At this point, everyone who has some kind of online presence and engages in SEO copywriting should know not to treat Google as "just" a machine, but as a leader in its field and a near-essential for businesses looking to grow their customer base.
As a website owner (regardless of the niche), your main method of interacting with Google is by content. No wonder why 76% of B2B marketers say they will produce more content in 2016! They know that this is the best way to get Google's attention.
But really, don’t you want to know what is the best way of flattering Google with content? The answer is - you need to flatter your readers with high quality content, and if you do that, Google will approve.
Google Algorithms Are Watching You
Don't get scared, but they really are watching every piece of SEO copy you publish. Content marketing has survived a very tough evolution in the last 5 years. Most of that evolution was triggered by Google itself, whose ever-changing algorithms eventually shaped the content guidelines we use today.
Imagine Google as a big library, with all sorts of information on its shelves. Now, when you enter a library that big, you don’t go searching what you need yourself, you ask for help from the library staff. Google's algorithms essentially act as "librarians". Their job is to search the library and bring you exactly (well, or almost exactly) what you've asked for.
Google algorithms use more than 200 signs to determine if the content they’re scanning is relevant to your search. Some of the signals Google uses to decide relevance is:
- How fresh is the content?
- What terms are used on the entire website?
- How do users engage with your content across the web, including social media?
- And so on.
So, it is important to understand that even if you think the low-quality content on your website is enough for now, think again. Google will never give priority to your website in search results, and you will lose a considerable amount of organic traffic that could have resulted in leads and customers in the future. Your overall conversion rate of the organic traffic should be 16%.
If you want Google to approve your content strategy and reward you with relevant traffic, start a high-quality SEO copyrighting now and make it a priority in your SEO checklist.
1. What Was High Quality Content in the Past?
If you are determined to continue your research, here's a heads-up; make sure to search and learn from new sources. Tips on how to improve your SEO that were published 6-7 years ago may be very harmful to your rankings now. Here's what you should avoid:
Around 5 years ago, if a proper content strategy was not your priority, you could copy and paste content from another source and consider the job done. In 2011, Google rolled out its first Panda update that targeted duplicate and low-quality content. Dreams of many marketers about "quick results" and "easy solutions" were shattered. This was Google’s attempt to increase the quality of content being published by marketers and brands in order to provide more accurate answers to users’ queries. So, if anyone tells you it's OK to simply load your website with articles that have already been published elsewhere, you'll know their information is at best out-of-date and at worst an attempt to get you to spend money on a lackluster product. This also applies to product descriptions, in case you're sporting an e-commerce platform.
Did you know that not all directories are indexed by Google? So, if you’re spending resources on adding your business in all possible and impossible directories of the web, you may be wasting your time. If the directory is relevant to your business or location, go ahead and add your signature there. If you're looking to add your information only for the sake of creating one more link, don't expect any serious results.
Same goes for link farms, which are websites and pages that are created only for one purpose: to provide a backlink to the main website. Forget about websites and forums that are filled with spammy listings. Adding your link there will make you look really ugly in the eyes of Google.
Spam is also very expensive! Spam costs American consumers and firms nearly $20 billion each year! Now, compare that with the costs of inbound marketing, which creates helpful and everlasting content that is also used in a personalized manner.
There were times when SEO copywriting meant creating content solely for keywords. If there is a keyword in the headline and a few others in the text, then we’re good! Not anymore! Google not only doesn’t reward such content, but it also sends "a love note" spiced up with a penalty to the web admin. Love hurts, we know!
There is a reason why Google stopped concentrating on its keyword tool, hinting to marketers and SEO experts to think about quality first. Keywords are secondary.
It never used to be an issue to throw an affiliate or ad link in a blog post. In fact, it used to be a normal practice to build an entire blog post around a single repeated link. Have you ever opened a blog that has more advertising than content? You know what we’re talking about. These articles and websites are usually clouds of words; it is filled with text that is unrelated, poorly researched, and contains no value to the reader. Why should your visitor spend time on it, let alone sign up for one of your services?
Today, quality always tops quantity. If you’re about to start a blog and throw in an hour every week and hope it will pay off eventually, you might want to reconsider; a blog is only popular if it’s packed with valuable information that users are searching for. It is a great tool that, if used properly, can be a fantastic source of leads and PR.
2. What is High Quality Content Now?
You are now aware of all the things that should never take space on your SEO checklist and if you still want to know how to improve your SEO performance, here is a list of ways to get started:
“Original content” is the exact opposite of the “duplicate.” Content that is not published anywhere else other than your website gets a thumbs-up by Google. Now, if you want to level up the game, try publishing something that is even more original - information. If you can give something new to the online community (a fact, a number, an opinion, or a tip), you will be rewarded with a few rank increases.
Besides publishing original content that cannot be found anywhere else, Google cares about relevance. Are you publishing what your readers are actually searching for? If yes, then you’re on the right track.
Even if there is a trending story about an extra-cute puppy across the world, you cannot expect your business partners in Greenville or on the East Coast to applaud you for that. You might get a few likes, because no one can resist an especially cute puppy, but it doesn't provide any gains for your brand.
Value to the Reader
The word “valuable” has almost become an industry buzzword, a vague term that needs further definition. It's commonly assumed that all content is valuable, but this just isn't the case. Valuable content means it answers questions or provides solutions to the user. If the user just spent, say, fifteen minutes reading information on your site, what kind of helpful information have you given them in return?
Social Media Popularity
There is a valid reason why so many marketing firms insist that a proper SEO checklist should consist of both SEO and Social Media elements. Google determines the prominence of your content based on how many people are discussing it. Every time your article is tweeted, shared on Facebook or Google+, Google receives a social signal. If someone found your content worth sharing, then it might interest other searchers as well.
Quality and Relevant Links
Your website cannot perform well in isolation, which is why you need some online support. If there are no websites mentioning you as a reference or you're publishing information that isn't related to any other online source, chances are that no one will want to hear what you have to say. Inbound marketing is about conversations and relationships.
Links pointing to ads or websites that display only ads are also not appreciated, and Google's latest updates specifically penalize website using spammy or irrelevant links. As a result of such algorithm changes, 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation will be their most important content marketing goal in 2016. Sales will be their second priority.
Visual content used to take a backseat when it came to digital marketing, but these days visual content is king. An image or video is content with just as much value as words or links. It's important to make sure your visual content is held to the same exacting standards as your copywriting.
Google demands the absolute same criteria from videos as it does from articles. Sure, the search engines might not be able to read what exactly your image says (yet!), but they will know if it’s copied from anywhere or is the product of your own design team.
An in-depth and smart content strategy is a crucial component for every inbound marketing plan. High-quality and sought-after content will ensure your website will be found online and acquire new readers, who can be nurtured into leads and customers.
Now that you’ve figured out what Google thinks about your content, it’s time for an even tougher challenge: what do your prospects think about your content? Do they keep coming back for more? Are they sharing your witty tweet with friends?
There is one simple fact that Google wants you to understand. It's essential to create content targeted to people, not to machines. Once people start responding to your messages, Google will undoubtedly rank you better.