Content is that which drives traffic to your site. High-quality content is what keeps your reader engaged and coming back for more. It is evaluated by search engines as having certain characteristics: it is typically long in length, it’s timely, relevant to the search results, engaging, and if done right, will demonstrate that you are an authority in your sector. All these characteristics are measured by click-through rates and dwell time.
Here we talk about content and how to use it to increase SEO and your rating in search results.
When people spend a long time on site reading your content, Google search engines classify this as ‘dwell time.’ A long dwell time indicates that the content is useful, valuable, and engaging. If your content generates “high dwell time”, the search engine will rank your content (and by extension, your site) higher in its search results.
A high rating in search results is important because statistics show that most people searching for content never look past the first page of search results. A high placement on the search list is crucial to getting traffic to your site. Factors that can increase the dwell time are compelling information, a higher word count, and relevant links to and from your content to indicate you are a credible and reputable source. So how do you increase dwell time? Let’s take a look.
Sure, funny cat videos can increase dwell time, but once the video hits a viral penetration, you’re left with nothing to draw your audience back. To increase user dwell time on your site, you must provide readers with something of value. For most businesses, the “value” commodity is information—content. Nothing will rank your content/site higher than consistently good, fresh content. A well-planned website, chock full of information and resources, will draw readers. But websites are often static. Therefore, website content should have an ‘evergreen’ value, something that is informative and relevant over time–evergreen.
The easiest way to get ‘fresh’ content is to blog. The beauty of a blog is that you can add new content to your site regularly. The more frequently you publish content, the more often Google web crawlers will index your site, keeping you towards the top of the search results list. Timely and relevant information is the main component of any good content.
The appropriate length of an article or blog depends on the topic. If you’re publishing short snippets of insightful stories or telling anecdotes, then your post probably shouldn’t be any longer than about 300 words. Short anecdotes are great for using social media to bring awareness to your business site. But once the reader is at your site, they may need something more.
If you are covering a subject in-depth with references to outside sources, then your post should probably be longer. It used to be that 1,500 words were considered a good length for an in-depth article. Nowadays, Google rates articles in excess of 2,000 words higher than shorter articles on the assumption that if the article is long, it must have some meat–it’s comprehensive. If a reader is researching for something, they prefer to get their information from a single location. If your article is comprehensive, pulling all the information together in a single location, with links to relevant resources, it is likely to keep the reader’s attention longer. Links are crucial for establishing in-depth, quality content.
An article of 1,500 to 2,500 words is likely to originate from multiple sources, and Google uses this to determine if your content is “rich.”
But not just any links will do. It used to be that you could buy and barter links and pump your paper full of them. But Google caught onto this trick. Google web crawlers now check your links and, if they are not relevant, your article is ignored in the Google rankings. The same holds true if you have too many “internal” links; that is, links to other pages of your own website. Google search engines reward content that is supported by other relevant sites. Links to other sites, and more importantly, deep-links to content buried beneath a homepage, demonstrate to Google that the content has depth and value.
Other site links are good, but they are not all created equal. In fact, certain sites hold a higher credit rating than others. For example, links to sites that have the .org, .edu, or .gov extension are considered links of high authority value. Having these links in your paper will definitely boost its ranking as one of quality content.
Meta Titles, Descriptions and Keywords
When a new post hits the internet, Google’s web crawler scours the content to retrieve likely keywords. Keywords and long-tail keywords are words and phrases (respectively) that a user is likely to use to perform a search. Using keywords effectively will boost your rankings. When new content hits the internet, Google’s web crawler will comb the article, retrieve likely keywords and phrases, and index them in a database. When someone enters a matching keyword, Google search will return all articles/post with matches.
Generic keywords are likely to return thousands, if not millions of hits. Therefore, having unique keywords is the trick. But remember, they need to be words that a user would actually use in the search engine, otherwise there are useless.
The long-tail keyword can help you rise to the top of a SERP. For example: a search for “flip-flops”, returned over 302 million matches. Adding the word “ergonomic” decreased the number of returns to 1.67 million, and adding the word “purple” to this search cut the results to just over 175,000. So you can see, the trick is to be specific in your long-tail keywords. But don’t worry. If you miss the mark on exact terminology, you can bet that all those purple ergonomic flip-flops were still included in the first search for flip-flops.
Title, Meta Descriptions
Keywords located in the title, particularly the first word in a title, are most effective. Effective, catchy, short titles can be hard to write. But the time spent on nailing the right title is worth it.
Google crawlers are geared to focus on the first hundred words. So all you journalists out there who learned how to write to the news triangle, rejoice–that training is going to help you as you fit your keywords into the first paragraph.
But be careful! Do not “stuff” your content with keywords–the algorithms can detect it and will ignore your content. For example, if you sell tables, then “table” is a good keyword. However, if your first paragraph has the word “table” in it seven times, that definitely constitutes stuffing.
High-quality content is good, timely, relevant, and in-depth. The best content is also evergreen as it remains relevant over time. Google algorithms are forever changing, with the goal to make the search engine experience better, more effective for the user. The best practice to drive people to your site is to utilise high-use keywords, and monitor Google’s adaptations as you continue to introduce high-quality content.
By Jill Anderson
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