Content & search engine success factors
Content should be your priority when brooding about SEO. Quality content is how you engage, inform, support, and delight your audiences. Creating authentic, valuable content is additionally critical for program visibility. Indeed. begins with the content “elements,” with the very first element being content quality.
Whether it’s blog articles, product pages, an about page, testimonials, videos or anything you create for your audience, getting your content right means you’ve got a foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts.
“Just believe what the users want and think if you were within the shoes of the program, would you are feeling comfortable sending users to your own website?” says Frédéric Debut, senior program manager lead for Bing. “Would you are feeling proud to vouch for that website and put that at favorite for a given query?”
“If the solution is ‘yes,’ then that’s where tons of the more technical work and more traditional SEO may inherit play. But, if the solution is ‘no,’ then that’s probably a symbol that you simply got to add more value for users before you begin brooding about technical stuff.”
Providing users with substantive, useful, and unique content is what compels them to remain on your pages, building familiarity and trust. What constitutes top quality will depend upon the character of the content and varies supported the sort of content and industry.
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (section 5.1) break down the characteristics of high-quality content by type:
- Informational content should be accurate, comprehensive, original, and professionally presented.
- Artistic content should be original, unique, and convey a high degree of skill.
- News content should be in-depth, well-cited, accurate, and contain original reporting.
Brands creating Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content got to pay particular attention to those standards as Google’s algorithms may give more weight to authoritativeness, expertise, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) signals.
Content is that the cornerstone of your SEO efforts and not an area to scrimp. Creating — and investing in — a transparent content strategy is critical to your SEO success as nearly all other factors depend upon content quality.
For the newest content news and tips, bookmark the program Land’s SEO: Content and Writing section.
Researching the keywords (the search terms your audience is using) is probably the foremost important SEO factor after creating good content. It will assist you to develop content that “answers” what people are checking out. Keyword research also can carry benefits beyond ranking for those queries.
“Understanding the language that customers are using is incredibly important,” says Eric Enge, longtime SEO, and head of the consulting company Perficient Digital, “it causes you to such a lot more relatable once you talk the way they talk, and that’s not getting to change. So, keyword research for me is very, very important and there are new offshoots of it where the way you might apply keyword research might be evolving, but the need for it is not.”
Keyword research can provide you with insights on the character of your audiences’ pain points and wishes — whether that’s navigational, informational, or transactional — their interests, the quantity of interest out there (indicated by search volume), the extent of competition for those queries, and even the format during which they like that information.
Once you’ve evaluated which keywords are viable, use them to tell your content creation and include them within the content itself so that your audience features a higher chance of finding you in the search results.
“Consider classifying keywords by their intent: informational, transactional, navigational, or local. Cross-reference your potential keywords with what currently ranks in the search results to see the types of results Google chooses to display for each query. Google may assign a different intent to the keyword than what you expect; for example, typing “sandwich” generates mostly local results — so a local strategy may be required to compete for that keyword. Understanding what type of content Google displays for the various keywords you’re researching helps clarify what type of content you’ll need to build and which of your pages will be eligible to rank for those terms.” –Lily Ray, SEO director, Path Interactive
For more, see our SEO: Keyword Research section and these resources:
After you’ve researched the keywords your audience is using to seek out you, include those keywords within the body of your content, your subheads, and your titles — but not at the expense of readability or other compromises that prioritize search engines over readers.
To put it simply, consider the words you would like your page to be found for and use them naturally.
“The trick isn’t speaking in terms of what the searcher goes to type into the search box, but speak in terms of what the searcher wants to read,” News Editor for program Land Barry Schwartz explained, touching upon the difference between the language utilized in search queries and therefore the content users expect their queries to surface.
“I think that you simply simply simply simply don’t get to necessarily believe what the query is. So, as an example, I wrote a story about Google Search Console adding notifications around removing the noindex directive for the robots.txt file,” said Schwartz. “Back within the old days, I probably would have actually included the subject line of that Search Console notification directly within the title because people are becoming to be copying and pasting that line of text and trying to look for it to seek out more information. Now, Google may be a lot easier and smarter about this and you don’t really need to worry about doing exact keyword matches on the query — Google’s much smarter to expand that beyond.”
Always keep in mind that you’re writing for users first and that search engines are getting much better at understanding natural language. Throw out any notion of “keyword density” formulas to improve your rankings.
“Looking at the news, Google alerts — things like that can help give you topic ideas that are fresh for your industry. When news is fresh, most likely not all of the topics/areas have been covered as usually the story is developing. That allows you to write about a specific angle that hasn’t been covered. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a very controversial opinion, but rather giving people more things to think about. This can be useful for getting engagement and potentially some nice backlinks.” –Itamar Blauer, SEO and video marketer
There is tremendous value in explicitly answering users’ questions on your pages. For one, you’re creating content specifically designed to satisfy your audiences’ needs. Two, search engines are increasingly trying to point out direct answers within the search results. If you answer questions tolerably, your page could also be displayed as a featured snippet or returned as a voice search result on Google Assistant.
Research indicates that more than half of Google searches end without a click to other content, and that’s partial because search engines are looking to satisfy users by resolving their searches right on the results page. Some of those answers are licensed (as is that the case with music lyrics) and a few are drawn directly from sites with a link for attribution.
Optimizing your content for featured snippets and direct answers may yield more visibility than a typical organic search result, and doing so can also increase the probability that it gets returned as a voice search result.
“Some of my clients have said that when they get [rich results], they’re doing get clicks,” says Jessica Bowman, owner of enterprise SEO consultancy SEO In-house. “I think that there is some strategic thinking that has got to be applied to the keywords that you’re trying to rank for rich snippets to figure out, ‘Does it appear as if I’m getting to get a click or should I specialize in something else?’”
“Sometimes, you want that rich snippet — that box at the absolute best — because whatever their intent was, they’re getting to got to get deeper,” says Bowman. “But sometimes, a user intends to urge a fast answer and leave Google. If that’s the intent, it’s going to not be such an excellent query.”
The decision to take a position in content that will become answers on the search results page should be determined by what the increased visibility means for your brand. If you’re looking to extend brand awareness, that investment could also be justified; if you’re looking to drive more traffic, you’ll need to evaluate whether users are likely to click through after viewing the answer.
“Whenever I write a post relating to a specific question, I try to make the answer as accessible as possible to the reader by adding an H2 within the post. Accessibility is important, but making sure the reader sticks around is where it really counts. I recently wrote an article titled Google’s solution to search results dominated by FAQ Schema. I investigated the constraints around the SERP treatment appearing in search results, with the key takeaway being that Google will only display a maximum of 3 rich results, appearing on the first page only. The answer was provided quickly, but I added in a couple of lines directly after to encourage the reader to continue.
Hard to say if this worked well because I don’t have access to the Analytics for SEL, but it was pleasing to see Google display some of this text within a Featured Snippet. If only this was the default text to be included for all results…” –Brodie Clark, Brodie Clark Consulting
For more about direct answers, see our related sections:
- Google: Knowledge Graph
- Google: Featured Snippets & Direct Answers
“The content on your site should be deep enough to answer the user’s question in a ‘substantial, complete or comprehensive’ manner, as the Google core update advice post says,” advises Barry Schwartz, news editor for Search Engine Land.
“Are you providing ‘insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?’ Does it contain original information? Is that information researched and factual? You want to make sure your content provides substantial value when compared to other pages in search results because that is exactly what type of content Google wants to rank at the top of its results.”
The tricky part is figuring out how thorough your content should be. As mentioned above, you’ll want to provide more value than your competitors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should throw more words at it to achieve an arbitrary word count. Some queries, such as “what is the fastest land mammal,” have a relatively straightforward answer, as where other questions, like “why is the cheetah the fastest,” may warrant a more in-depth explanation. Take the query, your audience’s preferences, and your competitor’s offerings into account when deciding how deep to dive.
Text is that the foundation that the web is made on, but that doesn’t mean it’s universally the simplest medium for your content. Other formats also can provide added exposure within the search results. Consider using images, video, audio, or other formats that appeal to your audience and set your brand aside from competitors.
After you agree on the format that’s best for your users, optimize your multimedia also because the pages you embed it within to form it more discoverable. One way to try to do that’s by employing a content delivery network (CDN) to serve your multimedia and take a number of the load off your servers. This can keep load times down, which is great for site speed and your user experience.
Whichever formats you accompany, you’ll still want to use descriptive text to supplement your content and supply context to look engines and users alike. If it’s a video or a podcast, you’ll add a transcript. If it’s a picture, make use of alt-text and captions. You can also price your multimedia with structured data to extend the probabilities that it gets returned as an upscale result.
Don’t go overboard, though. Too much of an honest thing — like GIFs, for instance — are often obtrusive, which ultimately works against your goals.