Creating content for your website is a huge undertaking. You’re deeply invested in the process, from topic research to word placement, layout, and design. So when the content you’ve spent hours on doesn’t rank well, it’s disappointing. It can keep you up at night, wondering what went wrong and what you can do to make things better.

Take comfort in the fact that you’re far from alone. There’s probably not a content marketer alive who isn’t trying to get their material closer to the top of the search engine results. Plus, onsite content is everywhere, and it’s all competing for an audience’s attention.

The factors that influence your content’s position in the search engine results pages (SERPs) sometimes shift or evolve. However, some core practices and ideas can help boost rankings for onsite content. Let’s look at four of them.

1. Balance Word Count and Content Quality

You’ve probably heard that you need a certain word count to rank well. For some time now, longer blog posts with word counts over 1,000 have been touted as a magic bullet. As long as your piece has enough words in it, audiences will stay on the page longer. That alone will reduce your bounce rates and increase your search engine rankings.

However, it’s not that simple. Think about it. Would you keep reading a 1,500-word blog post because of its length or its actual content? More than likely, it’s how well the topic applies to your search that will keep you on the page. For content to rank, it needs to strike a balance between word count and quality or adequate topic coverage.

To achieve that balance, content marketers often turn to keyword research. But content relevance requires more than picking out promising keywords with high volumes and low to medium difficulty levels. It’s about creating content that discusses a topic with just enough depth and detail to satisfy the audience’s intent.

2. Speed Up Load Times

Updated research on the human attention span says it is down to eight seconds. People’s patience for long videos, walls of text, and slow-moving websites is shorter. They’re more likely to leave and give up on onsite content that takes too long to load. Also, pop-up after pop-up or distracting side content can create a poor user experience. These things can increase load times and prevent audiences from getting the information they sought in the first place.

If your site is too busy or slow, your content might not be gaining the viewership you want. To speed up your onsite content’s load times, start by determining what those load times are. Site audit tools will let you know where your site’s speed is at. You’ll discover whether your load times are acceptable to search engines. Many tools also identify problem areas and what you can do to improve speed.

Some of those things include compressing images, removing scripts you no longer need, and shrinking file sizes. The website host you use for your onsite content can also make a difference. Some content management systems and website builders are faster than others based on server capacities, locations, and supporting applications.

3. Optimize URLs

When you publish a piece of content, it gets a unique URL, or website address. That address will usually start with your site’s domain name. The word strings after that first backslash are specific to that page. Many content management systems automatically generate these strings for you. However, you can change and optimize them to increase your content’s chances of being seen.

Inserting keywords into your URLs helps match web addresses with what the content is about. When someone lingers over or previews a link, they usually see the page’s title and URL. People tend to feel more confident about clicking when titles and URLs contain the same words. This can impact traffic from paid and organic sources, including backlinks.

Concise web addresses with nothing but words and dashes usually perform better than ones with special characters like exclamation points. Text and characters that aren’t readable will only confuse potential audiences. Keep URLs as simple as possible.

4. Gain High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks increase your onsite content’s rankings by directing more traffic to your site and signaling authority. Creating credible, high-quality content and shareable resources like infographics is a way to gain backlinks. Another technique is to partner with other content creators in your industry or niche.

When you collaborate with other content creators, you increase the size of your audience. This leads to more views or impressions and shares. That’s because you and your content partner are promoting the piece. Besides creating content together, you can also reach out to similar thought leaders about guest post opportunities.

Guest posts or blogs allow you to insert backlinks to your site and existing content. You’ll gain exposure to a wider audience who may see your content and start using it as a source. Content analytics tools can show you which backlinks your content currently has and whether they’re from authoritative sites. These tools also help identify backlink opportunities for individual content and your entire website.

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Moving Your Content Up the Search Engine Ladder

Increasing your onsite content’s search engine rankings might seem like an uphill battle, especially if you’re an industry underdog. Between sometimes conflicting advice and tons of competition, you might think creating more content is the way to go. But it’s actually a combination of relevance and authority that will get you to the top. To increase your onsite content’s rankings over time, focus on quality, user experience, and legitimate backlinks.