You may have heard that phrase, “content is king,” somewhere before. It’s often repeated and emphasized, but why is that? Actually, it isn’t just content, in general, that’s so important, it’s the quality of the content.
In SEO, there are two main things to take into consideration. First, audiences respond better to content that engages, informs, and piques their interests. Second, visibility on search engines like Bing or Google hinges on content that is high value and authentic.
Quality content done right is foundational to pretty much all other SEO endeavors. When it comes to white label SEO, we help create quality content for our clients.
Quality is Substance Plus Relevance
Frédéric Dubut, senior program manager lead for Bing, tells us to look at it from both the perspectives of the searcher and the search engine. If you’re confident enough in the content on your website to direct people to it, and confident that it will be the number one result for a search query, then that signals you can go ahead with the more technical SEO stuff. If not, that means you need to add more value to your content for searchers.
It’s important to give users content that is comprehensive, meaty, useful, and that sets itself apart from other pages. You want content that people recognize, can trust, and enjoy or find interesting.
So, how would you know if your content is high quality? Well, some criteria vary depending on the type of content and what industry you’re in. Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines show what high-quality content looks like and is organized into 3 types:
- Informational content – needs to be original, accurate, comprehensive, communicated clearly, and presented in a professional manner
- Artistic content – needs to be original and unique created with a high degree of skill
- News content – needs to contain original reporting, must be in-depth, well-referenced, accurate, and meet professional standards of journalism
Note that our experience tells us that Google’s algorithms might consider a piece’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness as more important than other factors. Possessing a clear idea of what your content strategy should be is vital to being successful in SEO.
What’s more relevant than giving people the answers to the questions they are asking? A valuable answer is an answer that is comprehensive, explicit, and concise. This is important for two reasons:
- You are designing the content on your page to meet the needs of your audience.
- Search engines want to show direct answers in the search results. If they deem your answer as valuable, your page could show up as a featured (rich) snippet or return as a voice search result on Google Assistant.
A Google search is less likely these days to result in a click to other content. This is because Google wants to answer queries right away, on the search results page. They don’t want users to have to click away. However, your content still gets featured right there up front if the search engine determines that the information on your page will satisfy users. Then, if they want more details, they can click through – which they will probably do since they got a taste from that featured snippet.
If you decide to invest in creating content that can used as answers on search results pages, then you stand to get increased visibility. But the question really is how much visibility, what that will do for your brand, and is the investment to get that worth it. Brand awareness is a great reason to invest. You may not achieve enough valuable traffic, however, to justify the expense.
Fresh is Best
Search engines love presenting up-to-date information. So do audiences!
You need to do a lot more than just make small changes to your content and alter the publish date. If you find that you have an archive of content that is no longer relevant or obsolete, you should update those pages or just delete them and write a fresh new post. This way, users will trust your site a lot more. Well-maintained content on a site is also an excellent way to get the attention of search engines.
Google’s Query Deserved Freshness (QDF) applies content ranking factors for specific types of search queries. When a search query rises to popularity suddenly, Google will apply QDF to searches containing that query. If you search “earthquake”, for instance, the results of this query will display timely and relevant news about the topic at the moment the search took place. This works with rich snippets, also. These boosts in ranking usually do not last, however, so there must be something else to your content to keep it from getting buried when the hype fades.
You can help your visibility on results pages by generating content that follows trending topics, recent events, (like elections, sports tourneys, conventions, holiday-themed content, etc.), or news stories. However, since everyone else is probably thinking of doing the same thing with their content, you need to be a bit more creative. Whatever the topic, try to think outside the box and find a perspective that hasn’t been explored yet. Think about all the video essays that talk about the same movie but in a way that incorporates their own unique, even branded, spin on it.
Complete and Concise
When giving his thoughts on content, Barry Schwartz, news editor for Search Engine Land, suggests that content on your site should:
- Answer a user’s question in a “‘substantial, complete or comprehensive manner”
2. Provide insightful analysis or interesting information that isn’t just surface level
3. Contain original information
4. Contain information that is well-researched and factual
5. Provide notable value when put up against other pages in search results
Content that looks like this is what Google is looking for when considering what pages to rank at the top of its results.
So how deep or how thorough should you be with your content? You want your content to provide more value than others. This doesn’t mean jamming as much information into a post as possible. Evaluate what your audience is asking for in the query. What type of answer would they prefer? Is it a straight answer or one that may need more explanation or context? Knowing your audience as well as your competitors is vital in deciding the thoroughness of your content.
Media is Attractive
Text is a given. You’ll almost always have text in your content. However, that doesn’t mean you should use only text for your content. Other media formats like images and graphics, videos, audio, etc. can give your content added exposure in the search results. Decide on the formats you think your audience will respond to the best. Identify what will help your brand stand out among your competitors.
After you decide what formats of media are best for your users, optimize them and the pages that you add them to so they will be more discoverable. You can do this via a CDN or content delivery network. This serves your multimedia and helps reduce server load. This means reduced loading times and increased site speed.
Once you’ve chosen your media formats, use text to provide context for your other media. Videos, clips, or even podcasts can have a supplemented transcript. Images can be captioned and you can utilize alt-text. Of course, these provide helpful insight for readers, but this supplementing text also gets picked up by search engines. Mark up your media formats with structured data to increase the likelihood of your content returning as a rich result.