Optimizing content for search engine optimization (SEO) seems simple enough — write a bit of copy and sprinkle in some keywords. That should take about five minutes, right? In reality, it’s a complex, manual process that requires research, data analysis, and creativity.
Creating a site full of compelling, well-optimized content is not a luxury, it’s a requirement in today’s search-driven world. In order to compete in organic search, your site needs to be optimized better than your competitors’ sites.
Every searcher that clicks on a Google organic listing to one of your competitors’ sites is potentially enriching them instead of you. That click should be yours. That lead, that sale — those should be yours. But first, your content needs to be so relevant to searchers’ queries that Google chooses to rank your pages ahead of your competitors’ pages. That’s where content optimization comes into play.
Optimizing great content takes time. Even though they take time to complete, these six steps are required for every page of content you optimize.
1. Read the page: You have to know what you’ve got to start with — positive and negative — before you can optimize it. Read it first without trying to optimize it as you go.
2. Research the page topic: What’s on the page may or may not be thorough or descriptive enough to give you what you need to know to optimize it. Many higher-level pages are entirely devoid of content. If that’s the case, you’re starting from scratch and need to research the products or topic very carefully to make sure you hit the mark.
3. Research relevant keyword themes: Depending on how focused the page topic is, this could be a small handful of precise keywords or a broad set of loosely related keywords. You may need to hunt for relevant keywords based on questions your audience might have or use cases for a product you offer. Each idea you input into the keyword tool takes time for the system to process, and also for you to analyze the results.
4. Choose the keyword theme: Each page needs a unique keyword focus. That means that the keywords you’re choosing to optimize the page for shouldn’t be the focus of any other page on your site. You’ll need to spend a little time making sure that these keywords belong to this page more than any other on your site.
Sometimes you find too many relevant keywords. If that happens, you have to take time to decide whether they can all be used on one page, or whether you need to also create supporting content on other pages for the related keywords. You may even need to generate entirely new pages.
5. Write something good: Writing copy “for SEO” is no different than writing unique, interesting copy for any page on your website. Your customers will see this content and judge your brand based on it.
You need a wordsmith to produce the copy — one who will also stay true to the keyword theme as they’re writing it. If you have an internal copywriting team, they can handle this step, but it needs to be done by someone with creative and business writing skills.
6. Optimize the content for SEO in four places: This is the step everyone thinks of. Just sprinkle in a couple of keywords and call it done, right? But how many keywords, used in what ways, and where? How do you know when there are too many or too few?
There are four areas on the page that need to be modified to fully optimize it — the title tag, meta description, primary heading, and body copy. Different SEO rules apply to each of these four areas. Optimizing incorrectly makes your copy repellent to customers and search engines alike. It can even lower your rankings, rather than improving them.
Going through the optimization process takes time, but it’s necessary. Shortcutting the content optimization process optimizes more pages more quickly, but results in slower organic search growth.
Remember, increasing your organic search leads and revenue is your end goal. Taking content optimization shortcuts will only result in shortchanging yourself.