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Optimizing For Content Discovery: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

Date published: August 07, 2014
Last updated: August 7, 2014

Content discoverability: it’s a piece of cake, right?

When you launch a new piece of content, the whole point is to get people to discover it (and download it, assuming it’s behind a landing page form). So when that new piece of content is ready to roll, what do we do? We share it on social, and we share it with our email subscribers, and we write about it on our blog. That big wave of promotion your content rides at the beginning of its life is exciting and undoubtedly leads to a ton of views, downloads, and shares.

But then a funny thing happens in the world of content: we tend to forget about what’ve just launched, and we move onto the next project. Once we get that initial payoff, we create something new that will (hopefully) get us another big payoff. And the pattern continues.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

As you might have suspected, this isn’t the most sustainable strategy in the world. While promoting content during its initial release is great, getting that content to keep performing – to continually yield views and downloads long after its release – is even better.

At HubSpot, the majority of the leads we generate each month comes from people downloading our content from the previous months. Our old content is the cake; it’s baked into our lead generation every month. Our new content is just the icing.

So, how exactly does one bake these delicious content cakes so that people will continue to discover them and enjoy them for all eternity? Search engine optimization (SEO) is the answer.

Someday, someone is going to be interested in that topic you wrote about. Your goal then, from an SEO perspective, should be to make sure that on that fateful day when that fateful someone enters that search, it’s your content that bubbles to the surface and compels them to click. That’s long-term content discovery.

Of course, you can always resurface old (or better yet, updated/revamped) content on social and in email and on your blog. But for all those times when you’re not explicitly re-promoting old content, some basic SEO will help ensure that your content is as discoverable as possible.

If you’re already focusing on creating content your prospective customers will find valuable, and if you’re already using the language that they use, you’re off to a good start. To help you stay on track, here are a few common content optimization mistakes to be aware of.

Failing to Optimize Your Landing Pages

Landing pages are more than just gateways. While we often use them as the “middlemen” between our promotional channels and our downloadable content, landing pages can also be destinations unto themselves.

Landing pages can, and do, rank in search. But to help them rank higher – and, ultimately, to make your content more discoverable – you need to check off all the SEO boxes you check off for your other pages. These include having a descriptive title, having an easy-to-understand URL, including alt text for images, and writing a compelling meta description.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “I thought Google said meta descriptions don’t help with rankings anymore?” True. But, while meta descriptions may not actually help you rank higher, they do explain to searchers what’s on your page. It’s your chance to sell them on your content; don’t waste it.

Keyword Stuffing

Humans don’t like it when you stuff keywords into your content. When the same keyword or phrase appears over and over and over again, it just doesn’t sound natural.

Robots don’t like flagrant keyword repetitiveness either. Search engines can tell when you’re stuffing keywords into your content. Their algorithms are intelligent and complex, and with each update, they’re getting better at detecting black hat tactics.

So does that mean you shouldn’t do any keyword research or use target keywords in your content? No. When it comes time to actually write your content, don’t worry about using a certain keyword density. Worry about writing great content, and let your target keywords fall naturally into place.

Keeping Your Content Isolated From Your Other Content

If you create a new piece of content on a particular topic, and you already have content on that topic, link those pieces of content together.

While spreading this internal link love helps from an SEO perspective, there’s another discoverability benefit: you’re creating an interconnected content universe that your prospective customers can easily explore.

Let’s face it: that single piece of content you just created isn’t going to answer every single question someone might have about a particular topic. By linking to your other content on that topic, you can keep readers engaged (and keep them hanging around on your website).

Thinking You Can Trick the Search Engines

To reiterate the lesson learned in mistake #2, you can’t outsmart the search engines. The tips outlined above aren’t focused on trying to beat or trick Google, they’re focused on making things easier for humans. And that’s exactly what you should be doing.

By optimizing your landing pages, you’re making it easier for people to find your content and to figure out what that content is all about. By avoiding keyword stuffing, you’re making your content more enjoyable for people to read. And by linking your content together, you’re making it easier for people to navigate to other useful pieces of content on the same subject.

So forget about link-building schemes and other popular SEO ploys. If you want your content to have a long and fulfilling life on search engine results pages, the formula is simple: Make great content that aligns with the interests of your target audience.

As HubSpot Founder & CTO Dharmesh Shah notes in our updated guide, Learning SEO From the Experts, “Years ago, when HubSpot first started teaching people about search engine optimization, one rule was essential: Above all else, create good, useful content.”

Optimizing For Content Discovery: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

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