The Importance of High Quality Content for SEO
When creating content for public consumption, it’s imperative that webmasters have an understanding of Google, the search engine favoured by millions, and what it wants. Google’s primary objective is to present its users with high quality content that’s relevant to any given search query. What it doesn’t want is for users to be exposed to what it deems to be low quality content. Google have published a number of guidelines outlining which hallmarks of low quality content to steer clear of, and they enforce these using manual and algorithmic action.
In February of 2011, Google rolled out Panda, an alteration to its algorithm specifically designed to downgrade websites containing low quality content. Initially, Panda affected approximately 12% of US search results in English, a figure which Google has released, with many websites experiencing a dramatic decrease in visits. One particular e-business lost 60% of its traffic overnight.
A “hit” by Panda can be devastating to those concerned, and is something to be avoided at all costs.
Panda continues to have impact with each update that Google unleashes in its quest to eradicate low quality content from the Internet, with Panda 4.0 being the most recent. So in order to increase the likelihood of visibility on Google, and reduce the risk of penalisation, it’s best to aim high.
So what is Low Quality Content?
Low quality content comes in a variety of shapes and forms, and can range from a page riddled with grammatical error, to one where keywords have been used inappropriately.
Many experts refer to low quality content as being thin or shallow in nature, in that it lacks the substance required to be of any real value to users. Low quality content can also appear spammy, and thus untrustworthy to potential subscribers, or clients.
And what is High Quality Content?
According to Rand Fishkin of Moz, THE go-to source for all things SEO, high quality content is the kind that “makes everyone who sees it want to share it and say WOW”. Google have released a questionnaire to aid in assessing one’s own website (and the content within it) for quality consisting of 23 questions like:
Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Will Critchlow, founder of Distilled recreated this questionnaire during an edition of Moz’s ‘Whiteboard Friday’, paring it down to twelve questions that address website quality, with content being an aspect of that.
To meet Google’s standards, it appears that content should be unique, useful and free from error in addition to being the sort that people will love, redistribute and refer back to over and over again. A tall order for SEOs, right?
How do I create High Quality Content?
In order to create high quality content, it is helpful to keep Google’s ‘Webmaster Guidelines’ at hand, in addition to the aforementioned questionnaire. These resources will assist you in evaluating any content that you may wish to publish online. It is also beneficial to do the following:
Know your audience: Different types of content appeal to different types of people. It is crucial to consider your target audience, and what they may like, share and bookmark.
Introduce variety: Rather than publish blocks of text that will lose readers, you should instead include different types of media that will stimulate your audience, and perhaps encourage them to return to your website again.
Bear in mind ‘classic’ SEO considerations WITHOUT overdoing it: Google wants websites to be made for users, and not for search engines. While the appropriate usage of keywords is encouraged by Google, the overuse of such is subject to penalty. There is such a thing as too much SEO!
Be passionate about what you’re writing about: Enthusiasm is contagious, if the author is enthusiastic about what they’re talking about, the audience will likely be too.
Image 1 credit: http://www.quickmeme.com/Pick-up-line-Panda
Image 2 credit: http://www.hunrgrypiranha.org/blog/google-panda-recovery/
Image 3 credit: http://davidmcbee.com/five-ways-to-blog-wrong/
Image 4 credit: http://moz.com/blog/guide-to-ads