In 1996, Bill Gates coined the iconic phrase “Content is King”. He published an article with this title that discussed his predictions of where the internet was headed. Today, that iconic expression is quoted quite regularly by those involved with search engine optimisation (SEO). Bill Gates was 100 per cent right with his prediction and content is still the king of online marketing more than 20 years later.
It’s unlikely that Bill Gates knew exactly how content would be utilised in this day and age with regard to SEO, but that doesn’t make his expression any less true. Content is an important part of SEO and online marketing in general for several reasons. It creates the main substance of every website and also serves as a collection of phrases and signals that search engines use to rank your website.
Each piece of content on your website is going to have two different audiences. First, you have the readers. Second, you have the search engines. They will both interact with your content in different ways and they will both have an effect on how well your website is ranked. The following guide will include a number of tips for appealing to both of these groups so that your website can enjoy a gradual rise to the top of Google.
This is a rule that is repeated nearly as much as the title to Bill Gate’s 1996 article. It’s repeated so often because it’s extremely important and surprisingly easy to forget. There was a time when it was possible to rise in Google’s organic rankings without considering the reading at all. The techniques used at the time were often referred to as “spamdexing”. One of the most popular spamdexing techniques was keyword stuffing.
The idea behind keyword stuffing is very simple. You publish content that is packed with a high volume of keywords so that Google thinks your website is relevant. That site is then ranked highly for the particular content. The actual substance of the content doesn’t matter at all.
Google eventually released algorithmic updates that severely penalised websites attempting to use this technique. The next step was for businesses to find a way to create content that was the bare minimum of acceptability. It wasn’t quite keyword stuffing gibberish but wasn’t valuable content either. Once again, Google released an update known as Panda that targeted such low-quality content. Multiple updates with similar goals have been released since.
So what does this all mean for content SEO today? It means that content can no longer be written with the goal of manipulating the search engine. Google has shifted from looking primarily at keywords because it’s too easy to rank highly with low-quality sites. Instead, they look for high-quality content that readers enjoy. Google uses the number and value of incoming links as an important tool for determining the quality of such content.
The Golden Rule all boils down to one thing: content must be written for the reader and then optimised for the search engine. Yes, you should still be using keywords when writing, but the density should be low and they should appear naturally. As a matter of fact, most keywords will appear in URLs, tags, titles, and image text. This also means that you need to be more careful when choosing keywords, which leads to the next point.
RankBrain is one of the most recent updates from Google and it has led to some serious changes regarding the use of keywords in published content. In the past, you could choose a few keywords and throw them into your content without much research. However, the way that RankBrain works in trying to understand the intent of a user’s search has changed that for good. You now need to consider the intent of your target audience and what they are hoping to find with their search rather than just the keyword they are using.
Keyword research is a never-ending task if you are involved with content SEO. Luckily, there are now more tools than ever to get the job done. You can find out exactly how many people are searching certain phrases and how many competitors are optimising their content for those words. You can then use that data to create entire clusters of pages that focus on a well-researched topic with high search volume and low competition.
A few years ago, Andrey Lipattsev revealed the top three signals used to rank websites in Google organic search results. The third most important metric is the RankBrain algorithm previously mentioned. Numbers 1 and 2 are links and content, though their exact order was not disclosed. This means that the two most important things your website needs to succeed are high-quality content and incoming links.
However, what is most interesting about this is that high-quality content actually leads to incoming links. Thus, in a sense, it’s safe to assume that content is overall the most important part of your website. If you want your content to truly benefit your SEO campaign then you need to share it with authority sites and hope that they link back to the content.
One of the easiest ways to start building links when you are a new website is by using social media. You share your content on social media and then followers will hopefully read the content. If they like the content, then they may link back to it from their own site. And if they happen to manage an authority website, then that link will greatly improve your website’s overall ranking.
Properly optimising content is by no means an exact science. The fact that the playing field is constantly changing doesn’t make it any easier. Just consider how much content has changed since Google began cracking down on spamdexing. To stay ahead of the competition you will need to constantly be learning as you go.
However, there are some things that may never change. Researching keywords will always be important. Earning backlinks from authority sites will always be a great way to use content to improve SEO. However, attempting to manipulate a company as big and complex as Google will never bode well for your website. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to properly optimize content as you build your company.
If you are looking to generate more sales by optimising your content utilising SEO, but you’re not sure where to start, book in a free strategy session with one of our business growth specialists today.