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Content Optimization Workflows

10 min read

Here are two common content optimization workflows along with three steps that most writers, editors and content marketers miss.

Why Optimize Content?

Optimizing content for on-page SEO and SEO goals is a critical part of the content creation process. Modern search engines assess content for comprehensiveness and quality. So, content optimization in 2018 needs to focus on building high-quality content.

Outdated processes like peppering keywords throughout the title tag, meta description, alt tags, headers, and footers are not remotely close to best practices for optimizing your content. Every role in the digital marketing team needs to collaborate to optimize content successfully.

This post details some common workflow challenges for SEO content optimization and how to get everyone on your team working together. I’ve also included a set of steps that will get your content updated quicker in the search engine indexes, drive more traffic and improve content optimization workflow adoption.

Two Common Workflows

Workflow management can get quite complicated with all the various nuances. Here are two typical situations with which you may already be familiar.

1. The SEO Audit

The strategist creates a proposal, target topic and hands off a paragraph-long overview. The writer authors and creates a draft for editing. The editor checks for alignment and either edits or passes it onto a copy editor.

The copy edit confirmation goes to an SEO resource where they process through any number of keyword research tools and SEO tools to develop recommendations for keywords to add and ways to improve. Some workflows may enable the search engine optimization team to edit and update the page.

Organizational Impact

In this scenario, the writer often feels like the search engine optimization team is using analytics and mystical unshared goals for hitting nebulous ranking factors to satisfy the “Google Beast.”

If you are a writer in this workflow, your work and creativity are challenged, and your output is edited by someone who is not a subject-matter expert.

There aren’t enough learning paths and internal training sessions on content optimization and search engines to change the resentment that you feel. You’re being critiqued by someone who isn’t speaking from “writing experience.” While it may increase traffic, click-through rate and blog performance, they don’t know what it means to produce creative content.

2. The SEO Spreadsheet Attachment

The strategist creates a proposal, target topic and hands off a paragraph-long overview to the organic search team. Content strategy and search engine optimization are confirmed, and the team builds a spreadsheet with keywords that the writer needs to include. This approach lacks context, angles, structure, style, voice or reader, and user intent goals.

Organizational Impact

The writer feels constrained and encapsulated in the SEO box. Their creative process is stifled by the list of keywords they have to hit to make the search engine team happy and get them off their backs. They deliver their draft.

The editor checks for alignment and either edits or hands to a copy editor. The copy edit confirmation goes to an SEO resource. They recheck it and reply to make sure they got all the words in there and didn’t duplicate content.

This attempt at collaboration with the content marketing team doesn’t feel right — no matter how many social media shares the blog post got in the first week. The writer didn’t have the opportunity to shine.

Team Collaboration With Website Content Optimization as a Priority

SEOs can only get you so far.

Don’t expect the average search professional to be a great writer or have the ability to edit and improve a great page of content. Content creation is not easy and optimizing content with empathy for a writer isn’t simple. User-generated content optimization can be even more difficult. When the writer is a contributor or contract worker for the site, it is even more challenging.

Use your search experts to help with content strategy prioritization and train key learning paths on SEO tools. Evaluate the success of optimized content they didn’t have to touch. Determine if it was successful at hitting the ranking factors agreed upon by the organization.

Content Strategy Experts and Editors Can Take the Content Further

By understanding an entire site, content inventory, and competitive landscape, company leaders can explicitly detail content’s key performance indicators and how they connect to the company’s marketing strategy. On-site SEO guidelines, when agreed upon by all groups, can allow group leadership to build great content proposals or content briefs for each content item.

AI-Enabled Writers and Subject-Matter Experts are Every Organizations Secret Weapon

Getting more information in the writer’s hands earlier in the process is the key to success. A shared agreement on every element of the page that can be created with a detailed content brief is in everyone’s best interest. The result is:

  • Better organic search performance with every page
  • Shared understanding of goals and marketing strategy
  • Shared marketing strategy collaboration
  • Optimized content is a meets-minimum for all drafts

The case studies for this type of organizational growth that MarketMuse has influenced with clients is a model for success for every company.

The best content creation workflows are built with empathy for each role. Here are some writer-focused post-publication content optimization goals your team can adopt today.


Search Engine Expert: “This content item has performed extremely well. The topic was covered and the inclusion of it lead to rankings for 25 keywords. But if editorially appropriate, let’s expand it by adding content and covering these three additional topics. “

Writer: “Awesome! That’ll only take me an hour. Let’s do it! I love it when my content is successful.”


Search Engine Expert: “This content item has performed extremely well and is an important part of our content presence. It ranks for thousands of keywords. That stated, it is three years old. I’ve put together some ideas for ensuring it is appropriate for today. They have the added bonus of further optimizing this page so it can be successful for five more years!”

Writer: “Awesome! Let’s do it! I love it when my content is successful. I can’t believe that page is still ranking as it seems like I wrote it in another lifetime.”


Search Engine Expert: “This content item has performed extremely well. This topic was covered, and the inclusion of it lead to rankings for 25 keywords. But if it is editorially appropriate, let’s expand it by adding a section that covers this other angle and adding content that addresses these additional topics. “

Writer: “Awesome! That’ll only take me an hour. Let’s do it! I love it when my content is successful.”

User Intent Profiling and Answering Questions

Search Engine Expert: “This content item has performed extremely well. By researching the success of the page, I’ve uncovered these common reader questions, user intent details, and task completion goals. To respond to our user-generated content on the topic and this research, we should expand this page to allow users to answer these questions and achieve more of their likely goals when reading this page. “

Writer: “Awesome! Let’s do it! I love it when my content is making my readers successful!”


Search Engine Expert: “This content item has performed extremely well. Since we published it, we have also published many related pages. Let’s update the page to connect with the rest of this topic cluster and make sure readers can access all our great content. Also, in the past three months, there have appeared some great references around the web that aren’t competitive. Let’s figure out a way to make our readers more successful by highlighting these resources.”

Writer: “Awesome! Let’s do it! I love it when my content makes my readers successful and I’ve wanted to go back and add these links. This gives me a reason to justify the effort. Thanks!”

Three Steps That Most Writers, Editors and Content Marketers Miss and Don’t Think About

1. Google Search Console and Sitemaps are your Friends

When you go optimize a content item, you can let Google know. You can get immediate feedback and re-indexing of the updated page. Use either a sitemap update or by explicitly using the old version of GSC (Google Search Console) to ‘Fetch as Google’ and ‘Request Indexing’

The process with the new GSC is a little different. Using the URL Inspection tool, you need to Inspect the URL. Select Request Indexing to run a live test on the page to see if there are any apparent issues. If not, it gets queued for indexing. One added benefit with this is that it finds issues that you can fix as soon as possible.

2. Repromotion, Paid, and Social Media Channels

This is a common miss for search engine optimization resources. That’s because they don’t have a clear path to the social and content marketingteam’s processes. When you update a page significantly, push it and get your audience’s attention. When you’ve modernized a page and added additional user value, let them know about it. Don’t just sit back and wait for rankings to change.

3. Report Success Stories

This is a tough one for many teams because natural Google Organic ranking flux makes a content strategy team numb to improvements. Adoption of content optimization workflows requires the team to actively promote wins. It is the shortest path to getting on the same page with writers and editors.

Don’t get caught up building a scientifically sound data study (leave that for people like Jeff BakerJohn Gillham, and Neil Patel). Develop a process that looks at individual pages, the entire cluster of related content, and how all boats have risen since you’ve all adopted a content optimization process with content briefs.

The MarketMuse Unfair Advantage

MarketMuse enables content strategists and search engine optimization professionals to collaborate on ideally targeted content plans. It’s the first software suite that generates content briefs at-scale that detail explicit goals, topics, user intent-targeted questions, linking recommendations and content structures for writers.

The MarketMuse Suite also consists of a collection of applications including MarketMuse Optimize. MarketMuse Optimize is an AI-augmented writing application that provides in-line recommendations that are focused on quality, comprehensiveness and search engine optimization success.

MarketMuse delivers content optimization solutions that give ALL team members an unfair advantage.

Get a customized demonstration today and find out what an empathetic and collaborative content optimization process could mean for your website network.

Featured image vector designed by Newelement / Freepik

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer at MarketMuse

Jeff is Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at MarketMuse. He is a cross-disciplined, data-driven inbound marketing executive with 18+ years of experience managing products and website networks; focused on helping companies grow. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.