11 Things To Ask Yourself When Optimizing Content

A client asked me the other day why we were optimizing his software for Los Angeles, when he’s located in Raleigh, NC. In explaining the reason to him, I realized that a basic guideline for optimizing pages is long overdue. I’ve developed the following flow chart and explanation in response.

Theming Content

The first question you need to ask yourself when optimizing a page is, What is the Page About?

If you can’t answer this or your answer is a keyword, then maybe you shouldn’t be building the page. Seriously. You need the page to be about something in order for it to have value on your website.

In the case of my client, the page was about a conference in Los Angeles where the company was going to exhibit. It’s starting to make sense now, isn’t it? Specifically, the page was about a single type of software it sells. Let’s call it Software A.

Putting Content Into Context

The second question you need to ask yourself is, What is the Purpose of This Page?

Is it news, a press release, a blog post, an educational piece, a sales piece? What are your goals with the page?

In my client’s case, the goal was to announce that it would be at the event and give a little bit of background about Software A. I’d call it a press release.

Consider Content Timing

The third consideration is: How long will this content remain relevant?

  • Is it an educational piece that will always be useful?
  • Is it a product explanation that will be relevant until the next version comes out?
  • Is it a news item that will always be interesting?
  • Is it an event that will recur?

In my client’s case, the page was about an event that would happen once (next week, in fact) and then be over.

Content Optimization

Finally, we get to optimization for search. Given the other questions you’ve asked, what makes sense for optimization?

  • Are there relevant keywords to use?
  • Should you include links to other content?
  • What should the Title, Description and Heading say?

Making Decisions

The answer is, it depends. Don’t apply a one-size-fits-all method to your optimization. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to even put keywords on a page. Sometimes a few well-optimized links are all you need. Either way, the answer is common sense.

In my client’s case, they were putting out a news item about a conference for Software A in LA next week. I chose two key phrases in the text and linked them back to Software A’s pages. I chose a Title and Heading that read something like, “Company Presents Software A at Conference.” Anything beyond that would have been overkill.

So next time you’re wondering how to optimize a page, first use the handy chart below.

Content Flowchart by Jenny Halasz

Consider Topic, Purpose, and Timing

Keep in mind, this isn’t a prix fixe meal where you can choose one salad, one entree and one dessert. Good optimization isn’t done that way.

Great optimization is more like a four course a’ la carte meal, where you carefully select each element based on what you know about your users. Just throw a few crumbs in every now and then for the search engines.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Beginner | Channel: SEO | How To: SEO | Keywords & Content | SEO: General | SEO: Titles & Descriptions


About The Author: is the President of an online marketing consulting company offering SEO, PPC, and Web Design services. She's been in search since 2000 and focuses on long term strategies, intuitive user experience and successful customer acquisition. She occasionally offers her personal insights on her blog, JLH Marketing.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “Evergreen content” can be incredibly useful because you can re-purpose it time and time again. As long as the information is still relevant, why not share it 6 months from now in the company e-newsletter? Obviously you need to stay current but some things never change.

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Nick, couldn’t agree more! In fact I often recommend to people that they leave dates off of their posts that aren’t time sensitive. Lots of industries have content that never changes.

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Thank you for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    I go through this every day with my clients, most of whom are small business owners. I always ask them, “which would you rather have more, the current content that no one sees, or more focused content that everyone sees?” That’s usually enough to make the point. My approach to SEO is similar to my approach to content. We define a theme, and then match that theme to a focus keyword. Thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Oooh! Theming and aboutness are not the same thing. Please read: http://searchengineland.com/keywords-aboutness-seo-49210

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Interesting article Shari. My goal is to communicate concepts like this in simple terms that the average layperson can understand. While your article was detailed, it was filled with jargon and “new” concepts that I think might be a little much for my target audience. :)

  • http://twitter.com/markjohnh Mark John Hiemstra

    I like when writers can break down complex topics into their most simple elements. There is obviously a lot more that goes into this practice than just these elements, but breaking it down into starting points like this is great, not just for beginners, but for anyone who needs a gentle reminder every now and then about starting points. Consider Hemingway’s four rules of writing. There’s a lot more that goes into a novel, but start with those and you’re on your way. Well done, Jenny.

  • Caitlin Durand

    agree with you Chris – Content should make the audience want to do
    something. The chart you have added is a simple way to understand the
    top to bottom flow. Making sure the content is going to be relevant for
    the audience is key. Your points are concise and helpful ways for a site
    owner to get to an end goal by compiling all the questions they should
    ask themselves before deciding to create a page. Thanks for the read Jenny – Very informative!

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Thank you very much! That’s a very nice compliment and feedback.

  • http://twitter.com/jennyhalasz Jenny Halasz

    Thank you very much! That’s a very nice compliment and feedback.

  • Ocha Nix

    There’s lots of stuff to digest here. Like the timing issue. I suppose it is best to have a good mix of longevity and current events in your content.

  • gusvdw45

    Thank you for the post!

    It will help with my quest to get my blog’s content into a better space while optimizing it at the same time!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001350492169 Hoang Nguyen

    You have a great diagram to share. Thank you so much! It’s very useful for newcomer on SEO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001350492169 Hoang Nguyen

    Don’t forget the customers are the human and you’ll have a good looking from Google.

  • Peter

    Great Article, it makes a lot of sense and is something i will put into consideration next time I am optimizing a web site.

    Business: http://www.shimmertechno.com
    Blog: http://pgiammarco.blogspot.com


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide