We all know that Google and Bing are rewarding good quality content in their search results as never before; but what are the required ingredients? SEO expert and SearchEngineLand columnist Nate Dame comes to the rescue with a list of concrete characteristics your content must possess if it’s to please those ranking algorithms.
- If your content helps a user complete a specific task (the three most common ones are to know something, to do something or to go somewhere) you’ll be setting off on the right foot. That means designing content around clearly defined words and user intent. Staying on topic and avoiding mixed messages will help (slinging a sales pitch into the middle of a resource piece grates the algorithms, not to mention the user).
- Keyword stuffing is bad. Google’s been at war with it for years. Identify your most important keywords and their synonyms and structure your content so that each is embedded in its own subsection. Search engines like that.
- Practise “SUCCES” in you content – make sure it’s Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and/or uses Stories. In addition, try to ensure it educates, inspires, and/or entertains, yet remains relevant to your brand or website (sacrificing relevance for entertainment generally doesn’t go down well).
- Titles and H1s matter. Try a couple of excellent tools like Portent’s SERP Preview Tool (or Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool. They’ll tell you instantly if your title’s too long.
- Word count also matters. Dame cites the 2014 ranking factors study by Searchmetrics which found that 1,000 words was ideal; however, that’s 1,000 words of good, engaging content, not words slapped down to hit the target total. And break it into visually appealing, bite-sized pieces with headers (images or videos will also help).
- Don’t get confused between your peers and your audience: write for the latter, not the former (and proofread carefully – sloppy errors will cost you).
- Include a short author bio and picture: Google Authorship may have been mothballed but author rank is still a factor – the bio and pic will help.
- It might seem obvious, but link to good, reputable, high quality sources and use natural phrases to hook those outbound links to, not a jarring “click here” phrase.
- Finally, try to give your content unique value – the “knows” and “do’s” that users can’t get anywhere else.