In a previously published article, Information Overload and Improving Intranet Findability, we talked about overcoming challenges around our ability to filter through the copious amounts of data that we’re confronted with on a daily basis inside our organizations. Expanding on that topic, let’s now take a look at it from a much broader perspective, one that extends out beyond the firewall and into the digital realm of the Internet itself.  

In this day and age it’s easy to publish content online. Anyone can do it and the ease with which it can be done has resulted in a massive explosion of digital data, which some expect to surpass an estimated 988 EB (exabyte) this year. The sheer volume of information is inconceivable, let alone challenges encountered overcoming difficulties in our attempts to both find and be found online.

Arguably, much of what is published might be considered irrelevant to the “neighborhoods” in which we frequent and may therefore be easily ignored or dismissed as nothing more than superfluous noise. However, in the world of search, which has become the primary lens with which the majority of us gain access into this mass of information, we are unwillingly being forced to compete directly against it -- regardless of relevancy -- as more and more content rapidly finds its way into search indexes in near real-time. Any document or web page that ranks higher than us in the search engine result pages is our competition, like it or not.

The Quest for High Organic Rankings

When considering content optimization, our primary concern is with enhancing our organic or natural rankings in the search results. I’ve mentioned previously that search engines like Google use hundreds of factors in the ranking of a specific content item for a specific search query (see: Enterprise Search and Pursuit of the Google Experience). A subset of these signals relate directly to how we format and assemble our content and as curators of information for our organizations, it’s becoming of ever increasing importance that we pay particular attention to how we structure and optimize it. 

We must be mindful of the fact that just publishing content is no longer good enough and that research and optimization are a requirement for the establishment of a successful online presence. How we architect our templates and construct our content within our content management systems is one of the key influencers in our site’s ability to be found online through the search medium.

With the ultimate goal to increase the overall amount of relevant and targeted traffic, we must institute standard processes that are directly integrated into our publication models as a way to ensure the fundamental contextual elements that affect ranking are appropriately addressed on a content item by content item basis.

The Content Optimization Template

Increasing our ability to be discovered online requires that we start with the creation of a solid foundation. While the development of a comprehensive search optimization strategy should be a key part of any overall web strategy, our focus here is on the optimization of individual content items themselves.

As a method to get us thinking about including optimization within our publishing processes on a regular basis, we can and should use the following template (or something similar) to get started.

Consider the elements below as a guideline for ensuring that, at the very least, we consciously begin to start addressing some of the central attributes that affect the foundation for the development of successful site and content optimization.

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You can download a version of this template for your use either as PDF or as MS Word.