If content is well optimized, you would expect it to perform well but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. It isn’t that the keywords weren’t researched and analyzed well, or it couldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered “well optimized.” So, if you know that you have met all the SEO strategies and rules, it must be something else. Actually, this is something that happens more often than you might believe if the only thing you are striving toward is optimized content. Let’s start with that and then go on to determine why well-optimized content might still perform poorly.
1. Misunderstanding the Concept of “Well Optimized” Content
A basic definition of optimized content is “content that is written with the intent of reaching the largest segment of a target audience” through the use of commonly searched for keywords and phrases. That’s content optimization in its simplest understanding. SEO pros use various ways to quantify and qualify keywords but at this point, the process for doing so isn’t really as important as trying to understand why using well-optimized content can still underperform.
If you look closely at that definition, you will begin to see the first reason why content is not performing well. Doesn’t it sound like an oxymoron to say that “well-optimized content” isn’t performing well? Actually, there is a definite contradiction in terms, and it all begins with the second part of that definition in that it is designed to “reach the largest segment of a target audience.”
2. Well Optimized Content Should Be Directed at a Narrow Segment of the Target Audience
In order to put this into perspective, it is necessary to understand why people search and click through to a website. Basically, after searching those keywords and phrases mentioned above, visitors will click through to your site to:
- Learn something they need to know or
- Buy a product or service they require
Although it may sound oversimplified, that’s what people are looking for, and therein lies the problem with targeting a wide segment of the target audience. Marketers will be the first to tell you that the narrower your focus, the better your content will perform. This leads to the third reason why ‘well-optimized content’ can still perform poorly.
3. Conversion Requires Asking the Right Questions or Giving the Right Answers
Since visitors click through to your website, they probably assume you have knowledge to impart (giving the right answers) or seek to understand what you want to supply that (asking the right questions). This leads us to customer engagement rooted in a call to action. To better understand this, let’s look at a plastic surgeon seeking new patients. Although plastic surgery is already a specialty, it is possible to narrow down the field even further. Perhaps they specialize in breast augmentations or facial reconstruction. Someone landing on their website because the right keywords were employed for plastic surgeon Dallas Texas, for example, might seem narrow enough, but is it really?
Optimized keywords would also include breast reduction, breast augmentation, facial reconstruction, and other highly focused terms so that those people looking for answers to their plight will gain knowledge and those willing to spend money on the procedures are there willingly as well. Therefore a person seeking a tummy tuck isn’t likely to land on that site and bounce off again.
4. Bounce Rate and Search Engine Rankings
Believe it or not, bounce rate can have a significant impact on how your content performs. Bear in mind that the reason a website strives for high ranking within the first few results on the first page of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is that the average person is unlikely to spend time and effort clicking on anything beyond the first few entries on page one of the SERPs.
Google, for one, will take points off for having a high bounce rate. What does this tell you? If your content is well optimized but doesn’t target the right segment of the target audience, then it is likely someone landing there will quickly see they aren’t going to get what they are after. There’s nothing there to learn that they are interested in and certainly no products or services they want or need. Yes, the content is of high quality and informative. Unfortunately, the keywords and/or phrases didn’t attract the right segment of the target audience and so bounce rate affected performance.
5. SEO Based on Outdated Algorithms
Here it is important to stress yet again that a website’s performance is largely influenced by the search engines. At least once a year Google, the king of search engines, will update their algorithms and if you aren’t up to date with any core changes you might, and probably will, be left behind. One good example is Google’s mobile algorithm of a few years ago. It became known as Mobilegeddon and what it entailed was the necessity of optimizing websites for mobile viewers.
Websites would be ranked poorly if they weren’t developed to be responsive so that anyone searching from a small smartphone could easily navigate that site to find what they were looking for. This was a huge change to their core algorithms and one that left many smaller websites behind. Only those developed for ease of use by mobile viewers ranked in the mobile searches and we all know that most people now search from mobile devices rather than from land-based PCs.
The Million Dollar Question
In the end, you have to ask yourself if the content was truly well optimized. It may be grammatically correct, informative, and engaging, but did it have what it takes to make the grade with Google? It can be said that well-optimized content goes beyond all that with all those little extras the search engines require in order to rank it highly. When all is said and done, perhaps those highly focused keywords should be given a little push so that the crawlers more easily find and rank them. Maybe all it takes is a little ‘ping’ to draw the attention of the Google gods. Now that’s well-optimized content.