Content Marketing Optimization: The Ultimate Guide

Content Marketing OptimizationSay “content marketing optimization” and most marketers instinctively think “search” or may be “social media.”

Even Gartner defines content optimization as the process by which content providers improve search results and ranking. Additionally providers improve their content’s value with the use of content management automation enabling them to develop new pages on-the-fly.

While this definition is good, it doesn’t go far enough to support your digital marketing because content delivered via connected devices and digital media of all types have evolved beyond information that’s only sought and delivered through search.

Did you realize that solely focusing on optimizing for search or social media may hurt your content marketing results?

In his book Optimize, Lee Odden refers to optimization as a persistent effort at improving just about anything for better performance. As a result, all of the elements of your digital mix work together to help potential visitors discover, consume and engage with your content and ultimately your business.

Therefore to expand your marketing reach and results, broaden your content marketing optimization to appeal to your 5 must-reach audiences. Of course, this assumes that you’re starting with quality content.


Content Marketing Optimization: The Ultimate Guide

Content Marketing Optimization


Content Marketing Optimization Definition

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, optimization is the act, process or methodology for making something as functional or effective as possible.

When we discuss online content optimization, it often refers to making information more accessible for search engines. Here’s what an incognito search for content optimization yielded on Google.

content marketing optimization

Search results for content optimization – Even Google only focuses on search-Example

Don’t forget to look at the bottom of the page for additional search results via Google

To remain competitive in a post-content shock world, marketers must expand their definition of content marketing optimization. (Hat tip: Steve Rayson and Mark Schaefer!)

Graphic illustration of why content shock is real- Chart by BuzzSumo

More comprehensively, content optimization is defined as making your content as useful, easy-to-find, and easy-to-consume as possible for 5 audiences:

  • Customers include your prospects, customers, fans and naysayers.
  • Social media includes your company presence and followers.
  • Search includes Google as well as YouTube and voice search.
  • Influencers include top experts, frenemy influencers and microinfluencers.
  • Your Business ensure visitors take the next step in your process (such as email registration, lead qualification and sales.)
Content optimization is making your content as useful, easy-to-find, and easy-to-consume as possible for 5 key audiences: customers, social media, search, influencers and your business.  #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


To yield maximum content marketing optimization, answer the key question on their mind:

  • Customers: Is it worth my time?
  • Social media: Do I look good by sharing it (aka: What’s in it for me?)
  • Search: Is this information the best answer?
  • Influencers: Will I get additional recognition?
  • Your Business: Will it convert sales faster?

Optimize Content for 5 Audiences


Where Content Marketing Optimization Fits In The Content Process

Like clothes, content marketing isn’t one size fits allDress each piece of content to shine on the platform where it appears.

Like clothes, content marketing isn't one size fits all. Dress each piece of content to shine on the platform where it appears. #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


Just as you would wear clothes that fit and be appropriate to the situation, understand each platform’s unique requirements as well as its audience for your offering. Then use the proper size images, strong headlines, hashtags and other accessories.

Content Marketing Optimization

Does Your Content Fit Your Audiences’ Needs?

By transforming your content to appeal to your 5 key target audiences, you improve your content amplification and distribution results. Since optimized content stands out to your audience because you’ve tailored it so that it’s contextually relevant to them regardless where it appears (owned, social or third party media.)

4 Cs of Content Marketing – Chart by Heidi Cohen


Content Marketing Optimization: 50+ Tactics

To reach your 5 key audiences, use a variety of content marketing optimization tactics to tailor your content to each one’s specific needs.

Here are 50+ content optimization tactics broken out by target audience.

1. Optimize content marketing for customers

Regardless of traffic or content  quality, if visitors can’t read it or it’s too difficult to consume, they’re gone.

Regardless of traffic or content quality, if visitors can’t read it or it's too difficult to consume, they’re gone. #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


  1. Create marketing personas to determine audience’s needs and wants. 
  2. Offer content your audience craves. Use the 5 basic content types.
  3. Craft magnetic titles. Only 20% of readers get past your content hook. 
  4. Add an attractive image to stop readers. People see images 60,000 times faster than text.
  5. Use legible fonts. Choose readability over design.
  6. Think big type. Use 12 point type in body text.
  7. Select easy-on-the-eyes colors. Skip acid colors and low contrast palettes.
  8. Include other media formats. Add photographs, videos, audio, presentations and PDFs.
  9. Integrate your brand in your content. Think voice, words and other non-visuals.
  10. Sound like a real person. Skip non-human corporate language.
  11. Use short words. Think 8th grade reading level.
  12. Craft short sentences. Break 3+ line sentences into 2 or more sentences.
  13. Write short paragraphs. Big blocks of text look hard-to-read. Limit paragraphs to 4 lines.
  14. Outline content to guide readers. Use number or bullets to show  relative information importance.
  15. Selectively bold important information. Don’t highlight everything or nothing stands out.
  16. Include consistent design elements. Use your 360° brand.

2. Optimize content marketing for social media

For content distribution, social media including review sites and amplification sharing sites is a short term approach. (To improve social media amplification and distribution, check this BuzzSumo case study.)

Integrate social sharing into your content and use a mix of organic and paid social media.

  1. Make content easy-to-share. Add buttons for the social media platforms your audience uses.
  2. Incorporate preformatted tweets. Make it easy for readers to share.
  3. Make images pinnable. Pinterest is valuable couch-shopping.
  4. Share content on appropriate social media platforms. Focus social media sharing on the first 3 days post publication.
  5. Test headlines and visuals using paid social media. At least use  Facebook.
  6. Respond to every comment. Reward people who engage. Mike Allton spends time on social media when he publishes mega-content.
  7. Become an active member of relevant amplification communities like Reddit. Pay-it-forward.
  8. Transform content to meet each platform’s audience and specifications. Give people a reason to click.
  9. Consider creating a longer content version for LinkedIn Publishing or Medium. 

3. Optimize content marketing for search

Make every page of your content an entryway to your business. According to Jakob Nielsen, you’ve got 10 to 20 seconds before the average visitor leaves.

(Check  Rand Fishkin’s quick one-page search optimization primer.)

  1. Create mobile first content. Responsive design adjusts to reader screen size. On a mobile optimized site average user wait under 6 seconds.
  2. Develop content long enough to achieve your goals. The optimal  search optimized blog post length is 1,500 words according to Andy Crestodina.
  3. Link to other relevant information on your website or blog. Try to keep visitors on your owned media.
  4. Include onsite search box. Let visitors seek  search other information.
  5. Focus each piece of content on 1 keyword phrase. Do your research first.
  6. Include keyword in your content title. Check BuzzSumo’s Headline Research.
  7. Include keyword phrase in content URL. Title tags are also important for search.
  8. Use keyword in first 50 word introduction. Indicate content focus.
  9. Write a meta-description including the keyword. 
  10. Speed up content load times. Visitors have limited time and patience for page loading.
  11. Link to credible outside sources. Cite others where appropriate to increase content trustworthiness.
  12. Add embed codes to allow people to publish your visuals and attract links.
  13. Consider content’s user experience (UX). Eliminate irrelevant elements.
  14. Create content for human consumption. Google checks whether your content answered searchers’ questions.
  15. Show site architecture. So humans and search engines can distinguish the most important pages.
  16. Optimize images. Add alt tags to image tags. This describe the image for text based search engines and visually impaired visitors.
  17. Optimize videos. Add video title including keywords and description.
  18. Support content findability with targeted search advertising. Where appropriate, include paid search advertising.
  19. Eliminate duplicate content. Don’t confuse people or search engines with multiple pieces of the same content.

4.Optimize content marketing for influencers

Influencers can help develop as well as distribute your content.

  1. Tap into the power of different types of influencers. Use experts, frenemy influencers and micro-influencers.
  2. Reference specific thought leaders in your content. Add credibility to your content by referring to other trusted sources. As Andy Crestodina says, “A partner in content creation is a partner in content distribution.”
    As @AndyCrestodina says, "A partner in content creation is a partner in content distribution." #contentmarketingClick To Tweet
  3. Send an email to people you reference in your content. Follow Content Marketing Institute’s Lisa Dougherty’s example.
  4. Publish guest posts on other blogs. Guest posting is a lot like influencer marketing because you’re endorsed by the blog.
  5. Build your personal network in advance. Aaron Orendorff is a whiz at networking to get input from influencers he doesn’t know.

5.Optimize content marketing for your business

Don’t overlook optimizing your content to ensure visitors take the next step to engage with your firm.

  1. Include a contextually relevant call-to-action. Remember not every reader is ready to purchase.
  2. Add links to relevant products where appropriate. Prospects check content before purchasing.
  3. Link to related content. Keep readers on your blog or website by offering them related content.
  4. Add your most popular blog posts to your right-hand column. There’s a reason that best sellers work. Also do this for your top selling products.
  5. Reward visitors for taking the next step in your process. Encourage action while the reader is involved with your content.

    5 Types of Connected Content

  6. Make it easy for readers to contact you. Include your physical address, phone number, email and other forms of contact. Here’s a full Contact Us guide.
  7. Email your house file. Freshly optimized content gives you a reason to contact people.
  8. Distribute your content via feeds. Give audience your content in the way they want to consume it.


The Content Marketing Optimization Conclusion

The goal of content marketing optimization is to improve your content amplification and distribution results by making your content attractive as possible to your 5 key audiences: customers, social media, search, influencers and your business.

Content optimization ensures that the investment that you’ve put into transforming your content for different media entities and platforms reaps appropriate return.

If it doesn’t then you should continue to test and measure your content marketing results by platform and audience to improve them. To this end, use your analytics, search tools, and social media tools.

Why waste all of the work into your content without ensuring that it’s optimized?

Go on take the time before publication and distribution to make the minor changes that will yield better results.

What is your favorite content marketing optimization tactic and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen



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yoga: cc zero – Cathy Pham

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on: Aug 11, 2014. It has been extensively updated and expanded.

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