Google’s zoo worth of updates through the years has changed how many people do SEO, from their style of keyword inception to their choice of links and messages. From the Hummingbird update to the whole Google Dance, all the updates have aimed at making sure the biggest search engine in the world remains there. The way it does that is by focusing on high quality content.
Long gone are the days of spammed keyword pages ranking first page slots on searches. Google has thankfully made that method obsolete as a way to rank. As hard as those pages are to read, they’re just as difficult to write. Who writes like that anyway? It takes a special kind of focus to cram 50 keyword repetitions into a 400-word article.
Hummingbird and conversational search forever solidified the need for clean, high quality material to create a complete ranking package for well-designed websites. But what does that mean?
What is High Quality Content, Anyway?
This is a great question. Many publishers still can’t translate quality content into something valuable, so it’s not always an easy sell. This leaves many content marketers constantly having to back peddle and explain why it’s important that you don’t “throw up” an article, you “craft” it.
The problem with content is that it’s best graded by those who consume it, but Google and other search engines are the ones that determine where you are in the search results. That makes it a tricky dance, to be sure. Content marketing with high quality content should be the backbone of any SEO strategy, however.
Our Tips for Content Success
Our team has a lot of content generating experience, and we put that to work in our website audits to measure how well your content is performing (and, more importantly, why). Here are our top tips for generating the best content possible for your site:
Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation Count.
While Google may not ding you for obvious grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, readers will. That ding happens by receiving less conversation, less backlinks and overall, less traffic. If you’re not a professional writer, hire one – and an editor, too, if the budget allows.
Make Your Content Useful.
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.
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, this isn’t going to be good relationship.
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, should 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.
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.
Focus Your Content on the Reader
What do they need? What benefits do your readers get from reading your content? Too many get wrapped around the idea of ranking and forget that there are very real people reading your content. Always write for the reader first. How do you do that?
Finding the Right Keyword
First of all, start with something relevant to your article. Any main idea, no matter how saturated the keyword is, becomes your starting point. Once you have that, the process is simple: find a specific, targeted keyword to generate first page results. There are two simple ways to do this.
- Use Google. Keep adding in variations of your keyword to be as specific as possible until you find a keyword with very few pages of results; the fewer the better. This involves some creativity, but once you get the hang of it the task actually becomes quite fun!
- Use a keyword tool. There are many resources out there that will rate your keyword and give you suggestions to narrow down the competition further.
Here is an example of how this process works:
Using creativity to narrow down ‘budgeting’ further, branch out into ‘budgeting on a fixed income,’ ‘how to successfully budget,’ ‘budgeting for large families,’ ‘budget your way out of debt,’ and so on. Using either method, keep honing the idea into a more specific keyword that has less than 10 million competitive results. When you’ve found the right keyword, it’s time for the fun part.
Writing Naturally for Readers and Rankings
Google likes natural writing. People like natural writing. It’s a win-win.
There are innumerable algorithms connecting different keywords (or topics) in ways that make finding information easier for everyone. The more natural you write, the better your chances of capitalizing on those behind-the-scenes links to get ranked for even more keywords – without doing the work.
Instead of looking for the repeated keyword, Google looks for related substance. For instance, if your article about budgeting starts talking about debt management, Google will link those words together on its own. So your page will start ranking under searches about ‘budgeting for debt management’ without any extra work on your part.
You can use this to your advantage. If your budgeting article is broad enough, it could rank under many different keywords. Be careful, though, because going too broad will reduce the effectiveness of your main keyword.
Pinpoint Topics or Broad Information? (The Case for Content Silos)
A content silo is like a topical folder. It groups related content together and helps define what different areas on a site are about. Not only do content silos help with SEO, but they also make your site easier to use.
You’ll see content silos on many eCommerce sites, especially sites such as those that sell gifts. You might see a list of silos such as: graduation gifts, thank you gifts, wedding gifts, etc. Each one of those pages contain further information and content about the main topic, allowing your visitors to narrow down their selection.
In regards to creating high quality content which is actually useful to readers, it makes sense to categorize that content. As you develop out content marketing tools such as editorial calendars, breaking your efforts up into topic sections starts to make it easier for you to create and your readers to follow you on your journey.
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.
Are you looking for great high quality content? Contact us directly to discuss your marketing efforts.