10 Content Optimization Strategies to Improve Search Rankings
When you hear the term “content optimization,” you probably think of all the techniques you can use to improve an individual piece of writing. But there’s a bigger picture to think about.
For the best results, you want to have an overall content optimization strategy. In other words, seeing the forest as well as the individual trees.
With a broad strategy, you can maximize the value of each piece of content by understanding how it fits with other posts and elements on your website.
As a result, you’ll create a website with consistently high-quality content that helps you build trust and credibility with potential customers.
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What is content optimization?
Content optimization is the process of adding search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to copywriting to help you reach a wider audience.
Specifically, these tactics help your content rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) for target keywords and improve your click-through rates (CTRs).
As a broad strategy, content optimization means that you apply these tactics to your website content to reach more of your target audience.
What are the keys to content optimization?
Some key actions in content optimization include addressing relevant keywords, writing compelling headlines and meta tags, and including helpful links in your posts.
According to Google, “SEO is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience (UX) and performance in organic search results.”
In other words, including optimization in your content marketing strategy typically involves paying attention to the details that improve the reader’s experience. But the user experience of your website as a whole also plays a role in how well each piece of content ranks in search engine results.
Why is content optimization important?
Content optimization offers several benefits for your website and business, such as increasing organic traffic, building brand awareness, and generating more leads.
If you don’t optimize content for search engines, you could put a lot of effort into writing pieces that no one sees.
In addition to the end results (such as traffic and leads), the content optimization process can help improve your website’s user experience and the quality of the information on your webpages.
That’s because search engines lead people to websites with positive user experiences that also deliver the most relevant and valuable content. Ultimately, the steps you take to improve your search engine rankings will improve the quality of your website.
You can use a content optimization strategy to achieve goals like:
Increasing organic website traffic
Improving brand awareness
Ranking higher on SERPs
Generating more leads
Types of content optimization
You can divide content optimization strategies into a few categories (or techniques), including on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and conversion-oriented writing.
Here’s a closer look at each:
On-page SEO: This technique uses the elements you have the most control over (like content, keyword usage, and media) to create high-quality content for your readers with valuable information to rank higher on search engines.
Off-page SEO: These are the steps you take to generate backlinks to your website and improve your domain authority. An example is writing guest posts.
Conversion-oriented writing: In this technique, you write your content in a way that encourages readers to act, such as subscribing to an email newsletter, starting a free trial, or making a purchase.
These three techniques work together. So, leveraging each of them creates a more effective content optimization strategy.
SEO content optimization strategies
Find the right topics and keywords
Do competitive research
Write in-depth content
Optimize page title tags and URLs
Write compelling meta descriptions
Add engaging visuals
Leverage internal links
Build topic clusters
Improve your website’s UX
You can add these ten content optimization strategies to your digital marketing plan to rank higher on SERPs and drive more organic traffic.
1. Find the right topics and keywords
Content optimization starts with planning. Specifically, it begins with identifying the topics you should write about and then researching target keywords within those categories.
The goal here is to find the overlap between the topics your audience cares about and the topics you have expertise on/those related to your product.
Clearscope’s Keyword Discovery tool helps you identify content ideas within a topic. It shows you commonly asked questions, what’s trending, long-tail keywords, related terms, as well as identifying keywords a page is ranking for. You can organize results by search volume, competition level, and cost-per-click (CPC).
Your research should also include identifying the user intent behind each search query.
Including various types of search intent helps you create content to support all stages of the customer journey. For instance, low-intent keywords can bring more searchers to the top of the funnel. But high-intent keywords can attract readers at the bottom of the funnel who are more likely to convert.
2. Do competitive research
Competitive analysis is another essential step when creating new content. It’s especially helpful to do competitor research after you’ve found your target keywords and before you create SEO outlines or write drafts.
That’s because search engines are designed to provide the most relevant and valuable information. So, it’s important to know what’s already out there before you begin.
Specifically, you want to look at the top-ranking articles and figure out:
What topics and keywords do they use?
Which user intent do they optimize for?
How do they create value?
Clearscope’s Term map and Competitor tabs make it easy to analyze competitor content as you craft outlines. In one dashboard, you can easily compare the top-performing pieces’ keyword usage, word count, headline structure, and content optimization score.
Once you know what other brands are doing, you can figure out how to make your content unique. You can approach the problem differently, add expert quotes, or cover topics they missed.
3. Write in-depth content
If you want to rank on the first page of search results and earn more conversions, you need to provide value to your users. When you publish in-depth content, you demonstrate your expertise to readers and eventually help you prove trustworthiness to search engines.
Look at related topics and frequently asked questions to find the most relevant areas to expand your writing. Clearscope’s Research tab can help with this.
For conversions, think about your reader and figure out what type of information would help them achieve their goals.
Helpful elements include:
Examples or illustrations
Use cases and case studies
4. Optimize page title tags and URLs
Writing content that ranks highly on SERPs is an excellent first step to reaching a larger audience. But you still need users to click on your title link instead of others to improve your organic search traffic.
This is where your page title and URL can help. Page titles should be engaging (clickable) and not too long (you don’t want the search results to cut them off.)
As for your URL structure, use readable and relevant URLs to describe your page. Including your keyword in the page title and your URL slug might make it easier for search engines to display your page for the appropriate queries.
5. Write compelling meta descriptions
The meta description is another element that can help you improve click-through rates. Each piece you publish should have a unique description. It’s helpful to include the primary keyword here, too.
Ideally, your description should give readers a brief but clear understanding of exactly what they’ll get from your page content. And finally, write them in an inviting and conversational way to engage readers from the start.
6. Add engaging visuals
Breaking up long chunks of text with media can create a more pleasant reading experience.
Specifically, elements like infographics, data visualizations, and explainer videos can improve your reader’s understanding of the information. This is especially true when you want to explain complex concepts or describe how a process works.
Images that help explain concepts have appeared at the top of SERPs alongside featured snippets and answers to frequently asked questions.
That said, visuals can just as easily become distracting. Ensure they’re relevant to the text around them to get the most out of them.
You can include your target keyword in the file title, image caption, and alt text (also known as alt tags) to further optimize any media elements for search engines.
7. Leverage internal links
Adding an internal linking strategy to your SEO content marketing plan is an excellent way to help search engines and readers get to know your brand better.
Search engines use internal links to understand your website’s hierarchy and which topics to associate with your domain.
Readers and potential customers use internal links to explore your brand and discover other parts of your website.
When it comes to internal link building, relevance is key. You don’t want to add so many links that they distract from the content or negatively impact readability. Instead, add links to helpful content and focus them on related keywords.
8. Build topic clusters
Topic clusters are groups of content that cover a broader subject. Together, they create depth of content for the main subject. Using topic clusters to guide your content creation process can help you rank for multiple keywords supporting one topic.
Not to mention, they also help search engines understand your brand’s areas of expertise.
To build topic clusters, identify your main broad topics (these are like your pillars). Then, brainstorm and research subtopics that support each main pillar and find a target keyword for each one.
Building topic clusters works hand in hand with your internal linking strategy. You can also look at your existing pieces for opportunities to expand on a subtopic that you briefly discussed elsewhere.
9. Refresh existing content
User intent and the related topics for search terms can change over time. A blog post you optimized a few months ago may be missing valuable, relevant information if there’s been a change in technology or a significant related event.
Content pruning is when you identify older and underperforming pieces of content and decide which to improve and which to delete.
Clearscope’s Content Inventory feature automatically monitors your content’s performance to let you know which posts may need a refresh.
You can run the pieces you’d like to improve through a content optimization tool like Clearscope to figure out what needs editing. Some pieces may require more work than others. Knowing how much work each piece needs helps you prioritize your refreshes.
10. Improve your website’s UX
The quality of your keyword research and content writing plays a large role in any SEO strategy. But they’re not the only main factors. Search engine algorithms are also designed to send people to websites with a positive user experience.
You can write amazing content, but if your website is slow or glitchy, it will hurt your chances of ranking.
Here are some specific areas you can focus on to make sure your website’s UX is SEO-friendly:
Your headings and subheadings are scannable
Your website navigation are logical and consistent
Your pages and images load quickly
The calls to action (CTAs) are clear
Your content is mobile-optimized
The links in your content work
Final thoughts: A content optimization strategy to improve traffic and leads
An effective content optimization strategy can do much more than increase website traffic. It can help you build brand awareness and generate high-quality leads for your business.
In terms of SEO, you want search engines to understand your content. To help with that, you can improve on-page elements, make technical fixes, acquire external links, and demonstrate expertise in your content.
Get started today or contact our team to learn more about our solution.
Director of Marketing, Clearscope
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