29 Jul Why SEO Relies On Great Content
You’re spent time developing a beautiful website and a strong customer proposition. So why are you so low in the rankings? It could be your content – the not-so-secret to good SEO.
You’ve probably heard the phrase that content is king – in the world of the web, it’s probably true.
Google is understandably secretive about the internal workings of its search engine, but it’s clear from the tech giant’s own 2010 SEO guide that content is highly valuable.
It’s worth reading through the guide if you have time, and trying to unpick what they mean. A phrase like: “Users’ know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it,” may sound like common sense, but it’s actually important to investigate.
As experts in SEO and content, here is what we take from this one sentence:
- Google is making a difference between what it considers good content and bad content. Good content will be prioritised, bad content ‘punished’.
- Users’ will know good content “when they see it” – which means the volume of visitors you get is important too. It also makes a subtle point that good, keyword heavy content needs to be visible, not hidden away.
- It’s clear that Google has a clear idea what ‘good’ and bad content is. They’re not clear exactly what the differentiation is, but we can make some assumptions here.
- “Direct other users to it” means natural shares on social media, backlinks and email links. It doesn’t mean buying backlinks or using fake accounts to try and game the system.
We can take all this from one sentence. The report is over 30 pages long. That’s a lot of potential lessons.
It’s not realistic or practical to analyse every part of the report, but it’s clear that Google recognises the vital importance of content in a SEO campaign – and you should too.
Google, and the other search engines out there like Bing, use sophisticated algorithms to understand your website. Of course they’re looking for certain keywords, but they look for much more than that.
Underpinning the search engine process are two principles: value and validation.
Your website needs to be ranked against others. The easiest way to do this is through an assessment of the value it gives to visitors. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to use your content as the basis for this calculation.
A simple keyword stuffed brochure site will be viewed by the search engine as a poor attempt to game the system, recognising that there is little there for the visitor.
A purpose-built and logically structure website, full of regularly updated and well-written content will be judged to offer much greater value to anyone who lands on the site.
Frequency of content, quality, and cogency will all be assessed and give you your ranking. The timing of your content will also come under scrutiny with a drip-feed of content regularly uploaded viewed more positively than simultaneously uploading 10 pieces every quarter.
When it comes to the content itself, it’s worth taking the time to create high-quality work. Grammar, spelling and accuracy will all be checked, with poorly written, keyword stuffed content potentially causing you problems. Your content will also need to be original – plagiarism or recycled work will see your site marked down.
It’s not all about SEO here either. Visitors to your site have taken the time to engage with you, don’t let them down or insult them with poor content.
Of course you’re going to say that your product, business or organisation is amazing – that’s your job. What a search engine does is to check your claims with the real world. It makes a decision about just how valid these claims are.
The search engine will check see how many times your content has been shared across the internet, and take this as an indication of validity.
It’s not a direct correlation, but it’s clearly the case that the more your content is shared, the better your search engine ranking will be.
Search engines are pretty intelligent things, and can heavily penalise you if you decide to try and game the system by paying for links or shares. That’s why it’s worth investing in good quality, industry specific content.
Good content can help you promote your business. It can also help you explain why you are different (and more importantly, why you are better) than your competitors. It can help you promote new products or services or promote offers and offer incentives.
One of the best ways to improve this validity is in producing content with real value. This could be a detailed ‘How to’ guide on your speciality, a series of blog posts from a recognised expert, or an opinion piece on a hot topic in your industry or area. These may not include any sales or product information at all.
One of the reasons for this is the old egalitarian spirit of the web where people were happy to give away information and advice on pretty much anything and everything for free.
It’s important to recognise that we’re not talking about giving away trade secrets, just enough to give your readers something will benefit from reading.
There are infinite angles you can use to create content, and you’ll know your industry better than anyone else. One key thing to remember is not to create content to be shared, but just to create good content.
If it’s good enough, it will be shared.
Play the long game
As content specialists we work with businesses and organisations of all sizes to help them transform the way they communicate.
One of the first things we say is that content shouldn’t be created just to get you higher up in the search engine rankings, but to offer value to your visitors. To achieve this you’ll need to approach it from a strategic perspective.
Firstly, you need to time your content. Then you’ll need to ensure it’s valuable, well written and relevant. Once it’s out there, you’ll need to promote it, sharing it as widely as possible.
This isn’t a one off either. This process will need to continue for as long as you are in business.
Content can make a massive difference to you, your business and your website. It can help propel you up the search engine rankings, reward existing customers and gain new ones through organic sharing over social media.
Invest some time or money in it and the returns could be massive.
This article has been provided by Lawrie Jones, owner of the 42group, a full service agency that work with leaders in science, technology and healthcare.