Jul 22, 2014

Content, Not SEO Tactics


You may have heard the phrase “content is king”, but weren’t sure you believed it. After all, you’ve spent so much time, money and effort getting your website in perfect working order. Fresh new design? Check. Responsive to mobile devices? Check. Search engine optimized? Check. What else could you need? Well, quite a bit actually.

Google (and all search engines for that matter) has been changing the way it ranks websites and quality content has become a major component in their ranking algorithms. When you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Google makes most of its money through paid advertising which it displays above, next to and below organic (non-paid) search results. Google wants people to use their search engine as often as possible, as this gives them more changes to show their ads which they hope will get clicked (this is the point at which Google gets paid). If you were to use their search engine and didn’t get the information you needed, you’d stop using their search engine. This is why quality content is so important.

In the past, websites could simply employ SEO tactics to get the search engines to rank their sites. Some of this SEO was legitimate, but in many cases people were just trying to game the system to rank higher in the results. Search engines have gotten wise to this and have changed how they determine where to rank sites to keep these SEO tactics from playing such a key role in ranking. In a recent post on Mashable, Andrew Edwards talks about how SEO may be going away and about the importance of quality, fresh content.

So what are some of the ways you can get your site ranking higher through quality content? Search Engine Land posts a Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors each year which provides many of the factors it has determined through research to be important for ranking. The chart provides factors that will positively or negatively impact your site’s ranking. The first section in this table provides detailed factors related to your site’s content.  Below I will summarize the positive and negative content ranking factors.

The Good

Keep these in mind to ensure you have high-quality content.

Content Quality (Cq)

How well written the content on your site is helps determine its quality. Spelling or grammatical errors can diminish its value. The readability level can also determine how valuable it is relevant to the audience you want to reach. If your content is written at a college or above level and is meant for a wide audience this may diminish the quality of the content and vice versa.

Content Research (Cr)

Understanding the words that your audience uses to find your site and content is important. Many times website owners may use jargon or terminology that relates well to people who are in their industry, but this may not be the same terminology used by the audience they are trying to attract. Other times, content editors may “dumb down” content so much that their target audience may think they don’t know much about their industry. Striking a good balance between the two works best to create quality content.

Content Words (Cw)

In addition to understanding how your audience thinks about your products or services, you also need to include words in your content that you want to be known by.  Peppering your content with these relevant terms can help your content be found by a wider audience.

Content Engage (Ce)

Some of the key metrics you should monitor in your web traffic analytics software is bounce rate and time on site. Bounce rate will tell you the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing just one page. Time on site tells you, on average, how long visitors are staying on your site. These two metrics will give you insight into how engaging your content is.

If you are having bounce rate or time on site issues, you may want to think about websites that you visit often and spend a lot of time on. What is it about those sites that engages you, keeps you on their site or gets you to interact with the site? Once you have those in mind, think about how you can apply those same tactics to the content of your website.

Content Freshness (Cf)

Is the content on your site current? Are you adding content about topics that are trending? These are indicators to search engines that they should keep you at or near the top of the results page as you will be providing content that their searchers are looking for.

The Bad

Stay away from these, if at all possible.

Thin Content (Vt)

Content that provides little or no value or can be found elsewhere could be considered thin content. With so many sources of information available on the web, this type of content is not very helpful and search engines will attempt to rank them as low as possible.

Too Many Ads (Va)

Having many ads, especially near the top of the page, is another form of low-quality content. Try to keep ads out of the main content area so that your real content, what most website visitors are looking for, is front and center.

The Ugly (Truth)

Creating quality content is not an easy task, but it’s essential to getting your website more visibility with your desired audience. Keep them engaged, entertained and educated and they’ll keep coming back to your site for more.

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