Because Panda Says So
Writing quality and unique content can be tough. More and more of your competitors are finding out that writing blog posts and posting regular updates to their websites is important to their website’s search engine visibility, so the natural reaction for anyone is usually “well, we need to be doing more than them”.
This may be the case, but how you justify and define “more” in that statement can make the difference between you keeping someone on your website, and you wasting their time.
It’s a known fact (and if you don’t know, you will soon find out) that there is a fine line between writing for search engines and writing for the viewer/potential client or customer. It’s extremely easy to write a piece of content that includes a certain percentage of the keyword you’re trying to target, and there’s a chance that this content may rank for those keywords if you spend some time building links to it and promoting it on social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
But are you confident that this content will engage your readers and represent a positive brand image for your company?
Have you actually thought about how well this piece of content, which is representing you and/or your company on the Internet, is converting visits and encouraging your visitors to visit additional web pages and find out more about you? (Tip: Pages per visit in Google Analytics is important, but take a look at the pages which have a very low average time on page and which entrance pages led to the visitor simply exiting your site. You obviously need to make some changes to these pages).
Sure, you could hire a copywriter to churn out as much content as you’d like on a monthly basis, but how informative is this content and what kind of value is it adding?
With Google updating it’s search algorithm over the past year or so to include how often a website’s page is shared on social media sites, and by what users (if your blog posts and stories are just being retweeted and liked by obvious spam accounts than you’re not really accomplishing much by the way) as a ranking factor, then it’s only a matter of time before how others vote on your content (how many quality +1’s you get, how many retweets and likes from trusted visitors, etc.) becomes another primary ranking factor.
Maybe even the ratio of how many pages a website has to how many retweets/likes/+1’s it has? I could see it down the road, where a website that has 1,000 pages of content but only a few “votes” would be outperformed by a website with 200 pages and the same amount of “votes” (note: I would still consider inbound links from trusted non-social-media as a vote).
And, while many don’t believe that average time on site, average time on page, pages per visit, and other traffic-related factors play a role in how a website ranks, I always think that it might.
Google is very good at finding out what spammers and abusers are doing to get an unfair leg up. Take the chart below for example, which is from SEOMoz’s 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors
This is a list of the SEO techniques that a group of SEO experts from around the country have identified as what Google sees as red flags, and when I see things like
- “over optimization”
- “a high percentage of external links pointing to one page with the same anchor text”
- “sitewide links from external sites”, and
- “sitewide internal links from footer links”
I think to myself that all of the techniques listed above are seen by Google as ways that traditional SEO’ers were using to try to gain an unfair advantage. Most of these methods are made possible by software and scripts that make these methods extremely easy for a webmaster or SEO’er to implement, and I look at web content from a similar viewpoint.
It’s very easy to use services such as Textbroker.com and freelance sites such as elance.com, guru.com, etc. to find cheap content which can be churned out quickly, but do you really think that the $10 blog posts that you had done in less than 24 hours is going to result in your viewers saying to themselves “wow, that was ground-breaking!”?
Finding ideas for topics when it comes to web content is usually where most people have a problem. Take some time and look at your competition’s website. Get ideas of what kind of content they’re posting (as long as you’ve identified this competitor as someone who posts content in good taste versus just posting to post), and make a list of topics that you can space out over a month’s time.
I can say, from experience, that posting quality content on a regular basis can be tough from a time management perspective as well. A good tip I’ve heard over the years is- once you start writing, don’t stop. If you’re writing a blog post one night and you feel like you’re in the zone, keep going until your fingers hurt. Save those blog posts and schedule them to publish throughout the coming weeks.
Inbound link popularity is (and likely always will be) still the primary ranking factor when it comes to search engine rankings, but the equation for a successful inbound link structure is the same as website content when it comes to what makes a website more visible- the better links/content, and not the most links/content, will make a website successful. Hard work and effort will always prevail over the wholesale and automated approach when it comes to web content, link building, web development, and everything else. It’s Google’s job to make it so.