Content Optimization Best Practices Guide


Written by Nick Yorchak. Posted in Content

If you’re investing the time to generate great content, of course you want it to be visible within search results. Whether you’re a content creator of blogs, articles, or some other medium, there are several steps and strategies you can utilize to optimize your work.

These principles apply to both B2B or B2C content, and if followed will ensure maximum visibility within organic search results.

SEO Steps for Writers to Follow

Keyword Research – Use free or paid tools to do basic research around the topic to identify the most opportunistic keyword phrases in terms of volume and competition. For most posts you could target 1-3 keywords/phrases, but in principle you need content specifically about that topic to rank. Align these keywords and your copy with user intent.

Google the Keywords You Plan to Use – Before you commit to the keywords and writing the article… Google the same terms you hope to rank for in order to see what ranks now! This way you’ll see if the top ranking positions are “out of reach” from an SEO standpoint. If you see Wikipedia and other powerful, established, popular websites, it may be better to pivot to a different, less competitive keyword in hopes to obtaining traffic from it. In addition, analyze the composition and makeup of the SERP (search engine results page). This will reveal whether text is enough to rank, or if you’ll need images, video, infographics, or other types of rich content to compete at the top.

Note the SERP Features – When you Google your target keywords, you may also notice SERP features like “People Also Ask,” “Featured Snippets,” and the “Knowledge Box” which can also offer opportunities for on-SERP optimization via other tactics like schema markup. These kind of SERP features are most often seen in a few types of searches:

  • • Comparisons ( X vs. Y)
  • • Can You…
  • • Can X do Y…
  • • Who is…
  • • What is…
  • • Why is…
  • • How is…

Google will only display a short excerpt of the text on your full page, so you must be sure to provide an answer less than 50 words. For an even better chance at a featured snippet, include the question as a heading and then answer the question directly below.

Write the Post with Depth of Content – Try to have at least 300 words if not more, and include rich media such as images, embedded video, and other types of content beyond text. Remember to also optimize these assets as best you can, for example adding ALT text to images and using a transcript for videos. Lastly, don’t forget to weave the same keywords you want to rank for into the headings and sub-headings of your blogs (h1, h2, etc.).

Internal & External Linking Considerations – A critical component of content optimization is including internal and external links within the copy. Internal links should connect the page’s content to logical and relevant pages within your own site. Make sure to utilize optimized anchor text or typescript, which is the often blue and underlined text making up the link. Search engines examine the text making up the link as an indicator of what the resulting content will be about, so instead of Click Here it would be better to use a link like Learn about X Topic here. External links are also important. Remember to cite sources and link to relevant content outside of your website (when applicable).

Include a Call to Action (CTA) – Don’t just write a great piece of content with no next step – give the user something to do! Include a Call to Action within the post (or multiple CTAs if that makes sense) to ensure your readers have a clear path to conversion, whatever that may be.

Title Tag and Meta Description – Wait until you’ve completed the post/article itself to generate a title tag and meta description. This will help you “see the post from 30,000 feet” and ensure your title and description are spot-on. Remember, the title tags should be written for search engines and include target keywords (it’s one of the most critical on-page SEO elements). One the other hand, you should your meta descriptions for users as this element has no bearing on ranking, but is the statement users see in the results that should entice and/or compel them to click your result and not one of the other options on Google.

Author and Date – If you have the ability to author and date the post, you should. This helps search engines understand your content hierarchy and publishing history, which are both factors in ranking.

Categorization – Select the most relevant category for the post or article. This will make your content more “search-able” within your blog and also more “find-able.”

Enable Social Sharing – All of your posts should theoretically be primed for social sharing. This can be one CTA like the example mentioned above, but it will help promote the visibility of your content within social channels.

Measure & Grow – Make sure to utilize a measurement solution of some kind, whether it be Google Analytics and/or Search Console or another platform. You can also track organic rankings through several tools, our favorite of which is Authority Labs.

Repurpose & Update Top Performing Content Over Time – Using the measurement tools discussed above, be sure to monitor your top performing content over time. Then you can repurpose or update it, adding depth that will help keep the post at the top of the rankings. Remember, don’t change the URL and if you have to for some reason, use a 301 redirect.

SEO Best Practices List

Responsiveness Is Not an Option – In today’s mobile-first world, responsiveness is a requirement for success. Sites that lack mobile-friendly content and features will see themselves penalized within search results.

Ensure Your URL Structure Is Optimal – While this is not a simple change, in principle you should seek to create clean, clear, and concise URLs for your content. Avoid dynamic URLs with symbols or characters, and use dashes to separate words (

Generate & Submit an XML Sitemap – The generation and submission of XML sitemaps will help ensure your website is indexed and optimally crawled by search engines. Depending on your Content Management System, there may be features or plugins allowing you to generate the XML Sitemap(s). Yoast is a popular tool for WordPress XML Sitemap features for instance.

Slow Load Speeds Hurt – Google and other search engines are putting more emphasis on the overall user experience. Hence, if your site is super slow with respect to load times, or suffers from many crawl errors, hidden text, or other poor-UX features, you can expect that fact to be reflected in the rankings.

Update Previously “Thin” Content – While most copywriters focus on forward-facing optimizations, you can also work backward into your body of work to identify new SEO opportunities! Review or crawl your past posts to identify “thin” content with under 250 words, then begin to optimize these assets with more depth and or rich media.

Monitor Your “Mentions” – Oftentimes a website will mention a company or brand in text and not link to it. You can use various tools like Moz or others to “monitor” the web for mentions of your keywords or brands, which you can then contact to request a link or offer something like a quote or a reciprocal value proposition. There are a variety of examples we could cite, but monitoring your mentions will open up more doors for linking opportunities.

Moving Forward

With organic search representing such a critical inbound channel for most websites, Content Optimization strategies are essential.

By following the tips provided in this resource, you’ll put your content in the best position to rank.

Questions? Big Footprint can help establish and direct a process for content optimization.