Content, Content, Content.
It’s what it’s all about these days. More and more websites are getting built everyday (about 200 Million ACTIVE websites, yet 1.8 Billion unique hostnames) and absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Your content not only is competing with other websites that are trying to rank for the same thing as you, but you are also competing for your user’s time.
Is your content worth your user’s time?
In one click users can be off your website and onto another. Reasons people click away aren’t always your fault, there’s just something more engaging elsewhere.
So the question is, how do you make Google love your content? First, people must love your content.
Google has set up it’s algorithm to show it’s users what it thinks people will love, and they have given guidelines on how you should prepare content. In this article, I’m going to discuss best practices according to Google and have you walking away having a better understanding of what Google considers and how you can create more engaging content.
For those of you who don’t know what Google Panda is, it’s a part of Google’s Algorithm that seeks to downrank pages that are “low quality”. The result of Panda sees websites with “High quality content” at the top of Google. Panda is part of Google’s “site quality algorithms” that are built to allow users to find high quality sites by reducing the rankings of low quality sites.
How to Have High Quality Content in Google’s Eyes
A Google Spokesperson once laid out what it considers regarding High Quality VS Low Quality.
Below is Google’s Algorithmic mindset of how a user interacts with a website:
#1: Instill Trust: Do you trust the webpage you just landed on? Is it written by an actual Expert on the subject? Does anyone vouch for this website/company/person? Is it detailed or shallow? Are there links to sources? Is there proof of what they’re stating?
#2: No Duplicate Content: Does this webpage (or website) contain blocks of the exact same or repetitive content? Has it stolen content from another website and not set up or given the proper credit?
#3: Be Detailed: Are there spelling errors? Grammar errors? Are there subheadings? Or is it just one long piece of content not laid out properly? Is what is being reported true?
#4: Be Genuine: Was this content created because the writer or readers are actually into it? Or is it strictly to rank high on Google. My theory on how Google can decipher this is based on if this Author is on multiple websites, if they partake in discussion on Social Media, how often they create content and if it’s just another hot trend they are jumping on VS if the content is truly unique. I would also guess this based on duplicate content as well- If you create a multiple similarly titled landing pages (doorway pages) to target all keyword variants.
#5: Be Original: How unique is the reported content? Are they only discussing what has already been discussed or are they bringing something new to the table?
#6: Add Value: Is this content exactly like everything else that is ranking for what the user searched? When creating content to target a keyword – You have to ask why Google should show your content above what else is out there. How is your content more valuable than your competitors?
#7: Show All Sides: Are you showing just one side or the whole story? Or are you granting users the ability to read and learn every angle to a topic?
#8: Be the Authority: Is this website truly an authority on the topic? Are you really at the forefront or faking it until you make it?
#9: Edit your work: How well edited is the content? Was it mulled over carefully or quickly produced?
#10: Be Insightful: Is this content just stating the obvious? Or are you going above and beyond by being insightful and preparing a unique angle.
#11: Bookmark Minded: Would you bookmark this content or send to a friend to read? This one particularly stands out to me. You should write with this in mind regardless of the subject.
#12: Don’t put too many Ads: Are there a bunch of Ads on the page? Pop-Ups? These can be potentially distracting and take away from the content and user experience.
#13: Write like a Professional: Would this content be worthy of being printed in a magazine, book or even an encyclopedia?
#14: Ensure Appropriate Content Length: Are the articles too short? Do they lack necessary details to learn everything that can be learned on the subject?
#15: Good User Experience: Would the user complain upon seeing the website? Are there pop ups? Is the font too small or illegible?
#16: Be Secure: Would you give your Credit Card information to this site? Does it have an SSL Certificate? Has anyone reviewed them? Does it accept several types of payments?
There is a lot that Google considers – Even more that Google hasn’t mentioned. But if you write your content with the above in mind, it’s a huge step in the right direction for your presence in Google Search.
Style and Tone
Google also publicly released a Developer Documentation Style Guide which aims to help it’s creators in “striving for high quality documentation”. This is how Google Developers are being told to communicate. Below are a few key points that I feel content writers should have in mind.
#17: “Aim, in your documents, for a voice and tone that’s conversational, friendly, and respectful. A voice that’s casual and natural and approachable, not pedantic or pushy. Try to sound like a knowledgeable friend who understands.”
#18: “Don’t try to be super-entertaining, but also don’t aim for super-dry”.
#19: “Avoid Buzzwords or Jargon” (If you are using either, you should explain yourself).
#20: “Avoid jokes at the expense of customers, competitors”.
#21: “Avoid the word ‘please’ in a call to action”.
There’s a lot to be learned by seeing how Google wants things written. Take from those points what thou wilt, I think they’re noteworthy and can serve as a best practice for content writers.
How to Create Content that Engages
So now that you know what Google considers, what are some ways you can ensure engagement with your content?
#22: Use Videos/ Images/ Infographics
People often prefer these mediums rather than reading because, you know, people don’t have the longest attention span these days. These types of mediums often have more shares/likes on social media too.
#23: Create a Clickworthy Title
Your title should be interesting, not just a keyword. Get creative. Have your target audience in mind and create a title that is worth their time. There’s more approaches to take, such as, controversial (often clickbait), problem solving, long lists and more. You can also incorporate trigger words such as “free”, “guarantee”, “instant”, “amazing”, the list goes on.
#24: Social Share Buttons
Make it easy for people to share by having the quick share buttons on your content.
#25: Use a Call to Action
Having a call to action let’s the user know what you want from them. They have the opportunity to pay you back if they liked your content, such as, “Like or Share” “Get in Touch”, “Follow Us” etc.
#26: Enjoy What You Write
For my final point, when you’re excited about what you are writing, it’s easy to go to great length and detail about your topic. It becomes clear when you’re reading content someone wanted to share VS content someone has been told to write.
After considering Google’s algorithm, what your tone should be and how to create content that engages, you should now know how to make Google love your content. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference or share on social media.