What Is High Quality Web Content and How Do You Get It?
Gone are the days when you could easily “trick” Google into ranking your website among the first ten search results for a term specific to your activity. It used to be all about meta this and that. Today, the search engine game is all about “relevance” and “added value”. It is not enough to just cram a stack of keywords behind your homepage. You have to actually generate quality content that can help your visitors in some way, or offer them information they might be able to use. But then, what is this “quality content” everybody is talking about? Let’s take a look.
How does Google “understand” your website content quality?
Obviously, the exact recipe is not in the realm of public information, but Google did publish quality guidelines that can help us navigate the ever-shifting land of web content.
Normally, to estimate the quality of web content, Google’s search algorithm makes use of so-called “signals”, an extensive collection of closely-guarded metrics. For you, as a business owner or content creator, knowing what these metrics are is less relevant than adhering to a specific way of thinking about what good content means. Essentially, it is all about helping Google see, understand and rank your website as high as possible, without tricking Google or your visitors in the process.
A few things to keep in mind:
1. Create content for PEOPLE, not search rankings!
You may be tired of hearing this, but I cannot stress enough how important this rule is in the search engine game nowadays.
Consider this: each passing day, TWO MILLION unique blog posts are added to the ever-expanding information ocean of the internet. And those are just the blog posts. Think about all the other website pages, landing pages, social-media posts and so on. It’s obvious that the keyword game is over and done. That’s why modern search engines look at relevance and added value. They will KNOW if you’re using shortcuts to get your work done.
So, before creating content, always do thorough research into the theme you intend to write about. Someone out there has probably already written about it. If so, you need to come up with a different point of view, add another opinion, come at it from a different angle. If you just rewrite what others have already published, without adding any new value to the material, you will not only do your visitors a disservice, but you will almost certainly will be penalized by search engines.
Another thing you might want to consider is to figure out how to differentiate your content from what your competitors are publishing within your specific activity niche. If you think about skimping on time and resources allocated for this, think again. Understand that today, this is part of the cost of doing (online) business and get with the program. Unless, of course, you are just looking for a way to sink some money.
2. Stay well away from tricks!
If you are not sure what sort of web content falls into the “tricks” category, here’s an idea: imagine about how comfortable you would feel explaining your content plan to someone from Google. Are you imagining a frown? Then, whatever it is, don’t do it. Generally, a good way to test a risky idea before implementing it is to ask yourself “Would I still be doing this if I didn’t have to rank high on Google?”
Instead, think about how best to deliver usefulness to your visitors. Will your content provide value? Will you educate, entertain, or solve people’s problems? Those are the relevant factors to consider because, paradoxically, not focusing on your Google rank but on benefits for your visitors will also make your website rank higher on Google. Makes sense, right?
What constitutes a “trick”? Here are some of the biggest no-no’s:
- using automatically-generated content,
- taking part in link schemes,
- publishing pages low on or completely devoid of original content,
- using cloaking,
- using sneaky redirects,
- employing hidden text or hidden links,
- publishing doorway pages,
- using scraped content,
- overloading pages with irrelevant keywords,
- taking part in affiliate programs but not adding enough value.
And then there are some things that go over into criminal behavior:
- publishing pages containing malware (phishing, viruses, trojans and others),
- abusing rich snippets markup,
- sending automated queries to Google.
What’s going to happen if you use any of the above? That’s easy. Google will take “manual action” against your pages. Following human input from a Google employee, your pages will rank lower or disappear completely from search results, without you knowing about it. Of course, if you remedy the problem that caused the manual action, you can re-submit your pages for consideration. But that takes time.
Conclusion: just don’t do it. It makes life so much easier for everyone.
3. Follow good practices.
There are a few things you constantly need to keep an eye out for and remedy when and if needed.
Hacking is a fairly common occurrence these days. Even if you do all you can to secure your online content, there is no 100% certainty that it will stay that way. In case of a hack attack, it is important to remove the hacked content as soon as it appears and replace it with the original content. Obviously, you will also need to patch the vulnerability that allowed the hack in the first place, but there are specialists to employ to that end, NerdPilots being one option. 😊
Users come in many flavors too. Not all of them behave adequately online. Some of them, fueled by either the prospect of material gain, or just sheer malice, will start disseminating spam on your website. Be prepared for that, look out for it, put measures in place to prevent it and, if it still appears, remove it as soon as possible.
4. Is your content vital, useful, relevant, slightly relevant or off-topic?
To better understand how search engines categorize your content, you should be familiar with these five categories.
- Vital content usually describes products or services on a company’s website.
- Useful content generally supports vital content and comprises answers to product or service-related questions, reviews, suggestions for use. It is information not usually found directly on company websites.
- Relevant content normally expands on useful content, maybe offers less in-depth answers to some questions.
- Slightly relevant content, as the name suggests, offers only marginally relevant information to the topic at hand.
- Off-topic content, as you probably imagine, is the content that has nothing to do with the intended topic.
Always strive to keep your content in the first two or maximum three categories and you won’t have to worry much about ranking in search results.
And last but not least…
Always, always keep in mind who you, as a business, are. What is your mission? How do you brand yourself? Who are the clients you normally want to talk to? If you keep these aspects in mind and generate your content accordingly, you will notice that your ranking will improve significantly.
You don’t have to adopt a narrow focus when creating your content, but you always have to make sure to add enough value to it. Do your research, see what’s already out there and figure out what you can contribute.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged by the sheer amount of information on the internet. Someone is bound to have put something similar out there, but you are perfectly able to find a point of view and a voice that is specific for your company and use that in your online presence. Always trust that and don’t be afraid to put in the work. As with everything else in life, shortcuts will not help you get where you need to go. Don’t you agree?
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