Content is king. It’s one of the few universal truths that every SEO professional agrees on. But, when it comes to crafting content which delights both the web visitor in search of information and Google crawling for ranking signals, how do you know you’re on to a winner? Creating content for the sake of it will never give the kind of ROI that you want to see from your marketing efforts – for that you need a plan. You need to ensure that the content you’re creating ticks the ‘good SEO’ box so that it plays its part in boosting your keyword rankings.
Here are the questions to ask yourself:
Has your content been written for your audience or for Google?
All search engines (and especially Google with its more sophisticated algorthims) strive to serve the best quality and most relevant content available to users, even so far as considering the intent or purpose behind a search. Google especially has strongly hinted that it favours content which prioritises the user experience and audience need. A good piece of content, if truly written for the audience, will have a natural semantic flow rather than being keyword stuffed.
Are you filling a content gap or creating duplication?
Gone are the days of countless blog posts on the same topic. Short, thin articles of a few hundred words may have helped with keyword placement at the dawn of the SEO age, but today creating a mass of content has fallen out of favour. Think quality over quantity.
That said, we know that there is certainly an advantage in having lots of content around a given subject or industry. So, what’s the answer? The pillar and cluster approach is one potential solution. This offers a more structured, organised approach to content creation, with one hero piece covering a topic in full and then associated blogs covering a specific area within that topic in much greater.
This approach means you aren’t creating multiple variations of the same piece of content so you aren’t competing against your own pages for rankings, and you aren’t serving up repetitive, light content to your visitors. The more detailed clusters also help you to provide a good depth of information, which can be considered a good quality signal.
Have you got visual aids too?
Longer pieces of content can be offputting. While Google hasn’t officially confirmed that it uses site metrics such as bounce rate, time on page or session duration in its ranking algoriothims, it makes sense that after investing time and effort crafting high quality, well researched content, you’ll want your traffic to stick around and consume that content.
Adding visual elements such as images, graphs, videos and infographics can elevate your content and give you additional SEO elements on page to help with ranking. Images and other non-text content can also help the reader to better understand the subject and data you’re presenting, which comes back to point one about putting the audience’s needs first.
Can you measure the impact of this piece of content?
All digital marketing activity should be measurable. Not just to justify the investment and measure ROI but to help you identify where further opportunitiues for refinement and improvement exist. Content is no different. For a piece of content to have value, you should be able to measure its impact. How you measure will depend on the maturity of your SEO efforts and your wider business goals but may include things like:
- Conversion rate (such as number of email subscriptions generated or contact forms completed)
- Bounce rate or time on page
- New visitor numbers
- Social media shares, likes or comments
- Share of voice
- Number of new links generated
To ensure that all content you create has both visitor and SEO value, you’ll need to make a content plan and continue to develop this plan as you gather data around content performance. Ensure content ideas within this plan are both SEO beneficial and highly relevant (and timely) to what your audience wants.
In addition to producing this content to the highest standard possible and regularly asking if audience intent is being satisfied, you’ll also need to remain vigilant about completing housekeeping tasks such as optimising meta tags such as titles and H1, H2 headers within the text, completing alt text for images, compressing image file size to ensure speedy page loading and of course, tailoring the length appropriate to the subject.
Ensure all content you produce has a high relevancy to your audience and offers them something (such as education or entertainment) or solves a problem for them. Don’t allow yourself to get into the mindset of creating content just because you feel you should. You’ll quickly lose your way.