Content is King

     

Published: December 23, 2019

Search engine optimization is all about getting your pages to the top of the list of search results so potential customers can find you, learn about your products and services, and hopefully choose you when they are ready to buy. When trying to improve youar SEO, there are a lot of technical details to keep track of and there can sometimes be an air of mystery surrounding “what it takes” to get to the top.

While Google probably won’t ever release all the details behind how their algorithm works, there is one bit of information they continuously mention as being the most important element to not only achieve a high PageRank, but also to keep it: quality content.

Why Quality Content Matters
From the consumer’s perspective, Google is in the business of selling everything from ads to phones to music. Gmail has more than 1.5 billion subscribers; Google Play Music has more than 15 million subscribers; Google Maps are ubiquitous in our cars. However, before Google had its hands in virtually everything online, they were a search engine. Its original—and continuing—purpose is to help people find the best pages on the web that relate to what they are looking for. To do this, all the pages on the web are indexed and assigned a PageRank. When a user searches for something, Google checks the index to see what matches and serves up the results in ranked order. (Ok, the steps may be a tiny bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea.)

The original algorithm ranked pages using only backlinks. People eventually figured out they could “beat the system” by creating a huge number of backlinks themselves, and the never-ending race to stay ahead of the gaming began. Today, there is an unknown number of factors that comprise a PageRank. But, there is only one factor that cannot be faked, manipulated, or otherwise gained by gaming the system: quality content.

In Google’s earliest days, it was nearly impossible to determine the quality of a page’s content using algorithms, but today, Google is getting pretty good at it and improving every day. Why do they work so hard to ensure that quality content is what makes it to the top of their search results? Simple. Because people using search engines to answer questions and solve problems want useful answers. If Google does not provide useful solutions, people will go somewhere else.

Are You Providing Useful Answers?
Most of us have a quick answer to that question: of course we are providing useful answers! And, therein lies the problem. With so many people genuinely working hard to be useful to their readers, how can you be confident that you’re doing all that you can to get your pages in front of an audience? The good news here is that Google is happy to help you understand what they mean by “quality” and have provided some actionable steps to self-assess your content and see if you have any room for improvement. We’ve summarized some of the most important points here:

Assessing Content and Quality
Is your content original? Originality is critical as there’s nothing useful about repetitive information being duplicated all over the web. It may feel like you have nothing new to say, especially in saturated industries, but keep in mind that a fresh perspective on an old topic is often helpful, especially if you can add more value to it. Does your content provide a substantial or complete description of a subject? Are you offering an insightful analysis of existing information? Is your page title descriptive and helpful rather than unnecessarily shocking or “click-bait?” Would your page be useful as a reference to printed works such as magazines or reference materials?

Assessing Your Expertise
Information presented by experts is trustworthy and exceptionally useful. Does your content and pages show evidence of your expertise, or cite experts as your sources? Does the website itself seem trustworthy or worthy of being recognized as an authority on a topic? It’s critical to be sure that no content contains easily-verified factual errors and exaggerations to retain your credibility.

Presentation and Production Matter
Every page on your website should be free from spelling, grammar, and style errors. It should appear to be produced with care, not sloppy or hastily assembled. Pages shouldn’t be so crammed with ads that it’s impossible to get information, and they should be easily displayed on mobile devices. This part isn’t because Google is a grammar grouch; it’s because these factors demonstrate that you’re genuinely in the business of giving your customers and readers your best rather than trying to slap up a bunch of pages in hopes of generating ad revenue. If you don’t put in the time and effort to present your information as well as you can, Google is likely to assign you to the second category and that can be devastating to your PageRank.

Focus on Your Audience
Have you heard this advice from us before? That’s because it’s the only way to truly deliver quality content. Google wants to serve its users content that authentically tries to give people what they are looking for rather than content from people trying to guess what’s going to rank well in a search--and you should, too. After all, what good does it do your pages to rank well if they’re not going to convert visitors into paying customers?

Categories: Content Marketing
Tags: Content Marketing, Content Writing