Top Tips For Optimizing Your Content: 9 Experts Weigh In

As 58 percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months, the amount of content created and published will continue to grow. With that, content optimization is becoming increasingly important, as even great content can’t produce results if your audience doesn’t find it.

However, many publishers struggle with content optimization and finding the balance between optimizing your content for search and for the audience the content is intended for.

I’ve asked 9 experts to weigh in on their number-one tip for content optimization, as well as the top optimization mistake they see publishers make. Here is what they had to say:

1. Alan Bleiweiss

Tips on optimizing your content from Alan BleiweissAlan Bleiweiss is a forensic SEO consultant specializing in site audits.

#1 Tip: At this point, I’m a broken record in regard to the top tip for optimizing content: QUART. Everything you do for SEO needs to be held up against the QUART test: Quality, Uniqueness, Authority, Relevance, Trust.

At a bare minimum, every signal needs to reinforce quality, uniqueness, and relevance. Authority and Trust are more elusive, and absolutely need to be worked on; however, they’re generally more of a byproduct of the other work you do.

#1 Mistake: The number-one mistake I see people make in their efforts to optimize? They become fixated on individual signals — inbound links, keyword usage, crawl efficiency, content depth… or any of several other signals.

They become myopic in what they work on rather than understanding the need to spread their energy/effort/resources around. The end result is an imbalance that creates an unhealthy pattern — too easily identified as “artificially forced” — that leaves them vulnerable to competitive efforts.

2. Eric Enge

Tips on optimizing your content from Eric EngeEric Enge is the CEO at Stone Temple Consulting, a digital marketing services firm. 

#1 Tip: Do some keyword research so you can determine what language users use most often when discussing the topic matter of your content. Use this to help you better determine the focus of the content and to influence the title of the article.

But, then, let good writers write. Let your subject matter expert write great stuff without clouding their mind with complicated targets for using different keyword variants. Creating content that meets the user’s needs should be your number one goal. 

#1 Mistake: Many marketers really over-think what goes into each piece of content. They try to make sure that many different keyword variants are used, and that the main keyword is repeated multiple times. This is a surefire way to create subpar content that does not meet the user’s needs, and meeting their needs has to be goal number one.

If you do what I said in my tip, and let good subject matter expert writers write, they will naturally use semantically rich content. Avoiding over-optimization also allows you to get more volume as well, because the writer is focused on doing what comes naturally to them.

3. Melissa Fach

Tips on optimizing your content from Melissa Fach

Melissa Fach is the President of Internet marketing company SEO Aware and an associate at Moz.

You have to have SEO and business goals, for the overall site and for each individual page. Then you need to start thinking about strategies to meet those goals.

Once you understand what your goals are, and have possible strategies, you can begin to create content to meet these goals. Goals give direction and effective strategies give results.

A critical part of your content strategy should be focused on making sure that each piece of content develops trust, meets needs and creates urgency.

  • Without trust, you have nothing
  • If you don’t meet a need, you are not needed
  • Urgency doesn’t allow customers to slip away

It is critical that the content be focused on converting a website visitor into a customer. Getting more traffic accomplishes nothing without conversion.

4. Rand Fishkin

Tips on optimizing your content from Rand FishkinRand Fishkin is the Wizard of Moz, an inbound marketing and SEO software company.

#1 Tip: Survey your audience. Gather a representative sample set of folks who you suspect are interested in the topic of your content and ask them what they’re most curious about, what they wish someone would address, and whether any creative ideas that you’re already planning to execute resonate with them.

When people you’re trying to reach tell you they’re desperate for some form of information or excited about what you’re building, you’ve struck gold. If your ideas aren’t resonating or a content gap doesn’t exist, it’s probably wise to go back to the drawing table.

#1 Mistake: Assuming that just because you’ve built it, they will come. I see far too many marketers and brands giving up on content investments because they’ve tried and failed.

Until and unless you’ve failed for years in a row, and poured in effort again and again, you haven’t truly invested in content. This is a practice that requires a tremendous amount of investment over a long period, and unless you’re extremely talented and lucky, your initial efforts aren’t likely to be well received.

5. AJ Kohn

Tips on optimizing your content from AJ KohnAJ Kohn is the owner of Blind Five Year Old, a digital marketing firm that provides marketing strategy and product vision for start-ups.

#1 Tip: Readability. Don’t make your users work for your content. People don’t generally read. They scan. So use a strong font hierarchy with interesting subheads. Use short paragraphs. Break things up with images. Make it easy for them to remember.

#1 Mistake: Giving up too soon on the hard stuff. Whether it’s blogging, social or content marketing, many people try it for a few months and then throw in the towel, kicking the proverbial ground and muttering “doesn’t work,” or reporting back to their managers that it “doesn’t produce the appropriate ROI.” Success comes slowly and then overnight.

6. Dr. Pete Meyers

Tips on optimizing your content from Dr. Pete MeyersDr. Pete Meyers is a Marketing Scientist at Moz, an inbound marketing and SEO software company.

#1 Tip: It sounds basic, but too many people don’t put time and effort into their page titles — or, just as bad, they keyword-stuff them to the point of insanity.

Google is showing fewer characters now (safe bet is about 55, by my research), and characters toward the beginning probably matter more and definitely have more impact on visitors.

Put aside old-school SEO considerations, and think about titles/headlines that can really drive relevant clicks. If you have to repeat title elements across your site (like a category or site name), put the unique elements first.

#1 Mistake: Especially on larger sites, people want every single page and variation indexed, in the vain hope that everything will rank. This leads to dilution, at best, and ranking problems (including Panda) at worst.

The same goes for internal linking. Odds are that 20% of your pages/products drive 80% of your visits/sales. If you try to focus on everything, you end up focusing on nothing.

7. Mat Siltala

Tips on optimizing your content from Mat SiltalaMat Siltala is President at Avalaunch Media, an Internet marketing company specializing in visual content, search and design.

#1 Tip: If you are going to make me pick one (because there are sooooo many contenders), I’d have to say that right now, at this moment in time, make sure all of your content is set up correctly to positively impact your Google Authorship. All content you publish — videos, slide decks, graphics, plain old “written content,” etc. — needs to be associated with your Google Authorship and set up correctly from a technical standpoint.

#1 Mistake: I deal with a lot of “visual” content, from infographics to videos, and I often see people posting this visual content with no actual text on the page to go along with it.

Although a good graphic will tell a story visually to keep people engaged, you still need to include accompanying text content to help the search engines know what the graphic is about.

8. David Wallace

Tips on optimizing your content from David WallaceDavid Wallace is the CEO of Search Rank, a search and social media marketing company.

The first step in optimizing content would be to conduct keyword research. It’s not that keywords in and of themselves should dictate what the subject matter of your content should be; but if it is at all possible, utilize keywords and/or phrases that are either popular in search or trending.

I myself do not always worry about keyword research when creating content, but it can certainly help in ranking a piece of content as well as driving actual traffic and social shares toward it.

Another important optimization step is likely obvious to most, and that is optimize the title tag of the piece. Believe it or not, this is often neglected by many who are publishing content! Whether or not branding will be part of the title tag is completely up to the individual but if including branding, I prefer for brand names to follow whatever the title is.

Beyond this, using imagery has become extremely important, not only as an optimization tactic but to engage visitors, as well. Having imagery will easily attract Pins to Pinterest or postings to Tumblr, both of which are image-based social networks.

Be sure to utilize title and alt attributes within the images themselves. If the content piece is an infographic, be sure to include an Embed Code. If your publishing platform is WordPress, you can use this handy Embed Code Generator to add an “Embed This” code to your post.

9. Monica Wright

Tips on optimizing your content from Monica WrightMonica Wright is the Audience Engagement Director at Marketing Land and Search Engine Land.

#1 Tip: Content is about the people you want to attract. It is meant to be experienced, whether its purpose is to entertain, or to teach, or to empathize. Do not create content for the sake of needing a “strategy.” A blog, for example, is not a content strategy.

If you can understand your audience’s needs, it’ll be a lot easier to create and optimize content. We do this a lot in terms of optimizing for search, but answering these questions can give you a good assessment of what kind of content to create:

  • How do I…
  • What is…
  • Where can I find…
  • What’s the best…
  • Who is…

#1 Mistake: One of the biggest mistakes is creating a design first, then plugging in site content as an afterthought. Content is a commodity; it is an asset. I had a boss who would always ask me during the product development phase, “Is that a feature, or a benefit for the user?” Think of content as the benefit, and the backbone of a content marketing plan is pretty much taken care of.

Frankly, this very recent debate of “killing the blog category” surprises me. Content has structure. It defines how you organize a site. Not everything needs to live in a category, but having topical landing pages as resources is a good thing. It also helps define what your site is about. People don’t like to think, you need to show them.

Lisa Barone wrote a response this week that aligns more with how I’d approach organizing content. But what it comes down to is you have to do what works for your site. I certainly would not ever recommend removing categories from an editorial site.

What is YOUR number-one content optimization tip? What is the most common mistake YOU see? Let me know in the comment section below.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content Marketing | Content Marketing | Content Marketing Column


About The Author: is the president of Vertical Measures, a search, social & content marketing company helping their clients get more traffic, more leads, and more business. Arnie has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. He is a frequent speaker and author of "Accelerate! Moving Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing" available on Amazon.

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  • We Live Content

    Interesting article! I was at a content marketing event this morning and a presentation by Buzzfeed had a very interesting slide relating to your questions.

    Based on their data, it suggested the number one tip for content marketers would be to focus on shareability over seo; and the number one mistake would be basing your content strategy around Google/search as opposed to social networks.

    Given their massive success, it seems worth taking their insight seriously.

    What are you thoughts on this?

  • Jose Baldizon

    This is a great example of great content. It very much demonstrates authority and social proof.

    Dr. Meyers’ input resonated with me the most. The title of an article is arguably the most crucial element because it determines whether prospects stop or keep scanning.

    Meyers also said that you can’t focus on everything. I’ve made this mistake plenty of times. Make the title relevant, make it stand out by dramatizing the benefit, and you’ll get clicks.

  • Arnie Kuenn

    I totally agree that share-ability is important. But the vast majority of people go to search before buying a product or service. So you have to have your SEO house in order. We see far too many clients that need major optimization improvements before we can wholeheartedly recommend they move forward with an aggressive content strategy.

  • Arnie Kuenn

    That Dr. Pete is a smart man.

  • Nova Detox

    Boring, same old, same old, its not words its numbers, you talk about creating rich content, but underpinning that is a formula if you are not giving insight in to hard statistical unravelling of this formula and how that can be applied in content creation then you just saying nothing.

  • Jas

    What tools are they using for kw research? If youre not focused on high volume traffic Google wont give you much

  • Andrew Girdwood

    Lots of suggestions for keyword research. It’s certainly true that relevance is hugely important but if you blog about (and sell) Blue Widgets is the height of SEO insight that you should check to see how people search for [blue widgets] before writing anything? Does it make business sense to spend five hours investigating possible alternatives to the phrase “blue widgets”?

  • alanbleiweiss

    Nova, since you’re using a brand name for your “name” in this comment, I’ll assume you believe everything can be boiled down into formulaic forced results type methodology, rather than recognizing that in truth, it’s really all about humans

    User experience isn’t based on formulaic tricks – it’s about creating a unique experience, providing unique value, and unique solutions for humans.

    SEO at its core is based on that reality. And the more pattern-like the effort to succeed, the less likely you’ll have a sustainable winning strategy.

  • Nova Detox

    It may well be about humans, but its still computers that decide, what
    gets #1 result, the humans design the algorithm, but it still follows
    rules and understanding the rules is the key. Just saying “write better
    content” is a bit lame, i think its self evident that better content is
    “better” but distinguishing the difference between 10 pieces of content
    trying to get #1 that are all trying to game the system then it comes
    down to fine art of tweaking the “under optimisation” so as not to raise flags for gaming the system.

    Plus e-commerce for many items is based on price not detail the detail can be garnered from anywhere but the key factor that influences purchase IMHO is trust, price and speed of delivery Not content.

    Anyway I got a lot to say on the subject but think I will write up a post somewhere where I can have a rant and will come back and post a link.

    If you are not trying to sell a product or service online then ranking content is a vanity project designed to influence peoples opinions. Your truth is the reiteration of a 1000 other similar op pieces online regarding this subject that offers no concrete objective actionable ideas other than vague good advice. no offence :)

  • Lorianna Sprague

    You have a LOT to learn about the relationship between sales and content. But I am not going to school you because @kernmedia of @goinflow already did it for me:

  • Lorianna Sprague

    My favorite on the list is Rand’s: “I see far too many marketers and brands giving up on content investments because they’ve tried and failed.”

    Writing content is very difficult for super-analytical, not-so-creative types *cough* because we, I, LOOK for that formula – and there isn’t one!! I know all the technical SEO stuff, but I have a hard time relating to the human element, empathizing, walking in their shoes, etc.

    Mastering content writing when you think, speak and write in a language few people use (i.e., “dork”) is super difficult!

    In my own writing I need to put the Editor on the back-burner and allow creativity to reign. I can always go back and adjust my references to be more specific to the appropriate keywords, but I can’t write anything good if I am obsessed with keywords the whole time I am writing.

    Oh and it’s so much easier to read when all of your words are not in a single, overwhelming block of text. Large blocks of text are ominous.

  • Arnie Kuenn

    “Nova” – thanks for stopping by, but I think you are pretty far off base. I would listen carefully to what Alan is saying. And my 2 cents: market in the year you are in (h/t to GaryV).

  • Arnie Kuenn

    Sorry but I totally disagree. We have tripled our business in the last couple of years and we almost never do any keyword volume research. Instead we are focused on creating, optimizing and promoting useful content week in and week out. We have many clients (and there are many case studies) out there demonstrating that you do not need to go after high volume traffic to be very successful online.

  • Arnie Kuenn

    Yes, I believe it makes a lot of sense to look for alternatives to “blue widgets”, I think it is a key component to ideation & research which is one of the initial steps you should take before creating any content.

  • Nova Detox

    Did you look at my website? If so then I guess my comment fulfilled its function. I see you in to nutrition, you may find something there of interest.

    I appreciate you comments about content. But I dispute the fact that just sitting down at your keyboard and churning is going to bring results, I believe its about fine tuning. My last point is that a customer can go and read a rich product description on another site maybe… then go back to search and look for best price on said item, as after making decision to purchase then trying to get the best price becomes the objective.

    regards Lee

  • Nova Detox

    (in the year of our lord 2014) its “side show bob” to deliver relevant content, the main objective is to make money, and this is done by serving results that are not fulfilling commercial intent searches, but delivering up content results. This leads to frustrated searchers clicking on advertisements to fulfil their desires. So creating content to be “an industry leader” is funnle pages (doorway pages = year 2000) to your conversion page is what essentially is happening, but the notion that the web is suddenly filled up with great content is not true it full up with content that is written to game the search. The cream does not rise to the top its a myth. Big organisations that can invest in content stratergy creates homogonised bland search return dominated by the big spenders. If you get the Head term you rank well for the longtail as well with little effort. So even being forced out to the fring to compete for the longtail still puts you up against the core sites that dominate your theme. Anyway as you debunked me im off, It does however seem that every “expert” is selling their wares there is no impartial advice


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