Gaining traction in search engine rankings used to involve filling blogs with buzz words. And optimizing content meant hitting the right density of keywords. But in recent years content marketing has evolved. And so too have the methods for optimized content marketing.

Keywords still play a part, but now content is king. In fact, in a 2016 talk, Google confirmed that good content is one of the top three ranking signals in their search algorithm. If you want to develop a fully optimized content marketing strategy, you need to focus on content that says the right things to the right people in the right way.

Understanding Optimized Content Marketing

Answers to any query are at the fingertips of anyone with a mobile phone. Viewers have incredible control over what they see through the use of subscription-based streaming services and ad-blocking software. Thus, traditional advertising is less effective than ever before.

Optimized content marketing is a vital component in advertising, generating three times as many leads as outbound marketing while costing up to 62 percent less. But in order to achieve those kinds of results, you have to do more than write a few blog posts and upload them to your website. It’s important to have a strategy for optimized content marketing.

Whether you create blogs or videos, tweets or white papers, there are two types of content marketing optimization to consider:

Technical optimization:

This involves things like including relevant keywords (without keyword stuffing), writing compelling meta titles that include your keyword, and fixing 404 (website not found) errors.

Content marketing optimization:

This involves focusing on the quality of the material you publish. Good content that’s relevant and useful is more likely to rank in search engine results, and is also more likely to encourage visitors to stay and read, subscribe, or engage with your brand.

3 Ways to Achieve Optimized Content Marketing

Keywords, meta tags, killer headlines, and subheadings still play a part in helping your content rise to the top, but for the best results you need to do much more than focus on the technical aspects.

1. Create great content.

It may sound obvious, and you’ve probably heard it countless times before, but content is the key to success. But what makes content great? Whenever you’re creating, make sure that your piece is:

Well-written:

Make sure you proofread. Look for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. If you write the piece yourself, get someone else to read through it, as it’s not easy to spot your own gaffs. If possible, hand the work off to a professional editor to ensure the best quality.

Engaging:

Your work should be upbeat and interesting, with a catchy headline and introduction that makes visitors want to read on, share the piece with friends, and then return to your site time and again to see what else you have to say. Determine in advance which demographic you’re aiming for, drawing on data from your existing client base if necessary, and then use an appropriate language and style.

Accurate:

Fact check everything. If you’re using statistics, make sure they’re from a reliable source, and don’t publish anything you can’t validate.

Thorough:

Know what questions your visitors are asking, and answer them completely. Recent studies indicate that pages focusing on a single topic do better in search rankings, with longer content ranking higher than shorter content. So, be as thorough as possible — but keep your content relevant, without padding.

Valuable:

Your content should always be valuable, matching customer queries as accurately as possible. Don’t resort to click-bait.
Well-formatted: Nobody wants to squint at a wall of text on their smartphone. Use headers, lists, charts, and infographics to break up your content, and make it as easy to read as possible.

Calls to action:

It isn’t enough for visitors to read your content and move on. Once they’ve gotten to the end of the article, what do you want them to do next? Engaging with readers means encouraging them to take the next step on a buying journey. Consider asking them to subscribe to a newsletter, or include a strong call to action at the end of the piece to promote a purchase.

2. Build trust.

It’s essential that your audience trusts you. Nobody wants to deal with someone who’s dishonest. There are a few simple ways to help develop a trusting relationship with your readers:

Don’t be a salesperson:

Your content needs to be audience-centric. Don’t write like you’ve lured people to your website to sell them something. Write like you want to help them. Your content is valuable, and focuses first on providing a solution to a specific query. Selling comes later.

Be objective:

If you’re trying to educate your audience, don’t push an agenda. Impart knowledge, and shine a light on both sides of any story. Your readers should feel like you aren’t withholding something from them.

Partner with valued influencers:

Social media influencers have already developed a lot of trust with their audiences. If you get the support of respected content creators, their audiences become your audience.

Introduce user-generated content:

According to statistics from Social Media Today, 75 percent of people believe user-generated content adds authenticity. If existing customers believe in your brand, potential customers will too.

3. Become an authority.

If you’re doing point 1 and 2, then point 3 comes naturally. When you write quality content that encourages visitors to come back or share your words with friends, you’re building a strong reputation. As more readers engage with your work, you position yourself as a leading authority on the subject. It takes time, but if you maintain a high level of quality, cite established professionals in your articles, share your work around, and provide content for other websites, your reputation grows.

Takeaway: Content Comes First

If your content is weak, not only does it suffer in the search engine rankings, but visitors are also less likely to find your work compelling, and more likely to quickly click away to something more relevant to their needs.

For optimized content marketing strategies, focus on writing great articles that are engaging and informative, and that position you as an authority in the field. If you feel you lack the skills necessary to write copy that shines, or if you run a small company that doesn’t have a dedicated marketing team, think about hiring freelancers instead. Finding one or two writers and editors you trust has the potential to raise the quality of your content, and raise your search rankings.

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