Here at Mountain Media, we often get asked the question: How can I make a website that people can enjoy and that ranks well in search engines? While the question is great, the answer is rather complicated.
As of late, Google has made changes to its algorithm to ensure quality websites outrank inferior websites. Through two Panda refreshers and one Penguin update, Google has made it easier to pinpoint and penalize those who create poor content by using keyword stuffing and unnatural language. At first, these updates left website owners at risk for big penalties including lowered rankings or being dropped altogether in Google’s search index. In turn, these websites risk a serious and costly drop in web traffic. For an ecommerce website, this can be extremely detrimental. These updates, as well as the inevitable future updates to search engine algorithms, are dramatically changing the role of SEO. While keywords are still important to a website, great content must be written for the benefit of the readers.
Now, back to the original question, the key to having a website that people can enjoy and that ranks well in search engines can be found in the Google guidelines. According to Google’s Webmaster guidelines, one should “create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.” A useful website provides value or somehow benefits its visitors. It also includes information that cannot be found elsewhere on the Internet. Following these guidelines will help Google to find, index and rank your website. The challenging part is developing useful and interesting content. Now why is content important again?
Content attracts visitors
Unique content is important because it attracts visitor attention and builds interest in your website. Research shows that people are more likely to purchase products from a website that produces custom content. Where can you get unique content? Ask your boss! Business owners have a wealth of information regarding their particular product, service or industry. Unfortunately, this information often stays in their heads. Instead, take that knowledge and turn it into valuable web content. Publishing this information makes it tangible and a great resource for customers. Now that you have provided unique content to get them there, the challenge becomes keeping visitors on your website. You can do this by including video, photos and witty content. If you can provide this to your visitors, they will be more likely to stick around [Read: 3 Places for Video Love on Your Website].
Search engines score content
Publishing new and relevant content on your website is a way to show search engine spiders that your website is not stagnate. For example, Google measures all of your documents for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query. Search engines like Google want to provide the best user experience possible. Therefore, the goal of any major search engine is to return the most relevant results to users. Take an honest look at your website and see what pages will benefit most from freshness. Then, be fresh, relevant and most importantly, be useful.
Powerful inbound links
If you can write something useful and portray yourself as a thought leader within your industry, you create the opportunity for people to start writing about you and even linking to your articles. Having links from other websites to yours is a crucial SEO tactic. First, search engine robots follow links between websites. Therefore, the more inbound links you have the more often robots will visit your site. Secondly, many search engines consider inbound links as “votes” for you. They assume that if a lot of websites are linking to you, your site must be of high quality. Also, inbound links can bring more traffic to your website, which means potential leads and conversions. Essentially, the better your content is the more powerful the inbound links will be.
Content is an investment
Keep in mind, content is an investment in your site. Unlike Internet advertising, content is an investment that keeps bringing new visitors year after year. And all good things require effort. Writing web content is a skill that takes both practice and patience. As I’ve mentioned above, content should be both useful and interesting. It should also be SEO-rich. A good rule of thumb when it comes to writing web content is to use a keyword density of 3-5 percent—just enough to attract some new attention without sounding too redundant and disengaging. If your skills are not up to par, you may want to consider hiring someone well trained in the art [Read: PR & SEO: A Match Made in Cyber Heaven].
As you can see, the Google updates were quite alarming to the SEO professional who has always used traditional SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing, to help clients move up in the rankings. While there is still a need for optimization, good content is very important. This may mean hiring copywriters or public relations professionals to develop content strategies that include useful article topics, interesting blog posts, and website pages that engage readers in the future!