When you think of a COS (content optimization system), you probably picture yourself revising old posts to boost organic traffic. But there’s a lot more to developing an effective content optimization strategy.
There are two ways you can optimize content: manually, or with the help of AI (artificial intelligence). Both use an eight-step process to create and optimize content.
First, let’s take a look at content creation steps outlined in our infographic, and how you can optimize every stage to ensure you end up producing high-quality content.
The 8-Step Content Creation Process
Your research is where content optimization begins. There are a few levels of analysis to conduct for each new piece you write:
- Researching your audience’s needs to hone in on topics
- Examining your competitors to determine their coverage of similar issues
- Researching keywords in your topic areas
Covering all of these areas gives you enough information to decide which topics you think will perform best.
Once you have your topics and keywords, plot out your marketing calendar. If you haven’t already, consider publishing content on dates that correspond with events, seasons or holidays. You can get more life out of content that’s tied to a specific event your audience is already looking for, and you can use it to market-related promotions, products, or services.
When you’re ready to assign to writers, the more details you can provide, the better. Give them the keywords, SEO-optimized titles, subheads, links to related content on your site and general topics to cover in each section. The more information you can give a writer, the less guessing they’ll do and the fewer edits you’ll have to make.
Every writer appreciates a well-thought-out brief to help them focus their writing and reduce revision time. But they’ll also need your content and brand guidelines. Keeping your content aligned with your company branding will ensure a consistency that will strengthen your brand identity.
This is a key step in the content creation process. A good editor not only fixes spelling errors and grammatical gaffes. They make changes to align with brand voice, user intent, optimize the title tag and meta description and other on-page SEO.
The channels through which you promote your piece will affect how you put it together. If, for example, you plan on promoting it through Facebook and LinkedIn, you’ll have to prepare three titles: one for the blog, one that’s optimized for a Facebook audience, and one that’s appropriate for the more professional LinkedIn audience. You’ll need to determine the optimal times for publishing on each network.
Once an article is published and promoted, it doesn’t simply head out into the ether where it’s never heard from again. Search engine optimization can be applied to existing content that is doing well (and even those that aren’t doing so well). These can be revisited to optimize for seasonality, recent Google algorithm updates, and trending news topics. Pay special attention to those pieces whose Content Score is below target – although they may be performing well, they are probably punching above their weight due to off-page factors.
Inventory and Auditing
Keep a running database of all of your content, as well as that of your competitors. Then compare what you have and where you might have content gaps.
Why Content Optimization Needs a Solution and Not More Tools
Now, there are myriad SEO tools out there to help with on-page optimization and every step of the content creation process. Keyword optimization tools can help you choose the best long-tail keywords, for instance. There are tools that check your grammar, help you determine where your audience’s eyes are landing and how far they’re scrolling down a page. You can even find tools to help you with A/B testing.
You use these tools, get the results, and then what? Do you know what to do with all that information? Do you have a solution that will help you improve your SEO or your user experience?
Since first writing this post, nearly three years ago, more than one content optimization tool has hit the market. It’s one thing to have a lot of fancy tools; it’s another to have a solution that optimizes the entire content creation system. You can work the process described above, or use AI to help you get better content.
How AI Can Help Optimize Content Creation
Creating, promoting and maintaining great content is a lot of work. So is gathering and analyzing the data to help you create and optimize.
You can work the eight-step plan we described manually, or you can use AI-powered marketing automation to help you out.
According to a Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute report, “AI is changing the human marketer’s role in content creation [and] causing a fundamental shift in how marketers plan.” That doesn’t mean organizations will be replacing their writers with machines. (Although the Associated Press and The Washington Post do use AI to write data-heavy articles already.) Instead, AI can augment content marketing teams to help automate time-consuming tasks and make good, data-driven decisions on how best to optimize content.
Let’s look at our eight steps through the lens of AI.
At the research stage, an AI solution can identify if you have a content gap. It can help you plan new content that will have the highest impact and then generate a brief with all the necessary information for optimization.
An AI-assisted content editor helps writers stay on target by analyzing metrics like the number of keywords used, the length and even the readability of a piece. Automated SERP analysis can help identify user intent to ensure any optimized content accurately addresses the needs of Searchers. It can then take those benchmarks and apply them to an automated editing process. AI-powered platforms help ensure consistent brand, message, and style across all types of content.
When it’s time to promote your piece, AI can help schedule social media posts at the right time to the right people. Finally, you can use AI to analyze existing pieces for optimization opportunities you may have missed.
Optimization is not just one small part of your content creation process. It should be the glue that binds all eight steps together. Keep optimization in mind through the entire life of a piece, and use AI to help you get everything you can out of your content.
Download the full guide here.