The five attributes of SEO-friendly content
Tips to boost content effectiveness for best SEO results
Since late February of 2011, the SEO world has been taken over by a couple of endangered species from the animal kingdom, Panda and Penguin. These two major Google algorithm updates were supposedly focused on improving the quality of search results.
The several data refreshes and versions of these algorithms rolled out subsequently have impacted countless websites- not all of them, positively. So much so, that the impact of the Penguin update became mainstream enough to be covered by the Wall Street Journal, among many others.
There are innumerable discussions on either how to get rid of the ‘penalties’ imposed by the “2Ps” or to avoid getting sucked in when the next wave of these algorithms (or similar ones) hit the shore.
Following the Panda update, Google itself put up a list of guidelines on the attributes of high-quality websites. Not surprisingly, most of the tips and suggestions are focused on improving the quality of content.
As search engines become ever smarter, with the ability to make an accurate subjective evaluation of content quality like users do, content quality will most likely be the single-biggest signal of relevance used by them.
Considering the above guidelines from Google and the series of changes that Google has made since then- which the search engine now announces on a monthly basis through its blog- I consider the following five attributes extremely important.
Consider these five as a matrix; it might not be possible, practical or even appropriate for every piece of content created to score well on all those five factors.
If you can optimize the mix and tick as many of these five boxes for ‘content quality’, I think you’d have made the odds in your favor to attract search engine traffic.
So, here they are:
Keep your content fresh and topical
Google often seems to behave like bees out to suck honey- it loves freshness! It is inevitable that some content will become stale after a certain period; after all, most things come with a use-by date.
Yet, there are some things you can do to keep your content & web page fresh.
- Add updates to the content, where possible, with the new date stamps. There are certain types of content for which such addition of updates works. For example, a list of tips; or, an article related to a continuously evolving story (the Penguin update, for instance!).
- Take steps to ensure the contextual content around the main content keeps getting refreshed. Whether it is in the form of headlines and brief blurbs of newer articles related to the topic or allowing for search-engine readable comments that could keep getting added to the content, create opportunities for your web page to freshen up regularly.
- Keep building links to the page, both internally from within your own website and from external sources. Newer links getting added to a page will also send out sufficient freshness signals to prevent a page from withering.
Strive for originality and differentiation of your content
Create original content. Original doesn’t really mean one has to ‘invent’ content, because it may be beyond the means (and perhaps, even priorities) of most small businesses (SMEs) to create completely lots of new content.
Original content could be the result of an aggregation of views from several people, who have individually written about specific topics. It could be a new or a different perspective on a topic.
Adding value with your own views or making a topic easier to understand by presenting it in a different format, will all stack up points on originality. Your readers will love it and so will the search engines (or vice versa!).
Make your content detailed and comprehensive
Even though we live in an age of information overload, when it comes to delivering information to your target audience, I believe it is better to err on the side of more rather than less.
Cover a topic in-depth, providing the necessary context, looking at various angles.
The depth of content one provides inspires confidence, builds trust and stimulates reader engagement.
Very often, the in-depth article becomes a de-facto reference source on the topic as more people refer and link to that content, thus creating a virtuous cycle for continuous organic search engine traffic.
A side-benefit of having a comprehensive article as opposed to a short one that touches on a topic peripherally is the potential for natural inclusion of relevant keywords in the content, without affecting readability and making the keyword-inclusion seem contrived.
Is it any surprise that most articles/ blog posts by expert commentators on SEO are extremely detailed? Long-form content – definitions of what constitutes long-form content tend to vary; but for simplicity sake, let’s say content that is over 1500 words in length- definitely seems to ‘find favour’ in Google search results.
Use data/facts and cite established ‘authorities’ to make your content more credible and authoritative
This is perhaps the most challenging of the lot, because there really aren’t too many shortcuts to creating ‘authoritative’ content.
Either you establish yourself as an authority, which takes time, effort and perseverance or you get people who have already established themselves as authorities/ experts on a topic to contribute the content for you.
Leverage their authority by association to boost the quality quotient of your own website and improve its search engine visibility.
For example, if you are looking to establish your website as an ‘authority site’ on SEO, you could be creating content about or from well-known SEO professionals or industry bigwigs. Or, better still, get one of those SEO leaders to contribute detailed guest pieces for your website. Apply this approach to any industry or vertical that your business is operating in.
Include as many local/geographic references as appropriate in your content
There is an increasingly local or geographical (not necessarily at a city or town level, but more so at a country level) bias in Google search results. In mobile search results, this local bias is more pronounced.
For example, if I search for “SEO companies” on Google.com from Singapore, I get a greater distribution of companies from Singapore in the search results. Even pages from international websites that show up tend to point directly to pages that have some Singapore connection. Note that this happens even without any reference to Singapore in my search query.
Therefore, depending on your specific target geography, incorporate appropriate geo- signals in your content, whether it be by referring to the location from the body of your content; including the city/state/ country in the date stamp; or linking internally from other pages on the website that are pertinent to your targeted location.
Consistently create high quality content
To successfully generate great SEO results with content, be consistent and regular in your content creation and marketing.
Factor the above-mentioned attributes into your content strategy and plan: for example, you can create some pieces of content that addresses the freshness aspect, while some others could address the comprehensiveness criteria or the localization criteria.
Consistently doing this will result in better organic search traffic and a better return on your content creation and SEO efforts.
- Manoj Aravindakshan
This article was originally published on our Singapore partner website