Article by John Dietrich
Many of us have heard that content is the key to search ranking success. However that doesn’t leave us with much to go on. Just exactly why is content so critical? How can a business, or individual, produce the kind of content that will actually have a positive effect on ranking. In this article we’ll walk you through some of the steps necessary to achieve search ranking success through the use of high quality content.
Part of Google’s complex search algorithm is a kind of freshness bias. This means that in order to rank well, and to do so consistently, you have to be producing high quality content on a regular basis. High rankings do not come easily. You have to be willing to put in the work in order to reap the reward, because if you’re not willing to do so there are plenty of others who are.
Another aspect to Google’s ranking of your site is bounce rate. This is basically a calculation of how long a person stays on your site once they reach it. A high bounce rate, i.e. people come to the site and leave quickly, is seen by Google as an indication of low quality content. When your content is engaging, and helpful visitors tend to stay on the site longer which indicates authenticity to Google.
Pay attention to user experience. Google has said time and time again that a good user experience will be rewarded by higher search ranking. For example Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts reported at a recent SMX Advanced conference that if attendees could have one single takeaway it should be to, “Make something compelling and optimize the user experience.”
Content & Keyword Research
To begin you’ll need to understand some of the elements involved in high quality content. One of the major aspects to high quality content is being helpful i.e. fulfilling a need. Does your content actually help people who have found your content, and is there real value to it. Be sure your content has substance, and is not simply a few ill conceived thoughts thrown onto a page.
Being helpful, and producing meaningful content means doing the research. Put some time into your content, and understand your subject matter. Pay particular attention to keywords. There are a number of free keyword research tools available. One of my favorites is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. Check out this post to see an easy to follow presentation on how to use this tool.
Keyword research is important because you’re basically trying to provide answers to search queries with your content. This means you have to understand how people are searching for things. Once you know how people are searching for the content you’re providing you can then produce exactly the kind of content being searched for. As a content producer you’re looking for questions you can answer with your expertise.
Be aware that Google is always on the lookout to derank content they consider “spammy”. That is a site that over uses a keyword to build density, and attempt to game the ranking system. Google also takes into consideration natural use of keywords so be sure that your content is written well, and doesn’t contain unnatural sentence structures or punctuation.
Content Strategy Case Studies
So what happens to your search ranking when you consistently produce high quality, helpful and informed content? That’s exactly what TresnicMedia set out to determine when they embarked on their 50 Posts in 25 Days Project. You can view the details here, but in short here is what they saw:
Website Traffic Increase (overall traffic): 481%
Search Traffic Increase: 427%
Referral Traffic Increase: 440%
Direct Traffic Increase: 570%
Another company, LogMyCalls, decided to see if they could replicate the TresnicMedia study. LogMyCalls set out to go even bigger, and produced 150 blog posts in 50 days. The results of their efforts paid off. Not only did they see massive increases in search traffic, but they also found, “During the three month period of Q1 2013, we signed more new customers than in any other 3 month period in company history. Additionally, leads directly generated via inbound marketing and content increased by more than 800%.”
LogMyCalls took their findings a step further and actually fired their SEO firm as well as reduced some of their ad spend. While they do not advocate doing this in every case, what they found was that their content production strategy was so successful they were able to re-allocate resources while continuing to grow their core business.
Where to Go from Here
Take action! Develop a plan for producing consistent, high quality content. One way of helping to ensure that your efforts stay on track is to have an editorial calendar. Plan out your content production in advance, and distribute the workload. If your blog or website already has a highly regarded rank then reach out to guest bloggers on social media. There are many talented bloggers wishing to make a name for themselves, and your content strategy can be one of mutual benefit.
If you’re unable to produce this content find someone who can, and hire them. As you can see from the above examples a dedicated, highly active content strategy can pay high dividends. Take some of this potential income and invest it in your content strategy. Don’t sacrifice quality however, and be very sure that any content people you may hire are qualified.
The bottom line is that no matter what your content strategy may be there are significant benefits to search ranking from producing consistently good content. Following the advice in this article will set you on the right path, but there is no substitute for hard work. There are many dedicated individuals currently running very successful content production campaigns, and in order to be successful you must be willing to pay the price.