What people really mean when they say “SEO” is the idea of optimizing content for discovery and conversion across a wide spectrum of the web … not just search engines.
Think about it: When you optimize your site, is it just so that it will rank in Google … or are your goals wider than that?
Absolutely, for many sites, traffic from Google is important. But sites get traffic from a variety of sources — social media, related blogs, and so forth.
Are search engines the only source of valuable traffic? Of course not. Yet we still call the tactics of optimizing for organic traffic “SEO.”
Optimizing Content for Discovery and Conversion, or “OC/DC” for short, encapsulates this idea of amplifying the overall reach and results of content creation.
OC/DC defines a new role for the former SEO activities, broadening the scope and applicability to what a professional online marketer actually does.
The real rock stars of search optimization have always known that it took a lot more than just getting the top result in Google to measure the success of their work.
Now is the time for OC/DC to replace SEO in the online marketing lexicon … and leave the spammers and link buyers in the trash can of history.
Definition of OC/DC
The word was coined by Sean Jackson for Copyblogger. Even if it didn't stick as expected, and if SEO remains the chosen term, Optimizing Content for Discovery and Conversion intuitively makes more sense than Search Engines Optimization. At least it talks to the reader explicitly.
- External optimization refers to traffic generated to your site, and the research and refinement necessary to improve its quantity and quality.
The external part of OC/DC includes numerous traffic sources — search engines, social media sites, blogs, as well as aggregation sites like Slideshare.net and content syndication sources like Business Insider.
- On-site optimization makes the most of these external efforts. This matters because improving the quantity and quality of your traffic only helps you if visitors take the action you want when they find your site.
Load times, usefulness of content, responsive design, and ease of conversion are all encompassed within the on-site portion of OC/DC.
5 OC/DC tactics for Optimizing Content for Discovery and Conversion
1. Improve content symmetry
All pieces of content on your site should work seamlessly together.
If you have been active in creating content, this may be a good time to stop and re-edit your existing content.
- Edit headlines — We talk a lot about the importance of headlines, so it may not come as a surprise that we routinely edit published headlines on Paolo Web Design. If you have under-performing articles, take some time to rethink and optimize your existing headlines.
- Review in-links — More than likely, your earlier published content doesn’t link to the latest articles you have been publishing. Take a look through your early articles that are drawing the most traffic, and find ways to link from that content to your best recent work. (Remember: time on site matters for conversion, so the more links to other internal resources, the better to keep the user on-site.)
- Improve calls to action — Who cares if you are getting many visitors if those visitors don’t take the actions you want? Take a hard look at the way you are including your calls to action. Test different wording and designs for improved conversion.
- Convert list posts into individual posts — The numbered list is a tried and true format for drawing more traffic. If you’re looking for new content ideas, consider mining your successful list posts, breaking them down and expanding them into new individual posts, and using internal links to stitch them together.
- Revamp keywords — The Google Hummingbird update placed a new emphasis on the context of keywords within your content. Once again, spend some time reviewing your old posts, then use a tool to make sure you are doing a good job of building out the keyword context across your site.
SEO tools: here is a list of the best SEO tools, free or not, to get you started.
2. Consider mobile responsive design a requirement
Web traffic from mobile devices keeps growing.
If your site is not properly rendering for the myriad mobile devices out there, then you are severely limiting your OC/DC efforts.
3. Target a 3-second load time (max)
OC/DC practitioners appreciate the fact that a site loading slowly equals the loss of business.
Of equal importance is the code that is running on the server.
Spend time reviewing the loading of your site using tools like WebPageTest.org and find ways to optimize your page loads.
4. Repurpose your existing content
One of my favorite sites to visit (besides Copyblogger) is Business Insider. A tactic they use is to republish existing content from other sites directly on the Business Insider site.
No, they are not stealing the content. And no, search engines do not penalize Business Insider or the original publisher for duplicate content.
What Business Insider is doing, as well as a lot of other sites, is reposting existing content from reputable sites and using the “rel=canonical” meta tag to link back to the original post (with permission of course).
If you look at the source code of the page, you will quickly see that the content originally appeared on the Buffer blog.
By syndicating its existing content to other sites, Buffer can increase its exposure online … while sites like Business Insider can serve more content to their visitors.
It’s a win-win strategy for all involved.
So if you have posts that have done well, don’t be afraid to find sites that would be willing to syndicate the content using the “rel=canonical” tag.
This is a simple tactic for optimizing content discovery if your site has authority.
5. Create your research
Here is a unique idea to become a real rock star with OC/DC.
Most sites love to publish original research reports within their industry. In the past, creating a research report would take a lot of time and money.
The trick is how you publish the data.
Once you have your survey completed and some basic analysis done, you can repurpose that research in a variety of ways:
- Downloadable report from your site
- Infographic highlighting the key data points
- Presentation deck uploaded to sites like SlideShare.net
- Narrated presentation deck on YouTube
- Webinar discussing the results of the analysis
- Press release detailing the analysis
- Guest posts on the results of the research
- In-person speaking opportunities to present the data
For an expenditure of a few hundred dollars, you have at least eight ways to generate content … from just one piece of research.
That is true optimization of content discovery.
SEO not only has a negative connotation, it is too often used inaccurately to explain a wide breadth of services and tactics that have nothing to do with search engines.
Optimizing Content for Discovery and Conversion, OC/DC, is a more accurate term, describing exactly what a content marketing strategy must encompass to be successful.