Content is King. There’s not a single person who hasn’t heard this recent, popular maxim. However, its frequent usage doesn’t dampen its truth. It captures the importance of information and data generation, sharing, and access. The 21st Century wins the tag of the Content Century, driven by knowledge and its application. Many predict that the trend may warrant the creation of an Exchange of Information data, akin to the financial stock market, where an individual place can place bids for information/content packets under applicable laws. The key is to know how to optimize product content.
So if the content is important, it follows that your website or e-commerce site should present it in ways that make it useful, self-explanatory, and easy to access. Your content organization should form one of the core objectives of your website. Not only will you be creating compelling content that is useful, effective and well-written, you also need to present it as clearly optimized.
Visitors to your landing pages only have just about enough time and are often pressed for choice. The only way to remain visible and relevant is to optimize your content to support searches as effectively as possible.
General Tips to Optimize Content for Search
The following general tips can serve as guides in optimizing your website’s content to best support searches:
Come up with a Clear Information Structure
Develop a detailed roadmap for how your website’s content will engage and be seen by potential and existing clients. Keep in mind that it is the user who decides what parts or segments of your content are useful/relevant to him/her. In fact, you may even find that content’s relevance may even be time-specific and pointed.
So irrespective of your level of experience or a lack thereof, you will need to gauge the needs/wants of your target group. Remember that their reasons for searching such content should form the basis for organizing information and data. It is only logical to ask questions from the people who will eventually make use of your site. Use helpful tools like surveys and questionnaires to determine what content structure works best for the user.
Set off with Critical Information
After drawing your website’s information structure, the next step is getting the attention of visitors with a good overview of the detailed content. Why so, you might ask? The reasons are not far-fetched. Again, remember your visitor has other competing ends for his/her time. Two, understand that presenting such views helps your client take in important points and make informed decisions on the next steps to take.
Have in mind the core questions your existing/potential users might ask. Try to answer these, or at least offer a clear starting point right on the website’s main landing page. The top of your website should be viewed as a real piece of the online estate. Your strategy can center on either displaying central content to answer your visitors’ leading questions immediately or to buoy people to enter the site by either clicking a link or exploring the main page.
Display Only Relevant Material
Emphasizing this point may border on stating the obvious but many websites still miss the mark in this regard. Simplicity is key and the less ‘clutter’ or distractions, the better your website’s ability to attract and retain visitors. Stretching the thrust of this point, think of relevance in terms of showing content that is material to the needs of the user at any point in time.
From your customer engagement exercise, you can have a good idea of the path visitors take to reach their search goals. So the content for your landing page must fulfill the role of keeping the interest of the buyer, while your product pages, for example, should move the visitor toward making a purchase.
In other words, display only content relevant for these different stages.
Show All Relevant Material
Before you throw up your arms in despair and walk away, this point needs some clarification. The first thing to note is that you should not sacrifice clarity on the altar of brevity. While you are mindful of your visitors time and other constraints, your website should not churn out incomplete information. This move stalls the decision-making process, eventually leading to lower conversion rates for your website.
Again there is no magic wand in knowing what constitutes really relevant material to your visitor. The key is knowing what your visitors do and what kind of content they are interested in at different stages during their visit to your site. Pretend you’re a customer and conduct a tour of your website. Examine how your web pages fulfill ALL your needs and search requirements. For greater representation, have family and friends embark on this same path.
The goal is not only to have a diversity of feedback but also to discover what additional information your website should have, for a rewarding search experience for your visitor. For example, you can place high priority content directly on the site, or link to less urgent content on your different pages. Just make sure nothing important is left out.
Optimize Content for Different Audiences
Have it in mind that your website will cater to a diverse range of customers. Do not be alarmed to find that your target groups also entirely different levels of expertise, foreknowledge, and goals. While some visitors are at home with the information given in the auditory form, others may like a combination of visual cum interactive data presentation.
Optimizing your content should focus on the different kinds of people who are most likely to visit your web pages. As a guide, you can create user scenarios to get a clear picture of the search characteristics of your target audiences. With this information, you can prioritize your content, with placing the most important in an accessible manner. However, never forget that all content is important and should not be left out.
Consider also that different users may search/ use the same content in a different way. To cater to this eventuality, you can create content element doubles and duplicate links for seamless search sessions.
Offer Multiple Entry Points Where Possible
You can give more traction to the differentiation habits of your users by offering a number of entry points to your website. For instance, you can create a distinction between large corporations and individual clients, or for first-time users and return customers or professionals and amateurs.
Achieving this level of compartmentalization requires distinguishing your specific target groups with different expectations towards your website. Once this accomplished, creating separate entry points for each group will optimize your content for optimum search.
In effect, having multiple entry points means having multiple landing pages for optimizing your content and making search results easier and faster.
You can optimize your website’s content in such a way that your target groups of users can have a say in the what, where and how of searching/finding information on your site. In this way, you allow users decide for themselves what content is important and what isn’t. This strategy works well for services that are personal and receive regular usage. An example is the Adobe Creative Suite. This application allows users to open/hide windows as well keep in focus important and often used tools via personal preferences.
Go for Content Hierarchies and Employ Natural Language
A good search is one that gives the user the required information in an effective manner. One of the ways of optimizing your content to enhance meaningful search results is by putting in place a hierarchy of your information, according to the needs and wants of your target audience. With a hierarchical system in place, you make it is easier for users to understand where they can find and file their content. In addition, such a structure enables your search system to rank content and return search results that closely match the user’s needs/intents.
So instead of using flat structures such as http://Africa or http://America, a hierarchical system files the search parameters such as http://sales/Africa or http://sales/America.
In this way, the user is seamlessly directed to the page that gives information on sales in Africa or America.
Natural Language makes it easy for your website to interpret the search needs of your target user. In this regard, go for a language that is clear and straight to the point. If you use natural language for URLs, the search system can more easily understand what information is in the site or file and give it an appropriate ranking in the results, hence making it easier for your users to access the information required.
Encourage Users to Enter Comprehensive, Rich, and Consistent Metadata
The metadata comprises data that provides extra information about a website and its content. Metadata often answers inquiries such as the creator of the website, the type of content and the purpose of the content or site. You can specify or direct users in using specific search terms in order to highlight and bring up relevant content and search results.
Keep a Handle on Multilingual Content
If you have grand plans for your website, they should also include catering to users/speakers of other languages apart from English. Set up your content structure in a way that enables accurate translation of content from one language to another.
In managing the demands of multilingual data, the following tips can serve as a guide:
- As much as possible, keep content in different languages on separate websites. Whenever your website’s search system cannot recognize the language of a particular content item, it assumes that it is in the language of the site where it is saved.
- Do not mix languages in content and that content’s metadata. Maintain uniformity by using the same language in the metadata as the language that is used in the content itself.
- Do not combine languages in a single piece of metadata. This is especially true for URLs.
Make Use of Authority Page
An authority page forms a part of SEO terms used to describe the chances that a specific page from your site will be found on a search engine such as Google. Page authority is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100 and depicts the relevance of information and links within website pages to one another.
In other words, the more authority your pages have, the better the search experience of your target user, especially in terms of accessibility and speed of result generation. In order to increase the page authority of your website, the following tips come in handy:
Create & Optimize Original Content
Search engines like Google place a great premium on original and compelling content. When your website’s content is fresh, Google views your website as an authority in that area of endeavor. This results in your web pages appearing among the top sites for information in that area or field.
Since it is a given that your website is well structured, having original content ensures that users will not only find your website with ease but will have search results accurately matching their search parameters/queries. For emphasis sake, make sure your content is fresh, interesting, useful and relevant as well as easy to read.
Work to Earn External Links
External links are important for a number of reasons. For example, if a website posts a link to one of your articles on your own website, then the chances are high that their audience will be exposed to your brand, which can help increase your visibility and attract more traffic to your site as well.
If the site is an authority website itself, then it means that you are well on the way to attaining the status yourself. However, do not wait for others to post links to you. You can also take the initiative by posting links of your own to other websites as well.
In summary, earning external links involves showcasing links to other sites, creating original content as well as being an active content contributor to other websites.
Infuse Image Elements
Visuals are among the most effective means of turning your website pages into authority page. This is so for certain reasons. First, people readily connect to images even without any accompanying notes. Also, images are more shareable, and research shows that people are more likely to share visual content than written content.
Optimize Content into Content Clusters
Content clustering could just hold the key to optimizing your website’s content for best searches. Consider that in nature, clusters of fruits, plants or ice have an attractive effect. Your content could also achieve this effect with clustering.
Essentially, content clusters group related content in groups to achieve clarity, build authority and perform better search results.
Usually, a content cluster consists of the following elements:
- Pillar content
- Cluster-Subtopic content
- Internal links (i.e. bonds of togetherness)
Pillar Content comprises a diverse, fresh and unrestrictive website content that is connected to a content cluster. A pillar content should ordinarily include content that matches search intent, a title/metadata description as well as various media.
Subtopic content is a particular piece of content optimized based on a long-tail keyword, or niche question/inquiry. Cluster Subtopic often comes in the form of a blog post with links to the parent pillar content. Ensure that the subtopic links to the main pillar of the content cluster to enhance efficacy and relevancy.
Create & Optimize Content with Appropriate Links
Your content should span both word-based (including web pages, blogs, and articles) and visual-based (including videos, slides, infographics among others) to support the searches of your users. The next task is creating appropriate links among the various forms of content. It may also involve linking one sub-topic to a pillar topic, for seamless search inquiries.
Implement Good Navigation Strategies
Navigation centers on how well website information is congregated and displayed, in terms of the global web, within the site itself and on individual landing pages. To optimize content for best search, the following tips on navigation can come in handy:
- Implement a primary navigation high level and infuse keywords whenever possible.
- Show a visual sitemap of relevant pages for indexing by search engines such as Google.
- Provide users with secondary navigation menus for an overview of all sections and within each section of your website.
- Pages with interrelated themes should be connected with inline text links.
- If your website has a lot of depth in content, you might find it helpful to use breadcrumb navigation that incorporates keywords.
Consider Page Theming
Page theming looks at the connection between the content of your website/pages and the keywords associated with them. This connection must be seamless in order to enhance the user’s search experience. Page theming tips include the following:
- Remember to keep page content as focused as possible. In this regard use one or two primary keyword phrases and one or two secondary phrases, or less. Be straight to the point.
- Ensure that the top page in a given section of your website is related to the highest level keywords in that section.
- Create sub-pages for low relevance and long tail keywords within a section/page.
- Word counts for each page should be equal to or greater than those for high ranking priority pages.
Archive Unused and Unimportant Content
Archiving content does not mean the content should be deleted. It forms part of a good practice to archive product items or specific information no longer needed, that are part of larger items. Archiving these extra information helps the user find relevant information that is actively being used in good time and gives your website a cleaner look and feel. If necessary you can create a link to archived items by switching either to ‘All’ or ‘archived’ view near the search bar.
Test Before Implementation
An important consideration you should bear in mind is that the users’ experience is what counts in the overall picture. Your content and its structure must be tailored to meet this expectation. After the initial user research with target groups and personal interaction, ensure you reach out to your potential users again before implementing your final content structure.
Whether through remote tests, assessment, or guided user testing, set up your search parameters and have potential users give feedback. This feedback forms the framework for determining what content is relevant, missing or needs replacing.
These tips are a few amongst many others that can help you optimize and structure your content for users or visitors to your website. Understand that the initial time and effort needed in getting your published content optimized will be enormous. But it will be worth your while, especially as you attract traffic from target audiences and become an authority in your field.
Go ahead and implement these tips and any more you can find, in organizing your content for optimal user searches.
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