Optimized your content? Optimize again, and again.

Back before I got started with SEO, I was in the paid marketing field, which involved split-tested ads, landings pages, and products, over and over again. The idea behind optimizing your creatives is that you are never done optimizing. There is always room for improvement – always.

On-page SEO is no different.

The vast majority of SEOers tend to put up a piece of content, spend 20-30 minutes “SEO optimizing” it, and then publish the piece. They will then never return to the piece unless they want to make an update to get a boost from having “fresh content”.

This is the wrong approach, and if this is you, you are leaving money on the table.

How Powerful is Content?

I’m not going to parade the old phrase of “content is king” that Google loves to push on webmasters, but I will say that most people leave a lot on the table when it comes to optimizing their content.

Instead of expirementing with their content, they want to build backlinks, to help compensate for poorly optimized content.

That works, to a point. In my opinion, shoving backlinks to a poorly optimized article is just applying a temporary boost to the article.

If you haven’t heard about this story yet, take a listen to the video below:

Kyle Roof was part of an SEO contest, and for this contest, you had a bunch of SEOers competing for the same term. Kyle managed to win the competition by using lorem ipsum for 90%+ of his word count.

What was the remaining 10%? Exact match keywords, phrase match keywords, and some LSI here and there.

Did he just come up with a single ratio, and cross his fingers? No.

If he had 7x instances of his exact keyword, he would see what would happen if he had 6x, or 10x.

You get the point?

How One Change Screwed Me

I’m going to use a real-life example that I have been experiencing for the past 2-3 months.

To set the stage, this page in particular is targeting coupon terms. The keywords in question follow this format:

  • “Blue Widget” Promo
  • “Blue Widget” Promo Code
  • “Blue Widget” Coupon
  • “Blue Widget” Coupon Code

So those are the four main keywords for the page.

During March 2020, I was ranking #1 for those terms.

I was also noticing that a strong competitor was entering the space, and was quickly skyrocketing through the ranks, potentially threatening my number one spot. So I felt that I had to try to strengthen my page, to make sure that I do not get overtaken.

I added a table to my page. Why a table? Well, I was also noticing that Snippets were beginning to appear for these search terms, and I was the only one at the top that didn’t have a table, so I wanted to give myself a chance to win the snippet if the change was permanent.

What happened next? Let me show you a Skype conversation I was having with a business colleague of mine:

By removing 1 of the H2 tags on the page, I instantly went from #1 to #3 & #4 for ALL of the coupon/promo keywords.

Also, when I say “revert”, that means that I backed up an earlier “version” of my website, to a version from the changes.

So again, by simply forgetting to keep the H2 on the page, I suffered a big blow to the page.

It doesn’t stop there, I obviously continued to try to optimize the page further…

To clarify, this page in particular has the keyword “coupon code” & “blue widget coupon codes” each used once on the page. The moment I added one more “coupon code” phrase on the page, I instantly lost 2-3 spots for my coupon terms. My promo terms on the other hand stated the same.

What did I do? Again, I reverted.

One more screenshot…

In this case, all I did was change the ending of the keyword, from “blue widget coupon codes” to “blue widget coupon code”.

I lost one spot in ranking.

Just think about this, I didn’t even add or remove a word this time around. I simply turned a word into a plural, and that was enough to tank the page.

Why was this happening?

Google loves to frame themselves as having developed the perfect AI, and that it understands content perfectly, and it will award great content with it’s deservied rank, but that’s an overstatement.

At the end of the day, an algo is evaluating your page, and it’s your job to feed the algo exactly what it’s looking for. You have no clue what it’s looking for until you try under-optimizing your content AND over-optimizing your content. You have to look for the sweet spot. Exact match keyword count matter. Phrase match keyword count matters. Heading count matters.

Now why I love to talk about this page, in particular, is due to how fickle the algo was. Just a single word, or heck, even just adding a letter to the word was enough to trigger an effect from the algo. Why so fickle? Likely due to the low word count. As you can imagine, a page that was geared towards providing a user a coupon won’t really have much content, I’m talking about 200-300 words of content. Since the content is so thin, even an extra match could be enough to punish you.

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