Your content is useless if nobody knows it exists.
To work for you, your content needs an audience.
To get that audience, you need optimized content.
Content optimization is how you get your content seen and heard. It gets your best stuff in front of many audiences, including electronic ones that ease human discovery.
By now, you know all about SEO and the top ways to rank on search engines. You have Google’s M.O. down pat, and you understand how to write for humans and algorithms.
So, what do you need now?
You need easy and proven tactics that will elevate your content traction and ROI. These tips and tricks will give your content the extra push needed to succeed.
Look at these techniques and tools like moves on a chessboard. They’re incremental steps that can lead you to a big, satisfying checkmate.
1. Score Your Headline
The headline is number one in today’s climate of information overload. If it’s effective, it makes people stop and click. A good headline is your only defense against the endless tide while everyone you follow is posting non-stop.
Your headline is integral to your content’s success. Your headline is what jumps out at readers first. Your headline is the part of your content that shouts, “Look at me! I’m interesting!”
Or, it should.
How do you know the headline you crafted works on all the right levels for readers – intellectually, emotionally, and “hey, this looks cool”?
One easy way to make sure your headline works is to score it using an online tool. Figure out if your headline sucks in seconds with the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. Another good option is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.
All you have to do is plug in that little 70-characters-or-less line and hit “enter.”
The headline analyzer will come back with a score for your labor of love. In general, for good results, you should be shooting for an EMV score above 40 percent:
This tactic works well. Headlines scored at 40 percent and can get 5o to 100 percent more shares than non-scored headlines, based on my experience.
This is an easy, quick way to boost your headline prowess. Plus, you’ll improve your content’s one-two punch when a reader catches a glimpse of it. They won’t want to look away.
2. Research Trends & Jump on Them
Before you can create good headlines, you need topics to write about. Before you can come up with good topics, you need to know what readers are gobbling up.
Trends are helpful in the content marketing world. Trends tell you what topics readers are zeroing-in on and which ones are old hat.
Of course, if you jump on the bandwagon too late, you’ll feel silly and you won’t get any of the benefits. You’ll feel like I did in middle school when I realized my straight-leg jeans were so 1998. Meanwhile, everyone else was wearing flared styles. The horror!
Don’t worry, though. You can avoid making a content faux-pas by researching trends that are happening right this second. Then you can dive in without any hesitation.
Try a tool like BuzzSumo. This app does a ton of great research for you. It can:
- Analyze keywords and how they’re performing.
- Tell you which pieces of content are trending on your site.
- Show you what’s trending for other brands.
You can look up key influencers in your industry and see how their activity is working for them. This feels vaguely voyeuristic, but acceptably so.
For instance, let’s see which articles get the most shares on HubSpot. All you have to do is enter the URL into BuzzSumo’s search bar and hit Search:
Instantly, you can see which articles have the most shares. You can sort the results by social network, too, and see which content is landing on different platforms.
For instance, HubSpot’s top article is “5 Smart Reasons to Create Content Outside Your Niche.” Meanwhile, their top article on Twitter is “8 Signs of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership.”
BuzzSumo can also show you which types of content are most popular. It will additionally illuminate which types aren’t landing as well:
I can glean lots of great insights from these trends and use them when creating my own content.
Plus, you can take a look at trends happening on your own website. Search your URL and find out what content is getting the most shares. Do a content analysis and see which types of posts are hitting the mark. Note the trends and see what people are digging – then go from there.
The same follows if you’re guest posting on another website. Search their trends, then create what will appeal to the most readers.
Hopping on these trends can get you noticed in a big way. Putting out what audiences are into right now helps you tap into current interest and stay in the game.
3. Include Influencer Quotes in Your Content
Along with staying trendy, you need to hang out with the cool kids if you want to optimize your content in fresh ways. This means you should tap influencers and thought leaders in your industry.
Industry influencers are those people who have a wide following. However, don’t mistake popular for influential.
An influencer is a trusted authority. They have clout. They’re known for their intelligence and experience. When they give a recommendation, share a link, or generally give something the thumbs-up, their followers listen.
Reaching out to an influencer and building a relationship is a good practice in general, but you can also make their clout work for you.
This infographic deftly defines thought leadership:
Do it by including influencer quotes in your content.
This doesn’t mean you have to interview the person. Instead, you can cite their published pieces and data, making sure to credit them. Then, once your content is on the web, reach out to said influencer and let them know you mentioned them.
This is one of the easiest ways to start networking. Plus, once you quote their authority content in your own pieces, you’ll immediately instill more trust in your audience. They’ll think, “Oh, I read such-and-such person’s blog, too – they’re a great source!” By extension, you’ll get props for displaying your own trust in these influencers.
This is a perfect example of a circle of influence – take full advantage of it!
4. Don’t Forget the Nitty-Gritty of SEO
You’re busy scouting for influencer quotes, scoring your headlines, and researching trends. In the midst of all this, don’t overlook small steps that can lead to big content traction.
In fact, go all the way back to one of the basic foundations of SEO.
This basic HTML code tells search engines where to look on your page to find all the necessary elements. They also describe and structure your content for readers.
Case in point: the title tag.
This seemingly simple, unassuming tag is powerful. It shows up everywhere. This includes:
- The page title in search results
- The title on the tab in your internet browser
- The main text in social media posts to describe the page when someone shares it
Search engines and platforms grab this tag and analyze it to display important information to readers.
Readers use it to know where they are on the web. It helps them categorize what they’re reading and determine if they want to click on a link shared in a post or on a SERP.
The same goes for meta description, the alt attribute for images, and other tags that describe your content.
You may not be a hardcore coder, but you can still properly title your pages and include other vital bits of meta. Do these small tasks and you’ll not only help organize the web – you’ll also make it much easier for your audience to find you.
5. Make Your Content Easy to Share
Make it easy for your audience to repost, retweet, or link to your content on social media. In fact, it should be so easy, they shouldn’t have to think about it.
So, what can you do to make your content physically shareable?
- Include a static social share toolbar on your site. It should appear on each page that contains shareable content. Try the Floating Share Bar from AddThis or the HootSuite Social Share.
- Include share buttons at the end of a blog post or article. ShareThis has Inline Share Buttons that you can place in an exact location on a page. Easily accessible share buttons on a page are the standard way to quickly let readers share your content to their chosen social outlet. It’s totally simple – and it looks snazzy, too, which is a big plus. Along with providing ways to organically share your content, you can also encourage this behavior with a few tricks.
- Ask your readers for a share or a like outright. If you’re not too overt about it, you may inspire them to help you out. Ask a question at the end of the post and encourage answering in the comments. Asking readers for their personal experiences and opinions about a hot-button topic is a great way to begin a discussion and get some shares.
- End each and every piece with a CTA that spurs your readers to share. If your CTAs aren’t getting you anywhere, revise and tweak until you hit on a good formula.
The cliché is true when it comes to content marketing: Sharing is caring.
Encourage your readers to share, and make it easy for them to do so. You’ll reap the rewards.
Optimizing Your Content in Fresh Ways Can Give You an Edge
If you need to give your content marketing a push, consider these easy ways to optimize your output.
Taking the time for tasks like these isn’t a big commitment, but could pay off handsomely with more shares, more engagement, and a bigger audience.
In short, make it as easy as possible for your audience to find you to find that traction you’ve been looking for. The result will be a higher return on your content investment. And that’s a big deal.
Featured image: (c) Julia McCoy & Express Writers
Thought leadership: Mitchell Levy
Screenshots taken by author, July 2017
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!