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How to Effectively Optimize Your Content to Make it Rank Without Links (Almost)

Optimize Your Content

Content optimization has never been a child’s play and will never be, as long as Google keeps deploying new algorithms. However, being innovative or at least looking at the existing opportunities from a new angle is an effective way to achieve results in SEO.

Everyone knows that content is king and this post will reveal some smart tips on how to optimize your content and make it King of the Kings. What’s more important, this is possible without significant massive off-page efforts (i.e., you won’t need lots of backlinks).

Define Your Core Content and Cluster the Topics

The end goal is to get your content ranked on top of SERPs. The first thing to do is defining your content core keywords and topics which is also known as topic clustering.

Instead of creating separate posts that have a weak connection to each other (although remaining in the same niche), you get a great opportunity to organize your articles and make a stable flow of posts that complement each other. What’s more important is that the posts can be interlinked to help each other rank better.

Topic clustering is also a competitive advantage for teams that outsource content as tracking the workflow has never been easier with structured data.

The concept of topic clustering is simple: define the pillar content (the core of a cluster) and pick up the cluster content (related terms). Ready. A simple example of topic clustering for SEO niche is as follows – 

Pillar Content

Search engine optimization

Cluster content terms

  • Off-page optimization
  • Keyword analytics
  • Ranking factors
  • SEO tools

Alternatively, there is an open opportunity to advance the hierarchy and add sub-clusters. This way, we get an umbrella of terms that essentially influence ranking and gives roadways for further optimization.

How to Conduct a Smart Keyword Research?

Pillar content keyword is just a starting point that gives ideas on further content strategy and optimization. The real work starts with cluster terms and particular keywords that will serve as the basis of every single article you have on your website.

The first step is competitors’ analysis. Check out the SERPs leaders that rank for your target keywords and take a look at how they optimize their content. If you still do not know all the insights of Google algorithms, taking a glance at the already successful market players will give you the basic understanding of a niche situation.

Choosing keywords has never been easy. However, you can always follow the path to the field that has not been oversaturated with competitors as yet.

The major SEO analysis tools like Mondovo Keyword Research, SEMRush and Ahrefs offer two major metrics of keywords evaluation: search volume and keyword difficulty. The second one is the determining value that helps in decision making. Choosing keywords that have low keyword difficulty and high (or relatively high) search volume is the key to success.

Here is a brief analysis of the keyword “SEO report template” that can be one of the main keywords for the article on your SEO blog. Keyword difficulty equals three, and according to Ahrefs, you will need only 4 backlinks to rank top 10.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Image credit: Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Interlinking – Connect ‘em All

As mentioned before, topic clustering gives a bunch of opportunities for further content optimization and interlinking is another thing you can use for your website’s sake.

As mentioned in Google Webmaster Answers, a number of internal links give the search engines a signal about the relative importance of a page, and this feature should be used to your advantage.

Following the concept of topic clustering, the articles that belong to the same cluster can (and should!) contain the internal links to relevant posts. Applying such tactic is like killing two birds with one stone.

  1. Internal links give search engine tips on what exactly is relevant and which search terms are suitable. What’s even better, these type of links gives you the freedom to choose the anchor text.
  2. Internal links improve user navigation across the site. As a result, you get an awesome opportunity to help your visitor find more content that is related to his/her search interest and keep him/her longer on your website. Lower bounce rate, longer visit time, better behavioral ranking factors results!

Taking Advantage of Social Signals

Google loves social media and listens to users in terms of content relevance. Social signals are admitted as one of the important ranking factors. The content creator is that person, who can stimulate the growth of social interactions that will later positively influence the rankings.

A clear call for the discussion, desire to hear the opinion or ideas of the audience and easy ways to share the article are the factors that determine whether or not you get enough of social signals, like shares, social traffic and active conversations in the comments section.

A new serious step in this field is creating interactive content apart from the usual text-based content.

Polishing the Content

It is important to create content that works not just for the search engines but for readers as well. This includes dozens of details that most of the content writers know but they tend to miss them sometimes (we are all humans, and it’s alright!).

What’s important, better content causes better engagement, which also means lower bounce rate. Luckily, the modern market gives a vast set of opportunities to clean the mess with various options. Here is a list of the most known and must-have services and tools to help in fixing and improving your articles.

  • Emotional Marketing Value and Coschedule headline analyzers: A high CTR is something every SEO webmaster strives for, and headline, along with the snippet are the pieces of your content that catch the eye. These tools let you know how much emotions your headlines contain, and give advice on improving them.
  • Hemingway Editor and Yoast Content Analysis Tool: Why make your reader work hard on your text when you can make it easy to percept? Hemingway does the hard work of pointing out whether your text is readable, and Yoast makes a comprehensive analysis of snippet, SEO title, readability, and content structure.
  • Grammarly is a handy plug-in for browser or text editor, that precisely eliminates the tiny, but important grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes with one click. However, it does not make a comprehensive check of the text. However, to achieve better style, there are services like Essay Supply that help in fixing complex mistakes and making the content not just readable, but joyful.

Newer Trends in Content that Capture Audiences

Restraining from the dry technical details, there are features that do not have a direct influence on the rankings, but using them helps your website grow faster, and, what’s even more important, gain the audience that not only reads your content but admires your website and brand. Getting a bit weird, funny and innovative opens a lot of new opportunities to use in your content strategy and there are some very cool features that can capture audiences and compel them to share with others.

Here are some awesome cases of creating a truly interactive content piece that pretty much sums up what you can do to get the attention, ranks, and love of your readers.

American Heart Association

People love to participate in “stuff” online. That’s why they take all of those quizzes on Facebook. The American Heart Association, for example, has quizzes that help people determine if they are at a risk for heart disease.

American Heart Association Quiz

Image credit: American Heart Association – Healthy Heart Quizzes

Certainly, these quizzes are helpful for people who have health concerns, but not the type of content that will go viral. However, it’s that particular link that gets the first position in the search results and is a great example of finding an easy-to-conquer keyword.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Image credit: Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

On the other hand, what if you could craft some quizzes like those that get thousands of participants who then share them with their fellows? All the better if you can make them relate to your product or service.

Phillips Razors

Interactive videos have become even more popular than quizzes. That’s what Phillips Razors figured when they crafted their video series to try to get more interest in a new electric razor, which was just not selling. Therefore, they crafted a video, combined with storytelling, and gave visitors an opportunity to choose a type of shave for a young man.

When they selected the shave, they got the story of a man that does not remember what he had done the night before.

Phillips Razors

Image credit: RAPT media

The goal of the company was to target a new audience – younger men who were not necessarily in the “clean shaven” look of their fathers – and show them that facial hair is cool but can be cared for with their new electric razor.

The results were rather successful. Visitors who came to the site and participated stayed an average of 3X longer and followed the prompt to share the video. Within a year, over a million people had watched the video and the company’s sales goals for their new product exceeded by 16%.

Top Positions are Waiting for You!

SEO is volatile, and that’s the thing that makes every specialist stay in shape. It is not necessary to be an innovator; sometimes looking at some things from a different angle opens eyes and reveals new opportunities. Structuring out the content strategy, finding free niche topics and creating the content that works both for users and search engines creates the quintessence of content marketing.

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Amanda Sparks

Amanda Sparks, professional marketer and blogger, head of content department at Essay Supply. She has been working as a marketer for 7 years and is passionate about developing innovative and customer-friendly solutions for brand growth.


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