Content Optimization: Building Success into Your Strategy

Successful search engine strategies embrace optimization tactics that impact your bottom line. If you lose sight of conversions, or fail to measure desired actions taken by visitors to your Web site during the content optimization process, then why bother attempting to optimize your content in the first place? Go up your PPC (define) budget already.

Every successful search-engine strategy is built on three pillars of natural SEO (define):

  • Research.

  • Research.
  • Research.

OK, I may have oversimplified that a bit. But a great deal of research goes into building a successful content optimization strategy. Yet, a content optimization strategy is only one facet of an overall SEO strategy.

We started this discussion in an earlier column that examined a Web site’s content to recognize opportunities to be found for all the right words. That included analyzing what keywords and phrases already drive discernable search referred traffic to your Web site. This primary research is all about understanding what “all the right words” actually means. The right words are words that convert browsers to buyers.

We moved onward only to do more research — scrutinizing keyword suggestion tools, keyword analytics tools, and keyword effectiveness indicators. By working our way through each of these processes, we prepared a master keyword list, and learned how to avoid drowning in words by teaching you how to swim through the data.

Finally, we discussed how to manage the gap between what words your Web site is found for, and what your goods and services should be found for.

Naturally, we reviewed some opportunities to amplify the contextual signals that your content is sending to the search engines by way of title tags, heading tags, and beyond.

Nonetheless, all of these steps are just fundamental tactics that have yet to be rolled up into a strategy. It looks like the only thing we’re really missing is an owner.

Who should own the keyword research process for building a content optimization strategy into your organization? That depends on your organization, of course.

If your online business has a relatively centralized team of people writing copy for your Web site, think about who should be doing baseline keyword research. Generally speaking, it’s important to have at least one overall keyword champion in the office.

I strongly recommend that one person be appointed to build your Web site content optimization strategy. This one person can determine the best keyword choices at a higher level for the home page, then work through your most profitable categories and sub-categories of goods and services, and on down the line to products and services specifics.

Your keyword champion can also determine the best search phrases your business should have major market share in and communicate why particular keywords and phrases are critically important for the broader team. This will help influence the type of information published within your Web site and what words and phrased are baked into your content.

Copywriters should have an overall understanding of the best keywords to use within a category or sub-category pages, as well as overall organization of product lines and service sections within your Web site. They should also have access to keyword research tools and be trained on how to analyze keywords on a product line-by-product line basis. Or, at the least, copywriters should have access to the master keyword list or the ability to request additional keyword research as prepared by another team member. Ideally, that’s your keyword champion.

If the people who write your Web site’s content don’t have the ability to edit or post articles and product information on your Web site, then it’s equally important that the keyword champion communicate the content optimization strategy to broader team of editors and producers. Everyone must understand the consequences of adjusting particular words and phrases in title tags, heading tags, anchor text links, and body copy. For example, it’s not uncommon for a Web producer or online editor to shorten a phrase in a heading tag in order to avoid a line break or something equally dire.

The result is a phrase like “I am bored” is abbreviated as IAB, and the search engines can’t sufficiently discern whether the acronym actually stands for “Internet Advertising Bureau,” “Internet Architecture Board,” or “internal affairs bureau” without some additional contextual signals — like anchor text links that spell out the exact phrase as part of your navigational construct or inbound links from other online entities.

In most organizations, the role of keyword champion falls to some sort of marketer. But your keyword champion can’t operate in a vacuum. This person needs a partner in technology if a change is needed in the way Web pages are presented, and also needs a cheerleader — someone who can help eliminate barriers to success. If that’s the CEO, CIO, or marketing VP, so be it.

When a keyword champion works together with copywriters, editors, producers, and information-technology staff, and operates with executive oversight, your content optimization strategy becomes a larger part of how you do what you do online. This way, content optimization becomes just another business process.

Consequently, content optimization is baked into every facet of your business, be it content for products and services, press releases, RSS feeds, e-mail newsletters, widgets, or blogs. When you bake content optimization into your business, you essentially have everyone optimizing content all of the time. This is indeed a recipe for success in the search engines.

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