High-quality content is crucial for a successful website. We’ve all heard the phrase coined by Google “content is king,” which is true to a certain degree, but what defines quality?
And, how can you ensure you’re creating pages that provide value to your audience as well as getting the green light from search engine giants?
In this article, I’ll explain how to find the perfect balance between making sure your audience finds your content useful and making sure Google wants to rank your site.
Relevancy – For Your Audience & Google!
Google now analyzes topics and content when crawling your webpages, not just the keywords you’re looking to rank for. Semantic search, which basically refers to search results that don’t contain your exact search terms, is becoming increasingly relevant as Google and other major search engines seek to improve search accuracy by understanding the intent of the searcher and the contextual meaning of terms. Google’s Hummingbird update to their algorithm is said to “… pay more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query – the whole sentence or conversation or meaning – is taken into account.”
When the first version of the Hummingbird algorithm was released in 2013, it was said to be an approach to better relevancy, credibility, and quality over quantity. Meaning that Google became more concerned with how the content on a site would be actually received by visitors, rather than just looking for keywords. This was the first stepping stone on the way to websites gaining more visibility in search if they focus on the user and content first.
This means that to keep your content relevant to Google, you really just need to make sure your content is authentic and relevant and provides high value to your audience. This should be the number one focal point when devising content for your site.
Content Length – More Words, Higher Rankings!
Always focus on developing longer content, but in an easy to read, digestible format. Websites with more words in the copy generally attain higher ranking positions in search engines.
A content study undertaken by Moz & Buzz Sumo found that 85% of written content contains fewer than 1,000 words, but that content with over 1,000 words tends to gain increasingly more links and shares. Similarly, a recent report from SEMRush found that pages with longer content tend to rank higher, with results that appeared in the top 3 rankings being 45% longer than those in the 20th position. While it’s hard to determine exactly how long an article should be in order to rank, it appears that the longer the content, the higher the chance that your webpage will rank in the top positions.
There are also beneficial indirect ranking factors associated with content length. If you have engaging, relevant and dense content, visitors will spend more time browsing around your website, taking longer than they would if the website was thin with content.
Visual Elements – Support your text!
Pages that incorporate images or videos that are relatable to the text also help. Think of a blog that gives you recipes for making cakes but doesn’t have any images of how the process will look. Are you more likely to make that cake or go back and find a similar recipe with some visual content? I know I wouldn’t want to bake a cake without knowing what it’s going to look like!
According to Search Metrics, webpages with more images rank better, too. Be sure to use ALT text (alternative text) for images, which will be beneficial for ranking purposes. ALT text was initially conceived for accessibility purposes, so that blind people using a computer could have a description of the image read out to them. But, if you include relevant keywords in your ALT text this can help you rank higher in Google.
I recommend including an image or video for each blog post or webpage that you create.
Grammar & Spelling – Get it right!
No one wants to visit a website where the grammar is incorrect and words are misspelled, plus there is always the chance that Google or any other major search engine may penalize your website for the spelling mistakes.
Flawless copy makes your website reflect a sense of professionalism. Be sure to double check all of your copy – it is always good to run multiple spell checks and have multiple people check for any grammar issues.
Duanne Forrester, the senior product manager at Bing once stated: “Why would an [search] engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher?” – and we completely agree!
Readability – Clarity is key!
Readability is the ease of which the text can be read and understood. Google’s Gary Illyes has said that you should read your text out loud, and if it doesn’t read nicely or if it sounds strange or is too technical, it probably won’t rank that well.
Text that isn’t easy to read will likely frustrate your audience and provide them with a bad user experience. I also recommend making sure your content is visually easy to read. Keep your paragraphs short and make sure they flow nicely; otherwise, you can expect the bounce rate of your landing pages to be pretty high.
With voice search on the rise, the readability of copy is becoming increasingly important, so you can expect this to weigh even higher on search results in the years to come.
Linking – Internal & External Links
When writing blog posts or devising webpage content, one crucial factor that is often disregarded is the importance of your link structure.
Internal links are links that go to other pages on your website. For example, if you were to mention getting in touch or contacting your business, you may want to link to the contact page on your site. This helps to keep visitors on your website for longer periods of time.
External links are links that direct the visitor to other websites. If you want to direct users to other websites make sure they are highly relevant and reputable. Sending visitors to websites with a poor User Experience won’t help your cause, so be picky!
The anchor text that you use (the text which links to the other content) needs to be relevant to the page you are sending visitors to. Never link to unrelated pages, or you will get penalized by Google for trying to trick the user. Using some relevant external and internal links (but not too many) can provide a ranking boost for your site.
These are some of the most important elements you have to consider when building pages. Creating high-quality content with longer text and supporting videos or images, that is well structured and easy to read is key to ranking well in Google. Keep your focus on creating great pages that your audience will love. If you do that, it’s likely that Google will love your pages too!
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