Content is the stuff that makes internet what it is. Now, there are many definitions of what people actually mean by “content”. For the sake of this post, however, content is the stuff that’s spread out on your web pages — the words, the pictures, the videos, and all the crazy combinations and formulations you can think of.

What many people fail to realize is that content creation is more than putting words and images onto a webpage. Being aware of the meta aspect of content creation and how it impacts your content is one of the first steps towards developing a sustainable website.

So to help people out, I’ve compiled three simple rules that can help your content stay organized, visible, and optimized.

Rule Number One: Don’t Be a Hoarder

Don’t treat your site as a data dump. The web should be thought of as a fast, reliable way to gather information rather than something boundless and unending. While your site is capable of housing all your content, it can detract from a visitor’s ability to navigate the site.

If you have content that is a) out of date, b) unproductive, and/or c) never been reviewed, then you need to update it or get rid of it. Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for making some high level determinations.

Bottom Line: Perform periodic content audits to assess the relevance of the content on your site and archive what you don’t need.

Rule Number Two: Play By the Rules

SEO can be much more than shallow tactics attempting to manipulate search engine rankings. Taking the time to structure and label your content in a way that’s friendly for search engine robots is crucial. It’s a huge help towards improving your content’s presentation and achieving maximum visibility.

If you ignore SEO best practices, you may end up with unintentional errors that misrepresent what a page is about. This could actively prevent potential visitors from finding your site.

Shameless plug: Both WebMechanix & WoodStreet can set up your website’s infrastructure to make adhering to the SEO best practices much easier than if you get a website built by Godaddy or your daughter’s boyfriend.

Bottom Line: Spend time keeping your site structured and don’t overlook the usefulness of adding accurate metadata to your content.

Rule Number Three: Lock On To Your Target

Keyword research is a crucial component of the content creation process. Sometimes, it’s all you need to transform your results from ordinary to face-exploding success. Now, there are tons of other factors in the content creation process that will help you improve the success your content campaigns. But keyword research is an easy, insightful way to make educated guesses at what you should write about next.

Load up the Google Keyword Planner and your analytics platform and start extracting surface-level insights. Then, you can dig deeper into the competition levels for your best keyword opportunities and put together a solid strategy moving forward.

Bottom Line: Analyzing search volume, competition, and past performance of existing content can be a great indicator of what could and should come next on your publishing schedule.

Arsham Mirshah is a co-founder of WebMechanix, an Inbound Performance Marketing agency known for delivering “Snowballing ROI” through SEO, Paid Media Management, & Conversion Maximization Science. Arsham holds a degree in Bioinformatics & Computational Biology with a minor in Computer Science… but none of that matters when he’s on the tennis court or ski slope. Find Arsham on Google+ and Twitter