Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Optimize Your Online Content

Content optimization is one of the most overlooked steps when it comes to search engine optimization. Many webmasters and bloggers often regard content optimization as consisting of only keyword density which involves ensuring that their targeted keywords are present a certain number of times within their article. However, with the evolution of search engines and the increasing competitiveness between websites for first page rankings, content optimization is now a huge process that requires proper planning and methodical implementation.

Obviously, as with any search engine optimization strategy, content optimization is not a plug-and-play technique. However, there are certain things that need to be observed, regardless of your website and your industry’s or niche’s landscape and competition. The following techniques will thus help you properly optimize your content while ensuring that you work on these as early as possible (as mentioned above, I will however not be considering keyword density, which most people already know about and which is already causing a debate).

Content length and quality

Content length and quality are becoming increasingly important as evidenced by the Google Panda updates which have wiped out many websites’ visibility and even led to several online businesses shutting down. Content length and quality do not necessarily go together since this you can have a short article that is nevertheless of very high quality but I will be grouping them together for the purpose of this article.

Content quality is obviously a rather general term as we all interpret quality differently. However, the one crucial thing is that it should be unique content. Duplicate content is always a no-no and should be avoided at all costs. Poorly written content is also something you must always avoid. While it may be possible to fool search engines with such content, your readers will notice, which will result in visitors leaving your website a mere 5 seconds after reaching it.

As far as content length is concerned, an article should typically consist of at least 400 to 450 words. Longer is obviously better although it may not be a sensible idea to have a single 2000-word article. Some people have argued that it is a good idea to mix up the longer articles with shorter ones that barely exceed the minimum 400 words. However, this is hardly logical. In fact, you are much better having moderately lengthy articles all the time, since this allows you to target more long tail keywords.

Content layout

Another often forgotten factor of online content optimization is the fact that how your content is display is also crucial. Keep in mind that the online medium comes with its own rules. Moreover, with so many people now using mobile devices to browse the web, it becomes even more important to understand how to optimize your content layout.

Since your content should now be leaning towards the longer side, your use of paragraphs and headers become strategies you must always pay attention to. Your paragraphs should thus consist of at around four to six sentences, although this depends greatly on your general website layout. If you have an extremely narrow layout for your main content, you will obviously be restricted to fewer sentences per paragraph. However, keep in mind that two-sentence paragraphs can be annoying when you choose your ideal sentence count.

More importantly, it is now always advisable to break your content into subsections via the use of headings. These headings play two major roles in content optimization. They allow your readers to keep track of what they are reading more easily but also indicate relevancy if you managed to include keywords in them (which you should obviously try to do).

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