Here at Aloha, we believe that content optimization should be an integral part of every SEO content marketing strategy, standing shoulder to shoulder with content creation and any other SEO efforts. Let me show you why you should believe so too.
Content optimization is taking existing content, updating and improving it to be the best piece of content on the web for readers, potential clients, and Google to find. It involves a set of steps that lead to an epic result (when done correctly).
The process requires a few SEO tools to be more effective; some are required, and some are not. This article will detail the various steps and tools needed for our content optimization process.
There are various reasons to take the approach of optimizing instead of creating content, and it is important to emphasize that one does not rule out the other, as both approaches have the same goal in mind, creating brand awareness and authority on a specific topic. While content creation is the usual go-to approach for SEO strategies, here at Aloha, we believe it’s not the say-all be-all for SEO Content strategies, there are multiple actions one can take to improve and advance his SEO content marketing endeavors.
So why is optimization more beneficial than creation? First and foremost, both the readers and Google prefer updated rather than outdated content. Would you rather read an article written a few years or a few months ago? The same goes for google. As time passes by, ideas, opinions, approaches and trends change and evolve, and a piece of content written a few years ago might not be as relevant anymore.
This leads to another reason as to why content should be optimized. The SEO world is an ever-changing playing field, with new rules and formats popping up every few months/years. The age of simply placing a few keywords on a page to trick Google into thinking it is quality content is far gone, and those that fail to adapt get left behind.
Still, why shouldn’t I create a new article on the same topic rather than optimize? The short answer is that your content should already be ranking for some of the relevant keywords, and writing a new article that will cannibalize and take its place will take much longer than simply optimizing the existing content.
Finally, the juicy part, the how-to portion of the article, as mentioned earlier this part requires a few tools in order to be as fruitful as possible:
The first step of the process is choosing the correct content to optimize, so what are we looking for? We are looking for content that is:
We want to employ two SEO tools to answer these questions, a keyword research tool will help us know if there is any sizable search volume on the topic, and a content ranking tool will help us understand where the article currently stands and if the topic is even worth considering. Once you’ve chosen a piece of content to optimize that answers these prerequisites, you can move on to the next step.
In this step, we want to answer a few major questions in order to further focus our efforts of optimization as not to waste time or even harm the currently existing content.
Is all of the content up-to-date and relevant?
Pinpointing which sections of the article are still up to date as they stand and which need a refresher due to new developments in the field, this will allow you and your writer to focus on the correct topics. And not waste valuable time rewriting valuable content that is possibly already ranking, and any changes might hurt that standing.
What is worth keeping and what is not?
It is not out of the question that some of the content will be valuable while some not relevant anymore. As previously mentioned, as time passes, things change. Correctly assessing which content is no longer of use and should not be optimized or even removed is important to the quality of the article.
What has changed in the field?
This is where research and comparison come into the picture. We want to research the topic by comparing our content to the top-ranking articles and analyzing our competitors to understand better what we might be missing and renew our understanding of the field. We can employ a content comparison tool here for missing keywords (and we should), but that doesn’t completely answer our question.
We also want to ensure that we target the correct keywords, old and new, and ensure that we strategically embed them inside our optimized article. Keyword research and analysis still is an integral part of every SEO endeavor and will most likely remain so.
Besides keywords, what else are we missing?
An article is not merely the sum of its keywords; those days are long gone. The Google NLP algorithms that rank our content have developed and evolved over the years, requiring us to truly create quality articles by covering all of the relevant information surrounding a topic; semantics is the name of the game these days.
Once these questions have been answered, we can already have a rough idea of what needs to be done to the existing content. We know what should be removed, what should be updated and what should be implemented.
There are many ways of creating a content brief for a writer, and if you are curious about how we do it, you can find our content brief creation guide and template in our blog. If you have your own preferred method of writing a brief, we recommend that the following topics should be included in the brief for the writer:
This is where we summarize all of our findings from the previous step into an actionable content brief for the writer. It should include all of the necessary information a writer might need in order to elevate the article to where it should be.
The one topic to touch upon here is the article structure; this is by far the most important segment of a content brief. This section dictates the flow of the article and the importance of specific keywords and topics. Again, we highly recommend checking out our content brief guide for reference. This is the sum of all of our previous efforts; every heading and keyword laid out in this segment should have a reasoning behind it.
This is often done by a writer and not by a content manager or the SEO team who did all of the previous steps, so why is it in this guide?
There are a few important things to note out here, the first, who should be optimizing the written content? Most preferably, the same writer who wrote the original content. By doing so, we help maintain the same writing style and flow throughout the article.
As a content manager, I can easily distinguish between the articles written by my team of writers, each having their own style and influence on every article; therefore, maintaining the same writer is valuable.
If the option is not available, I’d have the writer examine the article prior to optimizing it and ask themto maintain the same style and attitude throughout the article; consistency is king in my books.
Another important topic to cover is the usage of keywords in the content. We obviously want to target specific keywords to better engage with our target audience, but we also need to make sure that we don’t force keywords. Keywords must feel naturally embedded within the text, relevant to segment and fitting the sentence structure. Additionally, if using a keyword as it stands is proving to be too difficult or unnatural, simply weave it into a sentence while maintaining the same overall idea to be conveyed.
Now we get to see what the end product looks like; proofreading the content aside, we must do a few other checkups to ensure that our brief has been followed.
We can do so by following a simple checklist to ensure that the content has been optimized per our brief. Things to check are as follows:
In most cases, our checklist will uncover two areas that can be improved on: keyword distribution and additional topics. This is where our old friend Frequently asked questions comes into play.
By no means is this a section for dumping keywords, rather a place for some creative writing that will allow us to cover missing topics or keywords in the article while maintaining relevance and value to the reader in a more natural way by leveraging the FAQs lack of required context.
In this final step, we want to examine the ready article from a more technical point of view; what does that entail?
First and foremost, we want to ensure that the article’s metadata is within the proper ranges (50-60 characters for the title and 150-160 for the description).
The description represents the article to the best of its ability, and both the title and description contain targeted keywords.
Second, we want to make sure that all of the headings are properly implemented into the HTML code(H1, H2, H3, H4, etc.), helping Google understand what the content is all about.
Finally, we want to make sure that we optimize all of our in/out bounding internal links. There are two things to look out for,
So when combining both of these aspects, we want to ensure that we utilize every opportunity to internal link from and to this article by using a well-defined term or keyword.
So the article is published, and it looks amazing, but how do we quantify its performance? We do so by creating a keyword ranking baseline report. This report includes a few metrics that can show us how well an article is performing, things to note down in the report include,
By monitoring these metrics monthly, we can easily tell if an article is outperforming its previous version or not. Using Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker tool makes this a breeze and is highly recommended.
Google has changed and continuously changes the playing field. Those who do not respond get left behind on the search results pages nobody reaches, while simple adjustments to the content presented on your website can make a very big difference.
At the end of the day, Google is simply trying to ensure that its users get the highest quality content no matter the topic, and this is what this optimization guide is all about, elevating your content above the rest.
There are many more ways to increase the traffic your website receives every day, and this is but one of many approaches. It is our favorite approach because it leads to overall higher quality content, which is a win for everyone involved.
Hopefully, by now, I’ve managed to convert you to our side, and you’ll be on your way to optimizing your content as well. If you’re not sure if your content is worth optimizing or not, we provide a free content optimization report detailing which content is worthy of optimization and why. Simply throw a shaka our way on our contact page.