As marketers, it’s very easy to get confused between content optimisation and search engine optimisation (SEO), leading to many believing them to be the same thing. In reality, the two concepts are related but not quite the same.
SEO is a broader term that refers to all of the techniques a marketer can use to ensure their content performs well in search. This includes everything from alt tags to page load speed, making up a veritable optimisation toolkit.
Content optimisation, on the other hand, is the art of ensuring content is of a high quality in order for it to perform to the max in search. To extend the toolkit metaphor, content optimisation is the car you’re working on. You can add as many extra features but without a sound engine it’s not going anywhere.
To differentiate between the techniques used for content optimisation and the wider SEO methods two terms are often employed. These are on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation, and the power to improve the former really lies within the hands of the writer.
It is their job to make the best user experience (UX) possible, as search engines like Google can recognise good UX within their algorithms and promote sites as a result. Once your content is optimised, then you can apply off-page techniques to it and watch it take off.
Optimised content is an investment in your business
In the modern age there aren’t many businesses that can afford to miss out on Google as a source of traffic to their websites. That makes high-performing content, such as blog posts, a wise investment that can offer a competitive advantage when consistently posted over time.
Optimised content should therefore be an integral part of your SEO strategy and you should treat it as such. Instead of going back over content once it has been created with the idea of improving its quality, embed the process within your workflow for maximum efficiency and results.
Building a content optimisation strategy
The whole idea is to show your authority on a specific subject and therefore make your website a go-to source for search queries relating to your area of expertise. It used to be that exact match keyword queries were vital in attracting traffic, but Google’s Hummingbird update of 2013 put more emphasis on natural language.
With algorithms becoming more sophisticated, quality content can be more easily detected through topics as opposed to simple keywords and keyword phrases. Organising topics into ontologies – a sort of topic tree with a hierarchy of content – will enable you to establish your website’s authority around a subject and improve its ranking.
From the planning stages of your content, when you are focusing on search intent, through the creation phase and editing, make sure content optimisation is a priority. Determine where in your overall ontology your article of content will fit and decide whether it is a pillar piece or something that works in a supporting role. This will assist with internal linking and guide your user effortlessly through topics on your website.
Planning through content briefs
Making your content optimisation strategy work in practice means looking at the overall picture and ensuring the minutiae feeds into this ideal. This requires good planning before writing a single line of an article or blog and for that you’ll need a content inventory with content briefs for each piece you plan to create. Such an organised approach will lead to a well-optimised site instead of a collection of unrelated posts that don’t improve rankings in a methodical way.
Spend some time deciding exactly what should be included in each brief, so that you can replicate it for every piece of content you create. A comprehensive brief, including everything from title and subheading ideas to questions that need answering and internal pieces to link to, will make the process of content creation much more efficient and effective in the long run.