It’s hardly a secret that content marketing is an incredibly effective strategy for growing your blog or business. Compared to outbound marketing, it generates three times as many leads at less than half the cost. It’s no wonder so many blogs and companies are leveraging it to improve search rankings, increase website traffic and keep the leads pouring in.
But successful content marketing requires more than a few good blog posts—it requires genuinely great content that sets your business apart from the competition.
Consider the qualities of good writing. Proper spelling and grammar are a given if the writing flows well and communicates ideas clearly, even better. Suppose it grabs a reader and keeps them mesmerized from beginning to end, fantastic. And while a talented writer is indispensable to any content strategy, there’s a bit more to it.
You need content optimization.
Content optimization is about making sure your content answers the right questions. It’s about giving the people searching the web—your future customers—the information they’re looking for. And it’s about understanding how your competitors’ content performs and using that information to make yours even better.
Content Optimization in a Nutshell
If you’re doing it well, producing great content requires immense effort. From research to writing to publication, there’s a lot that has to happen. And whether it’s a how-to guide or a case study, content optimization is a crucial step in the process.
Content optimization, in a nutshell, is about making sure your content gets in front of the highest number of people. That means you need to understand what questions people are asking to weave the answers to those questions into your content.
In other words, you can’t just write fantastic blog posts and hope to rank well. It would help if you also thought about things like:
- Primary keyword usage, relevance and placement
- Using semantically related keywords
- Adding internal and external links, meta text and images
- Your competitors’ content
- Your target market’s search intent
- Updates and changes to search engine algorithms
More importantly, content optimization isn’t something you can do once and forget about. Since all these variables are in continuous flux, it’s an ongoing process. Google changes its algorithms, customer needs and search intents evolve, and competitors optimize their content.
It sounds like a lot of work. Please make no mistake: It’s a tough challenge. Almost half of all content writers say one of their biggest challenges is finding a balance between search optimization and creativity.
Thankfully, we live in the information and software age, and there are now plenty of fantastic tools to make life a lot easier.
Content Optimization Tools to the Rescue
Content optimization tools are designed to help you understand what topics to cover in your content based on what’s already ranking. They do so by measuring the number of internal and external links, meta descriptions and tags, keyword usage and density and a lot more.
In other words, content optimization tools help content writers flex their creativity while guiding them through the technical aspects of creating great content. You can think of them as personal assistants whose job is to make content rise through the ranks on Google.
Let’s take a look at a few of the better ones.
If you’ve spent any time in the digital marketing field, you’ve likely heard of Semrush. It’s a digital marketing platform composed of over 40 tools and reports to help digital marketers with everything from on-page SEO to social media management.
And, of course, content optimization.
Semrush’s SEO Content Template tool analyzes your rivals’ content based on your chosen keyword. The analysis provides you with several signposts for writing optimized content, including text length, semantically related keywords and backlink suggestions.
With this foundation, you can move over to the SEO Writing Assistant. This tool is designed to help you create content that outranks your rivals. It measures what you write in real-time and provides you with actionable suggestions to help improve your content. And it does so by grading it on four metrics measured in a quadrant:
- SEO optimization
- Tone of voice
The quadrant grading is a fun way to measure and optimize your content. Moreover, it provides you with tips and suggestions to continuously improve your content as you write it.
It’s important to note that Semrush’s content optimization offerings are only two tools in a vast arsenal of digital marketing armaments, which all work best when fully integrated. If you’re looking for content optimization along with other ways to manage your digital marketing efforts, you’ll want to take a close look at everything Semrush offers.
One of the newer kids on the block is INK, an elegant yet mighty app that combines OpenAI’s GPT-3 with an SEO assistant. It scans search engine results in real-time and provides you with an easy-to-follow process to write content for maximum results.
It works like this:
- You add the keywords you want to rank for.
- The app scans live search results of your keyword and the traffic those results get.
- The AI analyzes the results to determine why those results rank well and how to rank better.
- Using this information, the app gives you a step-by-step guide to follow to craft highly competitive content.
The app analyzes everything from meta tags and descriptions to headers and image alt texts. More importantly, it uses AI to read and understand the content and determine what you should be writing about to compete and beat the competition. It’ll provide you with sentiment analysis, topic sources and suggestions and even indicate the optimal length for your content.
As you write in INK, the app continuously scans the competition, compares it to what you have and provides you with a score. Following the recommendations from the SEO assistant will raise the score. The company claims that content with a 97% or higher score is four times more likely to rank in the top 10 on Google.
One thing that sets INK apart from the other tools is that it’s a downloadable desktop application. If you prefer to write in something other than your web browser, but you’re looking for powerful content optimization features, this might be the app for you.
MarketMuse is another AI-powered content optimization platform. Like INK, MarketMuse focuses on content creation, and it’s specifically designed to speed up and improve the research, creation and optimization process.
It works by using AI to collect and analyze your content against the competition and show you content opportunities based on ROI and authority. It also provides you with highly accurate topic models so you can write the best possible content.
The platform features five applications to help in the content creation process:
- Questions: Used to produce a list of questions related to a target keyword or phrase
- Research: Used to generate topic suggestions to add to your content based on existing content
- Compete: Provides a visual representation of keyword research to easily determine how to build relevant content
- Connect: Analyzes your existing content to help build internal linking.
- Optimize: Analyzes your content and assigns a score based on how well it matches the previous suggestions
MarketMuse is unique to other offerings in that it doesn’t strictly focus on the optimization phase. Instead, it takes an opinionated approach from ideation through research and all the way to the optimization stage. It’s an incredibly powerful and practical approach, especially for marketers who want to pinpoint unique areas of opportunity before they start creating content.
Another feature worth mentioning is the Inventory section of the MarketMuse platform. The section features a set of strategy tools to help publishers audit their websites and build an attack plan for optimizing their existing content.
Great Writing Still Matters, Too
It’s worth mentioning again that excellent writing does matter in content marketing. If your writing falls flat with your readers, all the optimization in the world won’t help. Content optimization and excellent writing are dynamic duos—you can’t have one without the other.
Thankfully, there are a couple of tools to help you improve in the writing department, too.
For those who need an extra set of eyes on their spelling and grammar (and honestly, who doesn’t?), Grammarly is a must-have. It comes as a web app you can use to compose your writing and a browser extension. We’d recommend the extension since it’ll enable you to use the tool on any website you write, including Google Docs. It also explains the grammar mistakes so you can learn as you write.
Of course, grammar rules aren’t the only thing that makes for good writing. Even Grammarly won’t weed out clunky, unclear ideas. If your readers can’t understand and connect with your content, you’ll lose them.
Hemingway Editor is an app that helps make your writing more clear and concise. Based on its namesake’s spartan writing style, this handy tool helps you identify excessive adverbs and occurrences of passive voice. While it won’t necessarily turn you into the next Ernest Hemingway, it will help you make your prose clearer and more lively.
Create Content That Ranks with Crowd Content
Creating great content is no easy task. From writing crystal clear prose that packs a punch to optimizing search intent and competition, a winning content strategy is a full-time job. Producing a steady flow of competitive, high-quality content requires sound strategies, expert marketing skills, and writing chops.
But you don’t have to go it alone.
Crowd Content matches talented writers to businesses, bloggers, and content producers all over the world. With over 5,000 expert wordsmiths in our ranks, we can connect your business with the perfect one to grow your content marketing strategy and drive more traffic to your site. Get in touch with us today to get started.