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May 8, 2017

The Ultimate Guide for Optimizing Content for SEO

SEO Targeting
Photo Credit: Augur Marketing via flickr

“Content is the reason search began in the first place.”

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing

In a mere two years, it is predicted that content marketing will become a $300 billion industry.

This figure should come as no surprise considering the unfathomable amount of content that is produced each and every day.

The problem for small business owners, however, is competing in the content arena as seemingly every business on Earth is busy pumping out blogs, articles, videos, infographics and every other form of content available.

Content creation only becomes more difficult as the noise significantly increases and search algorithms like Google’s Hummingbird takes power away from keywords and the Panda algorithm demotes “thin content.”

All of this means that content needs to be more informative, valuable, unique and optimized for user intent and search engines.

While you should never write content with search engines in mind, you do need to consider how your content is viewed and analyzed by these bots; and that’s what SEO is all about.

If your brand is struggling to produce meaningful results with its content marketing efforts, here is everything you need to know about optimizing your materials for SEO purposes.

Know Every Little Detail about Your Audience

In order to develop content that will rank well, you need to write materials people actually want to read. This means that you need to first understand your audience’s interests, pain points, behaviors and other defining characteristics.

This can’t be accomplished via guesswork. The easiest way to ascertain these details is to ask your audience who they are, where they live, what they love, etc. Voice of the Customer surveys are priceless in determining these attributes.

Additionally, creating buyer personas will help to identify potential interests and struggles that you could create content to address.

Doing these two tasks will let you know who you are writing for and what they are seeking.

Your research, however, should not end there. . .

Study the Competition

You have competitors in your niche who are producing their own content, so study the topics they are covering and determine how the content is performing. This will help you identify unrealized opportunities and not produce similar materials that end up underperforming. Likewise, if you tackle the same topics as your top competitors, do so with more detail, intrigue and value.

Tools like QuickSprout  and Buzzsumo can help you understand more about your competitor’s strategies, how to optimize your own materials, and outrank your rivals.

Identify Prosperous Keywords

While keyword implementation is no longer as powerful as user intent, it is still a necessary strategy for targeting specific topics and consumer intentions.

Conduct keyword research for any prosperous content ideas you may have along with what people are searching for in your industry. Then, begin to pair those phrases with the user’s intent to formulate content that addresses the consumer’s need.

Document Your Strategy

This is a big one. This falls in line with the old adage, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Sixty-eight percent of B2B marketers confess to having no documented content strategy and 60 percent of B2B content never sees the light of day. See the correlation? Content that doesn’t fall in a focused strategy is often a wasted effort.

A well-documented content strategy will help you to ensure that you have enough content planned to generate buzz and keep conversations flowing about your products and services.

Create and Optimize Content

With your keywords and strategy in hand, begin developing content on your selected topics. Of course, use your keywords, but do so sparingly. The goal is to write content that flows naturally and serves to answer the user’s search query.

Additionally, be sure to leverage your chosen keywords in specific areas; in your H1, H2, H3 and H4 headings. You will also want to include them in your content’s URL, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Don’t Neglect Images

Image optimization is a crucial component to SEO, yet scads of marketers, business owners, and bloggers fail to implement this strategy.

To effectively leverage images for SEO purposes, it is vital that you utilize keywords for the image’s file name; be sure to use your most important keyword first.

Additionally, include a brief description of the image in the corresponding field. Again, don’t stuff these areas and ensure that the name and description is accurate and flows naturally.

Create Magnificent Meta Descriptions

While meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on SEO, they do have a direct impact on a user’s perception of your page and if they will visit it; the more clicks you get, the better for your rankings.

To effectively drive users to your page from the SERPs, write an alluring and accurate description of the page and what problems it solves. This is easier said than done, but with a bit of practice and a heaping dose of dedication, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s the reaction of your audience that matters; content with loads of clicks from search engines has hit the mark.

Utilize URLs to the Fullest

URLs play an important role in how a page ranks. A URL that is rich (but not stuffed) in keywords has a tendency to rank better than those that are less relevant to the page’s content offerings.

Here you will want to include any keywords or phrases (including long-tailed ones) to provide search engines with further context about the page.

Amplify Accordingly

Similar to meta descriptions, social media does not have any direct impact on SEO, but by promoting your content across these destinations, you are driving more clicks and visits; this ultimately does affect your SEO ranking.

Be sure to promote your blogs, infographics, videos, and other forms of content across your social channels to drive clicks, shares and other forms of engagement.

If your budget permits, promoting your content with social media ads is a great way to boost the awareness and prominence of your content.

Using these steps, you can optimize your content like a boss. Each task above helps you to achieve greater search engine rankings. Just be sure to create comprehensive content that addresses the user’s needs; that is the secret sauce that makes the whole process powerful.

How else can you boost content in the SERPs? What are your biggest pain points in SEO?


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

8 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide for Optimizing Content for SEO

    Thank you… You defined SEO very well… It helped me a lot..

    avatar Dimakh says:

    Hi @Tina,

    Nice article. I think in today’s SEO if you want to achieve higher ranking you have to write genuine content. Because content is the king. Very nice article. Best luck

    avatar Ned says:

    It is always useful to read your articles, and I see that I am on the good path. I would like to know what do you think about the traffic exchange sites? Are they useful for the sites or google don’t like them? It would be great if you can write something about that. Thanks! 🙂

    avatar Adrian says:

    This phrase ” ask your audience who they are, where they live, what they love, etc. Voice of the Customer surveys are priceless in determining these attributes” is now cropping up in every blog on the subject of content. However, no one has yet come up with a suggestion as to how you build your audience in the first place so that you can then ask them. If you are starting from scratch, with no audience, it is very difficult to ask a non-existent group anything.

    Conversely, if you already have an audience, it seems likely that you are already providing the type of content they want to read. Although there is no harm in asking if there are other topics, interests, etc. you may well find you are already meeting their needs.

    Perhaps an article on researching a potential audience would be a good idea for a future blog post.

    avatar sahil jangid says:

    Ranking of the website is completely based on SEO and SEO is so necessary for website ranking and traffic both. It’s a great tutorial post for new SEO learner. Thanks, tina for sharing this post with us………..

    avatar elinaa says:

    very useful seo guide…thanks for sharing

    avatar Vanxas says:

    Wonderful points covered up in the post to consider in developing SEO strategy. Thank you for sharing such an informative post.

    avatar Cleansave says:

    Excellent article, the information provided by sitepronews is extremely valuable, thank you.

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