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18 SEO Content Optimization Tips: Rank Any Content for SEO

Updated on September 26, 2023


You spent a lot of time and effort writing a great article… So why is no one reading it?

No matter how good your article is…

Nobody’s gonna see it if they can’t find it.

Think of search engines like a dating site… 

Website visitors try to match with sites and the type of content they’re interested in.

And just like in dating…

You gotta:

  • Present yourself well
  • Highlight your unique qualities
  • Make the first impression count

That’s what SEO content optimization is.

Freaking great content primed for the platform is how you get people to swipe right…

And attract as many potential “matches” as possible.

How to do it?

Let me show you.

What Is SEO Content Optimization?

SEO content optimization refers to enhancing content to improve search engine rankings and increase conversions.

The goal is to make the content as easy for search engines to understand and index as possible to rank higher and get more organic traffic.

This can be done by:

  • Incorporating relevant keywords
  • Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions
  • Adding alt text for images
  • Using proper heading tags
  • …and more.

Better content → More visibility → More site visitors → More leads and sales

What more can you ask for?

But why is it important?

Why Is SEO-Optimized Content Important?

Now think about this…

When was the last time you searched for something on the second page of Google?

Did you know the top result gets over 27.6% of all clicks?

Second and third get 15% and 11% respectively.

Statistically…

It’s an uphill battle even from position 4 to 10.

That’s why SEO-optimized content is important for these key reasons:

  • Higher rankings: You appear before competitors in searches for your products or services.
  • Increased traffic: The top 3 get the most clicks and thus more traffic.
  • Better conversions: You’re more likely to satisfy their search intent if your content is optimized and ranked higher.
  • More brand awareness: Your brand gets more exposure by appearing at the top which helps stick in people’s heads.
  • Lasting results: You get consistent recurring organic searchers that compound over time.

How to Optimize Content for SEO

Keep in mind that optimizing content for SEO is an ongoing process.

It’s not a one-off.

Here are my top tips on how to optimize SEO content:

  1. Perform Keyword Research
  2. Understand Audience Search Intent
  3. Optimize Meta Tags
  4. Use Header Tags
  5. Optimize For Featured Snippets
  6. Use AI SEO Tools
  7. Use an SEO Copywriting Checklist
  8. Optimize for Voice Search
  9. Optimize for Image Search
  10. Optimize for Video Search
  11. Use Schema Markup
  12. Internal Linking
  13. External linking
  14. Optimize for Mobile
  15. Avoid Duplicate Content
  16. Optimize for Technical SEO
  17. Refresh and Update Your Content
  18. Encourage Social Sharing

1. Perform Keyword Research

Every SEO-optimized article always starts with a main keyword.

JUST ONE. No more.

You could have written one of the best articles on “Digital Marketing.

But if it doesn’t explicitly include the words “digital” and “marketing”…

Nobody’s gonna find it online…

Much less read it.

Why?

Because there is no search volume.

You must figure out what people are actually typing in search engines.

That’s why you need keyword research.

It can be a difficult process…

But luckily there are tools that make your life way easier.

The two most popular ones are Semrush and Ahrefs

And they help identify keywords with proven search volume.

Say you want to write something about starting a business….

Just type “how to start a business” into your KW tool.

It will show you a bunch of metrics include the monthly search volume.

How To Start a Business Semrush Keyword Magic ToolPin

Your content needs to be optimized around the main keyword and all its variations.

Else Google has no context and won’t rank it no matter how good it is.

2. Understand Audience Search Intent

Let’s pretend you’re the target audience…

And you just clicked on the article you just wrote.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this article answer my question?
  • Am I at the right awareness stage to receive this information?
  • Is this the content format I’m looking for?

Because if the answer is no to either of these questions…

They will return to the search engine results page (SERP) to find a better solution from your competitors.

That means…

Your content was not optimized for search intent.

Let’s say you wrote an article targeting the keyword “Python Jokes.

You might have thought you’ll get articles about snake humor…

Wrong.

It’s all jokes related to the Python programming language.

Python Jokes Google Search ResultsPin

Here’s another example…

Say you searched for “How to tie a tie.

If you wrote a step-by-step guide on how to do it…

You failed to satisfy search intent.

The top result is a video tutorial.

How To Tie a Tie Google Search ResultsPin

So here’s my ultra-secret tip for optimizing search intent.

ALWAYS Google the keyword.

3. Optimize Meta Tags

Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content but don’t appear on the page itself.

They exist in the page’s code and help search engines understand the page’s content.

These include:

  • Title tag: This is arguably the most important meta tag. It should be concise and relevant to the page’s content. Keep it under 60 characters to prevent truncation on the SERPs. Also use odd numbers and power words.
  • Meta description: While it doesn’t directly influence rankings and Google often rewrites it… a compelling meta description can improve click-through rates. Keep it under 160 characters and include the main keyword or variations once.
  • Keyword Meta Tag: While not as crucial as it once was, it’s still good practice to include relevant keywords. Just avoid keyword stuffing.

4. Use Header Tags

Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) provide readers and search engines vital context about your content.

Humans can likely infer what you article is about even if it’s disorganized…

But algorithms need a logical hierarchy of information.

Else…

You probably guess it.

You’re not gonna rank.

Just imagine a book without properly labeled chapters…

Nobody will read it.

Here are some best practices:

  • H1: Every page should only have one H1 tag with the main keyword included once. It can be more descriptive than the title tag to provide further context when a reader clicks in.
  • H2, H3, etc.: Use these to break up your content into digestible sections. They should be used hierarchically, with H2s as main subheadings, H3s for subsections of H2s, and so on.

Try to include variations of the main keyword in the headers to rank for more secondary keywords.

Featured snippets are those ego boosters disguised as handpicked search results that appear at the top of Google’s organic results below the ads.

Brendan Aw Featured Snippet ExamplePin

The goal?

To answer the user’s question immediately…

And also get the most visibility and traffic.

These usually appear for questions that start with:

  • Who
  • Where
  • Why
  • What
  • When
  • How
  • Can
  • Is

Each of these snippets can appear as a:

  • List
  • Paragraph
  • Table
  • Video

The best way to earn these is to look at the current featured snippet.

It has 46 words? You write 46 words and answer the question more succinctly.

It’s a list? Go into the article and look at how the list is formatted. Copy it. The structure… Not the content.

It’s a table? Make a table too.

It’s a video? Film one.

6. Use AI SEO Tools

Optimizing SEO content without AI is like parking your car without mirrors.

You can get it done…

But it’ll take much longer and for no good reason.

Most websites at the top of the SERP use AI in some way.

You can either get with the program…

And accept that AI is already changing SEO.

Or get left behind.

Ahrefs and Semrush help with keyword research.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are a ton of AI SEO tools that help optimize your content by:

These tools can give you an edge over competitors when creating high-quality SEO-optimized content.

7. Use an SEO Copywriting Checklist

Anyone can write…

How many can write engaging blog posts?

Not many.

How many of them can compel you to purchase?

Even lesser.

How many can:

  • Engage?
  • Persuade?
  • Rank on Google?

Those are unicorns…

But that’s why copywriting matters in SEO.

Only a handful of proficient writers can check all these boxes.

I believe all SEO content should be copywriting.

Gone are the days when you could simply toss in keywords and get to the top of Google.

You must prioritize readers…

And that’s why I don’t try to optimize while I write.

I do it after.

This is to ensure I don’t compromise:

  • Readability
  • Creativity
  • Personality

Lucky for you…

I’ve compiled a definitive SEO copywriting checklist that you can follow.

More people are using voice-activated devices like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

More than 50% of US consumers use voice search daily.

And over 80% of voice-searched answers come from the top 3 results.

What does this mean for you?

Incorporate Voice Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) in your content… Obviously.

How?

  • Use natural language and a conversational tone
  • Focus on long-tail keywords and phrases that people might speak
  • Answer common questions directly and concisely using a FAQ section
  • Try to win featured snippets

When people use voice search…

They don’t have the time for long-winded answers.

Make it quick. Straightforward. Concise.

Images can be a powerful tool for SEO if used correctly.

Unfortunately…

Many are too lazy.

They not only break up text and make your content more engaging…

But can also drive traffic through image search.

Google Image Search Copywriting Niche ExamplePin

Here’s how to optimize them:

  • Use descriptive file names: Instead of “IMG1234.jpg“, use “chocolate-cake-recipe.jpg.
  • Always include alt text: This helps search engines understand the context of the image and provide better experience for the visually impaired.
  • Compress your images: To ensure fast load times and better core web vitals without compromising quality. I use ShortPixel for my WordPress blog.
  • Use captions: To provide more context and attribution when necessary. 

Video content is booming, and search engines prioritize it more than ever.

If you’re incorporating videos into your content, ensure they’re optimized for search.

  • Title and Description: Like written content, your video titles and descriptions should be keyword-optimized.
  • Transcripts: Always include a transcript for your videos. This not only makes your content accessible but also gives search engines more text to crawl.
  • Thumbnail: Use a compelling thumbnail that gives a snapshot of what your video is about.

11. Use Schema Markup

Schema markup or structured data is a language search engines use to understand websites’ content better.

It is a semantic vocabulary that helps Google recognize the meaning and relationships behind entities.

Think of schema markup as giving a “label” to the information on a website so search engines like Google can easily understand it.

An “entity” in this context is like a main topic or subject of these labels.

Most will avoid incorporating this because you need to dabble with code…

And it can get quite intimidating.

But it’s important for SEO content optimization for these reasons:

  • Conserve crawl budget: Making it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your content with the limited crawl budget it has. You’re more likely to get indexed and rank faster.
  • Appear in rich snippets: Seen those star ratings? They have much higher click-through rates than normal search results.
  • Enhance user experience: Provide users with more accurate and informative search results, improving their overall experience.

So how do you do this?

If you’re running a WordPress blog like me…

Save yourself the trouble and just get Rankmath.

It’s an SEO plugin that does it for you automatically.

Alternatively…

You can:

  1. Read the documentation at schema.org
  2. Write your own Schema markup
  3. Validate it on Schema Markup Validator or Rich Results Test

12. Internal Linking

Internal linking is the practice of linking to other pages on your own website.

It’s one of the easiest ways to give your site more contextual relevance without building backlinks…

And it’s a non-negotiable part of SEO content optimization for these reasons:

  • Improves discoverability: Google discovers and understands content via crawling. Internal links make it easy to crawl and find pages.
  • Improves understanding: Anchor text used tells Google the topic of the page and improves “relevancy”.
  • Distributes link juice: Certain pages have more authority than others due to backlinks. Internal links share around that authority, so new content ranks faster.
  • Improves user experience: Readers of your content want to know “What else do they have?” and “What do I do next?”. Internal links help them find related content.
  • Creates site architecture: Internal links show content is related to each other and which pages are “more important” in the hierarchy.

Here’s the EASIEST way to find internal link opportunities without any tools.

Go to Google and use the site search to find places to insert internal links.

Example: site:brendanaw.com “keyword”

Site Operator Brendan Aw Affiliate Marketing ExamplePin

Assuming you have other articles written…

This search modifier will show which other articles the keyword is appearing in.

Here are other tips for effective internal linking:

  • Prioritize linking to your most important pages (pillar and money pages).
  • Use descriptive anchor text. Instead of “click here,” use “learn more about SEO techniques.”
  • Spread internal links throughout the article.
  • Don’t include more than one link to the same page.
  • Don’t use the same anchor text for two different links.

13. External linking

External links add more credibility and value to your content that signal your site is a reputable source of information.

Because you also acknowledge the usefulness of other pages by pointing readers and search engines to authoritative sources.

Meaning…

You continue to offer relevance even if you don’t have an appropriate article on your site to link to internally.

And here’s the juicy bit…

Those sites might reciprocate and link back to you.

Building your backlink profile in the process.

But here are some important tips about external linking:

  • Don’t link to competing pages.
  • Always link to reputable sources.
  • Use descriptive anchor text (same as internal links).
  • Link to highlighted text when referencing a specific section.
  • Ensure the external page adds value to your content and is relevant to your topic.
  • Use the “nofollow” attribute for links you don’t necessarily want to vouch for, like affiliate and sponsored links.

14. Optimize for Mobile

With most users accessing content via mobile devices…

Having a mobile-optimized site is no longer optional.

Google introduced mobile-first indexing back in 2016…

But it has been the default method since July 2019.

While it’s not required to be included in the search results

I strongly recommend always doing it.

Here are some ways how:

  • Test your site’s mobile usability with tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights 
  • Ensure your website is responsive and looks and works well on all device sizes
  • Optimize images via lazy-loading and compression
  • Prioritize content above the fold
  • Reduce animations

15. Avoid Duplicate Content

Google doesn’t like seeing the same content in different places.

They’ve even said, “Try hard to index and show pages with distinct information.”

If your content repeats information from somewhere else…

You’re gonna have a bad time in the SERP.

Back to the dating app analogy.

If you swiped left on someone only to see the same profile reappear later…

How would you feel?

Deceived.

Who’s the original? Who’s truthful?

Searchers feel the same thing when seeing duplicate content.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t have any duplicate content:

  • Create original content: Pretty obvious. Can’t have duplicates if you’re the only one with it.
  • Avoid syndicated content: Check other websites for similar or identical content.
  • Combine articles: Consider combining them into one if two or more articles rank for the same keywords. 
  • Set canonical tags: A HTML code that tells search engines which is the source.

16. Optimize for Technical SEO

There are differences between content SEO and technical SEO

But they are more interdependent than you think.

It’s a lot easier to focus on on-page SEO optimization. But technical SEO is just as important.

Technical SEO makes it easier for search engines to find, crawl, understand, and index your content.

Some elements of technical SEO that you need to remember are:

  • Sitemaps
  • Website architecture
  • Robots.txt file
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Page load speed

Don’t worry if optimizing technical SEO is still a bit confusing. 

You can optimize your technical SEO even without a backend website expert.

Use a technical SEO checklist or an AI tool to make your life much easier.

17. Refresh and Update Your Content

Keeping your content up-to-date is one of the most underrated SEO content optimization tips.

Let’s pretend you wrote the Ultimate Guide to Barbecue Ribs in 2020. 

You did a ton of research and wrote a comprehensive guide many people read and loved.

You optimized the SEO and content as much as possible. 

Lots of great images. Easy-to-read content. Keywords and backlinks galore. 

You got a lot of traffic and even ranked at the top of the search results.

Fast forward to 2023…

And you’re not getting even a tenth of the traffic you used to get on that article. 

You wonder what happened.

You search for the keyword…

And the top result is an article posted a month ago.

Why?

Because most people gravitate toward newer content. 

And Google wants to serve users only the latest and best information.

But you don’t need to write a completely new article to get Google to recognize your content as a new article…

You simply need to update your content for SEO.

You can do this by:

  • Adding new statistics
  • Updating key information
  • Adding more relevant keywords
  • Adding more rich media (audio, videos or interactive graphics)

It’s like breathing new life into it. 

You don’t waste any of the excellent SEO you have already built…

But keeping it competitive on the SERPs.

You should refresh every six months to a year to keep your content consistently performing.

18. Encourage Social Sharing

More than half the world is on social media.

Facebook, Twitter (now X), Reddit, Instagram, and Youtube get billions of eyes on them daily.

If you can get your readers to share or promote your content on any social media platform, you can shoot up the search engine results.

Not only will it give you a lot of organic traffic…

But you’ll also get good backlinks with social shares.

Plus, you can learn what resonates with your audience and focus on the content that sticks.

So, how can you make people share your content?

It’s simple:

  • Add a call to action in the middle or end of your content.
  • Use a clickbaity title or alternate title.
  • Add share buttons at the beginning and end of your content.
  • Engage with readers through comments.

On that note…

See those social share buttons on the left of this article (on desktop) or at the bottom (on mobile)?

Do me a favor and help share too 🙂

What Is the Difference Between Content Optimization and SEO?

The difference between content optimization and SEO is in their focus and approach.

Content optimization involves enhancing a piece of content to cover all topics and bring additional value to the reader.

This can include:

  • Writing conversationally
  • Including relevant sub-sections
  • Writing for featured snippets
  • Addressing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Explaining complex topics in a simple way

All to improve the engagement and informativeness of the content for humans.

SEO is a specialized practice that aims to increase a website’s visibility in search engine results.

It doesn’t have to only be about content specifically.

These techniques are:

  • Keyword research
  • On-page optimization
  • Off-page optimization
  • Technical SEO

You need both to rank in Google.

SEO Content Optimization (FAQs)

Does Optimizing Content for SEO Work?

Yes, optimizing content for SEO works.

Good SEO makes it easier for new visitors to discover your content by pushing it up the search engine ranks.

You might not see results immediately. But optimized SEO content will give you more consistent performance in the long run.

Do You Need to Buy SEO-Optimized Content?

No, you don’t need to buy SEO-optimized content.

You can optimize your content by yourself and get good results.
 
But if you want to outsource your content production, make sure to provide a solid SEO content brief.

What Are the Most Important Factors for Ranking on Google?

A few of the most important factors for ranking on Google are:

• Unique visits
• Time spent on the website
• Pages browsed per session
• Bounce rate
• Backlinks

You can improve each of these factors by optimizing content for SEO.

To Sum It Up

SEO content optimization is essential for your website to get traffic.

You must incorporate best practices to enhance your content for humans and algorithms.

That’s all for now.

Feel free to bookmark or share this guide!

brendan aw black pic

About Brendan Aw

I’m an ex-marketing executive for 6 & 7-figures high-growth startups turned writer, creator & entrepreneur. I share my learnings on digital entrepreneurship, personal finance, and remote working while helping run my family’s crystal chandelier business.

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