The Creative’s Guide to Writing Content Optimization
In today’s competitive market, it is important to produce the best content possible to establish your brand, increase credibility and drive traffic. On a daily basis, there are approximately 2.4 million Google searches conducted, 2.3 million blogs published and over a million websites created. The statistics speak for themselves and the question still remains: how can marketers produce content that stands out and competes in this ever-thriving market?
While ads are certainly beneficial, they are complementary to on-page SEO (search engine optimization) or content optimization strategies. Even more importantly, search results from organic reach are free and tend to be preferred by consumers. Yet, with that said, marketers have noticed an overall decrease in organic reach as the market has become more diluted due to its rapid growth. Even with this decline, there are some techniques to ensure that your content not only survives the growing competition, but thrives.
Enter, Content Optimization
There are a few ways marketers can successfully implement content optimization:
- Understanding what content your target audience and industry responds to and what drives that response
- Applying emerging high-impact SEO content tactics.
Identify Target Audience
Firstly, with content marketing it is important to begin with differentiating between audience and traffic. An audience is where you have the opportunity to form relationships with consumers by establishing credibility through your content. This is done by producing unique, original material that identifies and answers some question or need of your audience.
Traffic is different in that, while it does have significant impact on your search engine ranking, it is not the sole contributor. Naturally, it would be useless to accumulate traffic or rank high on the search engine but be unable to establish a customer base. Thus, it is equally important to know what your audience and industry want as well as to ensure that it is findable on search engines.
Secondly, social listening allows you to further identify your audiences preferences.This technique involves closely monitoring the reactions of your consumers and watching for general trends. Through social listening, you can address the individual questions or concerns of your customers regarding your content. Additionally, for content marketing sentiment analysis is an alternative way to understand your audience on an even deeper level.
Sentiment analysis takes social listening a step further in that you can examine how groups of people within your target audience react differently to your content. These different reactions can be categorized into the positive, negative or neutral categories. Once the diversity of your audience is established, you can tailor your content (i.e. webcopy or blog post) differently to each of these groups. This process provides the opportunity to not only dramatically increase the impact of your targeting, but to create high-quality content that resonates with your consumers on a personal level. One way to identify which content performs best with these groups is through cluster analysis.
Cluster analysis takes an even deeper dive into content-marketing audience insights. This process uncovers patterns from information, such as images or keywords, and then organizes it into groups based on similarity (i.e. images of trees). It then compares these things against each other to see how well they perform. This analysis is an excellent way to optimize your content by delivering exactly what your audience wants, when they want it.
To clarify, social listening is more about one on one interactions while sentiment analysis is big picture oriented. Further, sentiment analysis provides a better understanding of how your audience differentiates and how to target them accordingly. Cluster analysis provides further insights into content marketing targeting by demonstrating how elements of the actual content performs with the target audience. It is crucial to apply these techniques to best market and optimize your content.
To further understand ranking, SEO tools and strategies should be applied for content optimization to generate further engagement with your content.
Implementing SEO Techniques
1. Keywords: Increasing your SEO through keyword research can be accomplished using such tools as Google’s keyword planner. Utilizing a keyword that search engines deem relevant to your subject will cause your content to rank higher on the Google search engine. It is important to also note that we are focusing specifically on Google search ranking as most searches, nearly 75%, are done through this platform.
Marketers should avoid keyword stuffing, the practice of overloading your material with keywords. Search engines will rank your content lower if this occurs as it prefers material that specifically answers the searcher’s question. Therefore, it is important that your content is carefully tailored to your target audience and topic instead of being focusing mainly on the keywords.
In light of this, there are a few locations that the keywords should definitely be used: the title, subtitles, headings, subheadings, description, URL and scattered throughout the body of the content. Keywords can also be used in the form of phrases or “long-tailed” keywords to better cater to the question being searched.
Google also provides a “Search Analytics Report” which shows you which keywords searchers are using to find your content.
All of the methods and techniques mentioned above are easy to implement, but keywords alone aren’t enough anymore. The content efforts need to be focused on achieving topic authority.
Topic clusters are a great way to establish this authority by covering the chosen topic in its entirety. The focus of this type of cluster is the topic, not the individual keywords used (typically uses long-tailed keywords). Further, every time one of your pages on a particular subject does well, any pages related to that subject also succeed.
Check out our article on Visual Content Optimization for a similar strategy for Photo/Video
Related pages are typically those that respond to a customer’s question that pertains to the subject addressed on the pillar page (the main page for a topic). These different yet connected pages show google that you have developed relationships between your content, as well as a detailed analysis, furthering your topical authority.
2. History of Content: Another element involved in ranking high on search engines involves the length of time your content has been posted. Google tends to favor content that has a history as opposed to new sites, as it infers some type of credibility. Again, this credibility can be attained by establishing your brand early as an authority on the subject and focusing on building thought leadership with consumers.
3. Linking: Linking is another incredible technique to further drive traffic to your content. Even when using an outgoing link (linking to another site), this establishes the existence of your material and opens the door to your content potentially being linked from other sites (incoming links). One way to effectively utilize incoming links can be done through linking from separate social media sites. Increasing traffic heavily involves the building of trusting relationships and networks even when with competition. Search engines analyze who you are connected to (outgoing and incoming links) and use this information to determine if you are a credible source and therefore, where you rank. Your own credibility is of course tied to the the credibility of the links you provide. Links from acclaimed and verified sources will provide a more sincere context than links from personal blogs.
4. Security: It is crucial that your page include the “s” for security in the HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) portion of the URL. This ensures the consumer that your site will be secure and virus free. This also assists in avoiding a high bounce rate which occurs when a consumer accesses your site and is presented with a “This Site Is Not Safe” notice due to new browser standards.
5. Web Design: In terms of ranking, search engines prefer if your page is “mobile friendly” as of 2016, the use of mobile surpassed desktop usage. Google even offers a tool where sites can test their content to ensure that it performs and is most importantly, mobile friendly.
All these strategies to create optimized content can be deployed or implemented in a fairly short amount of time, but require diligence and plenty of work. For today’s content that means achieving topic authority and knowing how the crawler searches sites and evaluates content. Further, there are additional ways to automate the entire process as a whole to dramatically increase efficiency and performance.
We will be doing an ongoing series on the creative process and how to create content that resonates with your audience throughout the summer, so stay tuned for more information and subscribe above!