High quality and unique content for better SEO
What Google Tells Us About Quality Content
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines offer advice to webmasters. They tell us what Google considers “good content”, and what it considers as spam. Let’s take a quick look at what the guidelines say about website content.
1. Create a useful, information-rich site
This one should be obvious. Create content that your visitors want to see.
2. Think about the words people use to search
…and try to incorporate them into your pages.
This particular guideline is one that I think may soon disappear, but it is still there as I type this. One of the points of Google Hummingbird was to be able to lump together closely related terms so that Google could understand the searcher’s intent.
After Hummingbird, there was no need to include specific phrases on your page, as Google would look at the combined words on the page and be able to determine relevancy to any particular search term (whether it appeared on the page or not).
Also, from an SEO point of view, focusing on keywords usually results in a web page optimized for the search engines at the expense of the visitor’s experience. Google openly labels that type of page as Webspam.
The best advice (which you will understand if you watched the video earlier in this chapter) is to think about the words people use to search, the synonyms of those words, and the searcher’s intent. Questions you will want to ask include: what is the searcher looking for exactly? What words, phrases, and topics does my page need to satisfy that intent?
We will look at all of this in more detail later in the guide.
Google’s crawler does not recognize text in images, so if there is an important word or phrase that you need Google to know exists in any part of your page, use text instead. If it has to be an image for whatever reason, then use the ALT tag to create a description of the image which includes that phrase.
A great example of using text instead of images is in links on your site. Links are the most important factor in SEO, so the more the search engines know about the nature of a link the better. If you are linking from one page on your site to another about “purple furbies”, then use purple furbies as the link text. This will tell Google that the page you are linking to is about purple furbies. These internal links also help rank a page for a specific term. Internal links are a safer way to get keyword rich anchor text into a link (something that is not so safe coming from other websites). You will see more about this in the section on “back-linking” later in the guide.
4. Make <title> and ALT attributes descriptive
The <title> tag of your page is one of the most important areas in terms of SEO. Try to get your most important keyword(s) in there, but do not stuff keywords into the title. The title tag has two main objectives; one is to entice the searcher to click through from the search engines, and the other is to tell Google what your page is all about.
We talked about click-through rates (CTR) earlier in the guide and looked at how important a factor they are in modern SEO. If you find a page has a low CTR (something you can check in Google Search Console), then tweak the title to see if you can make it more enticing to searchers. You then need to monitor the CTR of the page in the coming days and weeks. Just know that better titles (ones that match the searcher’s intent) will attract more clicks in the Google SERPs than ones that don’t.
NOTE: A page listed in the search results also contains a short description under its title. If your Meta Description includes the search term that was typed in at Google, then it is likely to be used as the listing description. If the search phrase in not present in the meta description, Google may choose a snippet of text from your web page that does include the search phrase.
It is also possible to optimize the Meta Description for better CTR, but this is not an exact science since Google may not be using that as the listing description. We’ll look at this later.
Let’s now look at ALT tags. These are there for a very specific purpose. Their primary objective is to help people who have images turned off, for example, people with impaired vision. Often they will use text-to-voice software to read pages, so your ALT tags should help them with this. An ALT tag should describe the image to those users in a concise way. It is also a great place to insert a keyword phrase or synonym, but NEVER use ALT tags just as a place to stuff keywords.
5. Make pages for users, not search engines
This is probably the most important point in all of the Webmaster guidelines. If you keep this in mind at all times, then you’ll be on the right path. In the past, many webmasters created pages to please the search engines. They gave little or no thought to providing a good visitor experience. At least this was the case with those more interested in making money online than sharing valuable information on a given topic. Well, that was then and this is now.
Whatever you do in 2017 and beyond, don’t just create content for the search engines in the hope of ranking better and building more traffic. Pleasing algorithms over people is an old tactic that no longer works. Instead, you need to create the content that your audience wants to see, read and interact with. Keeping your visitors happy makes Google happy. When you get to please the search engine giant, your authority and traffic will build in a safe, natural, and more sustainable way. When we come to look at backlinking, we’ll discuss a type of page that you can create specifically to attract backlinks. These can give your sites massive boosts in authority which will make all pages on the site rank more easily.
6. Avoid tricks designed to manipulate your rankings
Google offers you a rule of thumb. If you are comfortable explaining what you are doing to a Google employee or one of your competitors (who could report you to Google), then you are probably doing things the right way. Another great test is to ask yourself whether you would do what you are doing if search engines didn’t exist.
7. Make your website stand out in your field
No matter what niche you are in, and no matter what keywords you want to rank for, you ultimately have 10 other pages competing with you. They are the 10 web pages at the top of the Google SERPs. That’s where you want to rank, right? Therefore, you need to ignore all the other tens of thousands of pages ranking on page two and beyond. Your focus is only on the top 10 slots of page one.
The questions you need to be ever mindful of are:
How can I make my page stand out from these competitors? And, how can I make my page better, more engaging, different and valuable?
Google needs to see that your page adds to the top 10 in a unique way, and not merely blends in with the rest. In other words, you want to rise above being just another rehashed page on the same topic.
A Summary – Quality Content & an Example
There are a number of different types of content that you can add to your website. These include articles, product reviews, quizzes, videos, etc. However, no matter what type of content you are looking at, it has to adhere to the following three points:
- Create for the visitor, not the search engines. That means it needs to read well and have no visible signs of keyword stuffing.
- Add value to the top 10 SERPs (if you want to rank in the top 10, your page has to be seen as adding something unique to that collection of pages).
- Give your visitors what they want. Create the content they want to see. Give your visitors a reason to stay on your site, return to your site, and recommend your site to others.
To put it simply, all of the content on your site has to be the best that you can make it. A good rule of thumb, as suggested by Google, is this: would your content look out of place published in a glossy magazine? If you ever hire ghost-writers, be sure to proofread their content before publishing. Make sure that it’s factually & grammatically correct and does not have any spelling mistakes.
As you read through the content that you intend to publish on your website, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it content that your visitors will find really useful?
- Is there information in there that your visitors are unlikely to know, and therefore find informative?
- If it’s a review, does it sound overly hyped up? Are both sides of the argument covered, i.e. positives and negatives?
- Is there information in the review that is not available on the manufacturer’s website or other affiliate sites?
- Does the review offer a different way of looking at things which may help the buyer make a better-informed decision prior to purchase?