Content is the new king. We are living in a content-driven world where people will judge your business based on the quality of your content, rather than just your product or services alone.
In today’s digital age, online users expect businesses to go above and beyond with their own website. That’s why content optimization has become an important technique for boosting user engagement while also improving search engine rankings and conversion rates.
The role of content marketing has grown exponentially over the last few years, especially since Google has begun to favor websites that have useful and relevant content that users want to see. But what exactly is content optimization?
Content optimization involves processes such as keyword research, SEO copywriting, and topic analysis that all help improve user experience by making sure every piece of content on your website is optimized for user intent.
Content optimization is the art of making sure your content is presented to users in the most useful way possible. If an article title and meta description aren’t optimized, for example, users may not find your article when they search for related keywords.
Content optimization isn’t always easy, but there are a few simple strategies you can employ to make sure your content is as effective as it can be.
Content optimization is a broad topic that encompasses numerous subtopics. Fortunately, many of the principles remain the same no matter what type of content you are optimizing.
From understanding how users see and respond to your content to choosing appropriate keywords and images, these 29 strategies will help you optimize your content so that it reaches its full potential.
1. Always Understand User Intent
Before you even start to write a single word of content, you need to understand what your readers want and how they want to receive that information. A critical part of content optimization is understanding user intent, which is the reason someone types a particular search query.
When you know what your users want, you can incorporate that information into your content delivery by matching your content’s format (i.e., length, structure, and style) to the user’s expectations.
What are users searching for when they come to your site? For example, are they trying to find solutions to a problem they have? Or are they just looking for information on a particular topic? Knowing this will help you write content that provides the best solutions.
2. Optimize Images for SEO
Although text-based content may be the foundation of your SEO strategy, visual content is a critical piece as well. Image-based content can be especially useful for expanding your reach to non-English-speaking audiences or for targeting highly-relevant long-tail keywords.
Visual content is also useful for optimizing your images for SEO. Although this isn’t as important for text-based images, images with captions are often overlooked by content marketers. Captioning your images correctly can boost both their ranking and their click-through rates (CTR).
However, optimizing images isn’t as simple as slapping an alt tag on your images and hoping for the best. You need to choose your alt tags carefully, making sure to incorporate your core keyword, along with any variations you want to rank for. You may also want to consider using visual content identifiers to help your SEO strategy for images.
3. Create a Marketing Calendar
One of the best ways to optimize your content for SEO is to create a content calendar. A content calendar is a single document that outlines the topics you plan on covering, their publication dates, and the format each article will take.
When you create a content calendar, you are not only able to plan out your content schedule in advance, you also have more time to research keywords, write captivating titles, and create click-worthy images.
Although a content calendar is useful for all types of content, it is particularly useful for longer-form content. If you plan on publishing in-depth articles, calendars allow you to create a schedule that allows your readers to consume your content at their own pace while still getting the information they need.
4. Write a Perfect Title and Meta Description
Visual content may be an effective way to catch your readers’ attention, but it is the title and meta description that will make or break a click. Once you have created your visual content, you need to optimize it for SEO so that it is listed properly in search engine results.
A typical article on your site will have a title, a meta description, and an alt tag. When it comes to optimizing your titles, keep your core keyword in mind, but don’t overdo it. If you put your keyword in the title, but it doesn’t sound natural, readers are likely to ignore your article.
5. Don’t Forget About SEO in Video Content
Creating video content is another powerful way to boost your SEO strategy, but it can be easy to neglect video optimization. To make sure you are optimizing your videos for the best possible ranking, keep these simple tips in mind:
- Use your core keyword in your video title and description.
- Create compelling visual content.
- Include relevant keywords in your video transcript.
- Make sure your video file name is clear and memorable.
- Create playlists with multiple videos to boost your SEO.
- Make sure each video on your channel has its own page.
- Create a Google My Business page for your business.
- Use rich card video content for more visibility.
6. Bottom-Up Content Research
When you decide what you want to write about, you should always consider who your audience is and what they want to learn from your content. One of the most effective ways to do this is to conduct a bottom-up content research, which involves interviewing members of your target audience to learn what they are interested in.
By interviewing people who fit the demographic of your audience, you can discover what topics they have questions about, what problems they are trying to solve, and what information they would like to receive. Then, you can incorporate this information into your content, making it more relevant to your readers.
7. Keyword Research is Still Important
Keyword research is one of the most fundamental parts of content optimization. Unfortunately, many marketers still rely on outdated keyword research strategies that don’t take advantage of modern search algorithms.
By using modern keyword research strategies, you can improve your keyword targeting, choose more relevant keywords, and even expand your reach to long-tail keywords you wouldn’t have considered in the past. Modern keyword research strategies include:
- Using Long-Tail Keywords. Long-tail keywords are more specific terms that have a lower volume but higher conversion rate than general keywords.
- Not Forgetting About Synonyms. Synonyms are often related terms that can improve your core keyword’s ranking.
- Not Over-Optimizing Your Title and Meta Description. Google has been cracking down on keyword stuffing, so it is important to strike a balance.
- Not Neglecting Other Content on Your Page. Every element of your content can be optimized.
- Using SEO Plugins. SEO plugins, like Yoast SEO, can make it easy to implement modern keyword research strategies.
8. Content Formatting Is Still Important
Although it has become less important than it used to be, proper content formatting remains a critical part of content optimization. Even though search engine algorithms are now capable of understanding the content of your article, your readers still need to read it.
If your article is too long or is formatted in a way that is hard to read, readers are less likely to finish it, let alone share it.
As such, it is important to format your article in a way that makes it easy to read and understandable. These formatting tips can make a huge difference in your content’s readability:
- Use a readable font. Fancy fonts are pretty, but they are also hard to read. Make sure your content is written in a font that is easy to read.
- Break up your content into easily digestible chunks. If your article is too long, readers are less likely to finish it.
- Use subheadings and bullet points to break up your content. They make it easier to read.
- Use spaces between paragraphs. They make your article look neater.
9. Create and Maintain a Content Library
A content library is a collection of your old content that you have published on different dates, on different channels, and in different formats. In other words, it is a library of all your content, in all its variations, that you have repurposed and republished in new articles.
A content library is critical for optimizing your content for SEO, but it is also great for other strategies, like social media growth.
A content library allows you to repurpose your old content and make it new again. You can then use this content on other channels, which can help you reach new audiences and generate traffic.
A content library is particularly useful for long-form content. With a content library, you can publish your long-form content in different forms, like blog posts, eBooks, or whitepapers, for different channels and audiences.
10. Use Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are a great way to boost your SEO strategy, particularly for long-form content. Rich snippets are a few lines of code placed near your article content that contains information about your article. Not only do rich snippets give readers more information about your article, they also help.
11. Make user research part of your editorial process
Before you begin writing any content, it’s important to understand who you are targeting and how they want to be addressed. Who will be reading each article? What is their source of information?
What are their pain points? How can your content address their current challenges and/or spark inspiration? Typical editorial processes generally involve these steps:
- Defining the target audience
- Brainstorming article ideas
- Researching and gathering data
- Formulating an outline based on gathered information
- Writing the article
- Editing and revising the article
It’s important to make user research a part of this process. Once you understand how your audience interacts with content and which topics or challenges resonate most with them, you can approach article creation with a more targeted and relevant focus. This, in turn, helps users respond to your content in a more positive and engaging way.
12. Be intentional with headlines and word choice
When creating headlines, it’s important to be intentional with both word choice and formatting. Many of us have heard to keep headlines to somewhere between 6 and 10 words, but what isn’t always addressed is why this word count is recommended.
For starters, shorter headlines are more likely to appear in Google’s top 10 search results. A recent study found that the average headline length for articles that appeared in the first page of search results was a whopping 34 words!
That’s a lot to take in when scanning the first page of search results. By contrast, articles that appeared in the top 10 with headlines of less than 10 words were more likely to be scannable, with the average length of these headlines being 10 words.
This also gives you more room to be creative and make your headlines more memorable. Because headlines appear in search engine results, social media feeds, and various other places where readers are likely to first encounter your content, it’s important to make them engaging and enticing.
Using relevant keywords and employing formatting tricks like alliteration, numbers, and short paragraphs can help you draw the attention of readers and make your article more likely to be read in its entirety.
13. Leverage Google’s editorial tools
Google’s rich snippet editor can be a powerful tool for content optimization. This tool allows you to make edits to your page, as well as add content that Google might not otherwise be able to see. If you are optimizing content for a webpage, this is a great place to start.
Once you have the content you want to display, you can use the rich snippet editor to add a title, description, and other relevant metadata that will appear in search results. More importantly, the rich snippet editor allows you to actually see how your content will appear in search results. This feature is especially helpful if you are not sure how to best optimize your content.
14. Don’t forget about display ads
While many of us have heard to avoid using display ads, there are actually some good reasons to consider them. First, users may be more likely to click on an ad than click through to your content – even if you are in the top spot.
Second, if you are optimizing content for a website that uses a CMS like WordPress, display ads can be a simple and helpful way to get your content in front of readers’ eyes. That being said, there are a few important things to keep in mind when choosing how to display your ads and what ads to show.
Display ads should be relevant to the content you are optimizing for your website. They also should be short, contain a call-to-action, and be easy to read.
15. Always Test and Track Your Content
One of the best ways to ensure that your content is being optimized efficiently is to test it. While this is something that can’t be done on every piece of content, it’s especially effective when used with major pieces like blog posts, e-books, and whitepapers. There are a number of ways to go about testing your content.
You can try running two different headlines against each other to see which one gets the best response. You can also try to optimize your images by testing different color and types of photos.
Tracking and monitoring your content is equally important. This allows you to track and record how many clicks each piece of content is getting, which social media channels are bringing the most traffic, and what search terms are bringing people to your content.
16. Add Rich Media
While reading an article, do you ever feel like you are simply reading words on a page? If so, you are not alone. While reading is certainly a fantastic source of information and can be incredibly helpful, it’s not the only way that people receive and process information.
There are ways to incorporate visuals and rich media into your articles that don’t disrupt the flow of your content or take away from your message.
You can use images to illustrate points, break up walls of text, and show your personality. Video and audio can be even more helpful in bringing your content to life. You can incorporate images, videos, graphs, and charts into your content in a few different ways.
You can use tools like Canva to create engaging images for your articles. You can use Google Images to find images that are in the public domain. You can also use tools like Visme to create engaging infographics and graphs.
17. Create a Vocabulary for Your Content
Certain words have a specific connotation and meaning. As such, they are not always the best words to use when optimizing your content. To ensure that your content is being presented in the best way possible, you should create a vocabulary list of words to avoid using in your content.
These words can include commonly misused terms, clichés, or other words that don’t accurately describe your content. For example, you likely don’t want to use the word “free” in your content when what you are offering isn’t actually free.
Similarly, you don’t want to use words like “easy” and “simple” when your content is actually complex and difficult to understand. You can also create a vocabulary list of words you want to emphasize in your content. By being intentional with your word choice, you can help readers understand the value of your content more quickly and respond accordingly.
18. Define the Purpose of Each Piece of Content
Before you begin optimizing your content, it’s important to understand what type of content you are working with. This can help guide you towards choosing the most appropriate optimizations for your content. You can do this by asking yourself a few questions about each piece of content:
- What is the purpose of this content?
- What is the intended outcome of this content?
- Who is the intended audience of this content?
By defining the purpose of each piece of content, you are able to make more informed decisions when optimizing it. This can help you avoid getting caught up in unnecessary details and keep your content focused on what is most important.
19. Make sure your most important words are near the start of your title and description
One of the best ways to ensure that your most important keywords are used near the start of your title and description is to use priority words. Priority words are terms that are more important or relevant to your article than others.
You can use priority words when creating your title and description by including them at the beginning of your sentence. This helps Google’s algorithm understand what your article is about, while also keeping your title and description more engaging. While you can’t be sure that Google will use all of your keywords, it’s important to insert them within your content accordingly.
20. Understand How Users View and Respond to Your Content
First, you need to make sure you know how users are viewing and responding to your content. What types of words are people using when they view your content? What are they clicking on and why? These questions will help you make sure your content is being seen and used in the right way.
In addition, you can use readers’ eye-tracking data to see which areas of your page are most likely to be looked at. This information can be extremely useful when optimizing your content, as you can determine where your users are looking and what they are most likely to read.
Finally, you can use clickthrough rates and bounce rates to determine how successful your content is. If users are clicking on your content but not reading it, that’s a good sign that your content isn’t optimized for what they want. Likewise, if users are clicking through to external websites after reading your content, it may be too vague for them to find what they’re looking for.
21. Use Synonyms When Optimizing for Keywords
Most people know that it’s not a good idea to use the same keyword over and over again in an article. However, they may not know that this tactic is also a bad idea when optimizing your content. When people search for a keyword, they’re looking for information.
If your article is titled “Blue Shoes,” but your readers are searching for “blue shoes,” they won’t find what they’re looking for. Instead, you should use synonyms to get your article in front of the right people. If you’re writing an article about blue shoes, you might title it “Blue Sneakers” or “Blue Athletic Shoes.”
22. Make Sure Your Image is the Right Type and Represents Your Content
Your image is the first thing users will see when they click on your article. If you don’t have an image or if it’s the wrong type, you run the risk of users never clicking on your content. When choosing an image, you want to make sure it fits three criteria. First, your image must be relevant to the content of your article.
If you’re writing about blue athletic shoes, you can’t have an image of blue dress shoes. Second, your image must be of high-quality. If the image looks blurry or pixelated, it won’t get the same clicks as a clear, crisp image. Third, your image must be cropped correctly. If you have an image of blue athletic shoes but they take up only a portion of the image, it won’t have the same impact.
23. Have a Good, Working URL
There are two sides to this one. First, you want to make sure your URL is relevant to your content. For example, if you’re writing an article about blue athletic shoes, you might want to use “blue-sneakers” or “blue-athletic-shoes.”
Secondly, you want to make sure your article can be found when people click the link. If your URL is “blue-athletic-shoes-are-good-for-running,” it’s unlikely anyone will click on it. Instead, you want to make your title as short and concise as possible while still including enough information for readers to understand what your article is about.
24. Utilize Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are a great way to get more clicks on your article. They show up on the SERP and include little pieces of information about your article, like the title, author, the publication date, and other data.
To get rich snippets, you’ll need to follow certain SEO rules. Namely, you want to make sure your article is at least 1,000 words and that you’re using the right keywords. However, rich snippets can be a bit of a challenge to optimize. To get them, you need to write a certain type of article that may not be the most appropriate for your users.
25. Produce Unique Content for SEO
While it’s important to follow the right SEO rules, it’s also important to write content that users actually want to read. If you simply follow a formula and plug in the right keywords, your articles will be unhelpful and uninteresting.
To optimize your content, you need to make sure it is truly unique. This means following your natural writing style, using your own unique words, and making sure it is valuable to readers. You don’t want to be spammy, but you also don’t want to be so vague that you’re not providing any value.
26. Write Longer Articles
Longer articles aren’t always the best, but in certain cases, it’s better to have a longer article than a shorter one. For example, if you’re writing about the best blenders on the market, you could write an extremely short article that simply lists the top five blenders.
However, if you’re writing an article about the best blenders on the market and their features, you might want to make it longer so you can include more information. Longer articles are a great way to get more clicks and views because they provide more information. If you’re writing an article about the best blenders, you can include more details about each blender and why it’s best.
27. Test and Track Keyword Usage
Before you publish any new article, you should test the title and meta description to see if it is the most effective way to use that keyword. You can do this easily by entering your title and meta description into a keyword tool, such as Google’s Keyword Planner.
Here, you can select your keyword and see how many searches it gets and how popular it is. You can also plug your keywords into the AdWords keyword tool for more information, including suggestions for similar keywords and how many impressions and clicks each one receives. By testing and tracking your keywords, you can make sure your articles get the most possible impressions and clicks.
28. Show Users Where to Find Your Content
You can have the most amazing article ever written, but if users don’t know where to find it, they won’t read it. You should always include a “read more” or “click here” link in your article to take readers to the full content.
You can also include your article’s headline or a short snippet in your meta description. This way, users will know what your article is about even if they don’t click on the link.
29. Pull Words from your Article’s Meta Description and use them in your ads
You want your ads to grab users’ attention, and you want your ad copy to be compelling and interesting. However, you also want to make sure you aren’t misleading users or promising more than you can deliver.
To make sure your ad copy is effective and doesn’t mislead users, take the keywords from your article’s meta description and use them in your ads. This way, you’re still using the keywords you need to rank but you aren’t overpromising.
These 29 strategies will help you optimize your content so that it reaches its full potential. When you understand how users view and respond to your content, you can use synonyms when optimizing for keywords. You can also make sure your image is the right type and neat.