Content Optimization in SEO: A Complete Guide

Content optimization in SEO is a must if you want to rank higher in search engines.

Whether your goal is to gain more traffic, build your email list, or make more sales, content optimization will help you get there.

In this guide, we break down a step-by-step process for optimizing content with SEO in mind.

Before we dive in, let’s first ask, what is content optimization in SEO?

What Is Content Optimization in SEO?


Content optimization in SEO is the process of creating content with the goal of ranking high in Google.

But that’s not all. It’s also important to optimize content for humans too.

In fact, Google recommends writing for humans and not for search engines.

However, that doesn’t mean we should abandon on-page SEO factors and other SEO optimization to reach our content marketing goals.

Another way to think of it is crafting the perfect blend of SEO and user experience.

And when you can balance the two, your marketing efforts will fall into place.

Content Optimization vs. Search Engine Optimization

Content optimization and Search Engine Optimization go hand in hand, but there are differences.

SEO attends to ensuring Google and other search engines know what our content is about. Whereas content optimization goes further than that.

For example, if you developed content strictly to meet the demands of the Google algorithm, many people simply won’t resonate.

After all, it’s people we want to attract into our funnel, not search engine bots.

That being said, only optimizing content for humans and ignoring SEO essentials isn’t the best strategy either.

We need a good mix of both worlds.

So, before we look at the specific steps, let’s quickly explore why it’s important to optimize content in the first place.

Why Is Content Optimization Important?

Optimizing content in SEO is all about knowing what to include in an article.

You could be a leading expert in your field, but writing content without research and seeing what else ranks, could lead to insignificant results.

Simply learning the following principles and implementing them into your content strategy, will vastly improve your chances of success.

How to Optimize Content for SEO

Follow these 10 steps to master the art of content optimization in SEO.

1. Write for humans first and SEO second

Content optimization in SEO

Google documentation states the following when creating helpful and reliable content:

People-first content means content that’s created primarily for people, and not to manipulate search engine rankings.

In other words, people-first content is centered around the needs, interests, and desires of your target audience.

It’s about delivering value and inspiring them to take action to achieve a positive outcome.

When you write for people, instead of trying to game the search engines, content becomes more helpful and engaging to the reader.

In addition, it also aligns with Google’s primary goal of providing the best and most reliable search results.

But that’s not all.

Producing high-quality content that’s made for humans will invariably attract more backlinks.

After all, it is people who will link to you and not search engines.

2. Include engaging subheadings

Subheadings form the outline of your article, provide clarity, and break up the text on the page.

However, most people don’t read all the content – they skim.

So, imagine crafting an outline with boring or unclear subheadings.

This can cause readers to skim the content too quickly, resulting in not absorbing the material, even if it is valuable.

Therefore, it’s super important to make your subheadings grab the reader’s attention.

You can do this by adding specificity, using power words, or evoking curiosity.

In addition, try adding the primary keyword, variations, or semantically related terms when it makes sense.

This will ensure people stay on the page for longer, gain more value, and help the content rank higher in the SERPs.

3. Implement SEO basics

Implement the basics

One of the great things about SEO is the ability to continually optimize content, even after it’s been published.

However, there are a few SEO basics that need to be in place from the start.

Ignoring these can prevent you from achieving the best results.

So, here are a few things to keep in mind for basic content optimization in SEO:

  1. Perform keyword research: Make sure you go after keywords that have search volume and you’ve clarified the search intent. This can be challenging to remedy if this step is skipped.
  2. Assign a target keyword for every page or piece of content you publish.
  3. Make the URL slug short but informative, and include the primary keyword. Once your content has been indexed, changing it will cause crawlability issues.
  4. Include the primary keyword in the H1, H2, meta title, meta description, and the first 100 words of the content.

Following this simple strategy will set you up for easier content optimization later. Once the content ranks on page two or at the bottom of page one, you can implement some of the rest of these optimization tips.

4. Create topic clusters

To further boost your content optimization in SEO, it’s recommended to create content in topic clusters.

But, what are topic clusters?

Topic clusters are a collection of articles that are highly related to each other. Furthermore, they paint a larger picture that helps your audience understand the pain points they’re facing.

Google will also see your site as an authority because of the breadth of content you have on a single topic.

As a result, you build more trust with your audience and establish topical relevancy with Google.

To implement content clusters on your site, first, find broad topics you want to rank for.

Publish pillar posts that cover all the aspects of each broad topic.

Then link to multiple posts that cover these aspects in more detail.

Doing so makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site and understand the context of your content on a larger scale.

5. Internally link content

Adding internal links between content has been proven to boost organic rankings and generate more traffic.

And Link Whisper is the best internal link plugin that makes this process faster and easier.

Try Link Whisper


You can read our Link Whisper review to get more details, but here’s a summary of how it works.

When adding content to your site, link whisper automatically suggests contextually related articles to link to.

You simply click the links you want to include in the post, click the button, and the internal links are automatically added.

In addition, you get a links dashboard that clearly shows which articles don’t have any links, making it a smoother process to build an effective internal link strategy.

6. Cover the topic in-depth

Diving deep into the topics you publish on your site has a significant impact on your SEO strategy.

It also provides more opportunities to establish expertise, add more internal links, and find new content ideas.

Moreover, you can optimize for on-page SEO more effectively, when you’ve covered the topic thoroughly.

A simple strategy for crafting in-depth content is to analyze what’s already ranking on the first page of Google.

These results contain enough information and are structured in such a way that Google finds them valuable.

So take note of these articles’ outlines and combine the relevant information from multiple posts to cover the topic entirely.

Additionally, you can gauge the necessary word count by taking an average of the top five posts.

This approach will result in a higher chance of Google favoring your content.

7. Include semantically related keywords

Naturally adding related keywords to your content strengthens the context and relevancy of the page and its intent.

For example, if your primary keyword is “how to win at chess”, but you don’t mention king, queen, bishop, and pawn, it would lack relevant information and struggle to rank.

To find these keywords, you can use a tool like MarketMuse, SurferSEO, or even ChatGPT can be helpful.

Once you know which keywords need to be included, add them in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

Furthermore, try not to overdo it by stuffing content with keywords without much thought.

This can only have negative consequences and lower your chances of ranking well.

8. Post content regularly

There’s an ongoing debate about whether posting regular content impacts Google search results.

Some say that it’s essential, whereas Google themselves discounts its effectiveness.

However, they did say:

“The more pages you have in the Google index, the more your content may show up in search results.”

This is a significant point, because the more times your audience sees your site in search results, the more they’ll associate you as a reliable brand.

Furthermore, it sticks in the minds of your target audience and boosts the chances they’ll click on your results.

Additionally, when you post regularly, you can reach out to your email list more often, which has some potential benefits for organic rankings.

9. Update content for freshness

According to Search Engine Journal, content freshness is a ranking factor.

That means you can see some potential SERP gains when optimizing content, even after its initial publish date.

It makes sense. If you publish a mediocre piece of content, then optimize it 3 – 6 months later, it’s most likely going to rank higher.

So why is it important to do this regularly?

Simple. Content is constantly evolving. Just like the universe is always expanding, knowledge is too.

Therefore, the results we saw on page one several years ago, would have been less informative than today’s standard.

As a result, it’s essential to keep content up to date if you want to compete with those at the top.

How do you optimize for freshness?

Start by learning more about your niche or hiring industry experts. Include nuances and converging information from multidisciplinary research.

This circles back to covering the topic in-depth, not only today but in the future when new and up-to-date information emerges.

10. Optimize for speed

Technology is constantly finding new ways to give us what we want faster.

This sets a standard for users browsing the web. If they can select any movie, order food, and video call their loved ones in seconds, then they expect the same when consuming content.

Therefore, the importance of a fast-loading website shouldn’t be ignored.

To implement this, here are a few things to focus on:

  1. Image compression: Images are one of the main culprits of a slow-loading site. Compressing them decreases their file size while retaining quality.
  2. Code minification: Minifying HTML, CSS, and Javascript is the process that removes unused code and whitespace, helping these resources load faster.
  3. Page caching: This creates a static copy of the page in the browser and/or server to save the server from being overloaded with requests.
  4. Utilize a CDN: A Content Delivery Network stores a static copy of your site on servers all around the world. Users are then served a version of your site that is closer to their location, resulting in faster speeds.

Ensuring your site remains at optimal speeds, will enable your visitors to get the information they’re looking for and provide a better experience.

How to Identify Unoptimized Content

There are a few ways to identify if your content needs optimization.

One method is to check keyword ranking google by using a rank tracking tool such as Rank Logic or monitoring your placements in Google Search Console.

Content that is showing up lower than position 5 and higher than position 20 is ripe for optimization.

Another method is to paste your article into a content optimization tool such as MarketMuse, which grades your content against the top-ranking positions.

Increasing your score will result in better optimization and higher rankings.

SEO Content Optimization Tools

There are tons of SEO content optimization tools available on the market today.

They work by analyzing the top-ranking positions and providing an average score based on numerous factors.

Other tools help you implement internal links and other on-page optimizations.

You can improve your content by applying these tools’ recommendations such as including relevant keywords and internal links, h2s, h3s, images, and more.

Here are just a few tools to consider looking into:

  • LinkWhisper
  • SurferSEO
  • MarketMuse
  • NeuronWriter


Content optimization in SEO can be a little intimidating at first, but following the steps laid out in this post will help you systemetize it.

To summarize, make sure you’re writing content for humans first, covering SEO basics, and including relevant internal links with a tool like Link Whisper.

If you’re looking for more tools to help with content optimization, read 16 best on-page SEO tools next.

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