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The Guru's Guide to Content Optimization

Content marketing has risen its profile over the last few years, exploding in growth as it looks to overtake alternative advertising methods. But it's content's more native and organic essence that brands and marketers alike have come to love, now appreciating how powerful this tactic can really be for visibility on search engines.

However, like all SEO marketing techniques, content needs love and attention - and plenty of it. Producing exceptional quality material is one part of this equation, but you then need to ensure it's seen by all the right people. So how exactly are you meant to hit the nail on the head? That's a lot of boxes to tick.

Well, that's where content optimization comes in and, and without it, your hard work will end up as wasted time and energy. So in this guide, we're outlining every step you need to take to ensure your SEO efforts pay off, landing more eyes on your work and even more organic traffic in your pipeline. 

 

Why do we even need content optimization?

Truthfully speaking, you don't need content optimization, but going without it won't get you very far on search engines. If you don't have goals for skyrocketing your organic traffic and traction - be it brand awareness, leads, social engagement, conversions, or the like - then tweaking your content to appeal to certain online channels isn't as much of a priority. But for the majority of us, it's definitely high up on our list of things to tackle.

Work your way through each of this guide's sections on content optimization tools and tips, and you'll end up as a wizard that knows all the ins and outs of this field. In essence, this level of 'marketing magic' ensures your material appeals to algorithm guidelines on search engines like Google, has a focus on user value and is able to amplify your visibility (i.e. organic traffic) where possible. This is usually done through the use of high-volume keyword placement, social virality within the content itself, and the ability to drive impact across an audience. And we're going to show you exactly how that's all done. 

First thing's first. Let's dive into the why of content optimization, and get you off that fence that you're sitting on. 

1. It helps you rank in search results pages (SERPs)

At its most basic level content optimization is important because it helps your site rank higher in search engine results pages. But, if you don't do enough testing or follow best practices, you could end up doing more harm than good. So, it's important to make sure you go about all of this the right way (another trick we will show you).

How does content optimization push your rankings upwards? Through a nifty combination of:

  • including links to and from your content (internal and external)

  • using social signals like mentions and shares to demonstrate quality

  • use your keywords as anchor text for backlinks

  • use keywords for bigger search visibility and Google crawlability.

If we're being honest, the above list is only a few pieces of the puzzle, but because we're gurus ourselves, we're going to show you the overall picture and end result. 

2. It drives social engagement

When you spend time creating high-quality and optimized content and really work away at it using a strategy, you're likely to receive more traction when you share it across your social platforms. Why? Because you've put in the effort to understand your audience's pain points, what they're interested in and whether they're likely to respond. If you have done all of this optimization correctly, you will pique their interests and land interaction with them. 

Social signals are also a great way to prove to Google that you mean business. By someone sharing your content and saying, "Hey, look at this great piece I found on XYZ", they're really saying that the world can trust what you have to say. And that's something Google loves

3. Your content can educate an audience

When you spend time doing content optimization appropriately, you'll allow for better structure and readability that gives each of your readers the value they desire. This in turn nurtures and educates them, creating loyalty to your brand overall. At the end of the day, you want to be seen as the credible source that your prospects can go to when they need their problems solved, and using content optimization tools are a great way to prove that you can be that source.

4. It's a super powerful way to turn visitors into leads

When lead generation is a big priority - which it should be - content optimization enables you to drive loyalty through the point we mentioned above. When you engage and educate an audience enough that they trust you, they're more likely to jump on board and invest in your offering when they need products and services like yours. When you're front of mind and knowledgeable, trustworthy and reliable, why would they go anywhere else to have their needs met? It's pure human nature in the form of lead generation. Use it to your advantage!

5. You can build authoritative backlinks

When you spend time on content optimization and put your heart and soul into it, it can feel like a grind at times. However, when you find that a credible website has linked to your article, it's all worth it. Gaining a high-authority backlink like this is crucial for SEO and well-written content is the best way to gain these organically. 

 

Part 1: Optimize your web page's metadata and URL

Before you even get started diving into content optimization on your actual web pages, you need to first ensure that the specific URL you're working on is playing its part in the equation. This includes tweaking:

  • the title tag

  • meta descriptions

  • meta keywords

  • the structure of the URL itself.

In this section, we'll show you exactly how to do that, helping you to build the perfect foundation for your material. 

How to optimize title tags for any search engine

The title tag is a very important piece of content on your website. It’s the first thing people see when they arrive on your page and it can be the most powerful tool for attracting visitors, as well as directing them where to click. It's also one of the most vital parts of search engine optimization. To optimize your title tag correctly, you must focus on three things:

  1. the keywords you want people to find your site about.

  2. the words you don’t want to use in your title.

  3. what information should appear before and after your title tag. 

How to choose a title tag 

When creating your title tag, make sure that it includes all the information you want to be found for. The more specific your title tag is, the easier it will be for people to find it.  You can use a number of SEO content optimization tools to find out what keywords people are searching for when they arrive at your page.

In addition to keyword research tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, there are free tools like Google Trends that show you what keywords people are searching for in real-time. The best tools, however, are often paid - like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Ubersuggest is another great option with a limited free version that can help you pinpoint high-volume keywords. (We dive into more helpful tools later on in this article.)

For instance, using Ubersuggest, we at OMG can identify beneficial keywords that we can use in our title tag to show Google exactly what that specific URL is all about. Because this is one of the first things the bots that crawl the page look at, it's important to ensure we have chosen the most used phrases.

Keyword Ideas

Once you've found a phrase pulling enough search volume using your best content optimization tools, you can decide whether it's suitable and powerful enough to be in your title tag.

If you're good with HTML, the code looks like this:

Location of title tag in HTML

Source: ShivarWeb

In search results and on your page tab, it looks like this:

Digital Marketing Blog  OMG

In other words, title tags are your page titles, and you might also hear them being referred to as website titles or HTML titles. At the end of the day, they display 60-70 characters that portray the overall topic and core of your page's material.

Creating the perfect meta description

Just like your title tag, you need to build a meta description that summarizes what your web pages are about. Again, this snippet shows up in SERPs and displays 156 characters including spaces (give or take), so ensure your words stay within this limit. Just like your title, it's beneficial to pop in a keyword, but don't go overboard. Include your company name, a way to contact you and a call to action - i.e. "shop now for 50% off".

The same dos and don'ts also apply: keep it all unique, make sure they're appropriate and well-optimized with relevant keywords that matter to the page. It should also compel the user to take action and create a sense of urgency.

Digital Marketing Blog OMG 2

Including meta keywords 

At a glance, your meta keywords is a specific tag that appears in the HTML of that URL, telling Google exactly what the topic is for that page. Without this, you're lacking clarity and context for your page, so it's crucial you never skip this step. 

It looks like this:

meta keywords

Source: WordStream

As usual, you'll need to choose a keyword that directly relates to that the web pages you're working on. There's no point targeting dog beds if you specialize in bird cages, for example. Users hate irrelevant search results just as much as Google does.

Not sure if meta keywords are that integral? Recently, SEM Pro surveyed marketers on their use of this optimization tactic. Just under 70% said they always include meta keywords, and not one said they never do. Imagine all of your competitors optimize their content using this technique and you choose not to - you're already lagging behind.

How to optimize your URLs for SEO

While content optimization usually includes the body material on the page itself, you still need to ensure your URL is well-structured and appeals to SEO. 

A URL is the best way to get people to your website, but it's not necessarily the best way to get them there in a meaningful way. When you choose the right level of optimization, you can increase the chances that they'll stick around to see what the page is about.

To optimize your URL correctly, you need to do three things:

  1. make sure your URL is relevant and compelling 

  2. make sure your URL is search engine-friendly

  3. use a URL that describes what your page does, not just who or where it is.

It also needs to be clear and concise enough not to overwhelm or confuse users. Nothing's worse than a massively long URL that screams "spam" or "redirect". Here's an example of a simple URL structure that appeals to both SEO and the user:

  OMG SEO agency URL

While this is obviously our website, the page we're viewing is about our SEO services as an agency. Combined with the title tag (which you know all about) it's clear what users can expect from viewing the entirety of the page.

OMG SEO Services

It's really that easy. You don't need to re-invent the wheel here. It's mostly all about using common sense.

 

Part 2: Optimizing content on-page

It's commonly misunderstood that all you need to do is throw a few keywords around when you create content and Google will do the rest. While that used to be somewhat the way 10 years ago, the SEO world has changed. A lot

As content marketers, we now need to focus on readability, quality, and value. That takes work, too. So be prepared to invest time and energy into creating really great guides and material that solves your audience's problems. (Like this guide!)

In this section, we'll run you through how to create engaging material that's also able to tick all those big boxes for rankings on Google.

Writing engaging content

It makes sense that Google wouldn't favor or prioritize websites that don't share timely, helpful content that's relevant and able to answer their users' biggest questions. This is where using the right content optimization tools is really important, ensuring that you're proving to this giant that you're able to appeal to their business model and reap the rewards of rankings at the same time.

So what's at the essence of this part of content optimization? Credibility.

Here's how to create that.

To build a content strategy that both audiences and Google love to consume, write about your particular focus keyword but focus on quality first. Forget the SEO elements for a second and just focus on your piece being as good as it possibly can be.

  1. Write for yourself first: Pretend like you're educating yourself on the topic. How would you relay all their information in a way that you can understand it and want to read it? You need to understand why you're writing anything in the first place. Don't create content for the sake of it; that's the biggest mistake marketers make these days. You need to invest your heart and energy into it because you value the topic.

  2. Don't use words just because they sound good. Oh, dear. Seriously, while we all like to sound fancy, avoid the jargon and fluff. Nothing is more frustrating as a reader than not understanding what the content is even talking about because the language doesn't fit the bill. It's easy to fall into the trap of writing content with a page full of cliche terms that your think will make the reader feel warm and fuzzy inside. But they won't. (Content marketers, we're looking at you. We're all guilty of this.)

  3. Consider timely trends: There's a reason why news sells so well - it's relevant in the here and now. Take advantage of what's going on around your industry and wider world and create content that fits this. For example, over the last 19 months, COVID-19 has been a big talking point and brands from all walks of life have produced a content strategy around it. This keeps them in the news and relevant enough to solve their audiences' current problems. It's smart and makes sense.

  4. Make use of People Also Ask on Google: Sometimes you just need inspiration on what to write about. Luckily, Google delivers with its nifty native feature that covers all the most commonly asked questions on your specific search query. Use it as a content optimization tool for questions you can include as talking points. People are obviously needing those questions answered, so answer them!

People also ask

Source: Google

Tip: If you want a free tool to help you out with this, AnswerThePublic is worth bookmarking.

Keep new content coming

Nothing pleases Google more than fresh, relevant, and quality-focused, optimized content. If you focus your strategy around forming really great stuff that's consistent and new, you'll really hit the sweet spot. Aim to add to your content marketing weekly, if possible, and work on making sure it's filled with substance - no short posts, for example. (You'll notice how long this one is. But it works - we've covered everything.)

Remember that trends come and go, so just as we've said above, it's important to use these changing tides as a way to shift and update your SEO content. As trends change, write high-quality content and amend your existing

The perfect tool for this? Google Trends. Bookmark it and be prepared to love it endlessly.

Trending content

Source: Google Trends

Use keyword research tool for better content performance

Just like you would have touched on in step one, you'll need to carry out keyword research to understand what your audience cares about or what you need to target within your SEO content marketing. 

An SEO keyword strategy relies on a number of factors, like team brainstorming, your offering, competitor activity, current rankings, and location. Use all of this to come up with phrases that make sense to target.

However, the trick here is not to target phrases that are simply out of your league. What we mean by this is that keywords are naturally competitive to target in some industries, so you'll need to pick and choose wisely. There's no point wasting time, energy, and resources on phrases that you simply won't get search engine rankings for because too many competitors are (most with hugely authoritative domains) or they don't pull traction at all.

Again, use a tool like Ubersuggest or Keyword Planner to track down related keywords and to understand the nature of their competitiveness. You'll need to consider factors such as:

  • Keyword difficulty: Another over 30 in KD might be too hard to rank for. Consider a score lower than this.

  • Volume: How many searches does your chosen phrase pull monthly?

  • Preciseness: Is your keyword too broad? Long-tail keywords that are more specific often perform better - i.e. "digital marketing agency in the USA" over "digital marketing".

  • Competitors: What are your competitors targeting and is there low-hanging fruit you can use here?

  • Authority: How well known is your chosen keyword within your industry? Does it make sense to target? Will it drive more traffic if you publish content and rank for it in Google SERPs?

Where to place your keywords

The tricky thing about content optimization is that placing target keywords in your material - be it a blog post or on-page SEO - doesn't have a hard and fast rule to follow. But we do know there are some best practices, such as:

  • Place keywords in your main heading (H1) and sub-headings (H2s, H3s, etc).

  • Place within your body text but don't overdo it. A good rule of thumb is that if it sounds 'spammy', it probably is. Tools like SurferSEO or a density checker can help you here to make sure you're not crossing the line. Most marketers aim for 1-2% densities, for example.

  • Place within your anchor text links to that page. For example, on your 'dogs bed' page, you might have a mention of 'bird cages' in there (somehow) and include an embedded link to that page, with 'bird cages' being your primary keyword.

Remember, you'll also need to put your keywords in your title tag and meta description. If you're worried you'll forget all the places you need to include them, a great way to keep across all of it is using a great tool like Yoast plugin.

Finally, using your phrases in order of importance is also a great way to approach your strategy. Just like in news and journalism, the pyramid method works wonders for this. 

keyword pyramid

Source: BKA Content

This means putting your most important keywords towards the top of your blog posts and content pages, ensuring they're crawled and seen, and then taper them down to your least important - i.e. the less volume-based phrases. 

Optimize images, videos and alt tags

Next in line is ensuring all of the finer features are well-optimized as well. This means examining your image alt tags, meta tags, and text, your video snippets, and other aspects to double-check that they all align with your strategy.

For example, to optimize an image for SEO, you'll use the 'Alt attribute' (usually by right-clicking in your CMS, i.e. WordPress) and include a short description of what the image is about, as well as its caption tag.

image settings

Source: Yoast

Use plain and simple language with a keyword. When you upload the image to the website, it will display this text.

To optimize a video for SEO, include a description and think about what keywords people might use to find it on a platform like YouTube. You can also use an SEO tool like Keywords.io to exclusively look at YouTube keyword trends. If you're embedding it in your content on-page, make sure you add alt tags.

Don't forget your call to action when you optimize content

"Quick! Read our guide on A-Z of SEO to ensure you're up-to-date on the techniques your competitors are already using!"

See what we did there? Creating a compelling call to action that drives urgency is integral to your content optimization strategy and overall content marketing tactics, beyond an SEO level. It's the lead generation factor you need to finally persuade your audience into taking action. You've just spent all this time and energy creating some awesome content, and you want to drive influence from it as a result.

If you can include a link to a downloadable or another internal page, this is a great place to do it. Alternatively, give them an easy way to get in touch or get the incentive you're trying to promote.

Final content optimization factors

Now that you've gone through all of the nitty-gritty things above, you need to finish off by making sure your website speed can handle your visitor traffic. Having great content is all well and good, but if your site is going to fall vulnerable to slow load times, all of your hard work is wasted. Plus Google hates slow websites.

Additionally, you need to ensure your website is well-optimized for other platforms - like mobile or smart devices. more than 60% of Google's searches stem from mobile devices these days, so it's important that you're tailoring your strategy to target this activity. Another fun statistic for you: Mobile searches for phrases featuring the word 'best' have grown over 80% in the past two years. Yikes.

 

The best content optimization tools

You have all the tips you need to perfectly optimize your content, but we wouldn't leave you empty-handed without a super helpful list of tools we love to help you along the way. Here are some of our favorites, including those we've mentioned in this article. 

This freebie platform is a great way to conduct basic research into target keywords and to understand where to start building your strategy. It will show you all of the insights we've listed above, and more.

If you're after an all-rounder, BuzzSumo tracks the biggest insights and trends across content and keywords, no matter your niche. It's not cheap, though, with a premium setting you back a few hundred per month. You can get a free 30-day trial to test it out, though.

Just like BuzzSumo, you will need to pay for this, but the tool is super handy for helping you improve rankings by giving you a recommendation checklist. it will give you a score and how to fix it in order to increase that figure. For those that need direction, it's perfect.

As mentioned above, this SEO writing assistant is a newer player to the field but has risen to popularity for its easy content optimization features. Using AI, the platform helps marketers generate content that competes with other domains and appeal to search queries. While the briefing features of this platform is still in beta form, there's plenty to enjoy from this piece of software, especially when you're lost on how to optimize content for search engines.

If you're ready to invest a bit of money into resourcing, these two platforms should be high up on your list. We've grouped them together because they offer much of the same, so it's more a matter of personal preference. Analyze absolutely everything about your SEO campaign and even your competitors' strategies. Understand keyword insights and trends, search volumes, search intent (i.e. informational vs navigational), opportunities to rank for featured snippets, and monitor performance from start to finish. The only downfall is that they can be pricey, with costs starting at $119.95/month and $99/month respectively. Trials are available.

Other content optimization tools worth noting:

  • Ubersuggest

  • Prepost Keyword Density Checker

  • Grammarly

  • Ultimate Keyword Hunter

  • Google Keyword Planner

  • Google Trends

  • Answer The Public

  • Keywordtool.io

  • Keywords Everywhere (especially the Google Chrome extension).

  • Google Search Console (of course)

 

What if all you needed for explosive growth was expert guidance?

We hope you enjoyed this guide on the best process and content optimization tools to help you gain better search engine results. You're now a guru like us, but if you need an extra hand or want to really kick off your SEO campaign for massive growth, get in touch with our digital marketing agency experts now. We'll even hand you a free audit on your current performance and where the opportunities sit for your website. And there's no obligation.

Grab yours now!

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