Firstly, what do we mean by ‘Content’
The word ‘Content’ itself is very broad when we refer to it in digital. In its purest form we are referring to bodies of text published online, either sitting on dedicated pages on your site or catalogues in a blog or news area. While the way in which we use the internet and the websites available to us is ever-changing, so too is the format in the way we consume information. This means that traditional text based pages are becoming more interactive with the use of images, video and infographics.
Why is Content Important?
Stepping aside from the reason content is important to explain what your website is about and what it does, when it comes to search engine optimisation content is one of the main features of a website that is looked at in order to deem it ‘relevant’ for either your products, services or information. Why? Because search engines, like Google, are effectively one very large robot, which reads coding and text.
Benefits of Good Quality Content
In SEO, ‘good quality’ content must be two things:
a) It must supply a demand
In other words it must have a purpose, whether it is answering a question, selling products, or providing further information on a specific area. Content written for contents sake is deemed ‘low quality’, and is exactly what Google seeks to avoid.
So, your content should be unique (ie: it does not appear anywhere else on the web) and avoids, where possible, duplicating content from other websites (we can talk about canonical tags or author rel in another post!). Make it as easy as possible for Google to see that your page is the best source.
b) It must be linkable
From an SEO point of view there is no difference between the best and worst content on the Internet if it is not linkable. If people can’t link to it, search engines will be very unlikely to rank it because they can’t find it. This ultimately means that traffic won’t be able to find it.
This refers to any content on the pages of your website itself, or blogs that you may produce.
Including your target keywords and phrases a certain number of times on a page, referred to as "Keyword Density", is now a myth and has been disproved. The reason for this is that it is better to have your keywords placed in strong positions on the page, rather than the same number of keywords simply mentioned in body content alone. Google can, and will, distinguish the two - hence good quality SEO has become quite an intricate technique.
In short, it is best to include your keywords as naturally as possible throughout the content on your page, and within certain areas (which I come on to below). If you would like to read any more on the theory/myth of keyword density, there is a very good source here.
If you can include any of your keywords within the main title of, or sub-titles, of the page that is a great help. Within an Ultimate campaign, we optimise your titles to become another 'tag' to say to Google that not only is the page structured, but it is also placing weight, again, onto the phrases that you have included.
Internal links, whereby you link from a word or phrase to another page within your site, are a great way to lead your user around your site. They are also a significant method of placing weight on keywords on the page. However, a few guidelines:
- Only the first link from each term per page is read by Google. In other words, if you include multiple internal links, all stemming from the same word, then only the very first one on the page will actually be read.
- Be sure to use internal links sparingly, and only on and to relevant pages - ideally each page should be the most relevant for each service within its own right, so having more than one page talking about the same individual service could be confusing, not just for your user, but the search engines too.
Within a user-friendly CMS, such as Wordpress, you can install a plugin to allow you to quickly and easily change the Title, Keywords and Description tags for each page. This is essentially coding which will sit behind each page, but also appear in the search results when your site appears, so it is good practise to look over them and optimise.
These, along with other areas within the coding, act as signposts to Google to help them place weight on certain terms and phrases, as you have deemed them important enough to place them in these key areas. A few guidelines for you:
- Character Limits - Yoast SEO, a super Wordpress SEO plugin, gives you guidelines on the character limits for each of the Title, Keywords and Description.
- The Keyword Tag itself is not used by Google - they have outwardly posted that they do not read this tag, so feel free to ignore!
- Take character limits with a pinch of salt. It is best practice to include your Brand name at the end of the Title tag, but this could understandably push you over the recommended number of characters, don't worry.
- Place your most important keyword at the beginning of the Title tag - this will mean it is the first keyword that is read and thus place the most priority on this term. You can then separate each term with a comma, hyphen or a pipe "|". All are read and understood by Google.
- Within your description tag, including a keyword from the page is great, however be mindful that this also shows up in the search results pages, so if you can include a call to action, or your telephone number, this helps your listing to stand out, and potentially gain business without a user having to click through to the site.
Blogs are a tremendous resource of search engine optimisation for your site. They are seen as 'fresh and dynamic content' if they are regularly updated with good quality, and sufficient volumes of content. They also encourage user-engagement if you allow comments, which helps Google to see that you are active and engaging with your target market. Of course beware that allowing comments to a blog could open the door for spam, so do proceed with caution.
As with all content, if you can show that you are contributing good quality content to your industry (whether generically, or to a specific product or service) then you are placing yourself as an authority, above your competition and thus Google should reward you as such. This is what we want to do.
One of the best methods of optimisation for a blog, is to include a search phrase within the title of the page / blog itself. Not only does this highlight keywords, as explained above, but with longer-tail keywords (keywords that are longer than 3 or 4 words) they have an even better opportunity of ranking well. This also means, with many flexible CMS, that you will also call the page name your search term - an extra boost for SEO.
An incredibly powerful method of blogging (similar to the use of email-marketing/e-shots) is to include questions or well searched for queries as your title. For example, "How to....", "The best methods of...." or "5 Top Tips for...". These not only engage your audience quickly, with the nature of the title, but they could be well searched for phrases themselves, meaning the individual pages could rank very well – extra kudos.
Techniques to Avoid
- Text of the same colour as the background (eg: white text on a white background). Google has a filter which determines how clear content is for a user to read. Where this filter sits on the spectrum of transparency, they do not say, however it is crucial to ensure that your content is clear and legible to avoid being penalised.
- Small or 'hidden' content. Similarly to the above, another technique to hide content is to reduce the size of a font. Avoid at all costs. Ask yourself why the page doesn’t include this content anyway and work the design around the content.
- Duplicate content. Ensure your content is unique, and does not appear elsewhere on the web, or even anywhere else on your site. This means that just one page is seen as the trusted resource for that content, and hopefully should gain links from other sites in their own right. Sometimes this is unavoidable, so there are tags that can be put in place to tell search engines which is the most worthy page for the ranking. A good marketer will be able to implement these effectively.
- Keyword spamming - including a target term or phrase far too many times, where it is obvious that you are trying to boost relevancy.
- Thin or sparse content on a page. As Google's Panda update shouts from the rooftops, treating every page of your site as important as each other will encourage reward for each of them. It is important to remember that traffic can land on your site via any page, so ensure it is a good resource for information, a product, or for them to supply their details.
So, whether you are writing fresh content for a new website, or are looking to revisit what you have live already, ensure you have an approach that considers your business objectives, is engaging, well optimised and future proof. Alternatively, get in touch with Ultimate’s digital marketing team today for a free review and how we can help you on the road to content success.