You’ve probably heard the cliché "content is king" on every SEO blog. There is a good reason why webmasters preach about having quality content.
Content is the vital ingredient that controls the success of your online marketing effort. We will talk about aspects of quality content, and how to structure it for the best SEO practice.
What is Great Content?
Content are elements or "things" you display on your website. For example, text, images, videos, data, documentaries, blogs, infographics, and interactive components are all considered online content.
Great content is digestible by both humans and search engines. Good content consists of useful information presented in a clear way. Good content is the building block of online marketing. It delivers value and drives traffic.
Create compelling content optimized for SEO, and ranking will naturally happen over time.
What is Content Optimization and Why is it Important for SEO?
So you’ve got the compelling part of content marketing. How do you optimize it for SEO?
Search engines such as Google determine your website’s authority and relevancy by crawling your content. Optimized content tells Google that your website has authoritative information and should be indexed to rank high in search query results. Having quality content helps your business gain more online presence. It is the way to land the glorious golden throne of first-page ranking.
Learn more about the fundamentals of content optimization.
How to Optimize Content for Better SEO Conversion?
So, let’s take a look at these 19 content optimization strategies and how they can improve your website’s SEO conversion.
Strategy #1: Plan Content Around Relevant Keywords
Of course, you understand that by making content relevant means staying within the subject matter. At the same time, content should remain relevant to the keywords you are optimizing for ranking.
Keywords are words or phrases people are using to look for your products and services through search engines. Choosing the right keywords is the first step to SEO content optimization success.
When search engines like Google index your website, they pick up keywords within the content. Google then stores the data in their data centers. When someone searches on Google with a relevant keyword to your content, Google will determine how your website should rank in search results.
Consequently, it is important to do proper keyword research. Keyword optimized content can bring more traffic to your website. Luckily, there are many great keyword tools out there to help you improve content.
Top 3 SEO Keyword Research Tools for Better Content Marketing
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- Aggregates keyword search volume from Bing, Yahoo, and AOL
- Shows trends of previous months’ keyword search volume
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- Provides phrase match keywords and related keywords for expanded opportunities
- Tracks keyword rankings on a daily basis
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- Identifies competitor’s unique keywords on a page-level with competitive keyword discovery
- Shows Degrees of ranking difficulties for SEO keywords
- Provides recommendations for keyword optimization on a targeted landing page
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Strategy #2: Present Accurate Data in the Content
Let’s start with the basics. Authoritative content based on accurate information gives credibility. It is essential to back up your content with credible data and research because it creates trust. This makes you an expert on the topic. It is also a great way to establish authority within the industry.
When you have a large amount of statistical data, it is a good idea to present them in an easy to read format. According to Infogr.am, the leading data visualization tools, visual statistics can increase reader engagement by as much as 34%.
Charts and graphs can organize quantitative content into a one-glance visual presentations. Tools such as Infogr.am can effortlessly create professional charts and graphs with a few clicks. Infogr.am is free to sign up and offers users a basic free account.
Infogr.am allows users to simply upload excel documents or even pull statistics straight from Google Analytics and turn it into interactive graphs. Customize graph elements to match your logo or campaign themes. API (Application Program Interface) is also available for easy integration.
- Responsive and interactive charts and graphs
- Varieties of colorful pre-made charts, maps, and designs
- Build and edit data easily from direct uploads, cloud connections, or even Google Analytics
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Strategy #3: Avoid Google Penalties
Creating great content is a time-consuming process, especially when you are doing your best to stay original, intriguing and informative. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any way to get around it, and you shouldn’t even be thinking about shortcuts.
So what happens when websites plagiarize or get involved in scam tactics like keyword spamming? Google will find these websites and penalize them. You can lose traffic or even ranking to your entire website overnight. Learn more about Google algorithm updates and how to avoid penalties.
Shady Tactics to Avoid in SEO Practice
- Filling your page with irrelevant spams
- Translate content from other websites and claims it as your own
- Use program generated content with little value
- Participating in link farming scams
- Hidden links, invisible text or irrelevant keyword spams
- Cloaking and content scraping
- Creating harmful viruses, trojans or other malicious behaviors on webpages
You can find the full list of violations from Google Webmaster Guideline:
Here is a message from Google explaining Webspam Content Violations
So take the responsibility to do proper content writing and publish original and useful information for your audience. In addition, if you quote research materials from other people, make sure you include a citation and give credit.
Strategy #4: Mind Your Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are text within Metatags about a certain webpage. Meta tags are HTML codes within webpages that describe the content of that page. They reside in the <head> section of a webpage.
It is recommended that the Meta description is within 155 characters or less. Because fewer texts will get cut off with "…" on search results pages when the description is short and to the point.
Here is an example:
<meta name="description" content="Awesome Description Here, try to use 155 characters or less">
A good Meta description gives your visitor a brief idea of what your page is about. In addition, it improves the click-through rate with an enticing message that encourages visitors to come to your page.
To write a good Meta description, think less about SEO. Focus on providing a good user experience. Think about what is a good description that will persuade readers to click on the link and find out more. Incorporate some creativity to make your Meta descriptions stand out.
Although in the recent years of SEO, Metatag plays only a small part in terms of ranking. However, it needs to be there for the sake of providing accurate page description. It is still an important part of user experience for search queries.
Strategy #5: Include H1 and H2 Headings
Another on-page optimization element that lives in the <body> section of a webpage is the “H” heading. H1 and H2 tags are short for Heading 1 and Heading 2 respectively. They are HTML codes that determine the hierarchy of title and sub-titles in content. For example, the title will be an H1 and sub-title will be an H2.
Here is an example:
<h1>Have an Awesome Title Here </h1>
<h2>Here is a subheading for paragraphs</h2>
Headings make content easy to digest and skim. It also helps search engines to better crawl, index and rank your content.
Keyword-optimize H1 and H2s. These are your prime SEO opportunities that improve search engine ranking. Include keywords in headings help search engines to better identify and categorize content within webpages.
In turn, your page receives better SEO results. However, don’t go overboard and keyword-stuff your headings because that has adverse effects and kills user experience.
How to Use H Headings for SEO
- H1: Main Headings. This is normally your title. A good SEO practice is to have one main heading per page. If you split one article into multiple pages, you may apply H1 to every page title.
- H2: Subheadings. This is your section heading. Unlike the H1, use H2 abundantly to separate paragraphs and content sections.
- H3: Smaller subheadings. Many webmasters are debating that anything beyond an H2 has little effect on SEO. We agree that you should put more emphasis on the H1 and H2s. We recommend when you have extremely well-organized articles with layers of thoughts, you can include H3 headings to better structure the content.
Strategy #6: Strengthen your Copywriting
One of the less apparent, but very important factors that influence content quality is user experience. Good copywriting plays a big role in how receptive visitors are with your content.
Over the years, Google is placing a greater emphasize on intelligent search that better predicts user intent in query searches. That is why good content has become the most critical ingredient in a successful website.
Remember, you are writing for readers, not for search engine bots. The rule of thumb is to present clear ideas and easy to read contexts. Don’t forget to always double check your grammar and spelling.
2 Strategies for Better SEO Copywriting:
- Improve content readability. It’s a good idea to have a second, and third, or even fourth pair of eyes to help you check copywriting before making content live. Tools like Grammarly are very useful at picking up spelling and grammar errors you or even Microsoft Word may have missed. Grammarly explains your mistakes, offers better word choices and even detects plagiarism. It is free to use and comes with a fee-based upgrade for advanced writing error corrections.
- Ditch the Jargons, and keep word choices to the point. Every industry has its own set of jargons. Sometimes it is inevitable to include them for the sake of accuracy. However, you can take an extra step to explain them in simple, mundane terms so everyone can understand. Try to keep content readable and digestible to the mass public, that way you have a higher chance of capturing more audience.
Strategy #7: Structure User-Friendly Content
When optimizing webpages for SEO, there is one simple yet imperative on-page component we often overlook. It is to structure content for better navigation.
When you layout webpages, think about how easy it is for your audience to find information. Does the layout have a good flow? Is the text easy to read? Content that delivers great user experience contributes to better visitor engagement.
3 Changes You Can Do Right Now to Improve Content Structure
- Apply bullet points and numbers to better organize body content. Bullet points and numbers bring a sense of logic to your content. They break up a big ideas into smaller contexts that are easier to follow.
- Make font size appropriate and evenly space out paragraphs. Make sure your text is shown in comfortable reading sizes. Do not make it too small or obnoxiously big.
- Include adequate white space in your content contributes to usability. Not all white spaces are wasted space. They actually bring focus to the main elements of your content. White space elevates the visual appeals of other elements on your page. They provide your readers with visual brakes and guide the readers to focus on the theme of the page.
Strategy #8: Balance Text with Visuals
Images are effective forms of content. Images make content easier to read. It provides visual support for text and adds interest or clarification to the subject being discussed. A good practice to image display is to make the file size as small as possible without sacrificing too much quality or dimension.
There are many image editor programs that do fantastic jobs. You don’t necessarily need to pay big bucks for fancy programs if all you need are basic image editing functions like size change, crop and add text. Tools like Photoshop Express are free to use. It offers the very basic functions of Adobe Photoshop such as resize, crop and simple filters. There are a variety of free and advanced tools to help you make attractive images, take a look at our list of best design tools.
If you need a more comprehensive graphic editor or you do graphic design in-house, you might already be familiar with Adobe Creative Suite. It is THE best graphic design tools of our choice and we absolutely it. You can do just about anything you can image with online and offline designing with these programs. From advanced photo editing to graphic designing, Adobe Creative Suite offers the most versatile and intuitive design programs for businesses with substantial design needs. Learn more about Adobe Creative Suite.
Adobe Creative Suite
- Photoshop is the industry standard for web design works. It is easy to use, versatile and intuitive
- Your work is automatically synced and accessible through web, desktop, and mobile with Adobe Creative Cloud
- Subscription comes with your own online portfolio website, premium fonts, and free cloud storage
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Strategy #9: Show and Tell Content with Infographics
Infographic uses a visual way to present data and text. It is best used to explain complex topics expressively with pictures and descriptions.
The popularity of infographic has been dramatically rising in recent years. Many blogs and business websites use it to deliver content in a creative and engaging way.
3 Ways Infographics are used to Better Present Information
- Present data-heavy information such as surveys and statistical facts
- Explain “how-to” content and complicated instructions
- Make comparisons side by side
Here is an example of an infographic about… well, infographic.
Compelling infographic takes quite a bit of design work. If you do not like the idea of creating visuals from scratch in Photoshop or Illustrator, there are some great infographic makers to help you out.
Free tools such Easel.ly is a resourceful infographic maker that provides you with the convenience of thousands of premade templates and themes. Easel.ly is super easy to use. It allows you to quickly customize modern and professional looking visuals with a few clicks. Just pick a template, insert text and you are done.
You really don’t need to have a degree in art to master this. Utilizing tools allow you to put more focus on what you do best – running your business.
Strategy #10: Optimize Image Search
Image search is another great way to capture organic traffic on search engines. This is especially true if you are an e-commerce store or your website is image heavy. So how do you show up in Google image search? You need to help Google to read your images.
2-Step Image Optimization for SEO
Step #1: Use keywords to name image files. The image file name should be a few words long and it should properly describe the image content. Don’t upload your image file as IMG_02165.jpg or a random name. Keywords in image files are indexed by search engines.
Step #2: Include ALT Tags to optimize image files for search. Don’t just insert your image link as <img src=”image link”/>. ALT Tags in image source code help search engines to identify and index image content for image search. This is another great way to gain organic traffic in search.
Here is an example of an ALT Tag:
<img src=”image link” alt=”a brief but to the point description of image with keywords”/>
3 Good Practices about ALT Tags
- Keep it simple and brief
- Get to the point
- Optimize with keywords, but do not overstuff keywords
Strategy #11: Reduce File Size
As we mentioned, images and videos are great visual content to engage users. However, when you upload hundreds and thousands of images and videos onto your website, loading speed decreases for end users. (We will talk more about loading speed in a bit.)
User experience and conversion rate are greatly affected when your website loads too slowly. Visitors will leave your website without taking any action and that results in high bounce rate.
Ultimately, you could be losing out on revenue because people are impatient and cannot wait 10 more seconds for your website to finally load. So make sure your image file sizes are as small as possible without compromising too much quality.
How to Reduce Image and Video Files in Three Ways
- Use image tools such as Photoshop or an image compressor like ImageRecycle to quickly reduce file size and keep most of the image quality. Good image compressors are less expensive than professional graphic design software and do a fantastic job. ImageRecycle can deliver compression rate up to 85% with almost no visible losses on image quality. This means you can have beautiful visuals and a fast website. The tool compresses image files in JPEG, PNG, and GIF as well as PDFs.
Image Recycle offers a free trial and upgrades start as low as $10 per year. Best of all, it is compatible with popular CMS (Content Management System) such as Joomla, WordPress, Magento, and Shopify. API (Application Program Interface) is also available for advanced integration.
- An image optimizer that compresses JPEG, GIF, PNG and PDF files
- Available as a Joomla or WordPress extension
- Image compression up to 74% without quality loss
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- Hosting with video-sharing websites such as the popular YouTube or Vimeo. Hosting videos with a third party do not take up your own hosting bandwidth. Which means your website loading speed is not affected. Video sharing platforms get your content out there in front of a bigger audience and helps Google SEO ranking.
- Use video compressor when you choose to self-host or host with a third party. This option allows you to have more flexibility in terms of design. You can customize the video player and integrate it more creatively into content. It is also a great strategy for generating backlinks to your website through your own embedded videos. However, it is necessary to use a video compressor so website loading speed is not affected. Tools like Movavi offer free video suite, along with a wide range of easy to use video editing and converting tools. Its super speed video converter compresses video clips up to 79 times faster than traditional converters without loss in video quality. You don’t need professional training to use it. It provides one streamlined process so you can edit videos, select the right format, and upload it all in a few simple steps.
- A powerful video converter that converts video files into any format
- Create, compress, and enhance videos to play on more than 200 different devices
- Easily join or cut videos, and include captions and effects
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Strategy #12: Improve Website loading speed
For Google, website loading speed is an important algorithm metric that determines a website’s SEO ranking. If it takes longer for your webpage to load comparing to an equivalent webpage from a competitor, you are likely to rank lower.
Website speed has a lot to do with the content on your webpages. There are many reasons why a webpage loads too slowly. For example:
5 Factors that Affect a Website’s Loading Speed
- Large image and video files
- Any incorrectly coded on-page element
- Too many redirects
- Website is lacking a Content Delivery Network (CDN) Service
Website speed is an imperative user experience factor. Let’s not think about SEO for a minute here, and think about an experience you have waiting on the phone or in line to get something. Long waiting time reduces user experience. People don’t want to wait one second more than they have to because they are impatient. Everybody wants things here and now.
You can use Google Pagespeed Insights to test page loading speed for both desktop and mobile versions. The tool assigns a speed score out of 100 for the tested webpage. It will show you what elements are affecting loading speed and should to be fixed. Learn more about website loading speed and how it affects SEO.
Strategy #13: Be Smart with 404 Error Pages
"Opps! The Webpage you are looking for cannot be found…"
Whether it is the result of a technical error or an unintentional mistype, 404s are often perceived as bad user experience. While it is not 100% preventable, there are things you can do to avoid negative consequences of most 404 errors on your website.
3 404-Page Strategies for Better User Experience
- Regularly check URLs for broken links. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush does that in a few clicks. These handy tools will provide a complete analysis of all your backlinks from Follow or NoFollow to text and image links.
- Use 301 redirect to replace broken backlinks. While you can easily fix broken links on your end, it can be challenging to contact every webmaster and ask them to replace all the broken backlinks pointing from their webpages to yours. So this is where the 301 redirect comes into play. If you have replaced or updated content on your website with new URLs, you should permanently redirect the old URLs to the new pages with a 301 redirect. So traffic and user experience will not be affected.
- Turn the inevitable cases of 404 errors into opportunities and capture more page views. Design 404 pages with the intent to direct visitors back to the working pages of your website. Include links to topics or categories that might interest visitors in case they stumble upon a non-working page. You can even throw in a fun game or a creative design to reduce the “frowning factors” of 404 error pages.
Strategy #14: Choose Subdirectory Not Subdomain
The question of hosting your blog under a subdirectory versus a subdomain is a controversial topic amongst webmasters. A subdirectory blog would be www.yourwebsite.com/blog. A subdomain blog would be blog.yourwebsite.com.
We would recommend placing blog under a subdirectory such as www.yourwebsite.com/blog. Because when the blogging content is written for the website, it should be under the domain.
All the internal links from the navigational landing pages of your website will automatically link to your blog pages. Vice versa, all internal links from your blog content will naturally link to the navigational webpages.
Moz has provided a detailed blog post about the use of subdomains versus subdirectories. The analysis is based their own testing results on where to place their blog. Moz chose to have their blog under a subdirectory instead of a subdomain because the SEO rankings have improved once the blog was under a subdirectory.
Strategy #15: Pass the Mobile-Friendly Test
On April 21, 2015, Google has officially made mobile-friendliness a ranking signal worldwide. Webpages that do not pass the mobile-friendliness test will not show up in mobile search results.
How content is laid out on your website could affect the way it displays on tablet and mobile devices. To be mobile friendly, content should properly shift to suit a mobile viewing port when the user is on a mobile device. Therefore, having a mobile friendly design is essential to correctly deliver content on different displays.
To find out if your webpages are mobile friendly, self-test individual webpages with Google Webmaster Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
You can also log into Google Search Console account and check the entire website with "Mobile Usability" in the Search Traffic tab.
So if your website is not yet mobile-friendly, how do you make the change? Let’s take a look at the follow 3 suggestions from Google.
3 Ways to Optimize Website for Mobile Search
- Choose a responsive design which serves the same version of HTML coded design to desktop and mobile device users. CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) code in the responsive design then renders different sets of displays to users on different viewing devices. Learn more about the Google recommended responsive web design.
- Implement dynamic serving allows different sets of HTML to be shown on different viewing ports. The URL however, still remains the same.
- Use separate URLs for desktop and mobile devices usually means there is a separate mobile website to specifically serve mobile users. A different set of URLs is used to serve mobile webpages than the desktop version.
Strategy #16: Understand Query Deserved Freshness (QDF)
Here is something interesting from Google. Whenever a topic suddenly becomes popular in search, Google bots will crawl the latest updates and temporary boost them in search results for a few days.
This is called the Query Deserved Freshness algorithm. It can create a short-term opportunity to get your website noticed.
Take advantage of QDF by staying on top of your industry breaking news and take the lead to share new information first. Publishers or news-heavy website can reap the most benefit from QDF.
This works well when your breaking-news content closely matches the user query intent. In addition, having a higher domain authority will likely get you higher rankings in QDF search results.
Strategy #17: Keep an Editorial Calendar
Avoid being disorganized and constantly playing catch-up in content writing. Make an editorial calendar, and strategize your articles for the week or even the month ahead.
The editorial calendar does not have to be anything elaborate. It should be a schedule that clearly tells everyone involved what to do and when to do them. Begin by brainstorming ideas and topics you want to cover. Plan them into your calendar first. Then get down into the details and get the writing done according to schedule.
Consistency is really the Key here. Publish great content on a consistent basis is the best contribution you can make towards better ranking. When quality content is published regularly on your website, search engines will periodically send crawlers to index new webpages.
In return, you can grow the authority, expertise, and trustworthiness of your business within Google and Bing. Keep to the schedule of your editorial calendar so your website can steadily improve in keyword search results.
Strategy #18: Tell Your Own Story
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it takes effort and some serious thoughts to be consistently original. You don’t want to be a cookie-cutter cookie because your website would be buried deep with the other millions of websites similar to yours.
Make sure your content, articles, and posts tell people something unique. Your content should separate you from competitors. Offer useful information that helps readers to distinguish your products and services from the rest of the pack.
For example, if you sell Easter bunny decorations, emphasize the unique qualities of your products. Do your bunnies glow in the dark? Are they made in Italy? Are they environmentally conscious and are made out of 100% post-recycle materials?
The idea is to highlight your best traits. Turn them into engaging content and make your business stand out in a good way.
Strategy #19: Create Content 10 Times Greater
Moz, one of the most authoritative SEO tool providers, has a great video on how to make your content 10 times greater than you competitors.
Here are the top criteria for better content in a quick summary:
- Good content creates a great user experience on every device type
- Good content solves problem or answers question
- Great content creates an emotional response of awe, surprise, joy, anticipation, and/or admiration
Make Effective and Engaging Content
You know how Disneyland does it. They make the rides fun and captivating and make us want to go back again and again. So let’s apply the same thought here for optimizing content.
Remember great content turns traffic into earnings. The longer your readers stay engaged on your website, the higher chances you have to convert visitors into revenues. Best showcase your products and services with consistent, quality content. Your website can capture better leads and close more sales over time.
Next, learn how to use SEO keyword strategies to improve SEO ranking.