Is quality content the backbone of your SEO strategy? If you are a serious small business or online marketer, it certainly should be. Shabby content doesn’t engage readers. It doesn’t build valuable links. It doesn’t attract search engines, generate leads, or convert sales.
While “gaming the system” might have worked in the past, consumers expect more now. So do search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo – Google in particular. To gain search visibility and traffic today, a company needs to be useful, solve problems, and develop a brand.
Here is a closer look at what qualitative content is and why it should be the main driver of every search engine optimization strategy.
SEO Strategy: What Is High-Quality Content?
As can be expected, there are many answers to that question. There are surely many opinions. However, most would agree, especially in the context of content marketing and SEO, that the term “quality content” can in a nutshell be defined as: original, purposeful, and correctly optimized information or media that people and search engines are driven to read, view, and share.
Qualitative content is fresh and informative. It is useful, interesting, and engaging. It incorporates valuable keywords naturally based on SEO best practices. It’s the type of article you start by scanning but end up reading to the end – the kind of blog post you bookmark and come back to again and again. If it is geared toward a specific persona, then you really have a winner.
Why Create Quality Content?
Engaging content improves online visibility. When web pages are properly optimized, search engine bots are able to find and read them more easily, improving your chances of having them rank your pages. The higher up you are in the results pages, the more organic traffic you will attract, and the more leads you will generate. More leads equals more sales and business.
Then, there’s the indirect benefit of having a quality content SEO strategy in place. Increased traffic, a lower bounce rate, and a higher click-through rate indicates to Google that readers like your material, which they see as a vote of confidence and trust. In fact, these could be ranking factors. The search engine also considers page views, time on site, return visits, and other metrics.
User engagement is critical, no matter which way you look at it. You can’t generate leads through search unless you give search engines what they want. You will never convert traffic (regardless of how you funnel it) if you aren’t publishing stuff that actually appeals to prospects and gets them viewing, sharing, and buying, which inevitably also affects search engine optimization.
Proper Link Building
Effective link building is another important reason to make high-quality content the foundation of your digital strategy. Businesses, marketers, and bloggers love to link out to solid, interesting information that strengthens the premise of their own materials. Those links not only drive targeted web traffic, but also pass on link juice (authority) that can improve rankings.
Then, of course, there are the links that are built when people share your posts, images, and videos on social media. Every time your quality content is shared, links are created that point to your website pages and relay their popularity to search engines. Generally, the more backlinks you have, the more trustworthy you come across. Social signals are a factor in Google’s algorithm.
Even the outbound links in your social media profiles count. A well-written profile that compels readers to visit your website can only help your SEO strategy. However, nobody will click the links if your profile content is weak and uninspiring. Furthermore, Google and other search engines may overlook pages that are not adequately descriptive and/or sufficiently optimized.
Search Engine Penalties
Google is known for algorithmically (and manually) penalizing sites for over optimization, black hat tactics, and pushing “thin affiliate” content – this goes against their webmaster guidelines. Recovering from such a penalty, which can literally see your website listing move from page one to page one hundred in a flash, can be difficult, if not impossible. Many businesses can attest to this.
Google frequently updates its search algorithm to improve search results and user experience. Some of the notable algorithm updates include:
- Panda: Launched in February 2011, Panda targeted low-quality websites with thin or duplicate content, penalizing them in search rankings.
- Penguin: First released in April 2012, Penguin aimed to decrease the search engine rankings of websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing or buying links.
- Hummingbird: Introduced in August 2013, Hummingbird focused on understanding the context and intent of search queries better to provide more relevant results.
- Pigeon: Rolled out in July 2014, Pigeon aimed to provide more relevant local search results by considering the user’s location and other factors.
- Mobilegeddon: Launched in April 2015, Mobilegeddon prioritized mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results to improve the user experience for mobile users.
- RankBrain: Announced in October 2015, RankBrain is a machine learning-based algorithm that helps Google understand the meaning behind search queries better to deliver more relevant results.
- BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers): Rolled out in October 2019, BERT enables Google to understand the context of words in search queries better, particularly for longer, more conversational queries.
- Core Updates: Google regularly releases broad core algorithm updates that aim to improve overall search quality by reassessing website rankings based on various factors.
Pages that are copied, scraped, and unoriginal are considered thin and stand a good chance of attracting a business-sinking penalty. Content that is keyword stuffed can also see your website fall prey to the likes of Panda and Penguin. Even if you are lucky enough to not be penalized, prospects will not interact with your pages, which will hurt your SEO strategy and sales.
Quality content gets you found online and keeps people coming back to your site. It’s also what gets products sold and builds your reputation as a trusted brand. It can tempting to cut corners when resources are low, but those who do rarely execute an effective search engine optimization strategy. Don’t look at content marketing as an expense, but an investment – one that can really pay off!
Are you investing in content marketing? How are you using quality content to get outstanding SEO results? Let us know in the comments.