Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
Why SEO & lousy content don’t mix
Content is an important part of search rankings, but columnist Ryan Shelley reminds us that quality trumps quantity.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Content is king.” While in some respects this saying is true, in my opinion, this one phrase has done more damage to our industry than anything else.
According to WordPress, “Users produce about 73.9 million new posts and 49.0 million new comments each month.” That’s roughly 2.4 million posts a day, and that’s just on WordPress alone. I would love to believe that all of that content has value, but in my experience over the years, I could make a very strong argument that most of it is junk.
Google’s end goal is to deliver the best solution to searchers in the fewest clicks. As the search engines crawl the web, they are searching for content that delivers value and matches end users’ expectations. In fact, content is among Google’s top three ranking factors — so it plays a central role in successful SEO strategies.
Good content will generate links and will also help Google’s RankBrain better understand what your site is about and how it benefits users. Yet even though content plays such an important role, many search marketers don’t seem to take it seriously.
More doesn’t mean better
Just putting out more content isn’t going to make you magically rank. SEO has evolved immensely over the years, and the search engines are smarter than ever. I’ve seen many hedge their bets on hitting “publish” more than the competition — only to see all that work was for naught. Lousy content will always deliver lousy results.
Instead of writing a bunch of bad pieces of content, use that time to create better content.
So, what makes ‘good’ & ‘bad’ content?
Let’s start with “bad” content. Bad content is content created for the sole purpose of self-promotion that adds little or no value to the reader. Bad content is usually very “thin” and does not solve the user’s end goal.
The question of what qualifies as “good” content is more difficult to answer because it depends on several variables. Ultimately, good content comes down to serving your audience. What may work for a bakery will most likely not work for a law firm. So, when creating content, it’s essential to know who you are writing for.
Rand Fishkin from Moz has a pretty great list of what makes content good:
- Serves visitors’ intent by answering their questions and helping them complete their goals
- Delivers an easy, pleasurable, accessible experience on every device and every browser
- Gets the right information and experience to visitors FAST
- Does all of the above better than any of the competitors in the space
Let me go a little bit deeper into each of the four points.
1. Serves visitors’ intent
SEO is more than just rankings. It’s about educating users, helping them solve problems and moving them toward a connection with a site or brand.
This is where good keyword research comes into play. By digging deep and finding what your target niche is looking for, you can begin to generate some ideas of content they would be interested in.
2. Provides a good user experience
A well-designed and user-friendly site will have a positive impact on your SEO strategy. When your site attracts someone via search and then engages them with good content in a user-friendly environment, Google takes notice. So good content needs to be accompanied by a good experience.
3. Serves content quickly
People want answers now. If your site takes too long to load, and they can’t get to your content quickly, your rankings could be adversely affected. So make sure your site loads fast and can deliver the goods on time.
4. Beats the competition
Want to outrank your competitors? You need to do all of the above better than the rest. This is why monitoring your competition is so important. Look at what they are doing and what is working for them and then do a better job at it than them.
Practice makes perfect
Content is the lifeblood of SEO. Having a good content strategy behind your SEO will help you build more links faster. It will also help Google better understand your site contextually. Good content doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning, research and time.
Investing in good content is what separates the “Pros” from the “Joes.” Putting these tips into practice is the only way to get better. Over time, you’ll realize that the little extra work up front will return some amazing results.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.