Perhaps the single most important factor in SEO is content. Good SEO agencies optimise content by producing information that both Google and users love. This process, known as content optimisation, will help make your site more visible in search.
All too often we are asked to offer search engine optimisation advice to businesses who have five page websites, which just about outline what that business offers, but provides no reason to stick around on the website.
In order to gain presence online, your site must include content that proves you are a prominent authority in your field.
Content has been particularly important to the performance of websites in search rankings since the launch of Google’s Panda algorithm in 2011. Panda is focused on analysing content quality. This means that websites that contain thin or poor content, duplicate content and nondifferentiated content will be punished, however those that contain good content will be rewarded.
The last confirmed Panda update (Panda 4.2) was rolled out over several months in 2015/2016. This meant that sites punished for poor content wouldn’t notice a drop in their search rankings immediately and instead would decline over time. The best response to Panda is to produce fresh, quality content. Of course, ‘quality content’ is easy to say but not so easy to implement.
So what makes good content? In a nutshell, it should tick at least a few of these boxes:
Well written content
Content must add to the user experience of your website by being useful, insightful and engaging. Say you are considering having a wedding at a castle: You might search for ‘castle venues for weddings’. Your search produces two equally beautiful castles that are in your price and distance bracket.
One has a website with very few pages: A homepage with a large photograph; a ‘weddings’ page with some photos of past weddings and a bit of information on the process; a brief history of the castle, and a contact and directions page. The other has all of the aforementioned content, but on top of this has an extensive inspiration section featuring past weddings, suggestions for wedding themes that take inspiration from the history of the castle and its surroundings, and suggested table layouts and menus.
Which one do you think is more likely to get a phone call? From an SEO point of view, the answer is much the same: The site featuring more content is more likely to attract organic links and achieve a higher ranking.
This principle can be applied to any kind of business. The idea is to make your website worth linking to (engaging with and sharing) by offering something of substance to visitors. Moz’s Rand Fishkin puts it succinctly: “An optimised page doesn’t just provide unique content, but unique value.”
Timely (or evergreen) content
Before publishing content it is important to ask yourself whether it is really relevant. People won’t link to a site or read content that is effectively “old news”. A good content marketing agency will work with you to ensure your content strategy presents your brand and business as a leader in your industry.
But not all content will be written around a time-sensitive event. Some of best performing articles are guides and other resources that remain relevant for years. This is known as evergreen content. It may not result in content that goes viral but it will mean that the content can occupy valuable search positions for a prolonged period of time.
Keyword-relevant content (that does not compete with other pages on the site)
The basis of creating good content for a site is good keyword research. Using keyword research helps make the content genuinely useful for the user as it allows you to find, and answer, search queries based on that keyword.
However, keywords also let the search engine know what your content is about. If you want your pages to be found for particular words, you must use those words in the copy.
Good SEO agencies write content that includes those keywords without reducing the readability of the content. Stuffing too many keywords into content can be harmful from an SEO perspective. It can as end up competing with other more important pages on a site. You don’t want a blog post to rank above a service page for a certain keyword.
Well presented content
If content is deemed dull, incorrect or sloppy, it could attract penalties from Google. As important as it is to write content that is useful, it’s vital to present it in a way that will keep users reading.
Presentation is key. If content is hard to read or poorly laid out, it will decrease dwell time on the page. Search engines will note that these pages have low traffic and a high bounce rate, and could penalise the website publishing them. On the other hand, if content is presented clearly search engines will note that the pages have lots of traffic and a low bounce rate, which will be beneficial to that website.
Warning: Avoid bad link bait
The truth is that a great deal of content is ignored, and many blogs clicked on aren’t read past the first paragraph, never mind linked to. To grab attention and get links, some sites may publish intentionally controversial content with the sole intention of garnering an emotional response.
Controversy courts reaction, which can often result in a blog, article or video going viral, thus gaining hundreds of links and many mentions across social platforms. This can lead to vastly improved domain authority, rankings and traffic. But whilst it seems a tempting quick-fix, it can potentially backfire and damage the reputation of your brand.
Link bait is in essence content meant to attract links for the purposes of search engine optimisation. Moz describe bad link bait as “content that attracts links without adding additional value. One of the hallmark characteristics of bad linkbait is that it often rehashes the work of others, without creating anything new.”
All content should have value for the user, whether it is useful in a practical sense or engaging and interesting. What content shouldn’t be purposely controversial and upsetting just to gain links. It certainly is not a tactic that Go Up employ nor recommend.