Content is everywhere.
We are flooded with content every step of our digital journey, yet most of said content doesn’t even serve its purpose.
Different people have different views on what optimized content looks like. Some don’t even think it’s worth the effort because ‘the so-so’ ranks for everything under the stars with recycled, below average content.
Yeah, life is not fair, sorry.
But still you can write the best damn article imaginable and it won’t be seen by anyone because your page is simply not properly optimized.
Que in SEO.
So how do you properly keyword-optimize your content?
That’s what we are here to find out.
Well with content optimization we have two possible scenarios to consider:
-Write optimized content and be done with it
-Edit non-optimized content to make it better.
Let’s see which category you fall into!
Writing Keyword-Optimized ContentObviously, I am a fan of the first scenario when the writers produce fully optimized keyword-rich awesome articles that don’t need to be micromanaged.
This type of approach has two issues:
- Writers who simply cannot write SEO optimized text
- And SEO writers who were not given proper instructions before starting with the writing
News flash: both of these issues fall on you. Yeah I’m looking at you.
It’s 2021, all writers should be able to write optimized content. If you hire a mediocre writer because you either don’t want to pay up or don’t put much importance on your content game. The faults on you.
On the other hand, if you do not provide a very decent writer with enough info and instructions you are digging your own grave.
It’s not up to a content writer to do keyword research for you if that’s not what you hired them for. They are not SEOs (well, most of the time). You should give them detailed instructions on what keywords to use, how many times and where.
Both cases bring you to a place where you have to make an additional investment in a decent SEO who can optimize your content after piling it up for a year and wondering why you are not ranking #1 yet.
The alternative approach would be to hire awesome writers with unique voices who put their two cents into your brand building all the while following your clear instructions regarding keyword usage, length, metas, content type, etc.
When I work with writers whether it’s copywriters or content writers I tend to give them content briefs, guidelines as you will, that include main keywords, secondary keywords, TF-IDFs, the number of times I prefer them to use said keywords, word count, sometimes the number of subheadings, etc.
It’s safe to say this whole process has become much, much easier since I started incorporating Keyword Cupid into my content strategy creation. Thanks to the detailed keyword mapping and the amazing insight from SERP Spy creating the ‘content guidelines’ takes 5 mins instead of the hours I’ve put in before.
If you are interested to learn more about the tool and find out how it works check out this ultimate Keyword Cupid guide by Leo himself. You are welcome;)
Editing Mediocre ContentNow the majority of people belong to this group and I don’t blame you really.
Search has changed so much over the past 3 years and the requirements for writers and SEOs have changed accordingly.
Your single-keyword focused, stuffed to the brim pages are not ranking anymore.
Your 500-word, recycled articles are not working anymore.
Still at the end of the day, you are in this predicament and there’s definitely something that needs to be done.
But how do you fix this mess?
The number of posts you might have piled up until now may vary but one thing remains the same: sort out your content strategy before doing anything else.
I’m assuming you have your strategy down and your keywords perfectly clustered and mapped out to the appropriate pages.
If you haven't, go over this initial keyword research guide where I walk you through the whole process so that you can create a stellar content strategy.
Next up make a list of all of your published articles and the ones scheduled to go live soon and sort them by date, topic, length, performance metrics, etc. Use the data from Google Analytics and other tools you have at your disposal to inform your decision.
The ones performing super well even without proper optimization undoubtedly go in the keep file. If you’d like to read more in-depth about cleaning your blog I’ve written a piece just for that.
After you have sorted out your existing content, it’s optimization time!
Just a small tip, make sure to keyword-optimize the older pages first before making them a part of a topic cluster. Otherwise you can face possible ranking losses because of the internal linking or some cannibalisation issues.
With that out of the way it’s time to find out how to keyword-optimize your blog posts for organic traffic.
The Anatomy of Perfectly Optimized Blog PostBefore getting started with the actual optimization tips I’d like to make one thing clear.
I am all for naturally laying down your thoughts without the pressure of awkwardly stuffing keywords that do not belong.
Sometimes it might seem like a forced effort to use a keyword a certain amount of times or in certain places. I get that but it doesn't have to be.
You are not doing anyone a service by unnaturally stuffing phrases that do not make sense in a sentence.
Being mindful of search engine optimization best practices is good, taking the extra mile to make sure your preferred keywords are included in your content is incredible but a balance must be found.
Writing in a way that naturally includes keywords while comparing notes with data-driven tools is the way to go IMO.
Keyword Optimized CopySurprise, surprise you need to make sure your target keywords are actually included in your content.
Shocking, I know.
All jokes aside over the years as Google algorithms have gotten smarter and semantic search graced us with its presence keyword optimization changed its meaning in many ways.
You can neglect to add your target keyword within your content yet still rank for it.
You can optimize for a bunch of related keywords and instead rank for hundreds of other terms that you never even knew existed.
So yes keyword optimization has changed but the basic practices that most SEOs swear by still do work in some sense (better safe than sorry, you know):
-Absolutely make sure you have a proper content strategy before writing random articles
-Map your keywords to each page appropriately
-Use said keywords sparingly (and I don’t mean install a wordpress plugin and add your main keyword 10 times because it says so, please)
-Follow the rest of this article for more tips
Search Engine Friendly URLUsually overlooked but no less important, the URL slug is another great opportunity to optimize your content.
URLs are meant to inform the visitor about the page content. They need to be readable and convey the overall message of the post yet they better be short.
What I suggest is having your main keyword as the slug. If it doesn’t make any sense on its own try a very short version of your title instead.
E.g. Let’s say we have a post with the title: ‘B2B Content Marketing in 2021: How to Leverage B2B Content for Business Growth’. The main keyword is ‘B2B content marketing’
We have 2 options for writing the slug:
Similarly this can be applied to any page, including your landing pages.
Optimized Title TagAs they say, don't judge the book by its cover, so don’t judge the content by its title.
Your meta title is the first thing people see in the SERPs and it has a huge impact on your open rate. Not only it needs to be super catchy and attention grabbing, it should concisely convey the meaning of your page all the while including one of your target keywords. Tough work.
*Before you jump at me and tell me that Google is rolling out its Page title update, I know. But it’s still new and you can always set your preferred version instead, so better write that title.
Optimized Meta DescriptionRight after the title tag your meta description is the second thing people read when coming across your website in the search results.
It’s fairly important that the meta description is well-written. Most often than not people read that small excerpt before deciding to visit your website meaning the more targeted and informative it is the higher the chance of winning that click.
I suggest touching on your audience’s pain points concerning your subject matter in your description.
Say you are writing about measuring content marketing performance. What’s the pain point of your audience here? Perhaps the fact that they don’t have a proper system to measure their efforts yet? Or they think they have a good content strategy but the numbers are showing a different reality?
Whatever the case, touch on their issues and hint about a possible solution, works every time. You can even use the meta description as the post excerpt.
Optimized Header TagThe H1 is considered the second most important on-page element, so naturally it should also contain one of your main keywords and reflect your page content.
Just to be clear when I say H1 I mean the title. I have a habit of writing different titles and meta titles when creating content.
I feel like the title tag character limit is stifling my creativity. I personally prefer a longer H1 as it needs to recap your whole page and 50-60 characters won’t do. Plus it allows more room to add not one but sometimes two target keywords in the title.
The same can be said about the subheadings. Most people skim your page content without reading the content itself. In order to make your content appealing to such reades it’s a good idea to thoroughly section out your content and write informative, keyword-optimized H2s, H3s, etc.
Again it should come naturally so there is no need to force phrases where they don’t make sense.
Optimized ImagesYet another small but quite effective tweak you can do to make your content perform better. You guessed it, image optimization!
Search engine bots cannot interpret images and alt tags solve this by providing text which is read by the search engines. When Googlebot or other search engine crawlers inspect a page, images with properly formatted alt text contribute to how the page is indexed and where it ranks.
The alt tag is a great place to add in your target keywords, especially since you can be as descriptive as you want. I usually add my long-tails in the alt text as they are harder to integrate into your content.
Don’t forget to optimize your image URLs as well. This is probably the most overlooked change most people don’t even think to make but trust me it matters. No more auto-generated number filled urls: make it short, make it sweet, add in a keyword and you are good to go.
Bolded KeywordsThis one is a subtle optimization technique that doesn’t have much of an effect on search engines but it sure does on your readers.
Like most people I hate blocks of unending text and a cool way to break it up aside from short paragraphs and proper sectioning is bolded keywords.
It directs the reader's attention to these phrases making it much easier to skim the text then it would otherwise be. Moreover it’s very helpful to highlight the most important points or tips you’d prefer people pay attention to.
Internal linksLast but certainly not least it’s time to direct our attention to a critical on-page element: internal links.
No less effective and powerful than backlinks, internal links can change your content game if done right.
Having useful, informative links from blog pages to other blog posts/service pages can build a good site hierarchy, boost the authority of your pages and increase time on site as the strategically placed links will guide the user to visit more pages and explore further.
For more in-depth insight make sure to check out this internal linking guide where I talk about creating a solid strategy with the help of KC.
Here comes the catch: the anchor text.
Crafting an internal linking strategy should be a top priority. But without the right anchor text these links can harm your website rather than help it.
Having a well thought out content clustering strategy does help a lot with correctly interlinking your pages. You basically have a roadmap of each article along with their target keywords which can be used as the anchor text by itself.
But if you don’t have a clustering strategy no need to worry. Just make sure to correctly distribute the link juice across the important pages on the website to ensure the correct buyer journey for each user and use keyword-rich anchor texts; preferably a keyword from the title of the article you are linking to or any target keyword for that particular page.
One thing though, don’t go ham on the internal links and add 20 in each blog post. Just link where it makes sense, where you have more insight to provide so that they don’t have to go search for additional resources themselves.
Wrapping UpThere you have it, an essential checklist for a perfectly keyword-optimized blog post
Not so hard now, right?
SEO-optimized content writing doesn’t have to be difficult, it can actually be a walk in the park if you have the right process.
So long as you write with the user in mind and naturally include contextually relevant terms both your audience and search engines will reward you.
Make sure to give Keyword Cupid a try and take your content strategy to the next level!
Jump on a 7-day trial and let us know what you think, your feedback is always welcome!
See you in the next one👋