How to Optimize Great Content for Search Engines to easily Crawl, Index and Rank

by Jason Acidre on July 5, 2012 · 59 comments · Uncategorized


Content optimization is getting trickier these days, as users’ behavior toward how they use the web tend to grow over time, plus the fact that a lot of web content providers on different niches are pushing out tons of “great content” in a steadily growing rate.

This progression on web usage has allowed search engines to identify more data that they can use to assess webpages that should be ranking well on their search results (based on usability, social, authority and so many other factors).

Miguel Salcido recently asked 17 experts on what on-site ranking factors they think are most important to optimize this year, which inspired me to write this post – and I also think that it’s worth checking out too.

Anyway, content marketing is making a trend, proving its power as a very effective marketing tool that can tremendously grow a brand’s audience, following and customer base. And empowering your content marketing efforts with basic know-hows on optimizing your content for search is just practical to yield more results to your campaign.

So in this post, I will mostly discuss content optimization techniques that you can implement before and after launching your piece to increase the likelihood of your content in ranking better on search results, even without the help of link building.

Accurate Page Titles

Title tags still remain as one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to on-site SEO, based on many experts’ experience. Using your target keywords in the content’s page title can help improve its search rankings.

It’s also important that the title of your web page will meet – or exceed if possible – your target audience’s expectations from the content that they’ll see to improve visitor retention to that page. Other helpful tips when constructing your content page titles are:

  • Make the title actionable to increase click-through rate when targeting users who’ll see your content showing up on search engine result pages (don’t just use your targeted keywords to rank higher on search engines, but rather write your titles with the intent for humans to click on your listings).

  • Apply a different post title or headline to optimize your site for different semantically related or more long-tail search phrases.

  • You can also choose to use your content’s other target keywords in the page’s URL, as Google is also using URLs to display as the title on search results, when it’s found to be more relevant for search queries closely related to your content’s initially targeted keyword. AJ Kohn and Ruth Burr have discussed this recently here and here.

Use LSI keywords within the content

LSI or latent semantic indexing is a process being used by search engines to identify patterns in the relationships between terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text (as defined by Wikipedia). Basically, this process allows search engines to evaluate the context and relevance of content to a search query based on the related terms being contained by a particular content.

The more a content use highly-related/synonymous terms/words, the more search engines understand where the content should be tagged or categorized in their indices.

A good trick on determining which words you can use for your content, to make its context look more relevant and particularly targeted about the industry-specific keyword, is the use of the tilde (~) when searching for your “root keyword” in Google search.

Authorship Markup

Soon enough, Google may start implementing AuthorRank into their list of ranking factors (or maybe they are already using it) in measuring if a page is worth being prominently displayed on their search results. That’s why building a strong author profile using Google+ is deemed necessary these days to prepare your strategy for future game-changing events.

Implementing Authorship markup in your site/blog is not that hard actually, and there several tutorials out there that you can check out, like from AJ Kohn, Joost de Vaulk and from this blog as well.

Nikko Marasigan, one of our in-house SEO strategists (at Xight Interactive), also tested how far can authorship markup help in terms of rankings, which somehow proven how this simple optimization technique played a big role in making a site/page rank without links from other sources (with only a single Google+ profile linking to it). Just imagine how much more power can it produce if you have solid authors contributing content to your site.

Another advantage of having authorship markup applied in your site/blog is that it increases the click-through rate of your site’s pages on Google’s SERPs, as your listings will look more trustworthy and credible to searchers.

Length of Content

It’s undeniable that longer and in-depth documents are ranking very well on search results. Make your content more comprehensive than what your competitors are offering to push your rankings above them.

Thought it is also important to ensure that the quality of information within the content will not be over-saturated or be out of substance for trying too hard to lengthen it. 800+ words will do.

Interactions and engagement in content (UGC)

Encourage your visitors to join the discussions happening within your site’s content (user generated comments, product reviews, star ratings, upvotes, etc…).

Building interactions within your content is very vital, as Google also depends on this factor in evaluating how useful your content is, especially if the amount of relevant comments in your content is high and offering value to the discussion.

There are many ways to improve interactions in your content, such as:

  • Incentivizing interactions, like organizing a comment contest or offering do-follow links to trusted commentators.
  • Making it a call-to-action at the end of your post(s), like adding “would love to hear your thoughts below, at the comment section”.
  • Responding to comments to initiate conversations.

Shareability and ability to collate social signals

As I’ve mentioned above, search engines are strongly dependent on social data these days in detecting pages that are relatively popular, authoritative and up-to-date.  So if you can drive more social signals to your site’s content, you’ll also be building a solid chance for them of ranking better on search results.

Below are few tips on getting more social shares to your content:

  • Make sure that your content is really useful and share-worthy. You can check out this post on the common types of content that make it well on social media and on how you can effectively promote them as well.
  • Make social sharing very easy for your page visitors by making your social sharing buttons visible. You can place it above the fold or at the end of the content, as visitors are more receptive on taking actions from those areas of the page.
  • Do manual social outreach, particularly to people who are really interested and more likely to share your content.
  • For more tips, you can also visit my old post on how to generate more social shares.

Link out to other credible external sources

Linking out to other sites, particularly to known trusted sites (not just Wikipedia), is a strong signal that search engines can use to see if the page is topically relevant and if it is using/citing credible sources for its content.

This action builds up the trust search engines see in your content, since it somehow aligns itself, in terms of information, to the sources that it has mentioned.

Use of rich-media content

Including rich-media content like rich and visually attractive images, cinemagraphs, screenshots, videos, slide presentations and/or data visualizations alongside your text content can also improve its search rankings.

These page elements can help improve the depth of your content and can also enhance user experience, which is another factor that search engines look into in ranking webpages.

You can also optimize their attributes to make your content more relevant to your content’s targeted search phrases, such as using your targeted keyword(s) on your rich-media content’s filenames, alternate texts (for images) and descriptions.

Implementing Schema and Microdata

Schema could really play a big part in the future of search engine optimization, and many experts believe that this optimization process has already been giving some sites the advantage of getting better rankings than other websites that haven’t applied these markups on their sites yet.

Schemas are set of tags that can be used by webmasters to their websites, which is specifically made for search engines, for them to better understand web-based documents and to eventually provide better and more relevant search results to their users (since by that time they’ll have better understanding of what a particular content is about through the help of microdata/schemas).

Learning how to code schemas can be real tricky at first. But the good news is that Raven has recently launched a browser-based tool that allows its users to generate schemas called Schema-creator.org.

You can easily create Schema.org markups using this tool and copy the generated code to your website.

Think Conversions

Every page of your site is a landing page that’s capable of generating you revenue. And Google is also looking at this kind of ability from your content to determine if it can satisfy your site’s visitors.

Implementing conversion-oriented optimization to your site’s content is definitely advantageous in so many ways, not just with rankings, but as well as in business perspectives. Some of the most common ways that you can apply to your content to increase the chances of converting its page traffic are:

  • Improving the page’s loading speed – you can use Google Lab’s Page Speed Online to see the elements that make your page load time slower and this web-based tool will also provide suggestions on how you can optimize these page or site-level elements.
  • Improving your content’s call-to-action – make sure that your site offers are visible to your new visitors (you can place it above the fold or below after the content, and continuously test where it works best). It’s also best to make your offers relevant to what your content is about (basing the products, services, newsletters, ebooks or webinars you want to upsell on the topic of the content).
  • Internally linking to other relevant and useful content of the site – promote your site’s other popular/authority content through internal links, and make these links very visible (by placing them within the content and using longer strings of texts for their anchor texts), as this can increase your site’s average page visits and site visit duration/time on site. The more your visitors see your other content, the more you can funnel them to subscribing or returning to your site.

Build strong internal links to your “great content”

Lastly, once you have published your new content, you can then start building internal links to it from your other strong content (old related blog posts/articles). Vary the anchor texts that you’ll use for internal linking and try to make the linking contextual to entice clicks from visitors on these pages.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and you can follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre and Google+.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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