So what is good “content” for SEO to work effectively?

In our last article we introduced SEO as a means of helping your web site to get found given the enormous number of searches that take place; often unpredictable user behaviour (i.e. what they type into their search engines); the increasing sophistication of the search engines themselves; and of course competitive activity.

We defined quality (or the Oxford Dictionary did!) as “the degree of excellence of a thing”, and this is what we are aiming for: excellence! In the context of web site searching, excellence surely means that you get the search results that you want – and find web-sites (maybe just one, if you’re lucky!) that give you exactly what you were looking for.

We therefore agreed that the overarching characteristic of quality content is “relevance”, and this is what we are concentrating on in this article. And it speaks directly to Google’s aim to “enrich users with valuable information”.

Why pandas, penguins and hummingbirds matter …

Once upon a time it was (relatively) easy to boost your search engine rankings by cramming your site with “keywords” and with links to other sites, many of which were traded! Not exactly “enriching users” is it? So Google developed new algorithms to ensure that such topics were not only ineffective but in some cases actually harmful!

A really important one was “Panda”, which lowers the ranking of sites with a poor user experience (e.g. lot of adverts and pop-us) and raises the ranking of sites which provide a good user experience (back to that word relevance again!)

Another was “Penguin”, which lowers the rankings of sites with paid or traded or otherwise unnatural links.

And another was “Hummingbird”, a really interesting one which tries to ensure that search results reflect more closely the meaning behind each word typed in the search; (there’s a lot more to it than that, actually, but this will do for now).

All this is really great news for the user, of course, but means that you need to be vigilant when you create your own site – which is no bad thing!

3 words to concentrate on

So when you find the website that perfectly matches your search, what will the content (ideally) be? How about these for starters?

  1. unique
  2. high quality
  3. valuable

Let’s take a lightning quick look at each in turn. Unique: it’s the only (or one of very few) source of the information you need. If you can achieve that one – given the number of websites that exist – wonderful! Remember this isn’t just refereeing to hard facts, but perhaps considered opinions or commentary. High quality: well written, insightful, thought-provoking, relevant (of course), perhaps even humorous (depending upon what you’re trying to say). The sort of writing that you’d talk about to other people, like a good book. Valuable: this goes hand in hand with the other two. Exactly what the user wanted.

And what happens if you achieve all three? The user probably won’t need to visit any other sites, and will tell their friends about it and forward it on …

So it’s as easy as that then?

Well, in the classic politician’s answer, yes AND no! It IS as straightforward as ensuring that your content is unique, high quality, and valuable, but actually WRITING it takes time and thought, and a little talent … and most people won’t make the time, don’t think about it carefully enough, and don’t invest in the talent …

But if you DO, the results will be remarkable, and you’ll never have to worry about algorithms again …

Next time

Next time round we’ll delve into the very interesting and useful topic of matching your content to what people type into their search engines. We can almost hear the hummingbirds humming …