Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical component of any business’ marketing strategy. In SearchEngineLand’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors, there are seven categories listed as playing a critical role in a website’s SEO performance. One of those factors has gained more notoriety in recent years: content.
A website’s content performs many roles. It helps to engage visitors, lets them know what a website is about and can help prompt them to action (buying an item or signing up for a newsletter). It also plays a key role in SEO. Google believes content to be so important that it includes a specific section in its webmaster course advocating the creation of valuable content.
To help create this content, the aforementioned Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors offers seven elements that publishers can directly control to help increase their website’s performance in organic search results.
Let’s take a closer look at these seven elements and examples of a few in action.
Are pages well-written, and do they have substantial quality content?
Quality is likely the most important factor for content. Just think of your own personal experiences when surfing the web. If you’re looking to buy a new sofa and you visit a website that makes use of poor grammar when describing furniture or has an image of a coffee table on the sofa page, you’ll probably judge it for these mistakes.
Substantial quality content also means a certain volume of information. Much speculation surrounds word count totals for SEO-value. Both short- and long-form content can be valuable, as long as you’re still offering useful information or entertainment to your readers.
Have you researched the keywords people may use to find your content?
You can have the best blog post on how to cook a pot roast, but if you don’t use appropriate keywords, search engines may not find your post and share it with other food lovers.
Keyword research may seem tedious on the surface – it is research, after all – but it’s absolutely necessary in terms of getting your content in front of potential readers. There are a number of tools at your disposal to aid in this task, including:
Each of these tools is capable of giving you the insight necessary to more appropriately title blog posts and webpages, as well as to clue you in on terms useful for meta descriptions.
Do pages use words and phrases for which you hope they’ll be found?
Building right off of the research component, it’s important to actually use the long- and short-tail keyword phrases you’ve uncovered in your Web copy. Keeping with our pot roast example, you’ll probably want to include such terms as “pot roast recipe,” “how to cook pot roast” and “pot roast meat” within your content.
Depending on how many words your content ends up being, you’ll want to include mentions of these keywords and phrases in appropriate proportions. For a 500-word blog post, about three to five mentions will suffice. Anything beyond that and you may be “stuffing” the post, which will hinder organic search performance.
Are pages fresh and about “hot” topics?
If you wrote a great blog post about pot roast back in 2008 and it was very well-received, you should update it periodically over time in order to keep it fresh and appealing to audiences. This may include tweaking the recipe itself or adding on with new variations as tastes change.
In that same vein, if the President makes a comment about bacon-wrapped pot roast being his favorite food and the media runs with it for a day, you’ll likely want to address that variation of your recipe in a new post as it will become a hot search topic. Using tools like Google Trends and Trends24 for Twitter is a great way to stay on top of such viral trends.
Do you have image, local, news, video or other vertical content?
If you aren’t just writing about pot roast but actually have a website devoted to food in general, you’ll want to not just use text. The written word is quite useful for search engines, but the average reader does not like to stare at walls of text (even exciting ones about pot roast).
Including appropriate imagery, mentions of food in the news (think food/beverage recalls or highlights celebrities have shared about how they prefer recipes) and relevant videos (YouTube channels like Epic Meal Time and Everyday Food have countless videos you can embed to share with your audience) can impact your SEO for the better.
Different types of media on your site are not only engaging for your audience, but offer cues to search engines that your site offers a rich experience for visitors.
Is your content turned into direct answers within search results?
This is more easily said than done, but if achieved, it’s a boon for your site. The premise is that if your content effectively answers a common question submitted to Google, then Google will offer up your answer as not just the top result, but a special answer featured at the top.
These special answers are known as featured snippets and they are just that – quick bits of the most relevant information to answer a user’s question.
Becoming a featured snippet is something which Google bestows upon content on its own, so there’s no switch you can turn on for it. But you can set yourself up for success by following all the best practices for content addressed in this post.
Is content “thin” or “shallow” and lacking substance?
Just as with the first element focused on quality, thin content would be pages you wouldn’t enjoy reading on the Web. Again, think of what you enjoy perusing and why. Odds are the content you enjoy offers you value – in the form of how to complete a task, entertainment or other useful information.
Google advocates that all content must reflect expertise and be authoritative and trustworthy. So strongly is this advised, that it’s featured in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines and established as the acronym E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) in order to help content creators remember it.
Do you follow these seven SEO factors when creating your website content? Which ones do you feel you need help with?
Remember that these on-page factors are just a single part of the equation when it comes to SEO success. You don’t want to overlook the importance of the other impacting elements:
- Site Architecture
- HTML (Meta) Data
You can find out more about these elements in SearchEngineLand’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.