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Why Content Matters

9 November 2020
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Why Content Matters

Content is king has to be one of the most overused phrases in the SEO industry to explain why content matters, but that’s not to say there is no truth behind it.

Imagine a website with no content on its pages – what would be the point? Content communicates meaning and serves a purpose, so without it a website would be useless.

Google Panda

It goes a great deal deeper than this though. When trying to attain a better ranking in SERP’s, your two most valuable assets are on-page SEO optimisations and truly unique content. Both are comparatively easy and within-reach of most of us, when compared to acquiring high quality backlinks or artificially driving traffic using PPC.

Answering many facets of a single question and immediately related topics is favoured much more heavily by any major search engine than creating a great deal of shallow, repetitive content, attempting to grab hold of niche keywords.

In fact, Google’s ‘Panda’ update back in 2011 was designed to directly counter the rise in poor-quality content farm articles. It was – and still is – what every site should be attempting to appeal to. Google found it so effective at increasing the quality of results that they rolled it into their core algorithm in 2015.

Here’s a quick breakdown of a few things Panda doesn’t like:

Content farms – Sites that have a huge number of very short (usually less than 350 word) articles, which lean heavily on repeatedly including keywords and search terms, even when they are written in improper English, such as ‘best cheap shoe Warwick’.

Duplicate content – As expected, content that is identical, or near-identical. A network of low-quality sites would all share their content to appear more complete at a fraction of the workload. But often, duplicate content can be accidentally created by a legitimate business. If you offer local services in many different areas, you might think to create a page for each, with locations swapped out. Generally, a bad idea. You’re better off creating a hub page with links to your local services, and the content on the hub page made more generalised.

Query Mismatches – If you’ve ever clicked through to a site based on its position in the SERP’s, and not found much of anything related to what you searched for, that’s a content query mismatch. Sites once flooded themselves with high traffic keywords to draw in clicks with no regard for what users would find.

These are just a few examples, and the full list is much more extensive. Point being – Panda is bad news for low-quality content.

High-quality vs. low-quality content

So, what actually defines content as a ‘high-quality’ piece? Well for that, we need to look at it from two perspectives. Google, and the user. The two aren’t as dissimilar as you’d be forgiven for thinking they are at first glance. One is an algorithm, and the other a person, after all. But as discussed, what Panda aims to do is emulate a user browsing any given SERP and defining what they will find most useful.

Ever wondered why Wikipedia is so consistently highly ranked across almost any given search term? Content is the primary driver. The article structuring on Wikipedia is no accident, and contributors must adhere to a general set of guidelines.

Firstly, they give a clear and concise overview of the page in question. For this example, we’ll look at none other than the Greek Titan, Atlas. Wikipedia defines Atlas as “a Titan condemned to hold up the celestial heavens or sky for eternity after the Titanomachy.” It defines who or what Atlas is quickly, his role and what he is best known for, and then gives us a key phrase to learn more about – Titanomachy.

Panda recognises that users searching for Atlas will most commonly want to know a definition and more information about the Titan. In addition, expect your traffic on a page to drop if it’s prone to spelling errors, grammatical mistakes or poor syntax.

All of these are often a sign to both Google and your users that the content on your page is neither well researched or particularly valuable, and massively damages your authority with both. Wikipedia again hits all of these point consistently across the overwhelming majority of pages.

Search engines like their displayed results to give an authoritative answer. The dream result for a SERP is that the user clicks exactly one result, and it displays precisely the information they were after.

Search engines are often asked questions and queries – so much like Wikipedia, you should always be attempting to answer a question, even when the direct search term you’re after isn’t a question itself. A user may type in ‘cheap sunglasses’, but what they really want to know is “Where can I buy cheap sunglasses?”

Producing SEO optimised content

You have two options when looking at building a better database of content on your site. You can do it yourself, using an in-house team, or use an SEO agency that provides a bespoke content writing service .

Doing it yourself allows for complete creative control, rapid alterations, and bespoke customisation but is enormously time consuming. For most small and mid-sized companies, as well as many larger ones, having a content team is also decidedly inefficient when it comes to money.

A well-researched piece of content which then has to be optimised for purpose can easily take a full day to produce. Unless you’re producing a new piece per team member per day, the cost-benefit just doesn’t add up.

Using an external company may make more sense – but ensure you choose the right ones for the job. Identify that the company understands SEO and content marketing, not one or the other. Those who falsely try to separate the two industries are making a classic error in understanding the relationship between them.

You may also wish to inquire as to their history with your market. If they’ve previously worked and had success in your market, whether that be English, German, Spanish, or any number of other languages, they likely have established relationships with quality native writers. Always ask a company if they use native language writers for their pieces.

Conclusion

In this post, we have identified why content matters so much to search engine algorithms, and what you can do in order to appeal to it. Remember that content alone will only get you so far, but without quality content, all other SEO practices are considerably less efficient. Consider it a cornerstone of your site moving forward, and address any inefficiencies in the way your content pages are produced.

SEO

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