Online visibility is a must for any business in today’s age, as research shows that over 60% of consumers will disregard a business if they can’t find it online.
This reinforces the need for search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns so that your content can reach the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Yet, one of the biggest challenges with SEO is how often it changes.
Thanks to constant Google algorithm updates and newly emerging search trends, SEO tactics fall in and out of favor all the time.
If you don’t routinely optimize web content, holding onto top SERP rankings will be next to impossible.
In the current era, recent developments like the prevalence of AI chatbots, E-E-A-T, and slower indexing times are drastically changing the way SEO works – and you need to keep up with them if you want your content to continue to rank.
However, some tried-and-true optimization tactics have yet to go out of style, like conducting targeted keyword research and creating excellent content that provides value to your audience.
There’s a lot to know about optimizing web content, which is why we put together this comprehensive guide containing 5 steps to optimize any piece of content to perfection.
Along the way, you’ll learn how SEO and content optimization has changed in recent years, so stay tuned to get the scoop on the latest developments.
Why is Optimizing Web Content Necessary?
What does it mean to ‘optimize’ a blog post, video, or web page?
Optimization involves making enhancements to a piece of content with a specific goal in mind, which is usually to improve its performance on search engines like Google.
Higher SERP rankings aren’t the only reason you may want to optimize your content, as you can also optimize for higher conversions, click-through rates, and a better overall user experience.
It all depends on what your primary business objectives are, such as increasing revenue or improving brand awareness.
Also, routine optimization is a necessity due to the ever-changing nature of SEO.
Unless a piece of content is evergreen (meaning that it continues to stay fresh & relevant for readers), you’ll need to update it with new information periodically.
Not only does this ensure that your readers always receive the most accurate, up-to-date information, it makes your content eligible to remain on Google’s SERPs.
Since Google only wants to provide its users with the highest quality, most accurate information, its crawlers only rank content that’s relevant and recent.
Give underperforming content a second chance
Another reason to optimize your web content is to tweak and improve an existing piece of content that isn’t as performing as well in the search results as you’d hoped.
It takes a lot of time and money to produce high-quality content, so it’s worth doing what you can to optimize a post that doesn’t meet your expectations.
After all, it could be something simple like an indexing error that caused your content to disappear from the SERPs.
Once you rule out technical issues like noindex tags, indexing errors, and duplicate content – it’s time to take a cold, hard look at the content you produced.
Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the root cause of the issue:
- Are you targeting keywords that have decent search volume and relatively low keyword difficulty scores?
- Does the piece feature a readable format with keyword-rich headings (H1, H2, H3, H4, etc.)?
- Were you able to provide unique insights about the topic derived from your own personal experience and expertise?
- Do your title tag and meta description accurately reflect the topic you explore in the content?
- Is the piece of content more than 700 words?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then you’ve definitely got some optimization to do.
The good news is that if you’re able to fix whatever’s holding your content back, you’ll enjoy higher SERP rankings and increased online visibility.
How Has Content Optimization Changed in Recent Years?
In a field that’s known for constant changes, the last few years have been especially ripe with new developments affecting SEO.
AI chatbots took over the world while Google released back-to-back updates to their algorithm and Quality Rater Guidelines – just to name a few changes.
Here’s a look at the latest SEO developments you should keep in mind when optimizing web content.
Link Spam Update
In December 2022, Google released their latest Link Spam Update, which used a souped-up SpamBrain (their AI-based spam prevention system) to negate the effect of paid backlinks on SERP rankings.
While paying for backlinks was always against Google’s guidelines, it was standard practice for many SEO experts – even those who favored white-hat techniques.
The update’s effects were drastic on websites that used paid or unnatural backlinks, as many site owners reported significant ranking drops.
Going forward, website owners must focus on strictly organic link-building techniques, such as guest posting, link insertions, and relationship-building.
E-E-A-T (Quality Rater Guidelines update)
Around the same time the Link Spam Update rolled out, Google updated its Quality Rater Guidelines.
Most notably, they added an extra E to their famous acronym, E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).
The additional E stands for experience, which means websites and reviews that display first-hand experience and knowledge of topics are favored by Google’s quality raters.
To ensure your content remains at the top of the SERPs, optimize your content by including anecdotes, real stories, and first-hand accounts that reflect your knowledge on a topic.
The AI revolution
AI chatbots were already taking over the world at the beginning of 2023, and it’s only been gaining momentum since.
The entire internet has long been buzzing about ChatGPT, AI image generators, and AI content creation software.
Bing famously integrated ChatGPT into its search engine, which is already changing the way users approach search engines.
While traditional SEO still works for now, it’s bound to change quite a bit in the near future.
In the meantime, you can use powerful AI tools to make optimizing web content a lot easier. Tools like Copymatic will enable you to automatically generate blog posts, landing pages, and even entire websites.
Chatbots can provide quick answers to any questions you may have while creating content – saving you the need to browse multiple web pages.
Reduced crawling and indexing
In order to reduce their impact on the environment, Google significantly reduced the amount of crawling and indexing it does to discover new websites.
Their thinking is that excessive crawling and indexing powered by non-renewable sources is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Not only that, but Google plans to neutralize its carbon footprint entirely by 2030, and reduced crawling/indexing is a part of that plan.
What does this mean for SEO?
It means that crawling and indexing your new web pages will take even longer than before (it was already a lengthy process).
While search engines like Bing and Yandex have incorporated IndexNow (an open-source protocol that enables instant indexing for participating search engines), Google has yet to implement such a solution.
That means it’s more important than ever for site owners to publish high-quality content, seek out high-authority backlinks, and grow their social media presence to speed up the indexing process.
Pro tip: The indexing process can be especially slow for link-building tactics like guest posting, so incorporate some link insertions into the mix. That’s because a link insertion involves adding one of your backlinks to an existing piece of content that’s already in Google’s index.
5 Steps to Optimize Web Content
Now that you’re up to speed on what’s new with SEO, it’s time to look at the most effective content optimization techniques to help you reach the top of the SERPs.
Bear in mind that we’re only going to cover on-page optimizations, so if you’re interested in diagnosing and repairing technical issues, check out our in-depth technical SEO checklist instead.
If you have a piece of content that’s underperforming due to on-page reasons (or if you’re creating a new piece from scratch), follow these 5 steps to optimize it for SEO fully.
Step #1: Targeted keyword research
The keywords that you target will make or break your SERP rankings, so you need to be smart about the ones you choose.
Researching keywords is how you uncover topics relevant to your target audience, which will guide your entire content strategy.
It’s more important than ever to find topics that are not only relevant to your audience but also cater to your expertise and first-hand experiences.
Google’s algorithm is extremely adept at finding content that’s irrelevant or out of place, so you shouldn’t pursue a keyword simply because it has a lot of search volume.
For example, if a website that sells car parts starts publishing trendy food recipes, it’ll stand out as irrelevant to Google.
To find keywords to target, you can use our free keyword planner tool.
It’ll provide essential keyword metrics like search volume, CPC, keyword difficulty, and current search trends.
Look for keywords that reflect your expertise, have high search volume, low keyword difficulty, and an upward search trend.
Step #2: Proper keyword placement
A mistake beginner SEOs make is to overuse their keywords, which stands out to Google as keyword spam.
You want to use your keywords organically and in a few key locations, including:
- The title tag and meta description
- Headings (especially H1 tag)
- In the alt text for any images
- Organically several times throughout the piece (including common variations)
- In the first 100 words of the content
If one of your blogs is underperforming on search engines, confirm that your target keyword appears in these areas.
If they do and you still aren’t making any progress, it could be that you’re targeting the wrong keywords (in which case you’d need to refer back to step #1).
Step #3: Use relevant and engaging visuals
It’s been common knowledge for a while now that blogs featuring visuals perform better in the search, improve dwell time, generate more backlinks, and make posts easier to digest.
That’s especially true if the visuals you use serve as supplementary aids to your content.
Infographics, videos, and relevant images/illustrations are all great examples of visuals that make blogs more SEO-friendly.
However, you should stray away from irrelevant images, even if they are visually stunning.
Unless an image is able to add something or relate to the post’s subject matter, you shouldn’t use it.
Also, every image that you use needs alt text (containing your target keyword) that describes what the image displays. This is helpful for users that are visually impaired, and alt text enables search engine crawler bots to know what the image shows (and how it relates to your content).
Step #4: Use inbound and outbound links
Your goal is to keep users engaged in your content loop for as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to interlink to related posts on your website.
Using internal links is a great way to improve your dwell time and user experience, as you can direct readers from one post to another (or to a product/landing page) by using inbound links.
As an added bonus, internal links help search engine crawler bots understand the structure of your website, which leads to better indexing.
Whenever you’re creating a new post or optimizing an existing one, create a list of related content that you want to link to within it.
Also, outbound links to authoritative sources (like research papers, government agencies, and educational institutions) will improve your SEO – so use them whenever possible.
Step #5: Provide real value to your audience
This last step is the most important, and it’s the least likely to go out of style.
Above all else, you should do your very best to provide value to your target audience.
That means publishing how-to’s and ultimate guides covering skills they want to acquire, keeping them up-to-date with the latest developments in your industry, and providing some good old-fashioned entertainment.
As long as you do that (and ensure no technical SEO issues are holding you back), nothing can stand in your way of becoming a valued thought leader in your field.
Concluding Thoughts: How to Optimize Web Content
SEO has changed a lot in recent years, and it will only continue to change going forward – especially with the advent of intelligent AI chatbots.
For now, creating as much value for your audience as you can through your content is still the way to go.
Do you need expert help developing an airtight SEO strategy for your business?