropriate content at every step of the buying journey. Think of your content offerings in the form of a funnel- the most popular content up top and the most important, conversion-driven content at the bottom. The three funnel stages of any content strategy cycle can look like this:
1. Top of the Funnel Content
Content at the top of the funnel is all about creating awareness in your audience’s mind about the problem that exists and potential solutions for the same. The channels included here are those that are seen by a wider audience like blog posts, social media posts, infographics, newsletters, etc.
2. Middle of the Funnel Content
Middle of the funnel content is for when the user is in the evaluation phase. They understand the problem and the solutions but need a bit more convincing on why they should choose you and not your competitors. Surveys, whitepapers, datasheets, webinars and events are some channels to consider for the middle of the funnel content.
3. Bottom of the Funnel Content
The bottom of the funnel is the final stage where the user is ready to make a purchase. Here the content should only focus on creating a conversion resulting in a successful sale. Some forms of the bottom of the funnel content include demo request pages, customer success stories, product specification sheets, etc.
It is important to keep the user engaged throughout each of the funnel stages, secure as many leads as possible and convert them into paying customers for your product or service.
Irrespective of what your end goals are, any content optimization strategy should focus on optimizing content for three key areas- user engagement, discoverability through search engines, and being able to create conversions for your business.
Read more on how to create a content strategy roadmap.
Web pages are created to respond to a user’s search queries or questions. When optimizing a web page for users, your pages need to semantically connect with top user search query terms, succinctly answer user questions and have in-depth related content on the topic being discussed on the web page.
Search engines are concerned not only with delivering the most relevant information but also with delivering the correct information.
They want to be sure that the sites they recommend have a high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. E-A-T is one of Google's patented methods of knowing which pages to trust and protecting searchers from low-quality content that may show up for a search query.
Google relies on human input through quality raters who follow its guidelines to assess E-A-T. Google’s algorithms are believed to correlate these inputs to related signals discoverable on the web such as reviews, backlinks and author information. Over the past few years, Google has been launching various core updates starting with the first major such algorithm update believed to have incorporated E-A-T feedback from quality raters.
Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That's like almost 200 pages of things to consider: https://t.co/pO3AHxFVrV— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) August 1, 2018
1. Be an Expert
You must understand how to communicate this knowledge in an engaging manner. It all comes down to not only having the information but also knowing what your audience wants and how to deliver it to them in the most effective way.
Determine what your target audience is looking for, then meet and exceed their expectations. Try to understand the searcher's intent and tailor your content to meet those needs as much as possible. Clearly identify the authorship of your content so readers and bots can ascertain the authoritativeness of your content.
2. Show Authoritativeness
Authority is built over time. When you become an expert in your field and others within your industry vertical start citing or sourcing your content and brand, then you have gained authority.
This authority is reflected in your domain authority scores. It is important to note that authority is a very relative concept.
3. Build Trustworthiness
While expertise and authority are factors that can help your rankings, a lack of trustworthiness can easily hurt your rankings on Google.
You will suffer on Google if you do not control any negative sentiment about your brand on review websites and forums. Fundamentally, you should delight your customers, and if they have any complaints, you should address them before you have too much negativity associated with your brand. In their guidelines, Google makes it very clear that having too many negative reviews is a sign of poor quality.
Our content optimization plan has incorporated our target audience’s perspective into the mix. Now let us look at the other aspect for which we need to optimize content- for search engines.
More than 53% of website traffic comes from search engines such as Google, Bing, and Baidu—but 9 out of 10 sites don’t get any traffic at all from search. Just like your product or service, your content also needs regular updates and stay up to date with the users’ needs.
Search engines provide an evergreen source of traffic as long as your content is fresh and relevant.
While search engines are the top source of traffic generation, getting indexed by Google is not enough. Several on-page, off-page and technical efforts need to be addressed in order to rank the web page high and generate traffic.
On-page content optimization refers to efforts taken on a web page that ensures improved rankings. On-page optimization is the first step when optimizing the content for SEO.
Your search engine rankings and readership are likely to be low if you don't have the high-quality content that search engines want. At the same time, even the best content won't help you if your target audience can't find your website.
That is why it is critical to write SEO and user-friendly content that people enjoy reading on a regular basis. Some best practices to follow when doing on-page content optimization include:
1. Focus on Relevance
Keywords act as a proxy for customer intent and how people express it when searching online, indicating whether your content is valuable and meaningful to your customers. Including top keywords for which your page is ranking in the meta tags, heading tags, and body copy can further improve page ranking and click through rates.
You don't want to optimize for one keyword, but rather a group of keywords related to an idea, if you want to increase your visibility. Your goal should be to create keyword clusters by combining related keywords.
2. Heading Structure and Hierarchy
Header tags, which range from H1 to H6, are used to create an outline and add structure to web pages. Using headings correctly can help Google clearly distinguish between the main content and the supplemental content of longer content pieces.
Each page on your website must contain an H1 heading tag. Multiple H1 tags should be avoided because they confuse search engines and users by implying that the content is about several main topics. Also, don't use the same header text on every page.
3. Internal and External Linking
Adding links to other pages on your website helps search engines understand how your web page sits within the site map. When thinking about adding internal links, the anchor text plays a crucial role. Using a relevant anchor text with descriptive keywords that help indicate the context of the page linked to.
Similarly linking to external web pages that are highly authoritative and trustworthy with high domain scores can help with your own page ranking. This is akin to paying it forward but in advance. Don’t hesitate linking to a site that helped you author your content and you too will be rewarded with high-quality links over time. Your most discerning readers may want to know how you reached the conclusions presented.
4. Optimizing Images and Videos
Besides the main copy on your webpage, images and videos are other pieces of content that should be optimized. For images on your page ensure faster loading and optimize image file sizes. Add keyword-rich alt text to all images on the web page. Avoid any temptation to insert keyword-rich text that doesn’t truly relate to the graphical content.
Like images, use relevant keywords in the title, description, and tags of your videos. Add a transcript of the video to the page as well. For indexing, search engines crawl the text on a page. A transcript allows search engines to comprehend your video content and rank it for relevant search terms.
On-page optimization is just the first step to optimizing content for search engines. Now we need to look at off-page and technical optimization efforts. Both of these are key ranking factors considered by search engines.
Off-page optimization refers to any efforts taken outside the actual webpage to ensure improved ranking on search engines. Off-page optimization efforts help improve several ranking factors for a website like relevance, authority, trustworthiness, and traction.
Off-page optimization is achieved when trusted and reputable websites link, promote or vouch for your web pages. This process is called building backlinks.
Backlinks are links to your web pages by other websites. Backlinks or incoming links are considered as ‘votes’ by search engines and indicate that your content is valuable, credible and useful for users. Generating backlinks improve your web pages’ authoritativeness and help them rank higher on search engines.
Some best practices that you can follow to ensure that your web page is backlink worthy include:
1. Create Content that is ‘Linkable’
The easiest way to earn backlinks is to create content that is shareable. Pick a topic that is popular and write in-depth content on it. This way it can get picked up by a number of other reputable websites and earn you several authoritative backlinks.
Follow all the on-page optimization efforts to ensure that our content piece is not just informative but also well structured.
2. Combine Backlink Building Strategy with Other Marketing Efforts
Backlink building is a process that does not happen in a silo. It needs to be complemented by several other factors like email marketing, social media marketing, and search engine marketing.
So look at ways you can earn backlinks through other marketing campaigns and brainstorm ideas with different teams in your organization.
3. Focus on your Target Group
While it is good to have several websites pointing to your content, you need to make sure that those sites have a similar target audience as your own. You want to stick to your niche. Targeting your customer personas from multiple websites only means more visibility and chances of turning website visitors into potential leads.
Since acquiring backlinks is so essential, every content optimization effort for search engines needs a good backlink and mentions strategy. Reach out to potential websites that you would want linking back to you. Promote your content on social media channels to increase your chances of earning backlinks and improving visibility within your industry.
Some points to note when building a backlink strategy are:
1. Think Backlink Quality and not Quantity
It is very easy to get lost in the number game when it comes to backlinks. But your focus should be on the quality and domain score of the websites linking to you.
You need to find the right balance of trustworthy, reputable and popular websites. Credible news sites, blogs serving your niche, and reputable review sites can be some websites you want to be linked from.
2. Use Keyword-Rich Anchor Texts
Anchor text is clickable text with an HTML hyperlink included in the body copy. You want to ensure that the anchor text used to link to your web pages is keyword-rich and describes the target page. An ideal anchor text should include the exact keyword or variations of the keyword you are trying the page to rank for.
3. Ensure Topical Alignment with Sites’ Linking to
As stated above, you want to stick to your niche. So when looking at websites that you want to link to your web pages, consider only those that align with the subject matter and topics you write about.
4. Links Should Ideally be ‘DoFollow’
Finally, you want to ensure that most links added by a third-part website to your website have a rel=”dofollow”. A dofollow link is one that more explicitly aids SEO by identifying the link as worth following and hence gaining more authoritativeness on the topic. This passing of authority is often referred to as "link juice." Dofollow backlinks are more likely to help improve a website's domain authority, or domain rating, which will help improve keyword ranking.
Dofollow and nofollow backlinks are two methods for identifying a link and instructing Google on how to associate the website to which you are linking with your website. Dofollow links pass authority to a website, whereas nofollow links may not explicitly pass authority.
Now that we have ensured that on-page and off-page optimization efforts are taken care of, the final step is to ensure that our web pages load, run and deliver smoothly on search engines. We want to ensure page experience parity across browsers and devices by taking certain technical SEO measures.
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimization efforts that help search engine spiders to crawl and index your website better. Technical SEO helps give the boost to your content that it needs to gain increased search engine visibility.
Some technical optimization efforts for content include:
1. Navigation and Site Structure
For a variety of reasons, the structure of a website is an important SEO factor. Users are more likely to stay on a website longer and find what they are looking for faster, and search engines can better understand and index a website.
a. Use XML Sitemaps to Ensure Indexation
An XML Sitemap is an XML file that lists all of the pages/posts on your website. Aside from their title, it also includes the date they were published and the date they were last updated. When crawling a website, search engines can use the XML sitemap as a guide.
Ensure that your sitemap is automatically updated whenever a new page is published or an existing page is updated.
A breadcrumb menu is a group of links at the top or bottom of a page that allows users to navigate to a previous page or the website's home page.
A breadcrumb menu serves two purposes: it allows users to easily navigate a website without having to use their browser's back button, and it provides another hint to search engines about the structure of a website.
2. Add Relevant Schema Markups
Adding schema markup can help you stay ahead of the competition. There are multiple structured data entries that you can add to your web pages. Creating detailed ‘schema markups’ provides search engines with more insightful information about your web pages and improves chances of getting a prominent SERP entry with rich results and rich snippets.
A canonical URL should be assigned to each page of your website. This is done by including the link rel="canonical" href="yourpageurl"> tag in the <head> section of your posts and pages.
Canonicalization is a simple method of telling Google which version of a page to consider when indexing your website and while it may not look critical initially, it helps over time as the page may evolve and get referred to with URL variations. The idea is similar to the preferred domain, where a single page is accessible via multiple URLs.
4. Website Page Speed Optimization
Google emphasises the importance of page speed in all of its SEO recommendations, and studies show that faster websites outperform slower websites.
Increasing website speed is a technical issue that necessitates changes to your website and infrastructure. To ensure the best user experience across your website, you should optimize website page speed and Core Web Vital scores across the board.
5. Ensuring Mobile-Friendliness
The majority of your users are on mobile, and with Google's introduction of the mobile-first index, your rankings will suffer if you don't have a fast, mobile-friendly website.
When optimizing for mobile, ensure content parity with desktop, that pages load in quickly, and that popups are avoided on mobile.
We have optimized content for search engines and it is serving key user intents with high E-A-T scores. The final thing any piece of content should be able to do is to convert and create a sale for your business.
Every piece of content is a lead generation opportunity. A good content optimization strategy also includes ways to add content conversion triggers on relevant pages. This includes call-to-action buttons, subscription forms or notification pop-ups.
A good content conversion strategy is one where the user does not feel pressured to follow up but does so automatically.
When creating compelling landing pages for conversion make sure to reduce the number of steps involved to the actual conversion by immediately letting users know what needs to be done. Look for ways to naturally include a call to action or internal linking opportunities.
Content Optimization is still a manual process. It requires ploughing through several different optimization tools, tracking your own and competitor data, and involves coordination amongst several teams in your enterprise. This can waste tons of time and effort for your business without having much to show in terms of returns on the work done.
1. What Pages to Optimize?
Should you optimize every piece of content on your website or focus on the relevant, high-ranking pages only? This question is the starting point of every content optimization cycle. The question becomes even more relevant for enterprises with hundreds to millions of pages and relatively limited resources to optimize content.
There is no clear answer to this question. Every website, tool and resource suggest different approaches.
2. Scaling Content Optimization Quickly
Content optimization is still a very manual effort wherein you optimize a single web page at a time or apply similar optimization efforts to a few key pages. No existing tool can facilitate a quick and comprehensive content optimization cycle at scale for top key landing pages.
For an enterprise with lots of pages, the current content optimization cycle can be frustrating and time-consuming.
3. Competitive Benchmarking for Content Optimization
When you want to rank high on search engines, your content optimization edits are guided by the content on top competing pages. Competitive benchmarking for content on pages is a slow, manual and difficult task. While many tools can give you visibility on keyword data, backlinks, and domain authority of competitors - there is no visibility around the shift in topical authority, market share gains or optimizing for user search intents.
4. Tracking ROI for All the Content Optimization Work
There is no sure way to know how your content optimization work has impacted clicks, impressions, rankings, and lead generation. Existing tools leave a lot of room for guesswork and there are no clear indicators to link content optimization efforts with key business metrics.
All these shortcomings can make content optimization a challenging task for enterprises and the various teams involved.
The Quattr platform helps you overcome the above shortcomings with the current process and helps you optimize the content on web pages at scale and generate exceptional ROI. The Quattr platform can help you
Identify key pages for top search intents with the greatest need for optimization
Help optimize web ages for keyword clusters instead of individual keywords
Provide a content editing environment with a side-by-side view of the most relevant parts of related content from competing pages
Make improvements to your content & re-evaluate how those changes improve your content quality and relevance scores
Offer quantified metrics that measure the competitive impact of changes in content