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Like many companies, you’re likely investing in content marketing. After all, 87 percent of B2B and 86 percent of B2C companies market with content.
However, what good is all that content if no one finds it?
Organic search presents an opportunity to consistently get your content in front of the right audience at the right time in the buyer’s journey.
If you can master your content optimization strategy for search, you’ll see your content performance improve in both the short- and long-term.
A lot goes into a robust SEO strategy – don’t be fooled by those peddling magic SEO bullets.
That said, there are certain best practices you can adopt to optimize your content for search from the get-go.
1. Start with Keyword Research
Content optimization starts before you take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) with keyword research.
Keywords serve as a proxy for customer intent and are an indicator if your topic is valuable and meaningful for your customers.
When choosing a keyword, there are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How many people are searching for this keyword?
- How competitive is this keyword?
- What stage of the buyer’s journey is this keyword?
Doing this research at the outset ensures your content is relevant for your audience and impactful for your business – driving traffic and conversions in the long run.
Doing regular keyword research also keeps you abreast of shifts in demand and your market landscape. It can and should influence your content calendar.
2. Choose Your Result Type
Gone are the days when Google’s results pages were just a list of links.
Today, Google displays its results in a variety of user-friendly visual forms to help users find information faster.
From featured snippets, to local packs, to videos, depending on the search, Google serves up different result types.
Securing one of these result types is important because it puts your content at the top of the results page and drastically improves your click-through rate. According to iQuanti, Google’s Answer Box secures an astounding 32.3 percent CTR.
As with most things in the world of SEO, there is no one catchall tip to secure a universal result type, but there are a few content optimization steps you can take:
- Research which keywords trigger a universal result type: Most of these keywords will implicitly or explicitly ask a question.
- Structure your content: Most answer boxes are pulled from paragraphs, tables or lists in your content. For paragraphs, make your answer short and to the point. Also, ensure your answer appears at the top of your article. For lists and tables, use the proper HTML markup to ensure Google can crawl your list or table.
- Be accurate and correct: Google wants to reward websites that offer up the most accurate and complete answer to the question.
3. Create Keyword Themes
Many marketers today stop their keyword research after they choose their primary keyword. But that’s just the beginning.
To improve your visibility, you don’t want to optimize for one keyword, but rather a group of keywords related to an idea. Your goal should be to create keyword themes using like-minded keywords.
Themes do three things:
- Indicate to search engines what your content is about and how it aligns with user intent.
- Improve discoverability for other relevant searches.
- Help you avoid artificial keyword stuffing that makes your content less relatable and relevant to your audience.
When creating a theme, it’s recommended to choose two or three keywords. It’s also important to choose keywords that are within realistic reach.
Avoid choosing keywords that are too broad or have too much competition. You want to choose keywords for your theme that are highly relevant and can bring you qualified traffic.
4. Add Transcripts to Your Videos
Odds are you’re using video content in one way or another. A survey by Wyzowl found that 81 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool – up from 63 percent from 2017.
Next time you create a video landing page, add a transcript of the video to the page. Search engines crawl the text on a page for indexing. A transcript enables search engines to understand your video content and rank it for the appropriate search terms.
Not only does a transcript make search engines happy, but it also makes it easy for your visitors to quickly gauge if the video is relevant to them, improving the user experience.
Don’t forget that once you have the video transcript, you can repurpose it into a blog post, social quotes, white paper, etc.
5. Impact of Page Speed
According to data from Google, if your content takes longer than three seconds to load, you might be losing 53 percent of your mobile site visitors.
People have little patience for slow load times or poor user experiences. Any friction and they’ll move on to another site.
It’s essential to your content’s performance that your page loads quickly across device types.
To make sure your webpage is fast, Google offers a free PageSpeed Insights tool. This tool not only tells you how you’re doing on mobile and desktop but also offers recommendations to improve your content’s speed.
6. Photos Matter
Along those same lines: did you know the size of your photos can impact your content’s load time?
Before hitting publish, ensure your images are sized properly in the correct file type.
Image optimization doesn’t stop there.
The image title, alt text, and placement of your images offer opportunities to improve your search rankings. All three of these elements add relevance and context, which can help you rank better.
This also makes your image more visible in the image results.
Going forward, don’t let content optimization for search be an afterthought. You’ll miss out on big traffic and conversion opportunities. If you start optimizing today, you’ll see long-term gains.
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