From Good to Great Content

  |  March 14, 2007   |  Comments

Great content is the result of following a good-better-best process of optimization.

In SEO (define), what's the difference between good content and great content?

Good content contributes to a site's overall visibility on a page-by-page basis. It engages users and provides an optimal path for easy navigation throughout the site. It stays on theme and naturally accrues inbound links over time.

Great content maintains all the essential elements of good content but produces higher conversion rates. It's action-oriented in that it inspires users to make a purchase, request more information, sign up for a newsletter, make a reservation, or set up an appointment.

Producing great content is the result of following a good-better-best process of optimization. Start by understanding what your content actually communicates to users and search bots.

See What's Being Seen

Start by considering what keywords and keyword phrases have achieved optimal positioning in the major search engines, and review those pages that struggle to rank in the first 50 results. Naturally, you'll want to spend some time analyzing current keyword research to make certain you're targeting optimal keywords and keyword phrases.

Prioritize a list of site pages that require your attention. Does your site have good visibility for particular products or product categories? How about subcategories and related products or services?

Look for emerging trends that reveal what goods and services have the most search engine referrals and the lowest conversion rates. Consider what products and services provide the highest profit margins. Prioritize your page list to optimize as good, better, or best, and prepare to dig deeper into the actual analysis of these pages' content.

Compare and contrast the words and page elements that contribute to the overall search engine visibility for the targeted phrases. Compare and contrast your pages with others that rank well for the same phrases. Finally, make certain these phrases target keywords that convert.

Create a simple checklist that notes whether targeted keywords and keyword phrases are in the title tags, header tags, site navigation, images, breadcrumbs, and body copy. Doing so will help you assess how prominent your keywords and keyword phrases are on any particular site page and create optimization opportunities.

There are plenty of free and fee-based content analyzers available on the Web. From overly generalized tag clouds to in-depth keyword density checkers, content analyzers will help you develop a context for your content auditing process. Here are a few:

Content analyzers also help shed light on words and phrases that don't contribute to search engine rankings or conversions. Many first-time content optimizers are surprised to find they rank well for superfluous phrases such as "click here," "see larger image," or "more." For some sites, reducing the visibility of suboptimal phrases can be as important as improving the visibility of optimal phrases.

Consider measuring the total words on any particular page, making certain to note iterations of keywords and keyword phrases in bold text, headings, and titles as a prominence factor. Measure the overall keyword density and frequency, but understand that keyword density alone won't achieve optimal search engine rankings.

Content analyzers are just another general SEO tool that can help you see your site pages another way. They should be leveraged for their informational value to assist in the assessment process. Remember, the information provided by content analyzers should help you form an opinion about the content, not replace your good judgment about what great content entails for your organization.

Analyze, Implement, and Measure

If you've been tracking good-better-best options to optimize site content, you've probably aggregated the elements of a to-do list. Prioritize these tasks to move your content optimization project through business processes.

Consider putting technical enhancements first, since fine-turning site navigation or creating new objects for navigational features like breadcrumb links could require some programming time. Optimizing technical elements often works to enhance a site's overall search engine visibility, not just one page within a site, especially if you're eliminating link-crawling barriers.

Move to the site templates next, especially if a header tag hierarchy is lacking or image replacement is required to improve keyword density on headings. Of course, you can be working on the actual body text at the same time.

Ideally, you'd have the time to change one element on each page at a time and measure the results. That way, you could grow your understanding of which elements on each page are critical for optimizing your site's visibility in each of the major search engines. If improving your site's search engine visibility is a priority for your business and marketing goals, you need to act quickly and make all necessary changes as soon as possible.

At the very least, make certain to add a series of milestones, noting each adjustment made to the site to understand the content optimization project's overall impact. Remember to measure results over time, comparing rankings and conversions to continue to make the most of your ongoing optimization efforts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

P.J. Fusco

P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first SEM service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales. Today, she is director for natural search for Netconcepts, a cutting-edge SEO firm with offices in Madison, WI, and Auckland, New Zealand.

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