Content should be the priority when thinking about SEO. Quality content is how you engage, inform, support, and demonstrate competency to your audiences. Creating authentic, valuable content is also critical for search engine visibility. Optimizing a website’s content only partly focuses on SEO-specific improvements. Content Optimizations should be understood as a general improvement process for websites that essentially addresses three areas:
HTML code quality (up-to-date and correct HTML code)
Quality and timeliness of the content
Quality and completeness of HTML metadata for search engines
These refinements can improve site success in several ways; the measures then result in a:
growth of the performance of the website
significant increase in positive user experiences
Significant improvement in the ranking of the search results
In general, optimizing the content of a website should not align exclusively with measures related to SEO. Nevertheless, the general improvements are always in a specific context of Search Engine Optimization. Therefore, in the following sections, tactics for improvement, especially concerning a search or the ability to find pages on the Internet, will be discussed and introduced.
Lighthouse Analysis of a Website
While working on a website’s content, it is advisable to continuously analyze the quality of the code using tools specialized for this purpose. The free but very powerful tool Lighthouse for content analysis is available to all users via the Google Chrome web browser.
The metrics provided by the Google Chrome browser development tools are a good place to start when analyzing websites. An excellent tool for generating various website metrics is Lighthouse, a tool for improving the quality of web pages.
Load the homepage in the Chrome browser and open the development environment for web developers using the key sequence Shift+CTRL+J. The tool Lighthouse is reachable from the menu bar.
After selecting the desired metrics, an analysis of a website can start. The displays are detailed and shown in the overview in the traffic light colors. Much optimization work is required to achieve a top rating in all categories (a benchmark in color green). In general, it will be challenging to get a top rating. In any case, the score of a category should be over 70%.
Below are Lighthouse’s metrics for this website for the homepage and an article page for both desktop and mobile devices.
Article page for Desktop devices
Article page for Mobile Devices.
Following the Lighthouse analysis, you will find which tests have been carried out in each category. In the details of the analysis, a distinction is made between audits with restrictions (opportunities) and successful audits (passed). In the opportunities section, you will find the respective metrics with suggestions for improvement.
With the information from the results of the categories Accessibility and Best Practices, a whole series of measures can be derived that improve the quality of the HTML code. The category SEO also focuses on the HTML code but is significantly stronger from an SEO point of view. From SEO, you’ll find the aspects of quality and completeness for the HTML metadata used by search engines.
Quality and Completeness of HTML Metadata
<head> of an HTML page is the portion of the HTML code that
is not displayed in the web browser when the page is loaded. It is so-called
hidden content. The hidden content contains information such as the page
be loaded for a page. Other metadata enrich the page with information about
the author and important other keywords that describe the document in more
In other words, metadata are HTML tags that provide additional information about a page for the browser, search engines, and other clients. Clients process the meta tags and ignore those they don’t support.
Meta tags are added to the
<head> section of your HTML pages and generally
look alike for pages based on the J1 Theme like so:
|3||HTML optimizing (file load)|
|4||loading the page icon|
|6||loading CSS files|
The Template System J1 support website developers for the most important general HTML meta tags:
title and description
meta name="description" />
The browser uses the
title to give the browser’s window (tab) a
descriptive name. There are no hard and fast rules regarding the length
of the title. However, the recommended length of the title is somewhere
up to 65 to 70 characters, including spaces.
description property is used by search engines to correctly
classify the page and display it for the right search queries. However,
the description is only a suggestion, so it does not necessarily have
to be displayed by the search engine. The search engine sometimes displays
a different section of the page.
The suggested length of meta description is somewhere between 150 to 160 characters including spaces. You can even use fewer characters and it works great if your descriptions looks appealing and read better but don’t try to create lengthy descriptions that doesn’t make much sense or description with more than 160 characters.
<meta name="author" />
The meta tag describes what the name indicates: it specifies the name of the author of the page written and (or) published.
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" />
The appropriate character encoding should be set on every website. If this is not done, it can happen that e.g. for german “Umlaute” (“ä”, “ü”, “ö”) and special characters are not displayed correctly.
<link rel="canonical" />
A canonical URL marks a URL for search engines that this is the master copy. Tagging such URLs is cruicial for SEO if there is a website with duplicate content. If a search engine detects such pages, they will be penalized by Google Search and other search engines for bad rankings.
Pages will detected as duplicate content when parts of the content appears on several, at least one additional page. Duplicate content results when content is copied 1:1 from other websites (or pages on the same web). Even on pages where a product is offered in two colors (online shops for example), the URL is slightly different, but the page’s content is almost the same. Therefore, it is important to use the canonical tag correctly to inform search engines that a page is not duplicate content.
<meta name="robots" />
The robots meta tags can be used to instruct the web crawlers of the search engines which links and thus pages of yours may be indexed, i.e. included in the search results. You can also determine whether the current page should appear in the search results or be excluded.
Search engines differentiate here basically between two characteristics:
Indexing of links available on the page (a-tags)
follow- all links are followed (default value if no value is set)
nofollow- no link is followed
Indexing the current page
index- the current page is indexed (default value if no value is set)
noindex- the current page is not indexed
|For a more detailed overview of all possible values, Google has published the specification for robot meta tags at Google Search Central.|
Content Optimizations for SEO
Your content quality should be your priority when thinking about Search Engine Optimization. Quality content is how you engage and delight your audiences. Creating authentic and valuable page content is also critical for search engine visibility. As mentioned in section Quality and Completeness of HTML Metadata 1:1 copied content from other pages (duplicate content), the ranking of your pages will drop down if detected by the algorithms of the search engines.
Content Quality — Imagine being in the search engine’s shoes. Are you comfortable sending users to your website?
Research and Strategic use of Keywords — Researching keywords, the search terms your target audience uses, is the most important SEO factor for content quality after quality. Research on keywords will greatly support you in developing content for giving the right answers for what people are searching for. Include relevant keywords in your content, your headings, and titles. This strategic placement of valuable keywords will help to prioritize search engines for your articles over your competitors' content.
Relevance (Freshness) — Visitors, and search engines, prefer timely and up-to-date information. You can still make smaller updates to your content pages by simply updating the publishing date or continuously churning out new, smaller posts and pages to boost the freshness of your site.
Giving Answers — A tremendous added value is given in explicitly answering your readers' questions on your pages. With your reader’s potential question in mind, you’re creating content that meets your audience’s needs. Search engines may render your content in knowledge panels or other rich text results on the SERPs generated if you answer potential questions.
Complexity — The level of complexity of your content should be deep enough to answer the user’s question thoroughly.
Imagine being in the search engine’s shoes. Are you comfortable sending
users to your website? If the answer is a clear
yes, then that’s where
a lot of the more technical work and more traditional SEO may come into
play. But, if the answer is a tentative
no then that’s probably a sign
that you need to add more value for users before you start thinking about
Providing users with substantive, useful and unique content is what compels them to stay on your pages, building familiarity and trust. What constitutes high quality will depend on the nature of the content and varies based on the type of content and industry.
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines break down the characteristics of high quality content by type:
Informational content should be accurate, comprehensive, original and professionally presented
Artistic content should be original, unique and convey a high degree of skill
News content should be in-depth, well cited, accurate, and contain original reporting
Suppose you’ve planned your website should earn money for a living. For professional use, it is necessary to pay particular attention to these standards as Google’s algorithms may give more weight to authoritativeness, expertise, and trustworthiness signals.
Content is the cornerstone of your SEO efforts and not a place to skimp. Creating and investing in a clear content strategy is critical to your as with nearly all other factors, SEO success depends on content quality.
Research and Strategic use of Keywords
Researching keywords, the search terms your target audience uses, is the most important SEO factor for content quality after quality. Research on keywords will support you in developing content that gives the right answers for what people are searching for.
To understand better what type of pages a search engine returns for the result pages on the various keywords, it helps to clarify how search engines typically classify keywords and which type of pages will be eligible to rank for those terms.
Consider classifying keywords by their intent:
informational, related to the information provided by the content
transactional, related to business facts or activities (prices, buying or selling)
navigational, related to content that explains the usage of something
local, related to products or services provided in the nearer area
Cross-reference your potential keywords with what currently ranks in the search results to see the types of results Google chooses to display for each query. Google may assign a different intent to the keyword than you expect; for example, typing "sandwich" generates mostly local results. Using the keyword "Jekyll", the generated results reflect the software that name but a lot of matches in literature and film. This changes if you modify the search expression to "howto Jekyll". Those results are quite navigational and focus on pages that explain the usage of the software named Jekyll.
Search engine providers spend a lot of time and money on developing intelligent algorithms to analyze the users intentions based on the keywords given by a query. Cross-checking is important because users usually give up to three keywords for a search that matches hundreds of thousands of pages on the Internet.
Keyword research can provide:
insights into the nature of your audiences
the level of competition for those queries
information on the type of documents in which the users prefer
When you evaluate which keywords are viable, use them to optimize your pages by including them in your content, headings, and titles. This strategic placement of valuable keywords will help to prioritize search engines for your articles over your competitors' content.
Strategic use of Keywords
Finding the relevant keywords used for the Google search engine in the past is very easy: Run Google Trends. Google Trends is an analytics tool provided for free and enables the search and comparison of trends. The generated data reflects the daily number of searches people make on Google for specific keywords.
Without a tool like Google Trends it is difficult to find the best keyword
out of a group of similiar. The analysis below checked a search for Jekyll
comparing the use of the keywords
Templates. The difference
in the relevance for searches using
Templates what means quite
the same, is impressive.
This strategic placement of valuable keywords will help to prioritize search engines for your articles over your competitors' content. If you’ve finished researching on keywords, include them in your content for headlines, and titles. But be careful using the keywords and not place them at the expense of readability or other compromises that prioritize search engines over your readers.
For every analysis, consider the words carefully you want your page to be found for. Always remember that you’re writing for your readers first, and as a result of the strategic use of keywords, the search engines return much better matches for your content.
Visitors, and search engines, prefer timely and up-to-date information. You can still make smaller updates to your content pages by simply updating the publishing date or continuously churning out new, smaller posts and pages to boost the freshness of your site.
Google has also long applied a factor called Query Deserved Freshness
(QDF) for content ranking to certain queries. Suppose a search query
suddenly becomes popular, for example,
hurricane, when there is an
active hurricane. In that case, if Google will apply the factor QDF to
those searches, the results will change to reflect news and information
about the topic. You can harness a freshness boost to increase the
visibility of your pages on the SERPs by creating content relating to
You may be able to harness a freshness boost to increase your visibility on the results page by creating content relating to popular trends, upcoming events or holidays and breaking news.
|Be aware, that a QDF-related boost may subside over time and your pages may get shuffle deeper in the SERPs of an search engine.|
A tremendous added value is given in explicitly answering your readers' questions on your pages. With your reader’s potential question in mind, you’re creating content that meets your audience’s needs. Search engines may render your content in knowledge panels or other rich text results on the SERPs generated if you answer potential questions.
As a role of thumb, half of all searches at a search engine end without a click on any other content than the result page. The enhanced content of the search engine result pages can satisfy users by answering questions on the results page!
It is highly recommended whenever you write an article or post related to a specific question, you should try to make the answer accessible to the reader by, e.g., adding an H2 within the content. Accessibility is important, but it really counts to ensure the reader sticks around.
|Optimizing your content for featured snippets and direct answers generated by the search engines potentially yield more visibility than a standard organic search result. When doing so, optimizing giving answers also increases the chances that it gets returned as a voice search result or other modern multimedia-related content generated on SERPs.|
Your content’s complexity level should be deep enough to thoroughly answer the user’s question. The tricky part is figuring out how specific your content should be.
If you want to provide more value than your competitors, you can still throw more words at it to achieve an arbitrary word count. Some queries, such as "what is the fastest land mammal" has a relatively straightforward answer, whereas other questions, like "why is the cheetah the fastest" may warrant a more in-depth explanation.
Research of keywords may help to decide what topics should be focused on and need a higher level of complexity. By analyzing the results of the keyword research, you’ll find some answers on your audience’s preferences and your competitor’s offerings to decide better how deep to dive for specific content pages.
A lot you’ve learned. Time to summarize what is behind you has worked on. The last chapter should help with that. Summarize section offers some handy sections to remember what has been presented in this chapter. And gives an outlook of what could be done next, an overview of all chapters of this tutorial, and useful links to learn more.
See all sections below:
Recap · What has been done, what’s explored in current section
What Next · Find to go further, what’s planned next
All Chapters · The full chain, all chapters
Further Reading · List of helpful links to get more
All the heavy work to learn how to manage a full chain for content optimizations is behind you; congratulations on what you achieved! The process of content optimization requires experience. You can learn what counts and what tools can be used in a day. But in the end, experience is important for successful optimization work: for the content and SEO tactics.
Content optimization (and SEO) is quite complex and hard to do. Therefore it is important to break down the full chain into smaller steps to make the optimization work more manageable. Remember all the single steps starting with the improvement of the content, research on keywords, and giving answers down to scaling the complexity of your web pages.
You reached the last chapter of this tutorial, and you’re done sofar. You learned in some hours what counts and what tools can be used. But in the end, experience is important for successful optimization work; in general for the content and SEO as well.
The only (and the best) advice I can give is to set up your own website and optimize your site for SEO. You’ll see with the result pages of the search engines if your SEO was successful.
Keep in mind that optimizing a website is a long run. It will take a while as your improvements will result in a better ranking. And this is as well an important thing to know!
As already mentioned: give SEO a try, set up your web, and start the work to become more and more experienced as an successful SEO specialist.
Find here an overview on all chapters this tutorial:
Reading this chapter is not essential for working on the project first time. Additional links will be helpful to learn more. The references point to important sources of manufacturer documentation. Here you can find out all the possibilities what the products can offer. Experiences from others are extremely important when dealing with software and more complex projects. Links to other sites may answer common questions from the experience of professionals. Here you can think far outside the box of a project currently worked on.
Further links in the current section.