February 29, 2016
If you’re writing for your site you obviously want to write quality content to generate hits. After all, you’re putting it on the Internet, a place where all the world can see it.
But how does one offer quality content that will push your content up in the rankings?
Google has a series of algorithms that dictate where a website will show up in searches. It’s a lengthy system with somewhere around 200 variables. Although it’s nearly impossible for one person or business to hit on all of Google’s sweet spots, there are ways to ensure that your content is seen by the world.
1. Content That Isn’t Text
Although there are some obvious answers to the question of what content actually is, it encompasses more than just words on a page.
Yes, when someone speaks of content they are speaking of product descriptions, blogs, articles, and the like. That being said, there are other variables that Google takes into account when its algorithm is chugging along.
Google takes a look into non-text items as well as text items. One theory for this is that the powers that be consider pages with images and videos to be of higher quality than pages without them.
Another idea is that spam sites that are just farming for hits won’t take the time to put up relevant images and videos. Rather, they’ll just stick to spamming keywords to move their site up the rankings and gain page views.
You’ll hear a lot of talk about how the keyword is dying out and being replaced. That’s simply not as true as many people think.
Keywords are still important.
For obvious reasons, you won’t gain page views for a car dealership if your most frequently used phrase is “moon landing.” Yes, “car dealership” might still be your go-to and you should still try to use it in the title, metadata, description, and the content itself.
What people mean when they say that the keyword is less important is that it’s becoming more important in context.
What Google is looking for nowadays is how often related search terms are showing up. Not only does this help for page rankings, it helps categorize and differentiate different sites. After all, a heavy metal band’s site shouldn’t be in the search results for metal welders.
It should go without saying that organizing your content can increase your page rank by leaps and bounds.
Overall readability, as measured by the Flesch readability test, is being utilized by search engine analytics.
Why is readability important for rankings?
Consider how long you’ve spent on a site that was two steps away from being gibberish. Now consider a well thought out flow of ideas with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. Which one is more valuable to you? Which one brings you back time and time again?
Now you know why the Flesch readability test is being used to determine decreases and increases in page rankings.
Gone are the days when content should be a measly 500 words. If you’re willing to take the risk of a 500-word blog or article, you’d better have something extraordinary to say.
Search engines are getting wise to what users like to read and using it to determine your rankings. An SEO rule of thumb for increased page rankings is that longer posts are better.
It goes without saying that “within reason” comes into play here. A product description for a baseball mitt should still be relatively short and concise. You should also avoid having a blog post the length of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
There’s a sweet spot that should be hit. Generally speaking, the SEO gurus have advised around 1,500 to 2,500 words for optimal page rankings.
Consider that when you’re writing your next blog, list, or article.
5. Value and Quality
Imagine you’re at a restaurant and it’s warm, inviting, smells wonderful and has reasonably priced food that is prepared well and tastes delicious. You would certainly be inclined to stay longer and visit often.
Now imagine that you’ve walked into a restaurant and observed a rug of cockroaches on the floor. You likely wouldn’t stick around to find out what other sensory experiences awaited you.
In a third restaurant you find that the décor is indistinguishable from any other restaurant, smells inconsequential, has a small menu of very similar products, and the food is edible but bland. You might go there once in a blue moon if you’re really hungry, but you’ll likely dislike it more and more.
The first restaurant example is what you, readers, and Google are shooting for. You’re hoping to write innovative content that is different at every turn. Your readers will stay on your page for longer, you’ll get more referrals from social media, and Google will rank your page higher.
The second example is what you presumably hope to avoid. Think of a MySpace page from the early 2000s. And don’t think about the regular ones, either. Reminisce about the friend you had who cluttered their profile with a cornucopia of animations, flashing lights, crazy text that clashed with a bright background, and automatically playing music and videos that drowned each other out. You may have loved that friend, but you never ever visited their MySpace profile because it was a nuisance.
Finally, the third restaurant represents a page that is simply unoriginal and bland. It’s not offensively bad, but it’s boring. You’ll skim a few paragraphs, find that nothing really catches your fancy, and leave. If you spend a bit more time on the site, you might even find that they essentially plagiarize themselves or others.
Google takes all of this into account so presenting value, making original content, gaining referrals from social media, and having content that will make people stick around or revisit your site is a big key to successfully increasing page rankings.
6. Faster is Better
This isn’t directly related to your content, but it is liable to make you sink or swim.
A big, unsung part of SEO is the speed of the page in Chrome. Your interesting, original, long form, world changing content isn’t going to mean much if your site takes three minutes and 37 seconds to load.
Not only will Google stop caring about your page, readers will too. The fact that you found the meaning of life will go unread because your page loads slowly.
Coding your page properly is the best way to build a fully functional site that anyone can just hop on at the drop of a hat. Optimize your webpage and you’ll optimize for search engines.
7. Links and Linkbacks
Even though outward facing links aren’t as important as they once were, an authoritative site still links out.
Just like you wouldn’t accept a scholarly paper with no sources, or even a Wikipedia page with no sources, Google doesn’t accept most pages that don’t link to other, more reputable sites.
Linkbacks are even more important. They can make or break a site, depending on where the link is from. If your site is frequently linked to from sites of ill repute, you’ll become notorious for hanging out with the wrong crowd.
On the other hand, if your site is mentioned a number of times by the AP, Reuters, CNN, and Fox News, it’s likely that your page will experience a huge rise in readership due to both the referrals themselves and your newfound higher page ranking.
8. Optimize for Mobile
Considering SEO in the mobile market is especially important now that mobile users have surpassed desktop computer users. Some 50 percent of time spent on digital media is spent using a Smartphone or tablet. That means you need to find a way for your page to look great on the computer, Smartphone, and tablet.
Optimizing for mobile isn’t just about looks, it’s about speed as well. Again, loading time is absolutely vital to good SEO content.
Keywords are another place where your approach will be slightly different than on a computer. While people are somewhat inclined to type longer search terms when using a computer, they’re more inclined to be short and sweet when it comes to mobile.
9. The Amount of Content
It shouldn’t be a surprise that you’re going to need more than one piece of content to rise in the page ranks.
SEO sites are full of interesting, new, and continuously updated content. The older and less updated your site is, the quicker it falls down the rankings and into obscurity.
There are some ideas as to how much content you should be writing, particularly if you’re writing blogs or articles. The question of how often you should write has been tackled by many and one idea is that it depends on how much you plan to write per article or blog.
• Short form and very current content: a few times per day to once per day
• Regular topics in a blog: a few times per week
• Long form blogs on a variety of topics: once per week
Sticking to the schedule will ensure that you have plenty of regularly updated content for your readers, and Google’s algorithms, to keep their eyes on.
10. Call to Action
This is one of the most important but most neglected aspects of a SEO website.
A call to action in an article or product description, written correctly, directs the reader to engage with your product or brand and expand your readership. This, in turn, means more page views, a better reputation, more domain authority, and a higher rank in Google’s search.
The best calls to action are short but informative. They’re there to tell your audience a few things.
First, you’ll want your audience to know what to do. Enter a contest? Buy a television? Shop at your clothing store? If you don’t tell them, they might not think about it.
Next you’ll want to make sure your call to action mentions who you are and what to expect from your brand, goods, or service. Most businesses or individuals aren’t necessarily using calls to action for return business, though it is helpful; the calls to action are built primarily to drive new business. After all, you’re not McDonald’s and simply reminding people you exist.
Finally, ensure that the language of your call to action is correct.
Don’t be ambiguous about what you want your audience to do. Be powerful and commanding. Your call to action shouldn’t sound timid and apologetic. No one wants to read, “I suppose if you’re okay with it you should buy my clothing. But only if you want to.” Rather, a call to action should read loud and clear “Shop at my store!”
Also, be enthusiastic about the brand. If you can’t muster up some excitement about your brand, why should the customer? Feel free to be hyperbolic if you feel it’s appropriate. That’s why every sale at every store is “The sale of the century!”
If you’re advertising a temporary event then slap the end date on your call to action. Make sure your audience knows that it’s only through the weekend, ends Friday, or will sell out soon.
Read on right now for the conclusion and an example of a call to action! (See?)
Building your brand, reputation, and customer engagement requires great content that is optimized for Google’s algorithms. Without a rising page rank and high domain authority, your site may be passed by in favor of a competitor’s.
Don’t be afraid of trying new things and mixing up your media, but make sure everything is there for a purpose and promotes the value of your brand, product, or service.
Also, it’s important to be cognizant of the customer’s time and convenience as well as referring them to sites you use too. Make yourself a convenient and fast resource for future viewership.
Finally, don’t forget the call to action.
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster and an expert content marketer. She’s also the founder and CEO of Express Writers, a leading online content creation agency, with more than 60 content writers and strategists. Julia leads her team to serve hundreds of worldwide businesses with the highest-quality content for their online presence. Follow Julia's blog.