“Why can’t I just write,” asked one of our clients.
“I hate marketing speak, and the SEO stuff you people talk about kills my writing voice.”
Sounds familiar, right?
What people get when we talk about content optimization is that we can’t write well. It’s as if optimizing our content leaves no room for creativity or that we’re not writing for the reader.
During the early days of Google and SEO writing, good content writing meant writing with search engines in mind. That meant stuffing your content text with keywords.
That was enough to get you ranked. Plus, readers weren’t that picky with the information they consumed online.
As you could have guessed, this didn’t age well. The internet became a dumping site for all manner of garbage in the name of content.
Fast forward ten years later, and the rules changed. Search engines wanted you to strike a balance between pleasing them and pleasing the reader.
These didn’t exactly change things. But it made them slightly better.
Come 2021, and we’re operating with an entirely new set of rules. Google doesn’t want us to beat its algorithm. It wants us to share our expertise, create helpful, trustworthy, and authoritative content.
In short, anything that makes the reader happy also makes search engines happy.
So, What’s Content Optimization?
Content optimization means getting your values worth of content.
It’s the practice of updating and adjusting your website content to make it more appealing to human readers and, by extension, search engines.
You’ve probably heard or read about high-quality content. Well, content optimization is how you achieve that.
Why is Content Optimization so Important?
Content optimization ensures your content is formatted ideally for user consumption, on top of making it crawlable by search engine bots.
Fluffy, factually inaccurate, and thin content is penalized for not meeting the laid down SEO criteria, while comprehensive, highly relevant content is rewarded with a higher rank in the SERPs.
SEO is a mandatory step to get your website’s foot at the door of SERPs. It’s the bare minimum. What you do after that is what determines your rank position.
That said, here are a few more ways content optimization may benefit your business:
More Clicks: A well-optimized piece of content will generate more clicks. Research shows online searchers are 8.5 times more likely to click on organic search results than PPC ads.
More Traffic: A nicely optimized SEO article can bring up to 85% more search engine traffic to your website than paid ads.
More Purchases: Your customers are 131% more likely to go through with a purchase after reading your piece of content.
More Leads: Inbound marketing has been found to produce 3 times more leads compared to outbound marketing.
More Conversion: Research shows content marketing triggers 6 times more conversion than traditional marketing.
More Visibility: Companies that optimize their content for search engines, on average, have 437% more indexed pages than those that don’t.
Does Content Optimization Help with SEO?
The short answer is, yes.
Content is the main pillar that any marketing strategy should be built on, not just SEO.
Google and other search engines only want to rank relevant, comprehensive, high-quality content. That means, they’ll only rank your content if it’s properly optimized for search engines.
A higher ranking translates to more visibility in the SERPs. It also translates to more value to your business’s bottom line, especially since you’ll also be helping your prospects and clients understand your business better.
Understanding Content Optimization
The term content optimization consists of two important words, content and optimization.
Each of the two terms applies to an entirely distinct audience.
For example, while content is targeted to the reader – great content attracts readers, keeps them interested, and encourages them to check out your products and services, optimization is targeted to search engine bots.
That means by not optimizing your content, then you’re risking making it go unnoticed by search engines, which reduces its chances of being read by the masses.
What’s 10x Content?
10x content is the epitome of high-quality content.
It’s simple. Run an online search query and choose the best content from the results shown. Now, produce a piece of content that’s ten times better than the best results shown, and you’ll have produced a 10x piece of content.
So, to define, 10x content is a piece of content that’s 10x better than the best result you can find after searching the internet for any given topic or keyword phrase.
Without optimization, great content is just that, great. But after optimizing it, it becomes competitive for search.
5 Content Optimization Goals
When optimizing your website content, what goals should you have in mind?
1# Securing a Prime Rank in the SERPs
One of the main reasons you’re doing all this is to increase the likelihood of your content piece securing a prime slot in the SERPs.
You want to get your website page to the top of search engine result pages.
That will see to it that your post becomes even more visible, gaining far more clicks as a result.
Here’s what stats have to say about this:
- The first result pages usually hog about 95% of all search engine traffic, with the first result getting 33% of all the clicks made.
That’s to say, the further down you rank, the more traffic you lose. In fact, dropping from position 1 to position 2, makes you lose 33% of the clicks you could have possibly gotten.
- The second position in the SERPs only receives 17% of the clicks, while the seventh position only gets you 3.5% of the clicks.
These figures show how important it’s for you to rank highly in the SERPs, and how many clicks you’re likely to get based on your rank position.
That aside, optimizing your website content could even earn you a more coveted spot, the position zero or rich snippet.
This position gives you more digital real estate in the SERPs, making your search results highly noticeable and clickable.
If you’re worried about how to make it to position zero, that’s one of the things that content optimization does for you.
2# Informs Your Site Visitors
It’s one thing to get people to your site, and quite another to get them to stay.
This is important because Google can tell — just by looking at the number of clicks your site gets, how long users stay on your site, and how many of them return — how beneficial or relevant your site content is.
For instance, if many of the people who click on your site stay long enough to browse through your information, Google will gather they find your information useful and valuable, especially since they care enough to read it.
3# Become an Authority in Your Field
Start creating beneficial, well-researched, informative content to become an authority figure in your field. Be the guy that people turn to for solutions, or when they need help.
That should be the ultimate goal of anyone who creates content.
It’s how you prove to your key audience that you’re an expert in your field, establishing your role as an industry leader.
It takes time and a lot of hard work to achieve this. You also have to be consistent with blogging and optimizing it for search engines and readers.
4# Increase Revenue
That’s what it all boils to in the end – increased revenue.
You might have a hard time agreeing with this, but optimizing your content will in the end boost your sales, thus increasing your business revenue.
Every business that wants to grow and improve its sales must be ready to get started with SEO.
As we mentioned, good content is what Google ranks. It’s what gains you search engine visibility. So, without a large volume of high-quality content, how do you expect to be found when prospective customers search for your business or products online?
How to Write 10X Content?
Like we said, your content needs to be 10x better than the best search engine results you can find for any keyword:
Before you even think of optimizing your content, you must first figure out how to produce great web content.
That said, the following nine tips should help you produce the best website content, regardless of what you’re writing about:
1# Imagine Your Site Visitors as Wild Animals
Imagine your site visitors as wild animals. They’re online hunting for information, service to hire, or a product to purchase – just like the jaguar hunts for their next meal.
When the jaguar sniffs a scent trail, they have to decide – will it lead them to a good meal? And will it be easy to catch?
It’s the same with your site visitors? When they’re online browsing, all they want to know is i.) if your website has the information that they want and ii) how easy is it for them to find it.
A hungry jaguar doesn’t like to waste time catching prey. The same way web users don’t like wasting their time browsing your website trying to find a product they’re after. They want to find it quick or else they’ll hop to the next site.
You only have a few seconds to convince them that they’re on the right site.
Now, with them only glancing at your site, how do you make them get your marketing message?
2# Start by Showing the Most Important Information, Something to Get them Hooked-in Straight away
Writing for the web isn’t the same as writing a term paper or essay.
An essay has a format that might require you to first explain what you want to discuss, and then present an overview. Next, discuss the main point before ending with a conclusion.
With web content, we do the exact opposite – the most important point has to come first.
You should have read the visitors intention. You know how to get them hooked right off the bat.
Say, you’re an online user looking to buy a car. The first thing you want to see when you land on a website is that they sell cars. After that, you want to see a search box that you could quickly use to find the exact car you want.
3# Go Slow on Being Clever and Witty
Readers aren’t looking to be charmed, not more than they’re looking for a solution to their problem or a product to buy.
Rarely will you see them hanging on to every statement you make.
Most of them just scan through your content, hoping to find the information they can use.
They’re always in hurry, and that’s because they have other websites to check out and sample their scent trails.
In short, they have no time to figure out what it is that you do.
When they look at a webpage, they expect it to be self-explanatory.
While clever writing is entertaining, it takes readers through unnecessary hoops, forcing them to think. And from what we know, the reader might not be in the right mood for side jokes.
4# Write for Scanners
It’s good to assume readers don’t actually read content, they just scan through it.
What web visitors do is take a casual glance at a webpage, quickly scan through its text, and click on the first link that catches their eye.
Research shows only 16% of online reader bother to read web content word for word. As for the rest, all they do is scan through it.
So, how do you write for scanners:
- Make sure the headline accurately communicates what that particular piece of content is about
- Make sure your image caption communicates your marketing message
- The headline you use must summarize your key points
- Reduce wordiness by using easy-to-scan bullet points
- Keep your paragraphs short
A reader only has a split second to decide. They know they have options (read: dozens of other websites to check out). All you have to do is reassure them that you’re the right solution for them.
5# Use Words You Readers Are Familiar With
Web visitors are hunters, remember? The difference is that they’re not scanning the horizon for potential prey; they’re scanning webpages for care words.
These words are enough to make them click and act.
Imagine yourself flying to Bangkok. The first thing you’ll do is go online to hunt for the cheapest flight you can find. You can either search for “a cost-effective flight” or “the cheapest flight to Bangkok.”
It turns out, people don’t actually use the terms “cost-effective flight” when searching the internet. Using Google’s keyword planner, you can tell most people use the term “cheap flights.”
That’s the care word that your site visitors want to see to decide if you’re a good fit for them.
6# Writer for Lazy Readers
Just like the lazy jaguar that looks for easy prey, your readers aren’t looking to strain much trying to digest your content.
They’re looking for an easy read.
Speaking of which, this is how you make your website content easy to read:
- Use short paragraphs – three sentences max for each paragraph.
- Use short sentence – an average of 12 characters per sentence.
- Free of fluff
- Skip unnecessary words
- Avoid jargon and big words – none of your readers is interested in gobbledygook
- Use active tenses, not passive ones – and if you have to, then limit their use
- Avoid making needless repetition
- Address your web visitors as if you were speaking to them directly – write in the second persona, using the word “you”
- Shorten your text
Cut on unnecessary text. Go through each piece of content and see if you can cut it into half.
7# Understand that Your Readers can Land on Your Website from Anywhere
When people are reading a book, they do it from page one, two, three, and subsequently so until they get to the last page.
Well, a website operates a little differently. There’s no particular order that the reader has to follow when digging through your content. They can start with the last page or somewhere in the middle.
What we’re trying to imply is that they don’t necessarily have to start by reading your homepage.
They can arrive at your site from any of your webpage.
That makes each webpage an entry point.
But what does this mean to you:
- You should try and make each webpage easy to scan through
- Each page should tell the reader where they are and what exactly your site deals with
- Each page must contain a Call to Action (CTA), directing readers on where to go next (do you want them to check out your next blog, sign in for your email newsletter, make a purchase, request a quote, read testimonials, and so on?)
Don’t just rely on your navigation menu to direct your site visitors. Sometimes, it’s better to include a CTA link or button to tell your visitor about the expected next step.
8# Be an Easy Prey
Your customers are online hunting for information and products. And like we said, they’re not big fans of working extra hard to find what they want.
As a marketer, it’s your job to make yourself easy to find.
So, what can you do to help them find you?
You can start by using useful information to lure them to your site. That’s what SEO is all about in the first place.
That being said, here are some of the things you should do:
- Answer common questions your potential customers are asking online
- Focus on only one keyword per page
- Use words or phrases that your potential customers commonly use when searching for your business or products online
Above all, focus on being helpful. Be genuinely interested in helping your visitors solve a common problem they have, and you’ll be halfway there.
9# Use Visual Impressions
Good content needs great visuals.
It starts with the content you’re creating.
Before you write down your words, compose your sentences, and work those bullet points into your article, think about how the content will look on your page.
Let it play out in your mind, and imagine yourself reading it. Is there a chance you’ll be impressed by it?
The visual appeal of your webpage will improve your text’s readability. It should also help the reader see what the page is about.
So, how do you enhance the visual appeal of your web content:
- Replace some of the text you produce with images and videos. Learn how to create infographics, as well as how to use images and videos to pass important messages across.
- Experiment with different font sizes. Try to think about the person scanning through your webpage. What fonts size allows them to do that? In most cases, you’re better off using large font sizes.
quote industry experts to create credibility
- Play around with italicized text, bold, and CAPs and see the effect they have on readability.
- Break long headlines into sub-headlines
- Change some of the paragraphs into bullet points
Additional note: try to declutter your content. Cut on noise and utilize white space.
Everything must appear organized. This will not only make your content not only easier to read but also increase the perceived trust.
The Truth About Writing Web Content
I’d have loved to tell you that writing web content is easy.
But sadly, it’s not.
It’s a craft you want to learn and keep on polishing to attain perfection.
The problem with most writers is that they like to assume web visitors are some sort of academics who enjoy digging through huge chunks of complicated and overworded texts.
Far from it. Your web visitors aren’t lawyers who pore over small prints for finer details.
In content writing, the fewer words you use, the better.
No one cares about your extensive vocabulary.
Rather, they like their content as simple as it can get.
Remember that you can’t please everyone. The point is to carve a niche and focus on the audience that resonates with your type of audience best.
Your positioning must be clear.
Focus on being who you are. Bur make sure your message is clear.
Be bold. Be specific. Be Clear. That’s how you establish your online authority.
How to Optimize Your Content
Writing Great content and optimizing it are two different things. Search engines like it when you write to please the reader, but at the same time, they’d use some little bit of help in understanding your content better.
Enter content optimization.
So, how do you optimize your content for search engines?
Read on to find out:
1# Optimize Your Title Tags and Alt Tags
The first thing that people see when they visit any of your website page or post is the headline.
The page title must inspire the reader to want to click on your content.
For this, you want to make sure it’s eye-catching, easy to ready, and informative to the reader.
- Does the headline address any of your readers’ questions? If so, what’s the question? And what exactly prompted them to ask this question? What are they interested to know?
- Does it sound useful?
- Does it stir an emotional response?
- Does it inspire curiosity? Can it make you want to click on a link to read something?
- Is it clickbait-y?
- Is it boring or misleading in any way?
These are the questions you want to ask yourself when analysing your headline.
Start by making sure the headline answers a common question your audience has. You also want to make sure the headline is not in any way misleading.
It should utilize powerful emotional words that compel the reader to want to click through and read the rest of the content.
Your tag shouldn’t be too long or too short. It should be sweet and reflective of what your content is about.
2# Add Relevant Links
Find other people who share the same thought as you and consider linking to them.
Think of content marketing as a collaborative activity. Everything is integrated, with everyone sharing the little they know.
The information you see floating around is a collective effort of so many experts and content creators. But it pays to give credit where it’s due, and that’s part of the reason Google introduced the whole concept of linking.
Filter different stats and research from reputable sources and use them to back up some of your claims. Supply your readers with evidence on some of the points you make.
That way, your content will appear more credible and trustworthy, hence more valuable to the reader.
The more they find your content believable, the more they’ll want to reread it.
While at it, you want to think about linking the post internally. Think about any piece of related content you’ve ever written, and figure out how to link the post to it.
It’s a great way to distribute link juice to your entire website or blog. It also encourages users to stay on your site for longer, which reduces bounce rate besides boosting your search engine ranking.
Pro tip: don’t forget to pay special attention to the anchor text you use to link to the post.
3# Research Thoroughly
When optimizing your content for search engines, you want to start by doing some thorough keyword research.
Find out what care words your prospective customers are using online to find your business or products.
Pro Tip 1: Run a quick Google search for some of the keywords to find out what sites sit at the top of the SERPs for them.
Use the articles that rank and drive the most engagement in the SERPs to suss the readers’ intention. What do they hope to find when they search the internet using a particular keyword?
Use top-ranking posts to find inspiration on the direction to take while writing the article. For example, if the top-ranking site is a listicle or review post, that should tell you something about the kind of post online users want to see when they search the internet using that particular keyword.
Pro Tip 2: Use Google Search Console (GSC) to understand which of your pages currently rank well, and what you should do to improve them.
Remember to add relevant keywords to the post — especially in the heading, title tags, and meta descriptions.
Be reminded that your page title and meta description will be appearing in the SERPs. We suggest you use them to accurately describe what your content is about, while also enticing search engine users to want to click on them.
Also, while optimizing your content for search engine, avoid overdoing it. Don’t overstuff the keywords. And if they can’t naturally fit into the article, then you’re better off just doing away with them.
4# Content Length
Turning a webpage or blog into a lengthy piece of article can work wonders for SEO.
While it’s advisable to economize on words, sometimes it pays to slip in a few more extra words.
The point is to try and cover every topic in detail. Do more research and throw in a few extra pieces of advice.
You can lengthen your content by incorporating different viewpoints.
Content Customization Pro Tip: Use lists, bullet points, and switch up your content format to lengthen it up.
5# Edit Your CTA
Words such as click here to buy or contact us don’t make good CTAs. Try to give it more thought instead of running with the first CTA idea that comes to mind.
The reason you’re creating a CTA in the first place is to convert your site visitors into paying customers. That demands that you experiment with or A/B test a lot of CTAs to find out what works best for you.
A CTA makes your content actionable. It informs your readers of the next step.
We, therefore, expect it to be concise and clear.
Content Customization Pro Tip: Sometimes including a target keyword into a CTA can prompt the user to take action. You might want to experiment with this and find out how that works for you.
6# Repurpose it
Ever thought about translating your written content into another different media form?
Content repurposing is a cheap and effective way to optimize your content to get the most value out of it.
You could turn the post into a printable PDF file or guide.
You could also animate it or turn it into an infographic.
How about repurposing it for the different social media channels?
7# Proofread Your Work, Twice
Learn to proofread your work.
Proofread it, and then proofread it again.
Never publish a post until you’ve edited and proofread it a couple of times.
It’s even better when you can get an extra pair of eyes to help you go through the article and iron out careless grammar mistakes that accidentally slipped through.
Use Grammarly, and if possible, hire a professional proofreader to help you edit it.
Pro Tip: Read your content out loud to identify the weak areas and reduce fluff.
It also helps to ensure your content reads well and that it’s polished to the best quality standards it can be.
8# Content Distribution and Promotion
After working so hard to produce your content, the next thing you want to do is place it in front of your target audience.
You want it to be found and read.
Your content won’t market itself. Moreover, you can’t entirely depend on search engines to do the marketing for you.
Here’re a few ways to promote your content:
- Share it on social media
- Make sure it’s indexed
- Include it in your digital strategy, such as your email newsletter
- Ask your team to post it on social media
- Work with a PR strategist to increase its reach
- Share it on Facebook and boost the post