Content optimization for search is the best way to make your content easy to find online and to consistently outrank your competitors. While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex and ever-evolving science, there are some basic tactics you can use to help with content optimization. Before we get into those tactics, let’s first learn a bit more about search.

How search engines rank web pages

Whenever you type in a search query, Google (or whatever search engine you use) looks for authoritative pages that contain high-quality, relevant information. There are many ways that Google does this. An algorithm determines the relevance of a page by crawling (reading) your website’s content and determining if it matches the search query. It looks for keywords, phrases, and other ranking signals, such as the amount of unique content, the click-through rate, website speed, and backlinks from other sites. This is how the best, most relevant sites and pages organically make their way to the top.

Keyword research

The first thing to do when you’re creating content for search is your keyword research. This will help you identify what your customers are searching for, what words or phrases they use, and what they use to find your competitors. Here’s where the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool comes in. Once you have a list of keywords, you can figure out how many people search for them in a particular month and their competition. You can check how a keyword might perform, create lists, and search for ideas. The SEO tool Moz Pro is also worth consulting. It can identify your competitors’ keywords, predict the search volumes a keyword will receive, and help you build and prioritize keyword lists.

Once you have all the metrics for a keyword, and have identified its value, you can begin to use that keyword in your content. If you use it effectively, your content will show up closer to the first page of results in a Google search, rather than the 100th.

Using keywords

You’ve got your keywords, but now what? Your keywords or phrases need to be strategically placed in several important areas. These include:

  • the title
  • the first sentence
  • at least one heading within your content
  • the page’s URL and meta description

You’ll also want to pepper your keywords in the body of your content. But be careful. You want to use them in a way that seems natural, rather than simply trying to stuff them in awkwardly. That’s because Google will penalize you for keyword-stuffing.

It’s important to note that when Google indexes your website, it not only detects the keywords you’ve used, but also how you’ve used them. If you read your content out loud and it sounds clunky and repetitive, you’ve probably used too many keywords. Remember, your main aim is still to produce great content to engage your audience.

Good content is king

There’s no substitute for great content. Google assesses its value based on an array of criteria, including originality, quality, views and shares, and usefulness. Quite simply, good, informative content that audiences engage with will increase your page’s “authority.” Google knows which pages are authentic. They’re the ones it favors in its rankings.

While SEO is undoubtedly a complex undertaking, there are some simple guidelines that will help you get the best out of your content. Several great online tools can also make the task of content optimization easier. By just adopting these practices, your rankings will improve, and you’ll be able to reach more people, more often.

By the way, did you know that Acrolinx can help you with keyword placement? It can also check your documents for assigned keywords, discover new keywords, and analyze SEO performance, making it easy to optimize your content. You might want to check it out.