SEO Content Optimization: Way Beyond Keywords

- October 1, 2014

Although SEO and the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have evolved significantly over the past several years, many content creators still think that  content optimization is about sprinkling keywords throughout their content and hoping for the best. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

For any keyword, the search engines deliver millions of results. Some are likely extremely well-optimized for the keyword, while others simply use variants. Crowding the SERPs, of course, are any number of results, including:

  • Traditional Search Ads
  • Shopping Ads
  • Images Results
  • Video Results
  • Social Results (particularly if the user is logged into Google+)
  • Local Results
  • Knowledge Graph Results

This doesn’t leave a lot of room for your keyword optimized content to shine. Which is why you’ve got to create more than optimized content to get noticed.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the biggest factors that could determine whether your webpages rank.

Subject Matter Relevance

The most important aspect of optimization today is relevance. The search engines are looking to deliver the very best, and most relevant, content in response to a user’s query. They use keywords as one of many signals to determine relevance, but keywords are not the end-all-be-all.

When optimizing a particular page for a particular keyword or user query, ask yourself:

  • Why is my content worthy of ranking above all of the other content that exists on this subject?
  • What are my competitors doing to rank for this keyword?
  • What does a user that searches for this term want?

For example, take a look at the SERPs for the keyword “Fall Fashion 2014.”


You’ll notice that out of the top three organic results, only one includes the full keyword string in its title tag, and none are well-optimized in terms of the description tag.

Yet, everything that ranks well for this keyword is topically relevant and includes the things that users really want – images and other multimedia. If you’re not creating this type of user-friendly, share-worthy content, you may be missing out.

Domain / Author Authority

The notion of authority and how it’s used by search engines to determine trust has been around for a while. But it’s more important than ever.

More and more, search engines like Google are looking to cut down on search spam by delivering results based on the most authoritative sources available. For any keyword that you want to rank for, ask yourself:

  • Who ranks currently? How have they demonstrated their authority?

Then, consider what you can do to build your authority, and the authority of your domain:

  1. Creating great onsite content.
  2. Creating great offsite content.
  3. Promoting your content, and your subject matter authority, via social.

Keyword Optimization

Finally, we come to keywords – the bedrock of any optimization project.

When performing keyword research, we recommend that you choose the one best keyword (or key phrase) that represents your content. Then, search that keyword / phrase to get a sense of your competition – what do you have that they don’t?

Finally, when optimizing your content, make sure you include your keyword, if at all possible, in:

  • The URL
  • The title tag
  • The description tag
  • The body content (but only if you’re doing it naturally!)
  • The alt image tags, and multimedia file names

What’s Keeping You from Ranking?

As you can see, keyword optimization is only one of many aspects of SEO content optimization. Of course, you can have the most authoritative website with the best, most optimized content around, but if you have technical SEO issues, you could still have barriers to optimization. For more information, check out our blog post on the top technical SEO issues, or schedule a complimentary SEO consultation.

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