To optimize content marginally well, companies can choose to focus on SEO, keywords and meta data or how text, image and multimedia content is presented and organized on a site. Yet in order to be competitive in the marketplace, companies should instead focus on incorporating elements of each into their web engagement strategies.
What is Content Optimization?
Content is king, as they say. Therefore the words you use on your website, in brochures, via social media need to be tailored appropriately. The words content optimization can mean different things to different people. Some will say it’s all about SEO, others will say it’s about headers and tagging, while still others will maintain that it’s about the messages used. We at CMSWire say they are all correct, but to approach content optimization as a la carte is misguided. Like many web management strategies, it’s a process and in order to be most effective, all the pieces influence each other.
You might think that optimizing your website’s content is about words, but it’s actually about your customers and your brand. After all, even the most well-crafted sentences and marketing slogans won’t help sell your product if it’s not tailored to reach the right audience.
Before you can even think about choosing the right words for your customers, it’s essential that you know who your customer is. To do that, you’ll need to answer a few questions, first.
- Who are you trying to reach?
- How well do you understand your customers’ goals?
- What are your customers’ preferences when it comes to content discovery, consumption and sharing?
- What keywords do they associate with your products or services?
- By whom are they influenced?
- In what communities do they spend their time on the social web?
In addition to figuring out who your customers are, it’s also important to compare them to who you want your audience to be. They might not match up at first. If you want a specific segment to be a part of your consumer demographic, you’ll need to understand what their goals are and what kind of content resonates with them. You may need to draft content that various by demographic.
Your Communication Strategy
But wait, you’re still not ready to draft any actually words. Content optimization is also affected by your capacity to reach out and communicate.
- What is your strategy for connecting prospective customers with your content?
- Do you have a social media strategy?
- Who is writing, updating and managing your content?
- What is the publishing process?
Before words hit the page, it’s important to understand how to write appropriately for the type of media to which you are publishing. Writing for print is different than writing for blogs, which is different that publishing tweets and updates. Learning the key differences can help you steer your content without going off course.
Work with the resources you have. Companies rarely have one person in charge of publishing content, and will have to craft strategies for how new content will get promoted. Lee Odden says
Most companies are not in the publishing business. In order to achieve longevity for an optimized content marketing effort, it’s important to outline the resources available to implement including: content, people, processes.
Now that you’ve assembled perspectives about your customers and communication strategy, you can start to put together your content’s keywords. Writing is a process, of course, throughout which your words will evolve, change and adapt to your expanding customer base.
- What are the adjectives that customers use to describe your product?
- What are the adjectives that you’d like customers to use to describe your product?
- What are the words that reflect your company’s values, reputation?
- What are the words that describe what your product does?
These are your keywords, title tags and meta data. They are a part of your content’s framework and will be woven into the sentences you write. As a result, they will help make your content more discoverable via internet searches and social media queries. Revisit this list periodically to make sure that your keywords are still in tune to your customers’ needs and company’s reputation.
Your Content Structure
Just when you thought the hard part was over. Now that your content has a framework, it has to be filled in. If your website is the primary source for information about your company and products, then all platforms should direct back to the website, which means that the information provided should be strategic and well layed out.
In his article, Best Practices for Content Optimization. Rand Fishkin outlines key influences of content structure, including:
Type smaller than 10pt is typically very challenging to parse and in all cases, relative font sizes are recommended so users can employ browser options to increase/decrease if necessary.
…content length can have a big role to play in whether your material is easy to consume and easy to share. Lengthy pieces often don't fare particularly well on the web, while short form and easily-digestible content often has more success.
Beautiful, simplistic, easy-to-use and consumable layouts garner far more readership and links than poorly designed content wedged between ad blocks that threaten to overtake the page.
Your Return on Investment
There is no magic formula, algorithm or bullet for optimizing content so as to guarantee 100% revenue or referrals. Establishing what your content is worth is up to you. Set flexible benchmarks and milestones so that you can understand how your content is working, or not working. Using your site’s analytics, you can determine:
- How many of your site’s visitors currently come from search engines and organic searches?
- How many visitors are using specific keywords to find your company’s website and products?
- From where are visitors being referred to your site (i.e., blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)?
Do you want these numbers to increase or maintain? Would you rather they come from a specific resource or platform? By answering these questions and setting goals, you’ll have a better understanding of how effective your site’s content is. Of course, content is just one of the many variables influencing analytics. You may also want to employ usability testing to evaluate how much time a visitor spends on landing pages vs. web forms vs. product demos, etc.
Rinse & Repeat
Content optimization is an on-going process. Have you launched a new product? Have you introduced a new strategy? If so, your content will need to reflect these changes. Monitoring your company’s brand is also important to understanding what customers are saying about it and how it’s being perceived in the marketplace. Incorporate new information into your communication strategy to add or substitute keywords or tweak messages to stay current.
However, evolving content takes time. Give your site’s content time to marinate so you can establish new benchmarks and test how long it takes to meet goals. It will not happen overnight. It could take six months or longer, which is why you’ll need to establish a process for pushing out and promoting content. Re-evalute these processes based upon what is working and what isn’t.