From link authority and page rank to keywords and social traffic, a plethora of elements go into the “perfectly” optimized page. An optimized page not only provides unique content, but, most importantly, unique value. Underlying this is strong page architecture the supports targeted content engagement and delivers a phenomenal user experience.
Yes, keyword targeting, metadata, and backlinks are still important. However, in today’s “content is king” era, unique value matters even more. While there is no single recipe for building the “perfect page”, understanding unique value and learning how to best present this content on your website is key not only to a higher page rank, but an overall improved user experience.
Content marketing: why unique value matters
“Content marketing” and “content engagement” are two of the hottest buzzwords in SEO marketing today. According to B2B Marketing Insider, marketers spend over a quarter of their budget on content marketing. The majority of companies outsource their content marketing needs. 62% outsource to outside “experts” – that’s up from just 7% in 2011, reports Mashable. From brand engagement to lead generation, content marketing works. Interesting content is a leading reason for why people follow brands on social media. 61% of consumers report feeling “better” about a company that delivers custom content, which increases the likelihood that they will buy from that company, according to a study from GfK Roper Public Affairs & Communications. The average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing ($143) is about half the average for outbound marketing ($373).
However, in the rush to create “perfect” pages and “perfect” content for brand engagement and marketing, many marketers are missing the bigger picture. Unique content simply means that the words on a web page do not appear in the same order anywhere else. In essence, your website is not directly plagiarizing another. Unique value, however, is a more complex concept. Pages with unique value offer useful, relevant content to their reader. This content enriches the reader’s life; it may solve a problem, challenge the reader’s beliefs/way of seeing the world, or introduce the reader to new perspective. Many pages can be valuable, but not all pages contain valuable content that is original and can’t be found anywhere else.
On-page optimization: moving beyond keywords and metadata
Five years ago, on-page optimization meant perfecting keyword placement and a page’s metadata. Sometimes however, focusing solely on keywords can be counterproductive at times. The algorithms used by Google and Bing are so complex that strategically placing keywords in different parts of the page simply won’t make a difference for overall search results. Secondly, focusing on keywords or metadata can do more harm than good. Stuffing in awkward keyword phrases can affects how individuals interact with your website. Would you link back to a page that sounds awkward or even continue reading the page beyond the initial first lines? Didn’t think so. A single-minded focus on keywords and metadata hurts both domain-level and page-level link authority, including the quality of links to your domain and page, as well as your bounce rate, which in turn lowers page and domain rank.
So, which on-page optimization tactics are still important and worth your time?
Here’s a shortlist:
1. Target a single “searcher intent”: Don’t try to be all things to all people on the same page. Pick a single purpose (e.g., a veterinarian might publish a blog with tips for holiday pet boarding) and then naturally incorporate relevant keywords phrases throughout the content. Place the primary keyword phrase in the page title, but don’t let this placement obscure logical and comprehensive content.
2. Write keyword-rich alt attributes for all images.
3. Write a compelling meta description that inspires click-throughs from social media and SERPs; don’t worry about meta keywords.
4. Limit character length: titles should not be more than 75 characters,
URLs should not be more than 90 characters, and meta descriptions
should not be more than 160 characters.
5. Associate page content with author/publisher markup in Google+
using the rel=“author” or rel=“publisher” attribution.
6. Be sure the page is crawler/bot accessible: content should load in the page’s HTML (not a JS, AJAX, iFrame, etc), use 301 redirects (as
necessary), and include page in RSS feed.
7. Be sure the page (and website) is multi-device ready; the page
should have the same URL no matter the device and should be optimized for elegible legibility and readability on every screen.
Building a stellar user experience.
User experience (UX) is just as important as on-page optimization. All the time you spent creating unique, valuable content is pretty much useless if your user can’t find content, can’t navigate your content, or can’t read the content. A website’s digital architecture must be optimized for easy content consumption.
- 1. Intuitive navigation structure
2. Fast load speed, even for slower mobile connections
3. Optimized for any browser or device
4. Visually pleasing design that complements content, rather than
Understanding the best way to present content is also an important part of creating a phenomenal user experience. For example, thanks to their visual appeal, infographics are one of the most popular ways to share online content. Turning a boring deck of PowerPoint slides into an engaging infographic hits the content sharing trifecta, delivering content that is accessible, relevant and interesting and backed by a powerful user experience.
Optimizing content for social networks.
Social media marketing is a key component to any successful digital strategy. In today’s fractured media landscape, information is dynamically shared between millions each day on a person-to-person level. Social media has profoundly changed how individuals consume, share and interact with content. The “perfect” page not only makes it easy for readers to share content via social media, but also gives readers a reason to share this content. Creating the architectural support for social media sharing is relatively easy compared to ensuring users truly want to share your content.
Sharable content must have inherent viral value. To achieve this viral value, you must understand what motivates your website’s visitors to share content in the first place. A deep understanding of your target audience – and what motivates them to share – is key to successful content marketing.
For example, according to a 2011 New York Times/Latitude study, the top reasons for sharing content are:
- 1. staying connected to people they might not otherwise stay in touch with;
2. sharing to find people with common interests; and
3. sharing to give a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
Sharing affects reputation – sharing interesting, relevant or humorous information boosts an individual’s credibility and social standing. Sharing outdated, irrelevant or incorrect content does the opposite.
Optimizing content for social sharing starts with creating on-page social media support.
- 1. Including social media buttons/links for quick sharing after a blog post or content page
2. Creating concise, descriptive URLs that make copying/pasting easy for individuals who prefer this sharing method
3. Promoting your content over social media with compelling descriptions, surprising statistics or thought-provoking questions that engage followers and prompt them to click-thru to your page.
Thanks to Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm, specific tactics and strategy for on-page optimization will continue to change over time. As the definition of optimization broadens to include content that is optimized for social media sharing, as well as traditional SERP, our approach to page optimization must also evolve. Ultimately there is no magic bullet for creating the perfect page. However, an in-depth understanding of page architecture, user experience, social media marketing, and – most importantly – unique value content, is essential.
The goal of page optimization and content marketing is to create pages that not only perform well in search results, but also deliver compelling, unique and engaging content that builds your brand and strengthens customer relationships.
After all, it’s far more cost effective to keep a customer than to find a new one.