If you are active in content marketing, I guess you have heard (or read) the advice that you have to keyword optimize your content. While I agree that you should consider which are the words people expect you to use for certain topics and which terms are commonly used, I also think putting too much focus on keyword optimization can be wrong.
When we moved our blog to WordPress a few weeks ago, Jonathan also installed a plugin, which analyzes our copy and gives hints on how to improve the content from an SEO perspective. When I put in my first article, this plugin kept telling me the “keyword density” was too low, so I went back to my text and added the keyword a few more times.
When I gave the draft to Jonathan, he went “ Oooooh; your keyword was getting annoying.” As a result of trying to follow some (stupid) SEO optimization, I had actually made my article less enjoyable from a consumer point of view. Maybe it is time to focus on our audience again – even with optimization?
My goal with this article is to talk about some other ways to optimize content with your readers in mind – not Google. If you are not writing for readers/an audience in the first place, this article might not be for you.
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What is the most common thing that lures you to read an article? (Apart from the author, if you are a huge fan and read any stupid piece of content by him anyway.)
Most likely it is the title. The title is the most prominent part of the content your reader gets to see before they actually click on the article and start reading.
You only have seconds (or even less) to catch the attention of your audience with the title of your content. Even if you succeed with Google, SEO and keywords and Google shows your content on page one in their search results: A boring title will make you lose most of your potential readers again. (Though – if no one clicks your content, Google probably won’t show you on page one anyway…)
The same goes for social media: Your followers will not click and read if the title does not inspire curiosity.
Do you know, why some of the clickbait sites like Upworthy are such a huge success? Because they have perfected their title creation process and spend most of their time on choosing the right title.
Suggestions: Create a list of titles (more than a few, Upworthy recommends 25). And then: Choose the best titles from this list. If you have a significant Twitter following, you can now try different titles in your tweets and monitor which one gets the most reactions (clicks, retweets, favorites, answers).
We can teach you how to create better blog posts that your audience will love. We show you what you need to consider and what will help you get more shares and traffic to your awesome content in our workbook “Create Awesome Blog Posts!”
Social Share Buttons
Social Share buttons are not only for the convenience of your audience, but also to significantly increase the visibility of your content. If you manage to get some readers to your content and your content is good, than at least some of your readers will be more than willing to share your content. If you make it easy for them to do so!
Take a look at the social share options you provide. Ask yourself: Would you share your content with these buttons, if it was not your own content? Be honest!
Make it as easy to share your content as possible. Your audience is lazy: If I can share a post with two clicks, I might do it – if I need to copy and paste the title, the link and your Twitter handle… do you really I think I need to share your content that bad?
Your share options should provide a ready-made Tweet or other updates.
There are not only aesthetic reasons to have some nice and meaningful pictures in your content. Even if you (like us on our blog) are not concentrating on creating graphics, videos or photos – pictures still are important. They add to the visual appeal of your content and they function as an eye catcher. This is even more important if you are using one of the more visual-focused social networks like Pinterest.
Pictures also are important for social sharing: There are many studies confirming that posts with pictures in the right format get more likes and shares on Facebook. For Pinterest a picture is obligatory. And even with Google+ and Twitter your update will get much more attention if you have a picture going with it – although I do not recommend adding a picture to every Tweet you send. If you provide cool pictures for the most important social networks, your audience is again more likely to share your content.
Make sure you provide the pictures in the optimal format. As these are different for different networks, you might go for more than one picture. But do not overload your content with too many different pictures. Too much of a good thing can turn into something negative.
A nice tool to create pictures for your content is Canva – it is for free, as long as you use the graphical elements they provide for free. They also provide the most important measurements for the different social networks.
If you want to use online content for your business, it is not enough to have a place where you can publish. You need to display your content in style: I am sure you know what I am talking about. Simply remember some of the web pages you have visited where you instantly turned around and left because the page was hurting your eyes, some blinking ad was too annoying or the content so broken it was barely readable.
I have seen so much badly displayed content ranging from articles without any formatting to graphics where the text was so tiny I needed a magnifying glass to decipher it.
If the user experience with consuming your content is so bad that your audience simply runs – save your time, it is not worth creating the content in the first place.
I admit I have never concentrated on optimizing content for SEO. My goal has always been to write for my readers. I love writing and enjoy creating something valuable for an audience. I do not enjoy destroying my writing with keyword loading.
But creating something for an audience also means I love to see that my content has an audience. And I can help my content to spread with some tweaks and optimizations that clearly have the audience in mind.
Don’t get me wrong though – keywords do count as well. But: