Optimisation is one of the most important components for creating and publishing content. Indeed, why would one write content, if it can’t be found by search engines? A few years ago copywriters, following the instructions of SEO “wizards”, were longing to stuff texts with keywords in order to conquer the top of SERPs’. However, nowadays search engines’ algorithms are much more refined. Search engines regard keyword stuffing as spam and over optimisation. Moreover, search engines learned to identify the best content which satisfies users’ needs without taking keyword density into account.
That’s why content optimisation has already outgrown the simple placement of keywords with a certain density. In order to get to the top, you should publish informative, expert, helpful, well structured, relevant and socially-oriented content. Though, sometimes even this is not enough. In some cases quality topical articles have a lower rank than short notes with obvious facts. Very often it happens because of errors in content optimisation. Read more below to learn about the typical mistakes made and tips on effective optimisation.
You’re doing it wrong
Some mistakes even lower the effectiveness and search engine ranking of the most well constructed content. These main mistakes are:
1. Creation of content for search engines
As it was mentioned above, search engines constantly improve their algorithms of site ranking. However don’t forget that search engines are just robots that use mathematical algorithms and calculations in order to identify quality content. Living people are much sterner judges compared to search engines. That’s why you should think first about real readers.
You are likely making the following mistakes when it comes to writing texts for robots:
- Using high-frequency queries only. Competition in high-frequency queries is the endurance test for your budget. While huge corporations don’t worry about spending money, small and medium businesses should look for more effective promotion channels. Use long tail keywords and phrases to avoid competition in high frequency queries – promote your website by using a great number of mid-range and high frequency queries that consist of two or three words.
- Increasing keyword density. Quality over quantity. Stuffing keywords in almost every sentence worked in the past, but today they can be the reason for search engine penalties. Forget about keywords density, just write copy for real people.
- Creating a huge amount of poor quality content. The “quality over quantity” rule also works here. Your content should solve concrete problems of your audience. Attempting to promote a website by publishing a lot of poor articles will scare away living users who find nothing useful on your platform. One of the examples of this approach is the creation of multiple pages with the same message – pages developed for different keywords. For example, “buy uPVC windows” and “order uPVC windows”. Think about your potential clients’ interests when creating content. Learn what information they need to make decisions.
- ● Other common mistakes are making keywords bold or italic and adding keywords to previously written copy.
2. Over optimisation
Give a fool enough rope and he’ll hang himself – this proverb is very apt when looking at online marketing and SEO. Stuffing the title, keywords and description meta tags with keywords is one of the most common methods of over optimisation. Search engines will regard you as a spammer, if they find tons of keywords in descriptions instead of actual short descriptions written for real people. Perhaps this strategy worked in the past, but now it puts you in danger of getting a penalty.
Moreover, search engines use your descriptions and titles to create a snippet and a headline for a page in SERPs. Do users really want to visit a website after seeing something like “uPVC windows in London, cheap uPVC windows, buy cheap uPVC windows in London” instead of a short description?
3. Excessive link building
Search engines actively fight against SERP manipulation. It’s also related to cheating on rates with help of, unnatural, external links. You should stop using the following erroneous tactics for building a link profile:
- Publishing links in web catalogues. Do you think that real living users use catalogues to find a necessary website? It’s unlikely. Most web catalogues exist only for link building, so search engines don’t count links from them.
- Exchanging links. Google clearly forbids this tactic.
- Article marketing. I mean large-scale advertising campaigns, the main idea of which is to publish a great amount of content on third-party platforms only to get external links.
- Leaving spam comments on forums and blogs to get a backlink. This tactic is one of the least effective and most risky ones when talking about penalties.
- Excessive use of keywords in anchor texts. Keywords in anchors have a right to exist, because they tell users where a link leads to. However, unnatural use of keywords or too many anchor links are the signs of search engine spam. Avoid this tactic and you’ll avoid a penalty.
Focus on getting natural links from authoritative topical platforms – create content that people link to and use guest posting.
4. Assessing the promotion effectiveness by website’s ranking on SERPs'.
Indeed, a few years ago you could be proud of yourself, if your material was at the top of a Google SERP. Nowadays SERPs’ have became more dynamic for many reasons. One of them is that search engines attempt to personalise a SERP for individual users. In other words, your site can be at the top for user A and at 256th place for user B at the same time.
5. You post a link to your content on a social network and then forget about it.
Links on social networks require your attention. Keep in mind that the average life of a link on social networks is only 3 hours. During this period most of your friends manage to see it. Some of them click, like and share it. Others pay no attention at all. What does this mean? You should post new links on social networks constantly and regularly.
Moreover, it’s obligatory to communicate with the audience of social networks – answer comments, take part in discussions in topical communities, so watch for your content’s fate. Most social networks send notifications on an audience’s activity to your email, so monitoring it all shouldn’t be a problem.
You’re doing it right
As it was mentioned above, search engines constantly redevelop their site ranking algorithms, seeking to provide users with websites containing the most relevant content. Changes in algorithms make most SERP manipulative optimisation tactics ineffective. However, you can still optimise your content by wearing a “white hat”. How do you wear this hat?
1. Develop an annual content plan
Content planning is a very important factor in successful content creation and optimisation. Some marketers and copywriters wait for inspiration, and think that they will be able to create higher quality material after being inspired. However, they are at great risk of turning into spaghetti marketers because of their muses’ capriciousness. That’s why you should plan your publication schedule for the next 12 months – it will help you to succeed in the long term. Include the following information, which concerns optimisation, in your content plan:
- Keywords for each material – create a long list of keywords.
- Estimated internal links and anchor texts for them.
- Title, description and keyword meta tags.
- Teasers for social networks.
Prepare this information beforehand and you’ll make your work on content optimisation easier.
2. Create useful content
Search engines try to show users websites with quality content. Wherein, they try to teach robots to assess its quality from the point of view of real users. Thus, you improve your website’s ranking by creating useful content. Use the following criteria to check whether your content is helpful for potential and current customers or not:
- Expert quality and informed, relevant content of your materials as confirmed by a specialist. We are talking about a professional or an editor working in a topical sphere.
- No unnatural keywords are used in your text.
- You use anchor links only when they are necessary and helpful.
Does your content meet these requirements? Congratulations – you create useful materials for living people, not just spam-content for robots.
3. Create content that solves practical problems
Content on a website should help people solve their specific problems in a practical way. If it doesn’t happen, then users leave a page immediately. If you want to make sure that your content solves practical problems ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this content answer visitor questions?
- Does this content help people learn something new?
- Is this content relevant to the purpose of a user's visit?
Try to mix texts with other types of content – for example, videos and photos. People process visual information 60 000 times faster than text. It’s no surprise that website owners get backlinks three times faster by combining texts with videos and photos, compared to a simple plain text. Images and videos make your content more practical, because mixed content makes it easier for users to process information.
4. Think about real users when optimising meta tags, not about robots
As it was mentioned above, just a few years ago optimisers tended to stuff title and description meta tags with keywords in order to improve a page’s relevance to users’ queries. Nowadays that doesn’t work.
Think as a marketer, not as a robot, when creating meta tags. The purpose for a title and description is to attract user’s attention and quickly give them a little bit of information about a page.
Using the correct ‘Title’ meta tag is necessary to form a link’s title on SERPs’. It should attract user’s attention and contain a keyword. Description meta tagging is necessary to form a snippet that gives a short description about a page and motivates users to visit a website. It is difficult to complete these tasks, if you stuff the title and description with keywords just like the good old times, right?
So, attract users’ attention and motivate them to visit your website when optimising meta tags. Don’t use keywords more than once per meta tag, if you think that it will help customers to understand what your website is about.
5. Make sure your website follows search engines’ technical guidelines
This way search engines can assess your content’s quality and give a high rate to your website. In particular, pay attention to the following recommendations:
- Make sure that search robots index your website correctly. Check the presence and settings of your robots.txt and sitemap.xml files.
- Set up your CMS so it doesn’t duplicate content.
- Use rel=author/publisher attributes to confirm the authorship.
- Optimise images – make notes under them and use the alt attribute.
Perform a technical audit of each website regularly to identify and fix anything inconsistent with search engine’ guidelines.
6. Use natural link building
Nowadays search engines pay prior attention to external links’ quality instead of quantity. Use the following tactics to get quality links:
- Promote content. Use social networks, blogs and email newsletters.
- Write guest posts on authoritative topical platforms.Include no more than one or two links in content on third-party sites in order to avoid penalties. Your task is to attract the audience’s attention, not to tease pandas and penguins.
Stimulate the audience to share your content. Use sharing buttons, ask readers to repost it, but your content must really be of the highest quality, because no one wants to share useless posts.
7. Monitor the promotions' effectiveness with important metrics
Marketers use different metrics to track the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. They include traffic, site rank and even the number of likes and shares on social networks. Of course, these metrics provide specialists with necessary information, but ranking in the top-3 means nothing, if users immediately leave a website.
That’s why you should track the most important metrics – number of sales leads and conversion rates. They allow you to carefully measure the ROI of a marketing campaign and quickly change your approach to content creation and optimisation.
Avoid manipulating behaviour when optimising content for a website. Don’t just create materials for search robots, forget about keyword density, purchased links and keywords in meta tags. Write for living people instead – create professional, informative and practically helpful content for them. Make sure that your website follows the guidelines of search engines. Learn how to get natural external links. It will help you to attract visitors and convert them into customers.