Content marketing isn’t just about having good writing and stunning images and videos. There are also several moving mechanical parts completely independent of your brand voice, writer quality, and other qualitative aspects of content creation. Content optimization hinges on a rudimentary knowledge of how search engines work and how people come across your content when they weren’t introduced to it natively or through sharing.
Getting discovered through a mix of search results and sharing is the mark of a successful content strategy. To focus on the search part, you need to get familiar with spiders. Unlike the friendly arachnids you might not want in your house, you definitely want these spiders around and not to trap them in cups.
What Are Spiders?
Spiders are one of the names given to search engine crawling bots (also called crawlers). They crawl websites and add them to search engine indexes. Search engine indexes are these large collections of words and their location on webpages. They act as warehouses of sorts while those words are unsorted goods. If you want to increase your chances of your goods being found before someone else’s using the same keyword or being of the same topic, then you need to know how to tag them properly.
Knowing how to keep a clean house in a manner of speaking is how you’ll know whether or not your content is crawlable regardless of writing quality. This is how spiders will find and add it to its rightful place in the indexes. It’s where the “optimization” part of SEO comes in and relies on your web infrastructure more than anything else.
Keeping a Clean Website
In keeping a website “clean,” you need to start with your sitemap. Search engines will ignore it if it’s tangled with too many URLs and being ineffectively crawled by the spider as a result. Whenever you add new content to your site, you should also have a mechanism in place for automatically updating the XML file every time so that version is what gets indexed.
Next, you need to get rid of orphaned pages and broken links. The larger and more complex your site or network grows, the more likely you are to have these and not realize it. Spiders follow every single hyperlink on your website, so you need to make sure each one goes where’s it’s supposed to go. Add links or remove pages where applicable if they can’t be accessed from your homepage, sitemap or other appropriate pages.
Are any pages giving you 404 errors or other errors related to redirects and missing content? Find a way to get rid of these pages and create new ones wherever possible where they link properly this time. If there are too many redirects, it can equal a cluttered sitemap, which leads to poor outcomes in search engines.
These are simple but often overlooked housekeeping steps to better optimize content that don’t require a great deal of technical proficiency to implement.
Don’t Forget Meta Tags
Meta tags, or slugs, are important because they create more searchable copy and opportunities to make your content keyword-rich. They’re also integral for making positive first impressions since that slug is usually the first thing people pay attention to on search engine result pages. Meta titles, descriptions and tags don’t need to be included in order to make your content fully crawlable, but they definitely make the spiders’ jobs a lot easier, which equates to a more beneficial outcome for you if you’re coveting a higher SERP rank.
How well a page ranks is affected by other factors like how often people link to your content (giving it authority), which keywords you chose, and keyword density. But if your webpages are not kept clean, you’ll have a much harder time rising in SERP ranking.
Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. She is also a content strategist here at Writer Access and would be happy to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.