Quality content makes the difference between a good and bad website. Gone are the days when stuffing keywords and links into your homepage would raise your website’s rankings in the search engines. Now, with the massive increase in website creation and traffic, it is tempting to try and use these old tricks to make sure your site doesn’t get lost in the throng. Don’t. SEO has changed and the way in which we create content has changed with it. Information is king.
Quality content—the new byword for success in SEO—must be informational, trustworthy and relevant. Google, Yahoo! and Bing have all altered their algorithms to stop the poor and misleading content creep that was plaguing the Internet and yielding bad search results. No one is looking for a site that’s content is merely search engine fodder, they are searching for quality content that answers their query in as clear and credible a manner as is possible.
Length Of Content
The length of content on your site will and should vary depending on the subject. Context, opinions, relevant sources, and data should all be included in content that is considered informational or educational. When determining the quality of a website, Google will judge a lack of content or no content at all as a red mark against you. So how long should your content be and what should it entail? Nowadays, 2,000 words is usually considered the high water mark for quality content length.
In 2,000 words you should be able to get the proper amount of information to your reader, spiced with just the right amount of context and opinion. However, this is not a hard and fast rule as some queries can and should be answered in 100 or 200 words. Ecommerce sites, for example, are the best place for these short blurbs as overlong, overly explanative write-ups are not necessary and unlikely to be read.
The best and smartest way to think about length of content is to ask yourself: “how long does this content need to be in order to answer the user’s question in as fair, thorough and educational a way as possible?” It should always be remembered that search engines aren’t looking for the barebones articles with little to no substance. They’re looking as readers do for the best structured, well thought out, easily comprehensible results to the questions at hand. Keeping this in mind, the optimal length of content should always be measured by its ability to inform the reader rather than inform the rankings.
Structure Of Content
Search engines crawl your site on a regular basis, judging the quality of your content and the structure in which it is laid out. While improper structure can lead to a fall in the rankings, properly using header tags can bring a big boost to your SEO. Header tags point out the most important information on your page and should be used only as such. H1 should encompass the main theme of a page’s content, including all relevant keywords. There should only ever be one h1 per page as search engines are looking for clear and well-outlined articles when they are ranking results. H2 represents a sub heading of h1 and should include similar keywords in order to maintain the connection. H3 is a subheading of h2 and should be structured as such.
Using h1, h2, h3, and so on, is specifically tailored to letting Google understand what your article is about and how it is structured. Another good tactic for obtaining quality structure is the use of ordered (numbered) and unordered (bullet pointed) lists within your article. This will help Google and your users more clearly understand your points by separating them out and relaying them in a clear and concise manner.
Proper Topic Modeling
Deciding what the topic of your content is going to be is one of the more interesting aspects of modern SEO. With Google and the rest now wise to the old tricks of the SEO trade it is difficult to know exactly how to pick the right topic to engage the most users. Keyword density is no longer as popular and has been replaced with increasingly more sophisticated algorithms that rely on a ranking system known as topic modeling. Topic modeling assigns a value to subject interest, so if you were to look up “Donald Trump” (for the sake of example) the first results will usually be current news and information about his political career followed in turn by articles in decreasing order of what will be of most interest to people: television career, business career, family life, etcetera.
Related: How Content Clusters Benefit SEO
Synonyms and user intent are also factors in topic modeling. A search for “local lawyer” will also yield results for “local attorney”, while a search for “current President” will give you results on President Trump. Predicting what people will search for and how they will search for it is incredibly important to how you create content for your website. Covering all relevant topics is essential to being seen as a producer of quality content and will result in better SEO. When reviewing your current content and creating more for the future it is important to ask yourself if you have used all relevant synonyms, answered all pertinent questions, and have made allowances for user intent.
Linking to relevant articles within an article can be essential to providing optional context and further information for those interested. It also has the added benefit of generating clicks and driving traffic. Considering that each article written cannot and should not fully take on the whole slew of topics and informational material your site can provide, it is important to internally link other articles within to increase flow and prohibit tangents.
Getting bogged down in overly tangential content is an all too common phenomenon when searching for information and can mean the difference between a search engine labeling your content as quality or not. Using strategically placed anchor text to internally link another article on your site will help boost your authority in the eyes of your reader and the search engines. This, combined with correct and relevant keyword use within the anchor text, will help to make your site be viewed as a one-stop shop for any and all pertinent information on your given subject.
Employing internal linking will also lead to a healthy appetite for content creation as you will wish to continue the practice in most, if not all, of your articles. If you desire to guide your users towards a particular page (be it an order form, contact sheet, etc.) then a CTA (call-to-action) button can be linked to take them there. This is most important on ecommerce websites, as visitors will hopefully want to get to the purchasing part of your site after seeing your content.
Using a CTA button at the bottom of an article is a fairly nonintrusive way to remind people that you do actually have a service for sale. This nonaggressive reminder is essential to keeping your content pure. Articles should never be sales pitches or obviously self-promoting as this degrades their ability to be trustworthy and authoritative. Search engines have been tailored to see blatant advertising for what it is and to adjust rankings accordingly. CTA buttons represent a happy medium of encouragement rather than insinuation of making a sale and will put some needed distance between the educational and purely financial sides of your website.
Quality content will mean the difference between the success and failure of any given website. Low quality pages are sure to fall in search engine rankings as algorithms for weeding them out become more and more complex. This represents a healthy step in the right direction, as we no longer will have to wade through oceans of ads and garbage to get to a clear answer to our queries.
However, it also means that any given website must go above and beyond in content creation in order to separate itself from the pack. Content is now judged, not solely by its keywords, but by its informational importance to the user. Producing quality content isn’t easy, nor should it be. Users expect the best and the best should be what they get. It may take time, effort and even professional assistance, but with the right length, structure, internal linking and proper topic modeling, your content can become “quality” and your website’s ranking will rise along with it.