Google’s zoo’s worth of updates has changed how many people do SEO, from their style of keyword inception to their choice of links and messages. The most noticeable thing that’s changed for many, though, is their content. Gabriella wrote The Hummingbird that Changed SEO a while back, and we’re now living in a post-Hummingbird world. Since Hummingbird and Conversational Search forever solidified the need for clean, high quality material to create a complete ranking package for well-designed websites, page owners everywhere have been scratching their heads trying to figure out exactly what that means.
What is High Quality Content, Anyway?
This is a great question since most clients still don’t get it. All they know is what content is supposed to do. Yet, when you break it down, consider the pressure on the writer, and words. Even when they do understand what great quality content is supposed to do, they still can’t translate the attempt as “valuable”, so it’s not an easy sell nor does it translate well into “cost”, either.
Google has actually created a short guide to help site owners better understand what it is that’s expected of them in this new era of SEO. By now we all know that underhanded practices like keyword-stuffing are out, but what, exactly, is in? According to Google, they want to see content that is useful, credible, high quality and engaging.
The problem with content is that it’s best graded by those who consume it, but Google and other search engines are the ones who are going to determine your page rank. That makes it a tricky dance, to be sure. High quality content should be the backbone of any SEO strategy so that new users and customers find your site organically, but with such a difficult to define metric, it can be hard to know if you’ve achieved your goal.
Our Tips for Success with Content
Our team has a lot of experience generating high quality content, be it for your local, regional or international SEO campaign. We’ve seen what sort of content tends to work and what Google tends to reject, so here are our top tips for generating the best content possible for your site:
Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation Count! There may have been a time when you could get a page to rank that had visible and obvious grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, but those days are gone. In fact, there are rumors that some pages with especially bad content provided by less than fluent writers have been suffering from a bad case of Google penalties. If you’re not a professional writer, hire one – and an editor, too, if the budget allows.
Say Something Useful or Shut Up. Vomiting up content that someone else already posted, or worse, copying it word for word is not only a lazy way to create content and possibly violates the original creator’s rights depending on just how you approached it, Google sees this as a mortal sin. You should be adding something to the conversation — after all, the whole point of high quality content is to establish your credibly with your site visitors. Say something new, say something useful or say nothing at all.
Be an Expert or Hire One. Presumably, if you’re trying to create your own copy for your site, it’s because you know a lot about the subject at hand. If that’s not the case, don’t rely on hearsay or internet research, because it’s not going to provide you the little details you need to get this right. Be your own expert or if you can’t be your own expert, hire a writer who can be one for you. The days of looking up stuff on the web and barfing it back up as content are over.
Remember This Content’s Not For You. There’s no such thing as writing for yourself in an increasingly connected world. Whatever you throw into the giant link stew that is the web is going to be viewed by an audience, or not, as it deserves. Reader engagement is greatest when you remember who the content you’re creating is for — and write it accordingly. If that means adjusting the reading level, shifting the focus or simply including a different set of links, do it and give your visitors the content they’re seeking.
Earn Your Linking Neighbors Carefully. This one’s not as obviously about content, but it’s still vital. A link profile is very important to claim your authority in the SERPs and of course, with your readers. If you’re linking out to bad neighborhoods or they’re linking to you, Google’s going to think you’re up to something. Sure, it can boost your ranking to have lots of incoming and outgoing links, but that statement comes with a lot of caveats. Those links, like the copy they’re linking from, must be high quality sites that have editorial standards and demonstrate all the symptoms of high quality content themselves. Avoid linking to sites full of pop-up ads or with questionable reputations. Actually, we don’t advise buying links. It’s not worth it and more often than not, you don’t have control of the content. Therefore “earning” links is our number one choice and goals. Create a great video, infographic, white paper, e-book – something that your readers and new followers will link to and share within their communities.
High quality content is an on-going push and pull with Google and other search rankings, but if you strive to provide the most complete and well-written material available anywhere, you’ll leave your competition in the dust. Don’t be afraid to hire professional content writers, the money you invest is just that: an investment in the future of your online business and one you’re not likely to regret.