Creating Searchable Content: How to Optimize Content for SEO in 2021
There is a mountain of published content on the web, and creating valuable articles is more difficult than ever. Content marketers and copywriters find that optimizing content for search engines is no longer a choice but crucial to generating traffic.
Gone are the days of creating cheap, short, and fast articles with a high keyword density. Today, quality SEO is a shortcut-free user-experience and free of keyword stuffing.
While copywriting is often about creating a valuable piece of content that answers questions posed by searchers in your target audience, Google’s web crawlers need to be able to get an idea of what your content is about in order to rank that content using its algorithm.
To give your content a leg up on the competition, you need to establish your trustworthiness and expertise. It’s vital to build pages with a combination of user intent, appropriate linking, and optimized titles and meta descriptions.
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By optimizing your content, the goal is to rank in the top results page on Google. Since over 25% of people click the first Google search result to answer their query, the first organic position on Google is highly sought after.
According to a study from Sistrix which analyzed over 80 million keywords, a result ranking first will generate over 10x the traffic of a 10th place result. Despite still being on the first page of the SERP, the 10th place on Google still only has a 2.5% click-through-rate.
The goal of content optimization is to make your website look more appealing to both search engines and users to rank higher than your competitors. It’s an ongoing process and part of a healthy content marketing strategy.
Content Snippets and Position Zero
Often even more coveted than the first position, many companies are trying to optimize their content to the point of position zero, which contains a coveted featured snippet that answers the searcher question from within the search engine.
According to the Sistrix study, however, the featured snippet isn’t beneficial in all cases. The website at positions 2 and 3 benefited significantly from being below a featured snippet with a 5% increase in their average CTR.
Ultimately, ensuring the creation of high-quality content remains the most important item on the SEO copywriting checklist, rather than chasing after specific rankings, placements, or metrics that change and update regularly. Ranking factors change, but quality content centered around the user experience is here to stay.
Identify High Potential Articles
Using freely available tools like Google Search Console or a paid tool like SEMrush, identify the keywords and URLs that are already ranking on the first two pages of Google. There are few “easy wins” in the world of SEO, but restructuring and improving an existing article might be one of them.
Conducting a content audit on your website will allow you to see and fix:
- Technical SEO issues
- Reorganize appropriate topic clusters
- Integrate keyword research into meta descriptions
- Readability for the target audience
- Comprehensiveness or length issues
Before churning out new pieces of content every week, evaluate what you have and how it can be cleaned up, improved upon, or consolidated. Going through an improvement process can be the differentiating factor between the first result on page two of the SERP or ranking in the middle of the SERP.
Optimize Meta Data for On-Page SEO
Acting proactively and intentionally when formulating meta tags ensures that the most up-to-date and relevant information about your piece of content will show up on the SERP. Think of the meta-information as a brief summary of your web page.
If you’re seeking to avoid the HTML, popular plugins like Yoast SEO can assist you when creating titles and meta descriptions on a self-hosted WordPress site.
Google limits your titles in the SERPs to 50-60 characters. Best practices include:
- Summarizing the page: The title should accurately reflect what the page is about.
- Include keywords: Ideally, using a long-tail keyword to rank for specific searches
- Grammatical writing: Capitalize the first letter of most words for an accurate title case
Most importantly, you should be writing for people, not search engines. Clear titles that demonstrate what your page exists to answer will generally guide a good strategy.
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Using words that are transitional and explanatory fosters an environment of trust, and using power words to encourage your audience to take action encourages a higher CTR. You have between 155-160 characters to attract a click before Google truncates your description.
Quality meta descriptions entice readers to click but won’t directly affect your ranking. CTR does impact your ranking, however, and to attract those clicks, the meta description needs to be compelling.
- Craft a readable description with relevant keywords
- Use unique descriptions for every unique page
- Search engines might not even use your description
Assuming you already conducted a keyword research gap analysis to determine what target keywords your audience is searching for, you must also continually return to that list of keywords to test the performance of your research.
Keyword analysis is a tremendously important part of optimizing content and dictates many of the topics and ways in which your site needs to answer questions for potential users.
The keywords you find through your analysis of your own content and that of your competitors will be used throughout your website in different variations. Check out our guide to the importance of using the right keywords for your business.
Online users have short attention spans, and very few people are reading your articles word for word. This makes creating a skeleton outline of your content all the more important. Users intending to find a specific answer will scroll through the article they selected looking for the section that will answer their question.
Break up text with:
- Bullet points
- Photos and visual aids
- Numbered lists
- Spotlight quotations
- Applicable headers
Large blocks of text are an easy way to show your reader that you aren’t helping them find what they are looking for. Large blocks of text with big paragraphs guarantee that the majority of your traffic will open up a different page.
Readability doesn’t just come down to a Flesch Reading Ease score. Modern readability combines relevance and scanability. Yet again, modern SEO and content optimization come down to the user experience.
Content Optimization Tools
There are countless tools on the market that can show you where your written content is lacking and how it stacks up against the competition. SEMRush can assist you with SEO audits of your content, optimizing landing pages, and even find backlink opportunities.
Other tools like MarketMuse or Clearscope have AI that can assist writers in building their content strategies, create content, and inform the keyword choices and written decisions. These powerful tools analyze content on-demand, uncovering in-depth opportunities and gaps in the market.
Ultimately, none of these tools will replace a comprehensive SEO strategy, but investing in the right tools for keyword research and optimization is essential to see a return on any software investment.
Continuing Improvements to SEO Content
Ultimately, the process of content creation and optimizing that web content for your business depends on what you want to achieve for your business through your digital marketing strategy or SEO strategy. There are no quick fixes, but you can leverage the power of optimized content by learning from the experts or by consulting with the right SEO professional.
If you’re considering outsourcing your content optimizations, check out the top SEO agencies in the United States or the top SEO agencies in Canada to speak with experts who can help you with SEO strategy.