Is quality content good for SEO rankings?

You bet it is and the better the content the more likelihood your website page will rank. Google has seriously tightened it’s ranking criteria and as of 2011 once they released their Panda update to weed out poor quality websites, the game has changed. Namely quality content is what Google s looking for.

Let’s take it back before 2011 and see what the digital landscape was like so you can get a better idea of what the future holds. Websites pre “Panda update” could rank without any worthwhile content. We use to see pages rank for really competitive keywords where the sites would just be images and a tiny bit of text. Things were so different in those days where pages thin on copy could get to page 1 easily, if they had enough back links. Incredibly spammy and Google soon picked up on this.

After the Panda roll out, roughly 20-30% of websites world wide suffered a ranking drop because Google deemed that their web pages offered little information & value to the end user. As a result businesses and companies had to make some serious decisions about their website and how they wanted to be perceived online. Thus began the era of SEO copywriters, bloggers and news artifices on websites. From that point onwards Google wanted to see value is content throughout the site. Even pages that people didn’t really search had to have valuable content.

Related articleWebsite copy: Always write unique content

All of a sudden you had websites where there were pages and pages of copy presenting the reader with another issue; why did they have to read so much information to get to the nitty gritty of what they were looking for. Trawling through pages of irrelevant content, just to satisfy the Panda algorithm was now the norm and this was presenting Google with an issue. How to rank websites with quality content while at the same time giving readers a better experience. The answer was ‘bounce rates’. Google now looks at the what people do on your site, how long they stay and what they do when they land on all pages. If they exit the site quickly then these bounce rates will be high and your rankings will suffer.

Hence, web designers and copywriters now have to work together to not only deliver really good copy but also a pleasurable online experience. Google wants to ensure the results that they deliver to page 1 are what people are searching for.

Essentially, they want people to land on your page, look around and then go to other pages for more information and ultimately hit the contact us or buy now buttons. It is all about the user experience and Google are watching this very closely. Content is one part of this ranking equation so make sure that whatever you publish on your website is a dam good read!

Never plagiarise website copy

One point that needs to be highlighted here is copying content from someone else website. You may think that writing unique great copy is far too hard for you. So to save time and the expense of hiring a copywriter you just decide to rip a whole lot of content from someone else site. This is not going to work and will penalise you. Google’s algorithms are far too sophisticated for this and they can detect this type of duplicate copy very quickly. So if you even remotely tempted to plagiarise copy….DONT!

How many words per page are best for SEO?

This is a great question and while there is no definitive answer for this each page in our opinion should be between 500-1500 words depending on the nature of the topic. Obviously, if your in the medical field and your writing about some research or important medical breakthrough, the copy required will be more than if your a electrician talking about a service your offering. Needless to say, it doesn’t matter what industry or niche your in, the content has to be informative and answer the readers questions.

Featured snippets and questions

If your wondering what to address when writing copy Google has made it easy for you by providing featured snippets and questions. For example when I search ‘ how much should I pay for SEO’ I get a list of questions that people also ask about this topic. So, ideally you should also be addressing these type of questions in your web page.

google featured snippets

Having said that I should really address a few more questions as per Google’s recommendation so here  goes…..

What is high quality content?

It’s content written to answer users specific questions and not written specifically for ranking. The copy should be topic specific, unique and not syndicated on many other sites.

How do you make your content more SEO friendly?

– you have to plan what your going to write and have a strategy in mind.

– make sure you use heading and break the content up in easy to read paragraphs

– have links on the article to other pages within your site

– make sure the titles and descriptions are fully optimised for the reader

– make sure you post regularly and keep updating your website with relevant content. This tells Google that your site is alive and it will keep on sending it’s spiders along to reindex and crawl the site – some people feel strongly that this does help in your SEO efforts.

– if your adding any images the page they should be optimised with current alt titles

If your still wondering why your web pages seem to consistently fail online and why your attempts at content marketing seem to be falling flat, I’d be more than happy to take a look at what’s happening with your content and ways at which you can improve your online visibility.

5 Easy Ways to Keep your Website Content Fresh

If your website is not evolving and changing with the times then it’s simply a liability. Basically, it’s doing your business no good. In fact, it could be hurting your business. The second you stop refining, re-tuning and tweaking your website is the time it stops loosing it’s competitiveness. The only inevitable outcome is a slow and steady decline in the search engine rankings. Ouch, this is going to hurt.

Your website copy is no different. Old blogs, articles and web pages that have been left lying dormant for years without the slightest copy change will not only be putting clients off but will also be hampering your websites overall web score and in turn rankings. You have to ditch old copy and replace it with new and engaging content. So following are 5 quick and simple ways that you can clean out the dusty old cupboard of your website and replace it with shiny new exciting copy that resonates with your audience. I know your thinking that all of this sounds too hard. After all you went to all the trouble to write the content years ago now you have to replace it all again. What a nightmare. Well, this is the internet and we can’t do anything about it except suck it up and do what we have to do. So start tapping on those keyboards and get cracking.

Related article: Don’t worry about SEO just create good content – That’s wrong!

# 1. Optimise your website content. Make sure that your web page is optimised correctly for your main keywords. Look at the titles and descriptions to make sure they are still relevant. Perhaps you have forgotten about a special you have on last year and it’s still on the site. Things like this can really bring a web page down so you need to keep the keywords updated. This is all ‘on page’ web stuff but it will keep the page fresh.

Say for example you’re a plumber is Sydney and you have a page on your site all about hot water systems. Perhaps it’s time to revisit this page and add some new copy about your latest energy saving hot water system. You only need to add a few paragraphs and this will have a dramatic impact.

# 2. Add some links. Let’s say you have written a blog 4 years ago and your really proud of it. Unfortunately this copy will get buried in the rankings as more newer fresh content gets published over time. You will notice that traffic numbers will drop over time to this blog as less people are able to find it, however good a read it is. A cool little trick is to write a new blog that is somehow related to the old one and put a link on it directing viewers to the old blog. This will not only let Google know that there is a ranking signal to this old blog but it will also direct people back there. If it’s as good as you say it is then people will link to this article and this should re-energise it in the search results. I will often write a blog and have an internal link pointing to something I wrote 6 or even 7 years ago.

# 3. Redirect it. In some cases a blog or page is so old that it has to be deleted. In fact it’s just plain embarrassing. Before you hit the delete button think about the traffic going to that particular page and the keywords it’s ranking for. To be on the safe side what you need to do is perform what’s called a 301 and this will redirect people from the old page to a more relevant new page. This is the safest option. Never delete, always 301. This is standard web practise.

# 4. Do 1 page per week. If the task sounds too large I suggest do this in small steps at 1 per week. Don’t look at the whole picture rather take 1 blog or page at a time and spend say 20-30 minutes on it. Once you get the hang of it you will find that some pages only need a couple of words updates. It may be easier than you think.

# 5. Ditch it. Some articles are just so old they need a complete overhaul. Like some bad clothes you have from the 80’s or 90’s they just need to be thrown out. What was fashionable in content back in 2010 for some industries (especially ours in the digital space) are definitely no longer relevant. I say get in there with a jack hammer and start again.

The advantage of reviving new copy is that you really don’t have to think of new topics to write about. Finding new blog topics can be really hard work (the more you write the more they all seem to sound the same and you end up becoming very repetitive). They are already there and have worked well for you in the past so why not just revive it with a bit of TLC and save yourself a lot of time at the computer.

It’s not all about back links. You need quality over quantity

When I speak with clients and I do this all day a common misconception is that their SEO campaign is all about the number of back links they will receive. A common statement usually goes like this: ‘I’m currently on page 2 of Google and have been stuck there for many months, can you I pay you for some back links?’

Herein lies the issue and the problem surrounding most SEO campaigns. It’s not all about the back links. Far too many SEO agencies will simply go about building back links and think that this works, well it doesn’t and the proof of this is through the number of phone calls I get every day from people that have gone down this path and suffered the consequences. Thai is, terrible rankings!

For an effective SEO campaign, link building is only 1 component. To rely purely on this will have a detrimental affect on your site, especially if it’s left in the hands of one of the scores of thousands of dodgy SEO companies that have no idea about SEO. There are a number of other variables that need to be taken into account.

Your Back Link Profile is Vital, but there are other variables…

Let me start by clearing the air and stating that your back link profile is seriously important. It is probably one of the most effective ways to get your website ranking and we have proved this many times over in the past. Link building tells Google that you are an authority website and they should trust you which is a massive ranking signal. The more trust and authority you have, the higher your going to rank.

A great, high quality back link profile is one thing but most businesses get hung up about this and this is all they want to see. This is ‘old school’ SEO and is no longer the magic bullet. The logic behind this is simple; the more the better? Right, no this is wrong!

Related article5 Crucial SEO Ranking Factors

Google will only reward your website if it sees that your back links have been built naturally, slowly, methodically and over a gradual time period. Mass link building is not on and is a sure way to get your website flagged by Google as an attempt to spam the system and fraudulently try to manipulate the results. It’s a huge no-no and is still widely practised by a huge percentage of SEO agencies throughout Australia. Google wants to see back links that come from high authority, industry relevant websites that also have strong trust. This is what counts.

Simply put 10 000 back links from low authority sites is not as valuable as 1 link from a high authority website. You do the math and see what you need to do to create a strong link profile. If you want thousands of spammy links you better watch out for the pending Google penalty as it will hit you and boy o boy it will hit hard! Get out of the mindset that quantity is better than quality. It’s a fools dream and one perpetrated by SEO agencies that rely on these ‘black hat’ tactics as they do not know any better and do not have the resources or knowledge to attain high authority links.

backlinks are important for SEO

What is the Google Algorithm?

This is Google’s way of sifting through the billions of web pages online and giving you the user the information you require when searching. This algorithm is designed to display the most relevant and trustworthy information so you ( the consumer) have all the information you ever need at your finger tips. It’s sophisticated, highly complicated and best of all, always changing. For us SEO companies this is what keeps us on our toes and awake at night, trying to figure out what Google is up to when its changing it’s algorithm. This algorithm is made up of thousands of individual ranking components and is designed by some of the best minds on the planet. After all this is Google and they can recruit the very best people.

Although this algorithm is diverse it can be broken down into some major components that go towards establishing website rankings.

The Hummingbird Update: this is all about the search and Google will look at keywords and phrases as well as your web page relevance to deliver results. Google will take factors like location into account as well as other on page factors on your website. So for example if your looking for ‘best surf villas in Bali’ from your desktop in Sydney you will get a list of all the villa agencies in Sydney with generic information. If your in Bali doing this same task you will get information about individual villas. It is quite specific and was a game changer in terms of delivering search results.

The Penguin Update: looks at your back link profile and will determine what links are valuable and what are spammy. If your profile is deemed to spammy then you have 2 options; prune those unnecessary invaluable links or face the consequences of the penguin. The penguin will also look at the way in which you have been building these links. Are they all pointing to one page with an emphasis on certain keywords or is there a diversity? Links from so called ‘grey hat’ or sites that are not exactly bad but are also not good, will also get an eye cast over them. If you have been over reliant on PR postings or directory websites then this will go against you. Remember, with linking it MUST be from high authority sites – anything less will be targeted by the Penguin algorithm.

The Panda Update: is the content filter and will weed out any websites for punishment that have little or no relevant copy, duplicate content or are keyword stuffing ( writing for the search engines by repeating your main core keywords in the hope of improving rankings). Poor quality on page content is not what your website visitors are looking for and Google knows this so be warned. Make sure every word written for your website is designed for the consumers engagement and not Google’s.

RankBrain is the newest kid on the block and is designed to rank websites according to what it feels that humans are searching for and delivering these results.

A point to note here that these are the main ranking updates, there are heaps more ( pigeon, caffeine and pirate) but you really should be aware of these; linking, content and on site technical specifics. These Google updates that are happening more often and these trends that started years ago are set to continue well into 2016 & 2017.

As you can see if you are only focusing on link building you are ignoring the other core ranking elements as listed above. Links are just one facet, the others are as important and need to be addressed throughout your SEO campaign.

Here’s how they all apply:

Links ARE vital and it need to be implemented a slow organic fashion. Natural link building is all about getting another website to endorse your site via a link and this has to come from a relevant source that’s in your industry. This is the difficult part and can take a long time to achieve this. This is why they are so valuable. You actually have to put the effort and hard yards into getting g these link endorsements. I know how hard I have to work to get some of these and it can take ages. You need to build online relationships with people from all over the web and nurture these. This is why SEO and rankings is time consuming as you then need to know what to do with these. A scatter gun, mass link building approach is no good and is not the way to go. Look at it this way, the harder it is to get the link, the more valuable it becomes.

Content is king and is one of the BIG 3 when it comes to Google rankings. Ensuring that your site has valuable, worthwhile, rich content is going to remind Google that you are the best in your industry and they will keep on coming around to your website to look for other interesting tit bits of information. The more Google crawls your site, the more chance you will have of getting your web content ranked. Key here is to write articles, blogs and keep on adding pages to your site. Same as I am doing here with this blog – it works, you have to trust me on this. Also, for heavens sake, don’t ever plagiarise from any other sites and pass it off as your own or try to stuff as many keywords as you can on the page. It just looks silly and will turn off customers.

Technical ‘on page’ elements are the third critical element. Your website is like a racing car and it needs to be running at peak performance the whole time if Google is going to rank it. Make sure you look at things like: page titles and descriptions, page load speed, missing or broken links, flash animation, mobile friendly (responsive sites), correct implementation of 301’s ( from old websites to new websites) as well as images and graphics. All of these must come together nicely if your site has any chance of ranking.

In conclusion

The big thing that you should get from this is that link building is only one essential part of a balanced and ethical SEO strategy. Whilst it is a good thing and over reliance on this will tip the scales against your site. Try to be as diverse and legitimate as you can be when it comes to getting on Google and building your brand or business online. This is the only way you will ever rank.

Never try to game or beat the system. Google is just far too sophisticated and advanced for these trivial measures. They have seen it all before and they know every trick in the book.

What is Googles Focus in the Years Ahead?

seo2015As Google updates continue to roll out and the algorithm becomes more focused on displaying legitimate companies. SEO agencies and businesses in Sydney and throughout Australia need to know what Google is gong to reward. What are the things that they are looking for to rank quality websites over spammy, trashy sites? Over the past couple of years we have seem Google really tighten the noose on websites that have tried to manipulate page rank and we are now seeing, especially this year websites with greater authority starting to rank. And why have they got better authority? Cause they are writing and posting content that makes these websites an authority within their niche. They are publishing great copy that users are reading and in turn these sites are getting rewarded.

If businesses want to get their websites ranked in the next couple of years they must place more focus on what they are publishing and what they are communicating via their blogs, web pages, social media and news feeds.

So what can businesses do in regards to producing authority building content?

Lets have a look at Local Web Content Trends

So what is local content? Local content is aimed at your local community, suburb, area or city. If you are going to the be best in your local area and expect to be rewarded for this online, then your copy must have a very local feel to it. Think tradies, local professionals and local retailers. All content produced by these local businesses must be geared and aimed to the local market. This is the only and very best way to become an authority in your field in the local area.

Well Worded and Lots of Content Is Essential

If your pages are going to rank locally then they need to not only read well but there has to be some substance there. What I mean by this is that there is no point posting a blog article that’s only a couple of paragraphs long. It just wont cut it. Thin pages are in fact going to work against you. People often ask me how many pages should I write for my blog posts and I say that the word count can be no less than 750 to 1000 words. On top of this it has to be riveting, informative content. Make readers want to read more and stay on your website. Reasons why you are the best supplier for the local community should be highlighted. Keeping it real and from the heart is always going to work in your favour.

Google’s Penguin update will pick up on thin spammy content and this is going to get your site downgraded as a source of authority – hence poorer rankings.

Do You Have a Social Media Presence? Having a strong social media presence will send really powerful signals to Google that you are an authority. If you are publishing copy on your website, get it out there on your social media platforms. But, and I want to make a point here. Your posts and tweets need to have a strategy behind them Simply posting random content full of nonsense is not going to work well for you. The more time and effort you put into getting real followers (never pay for followers) on Facebook for example, the more you are going to be perceived as the go to place or the authority in your niche; be it local or national.

White Hat Links: This is a massive area and one that carries so much weight when it comes to establishing your websites authority. In short, you need quality in bound really high authority links if your website is ever going to rank. This is where the problems begin as many companies unfortunately end up using SEO agencies that can only provide links from sites that are in essence have no authority. Google looks down on this and punishes websites who fall foul of their strict link guidelines. To become an authority you need to be amongst other websites that are an authority. Anything less than this will not work – this is a given and this is the fundamental building block for SEO and web rankings. You can go online and read about this en masse.

There is so much documentation out there that it’s absolutely mind blowing. But to save you the effort of trying to understand the effects of bad back links all you need to do is give us a call here at SEO Sydney Experts on 02 9360 8514. If you have ever had a Google penalty or are simply unable to create a website that has authority we will be able to explain to you why this is so and help you reverse this situation.
Who Is Going To Write Your Content?

Authority is not easy to create if being an authority means that you have to write compelling great copy. For some people this is easy, even part of what they do for their business, they actually love writing copy and relish in it. But for the rest of us mere mortals, the task of sitting down, thinking of a topic and actually coming up with nearly a 1000 words is not going to happen. It is simply out of their scope and abilities. What is needed is a copywriter and businesses looking for more authority MUST start to think about getting professional content written for their business. One the one hand they can go the cheap option and get it done overseas for next to nothing, whilst on the other, they can invest in a local copywriter who understands the market and your audience and will write for them specifically. THIS IS THE BEST WAY to go and if businesses are smart enough to realize this then they will create some serious online authority and will shoot up the SEO rankings.

A point to note here is if you are going to have a go at writing your own web copy try to steer well clear of keyword stuffing and trying to cram as many local area keywords and services you are offering on the one page. These tactics used to work but nowadays you can forget about it.

Honesty With Google is the Best Policy

Don’t try to register offices with an address in each city. If you are in 1 area be honest about this and focus your efforts there. Look to expand organically by writing content that addresses other areas. Just cause you are in area A does not mean that you cannot target area B. The best way to do this is create a whole new page and write content specific to that area. When it comes to Google moving forward, the best way to rank your website will be being completely transparent and honest. You just might get away with it in the short term but eventually spammy, illegitimate behavior will get detected and your site will suffer.

Google has come a long way in recent times and its best practice policies that are going to win in the future. They actually have a set of guideline policies you can read BUT as with anything technical its best left to the experts that know how it works. Going it alone in the internet space is just too risky.

Thin Web Content is a Real SEO Killer

Have a look at your website and search all your main pages and be honest: are they thin on content? Are there only a couple of paragraphs per page that do not clearly articulate your product or service. Poorly worded web pages that are extremely light on content is going to harm your SEO and Google rankings. No doubt about it….if you think you can scrape by with just a few sentences for all your web pages, then you are in for a big surprise. Google is not going to rank or push these pages. Having really good content that’s over 500 words per page is a SEO winner and NOT an SEO killer.

thin-content-seoOK, So My website has Little content , what can I do?
The first thing to do is get really proactive. Don’t be daunted by the size of the task. The best thing to do is break your website down into main landing pages, that is, the pages that most people are looking at and focus on these in the short term.

Look at 1 page at a time and start by looking at the current content and modifying and adding copy to each page. If it is a services page, look at what you are doing and expand on this. But the key thing that I really want you to get out of this is that you must keep adding content regularly not only to your website but to each individual page.

Cause this is going to trigger to Google spiders to come around to your website looking for fresh new content to index. The more you publish, the more it will come around and the higher your rankings for certain pages…so on and so forth.

If you don’t update your website there is really no need for Google to come to your site and this will leave the door wide open for your competitors to get in these are start beating you online. This is why you HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE when it comes to adding, creating, modifying content. The basic rule of thumb here is the more content you add the better off you will be.

I just want to add 3 points here that you should be aware of when auditing your website for content and making the necessary amends.

1) Never write more than 1 or 2 blog articles per week – I see companies adding over 10 blogs or news articles per week in the hope of dominating their niche and completely obliterating the competition. This is spammy and can look like you are acting in an unnatural manner. This may be good in the short term BUT it CAN get picked up by Google and you may pay the price for this type of over activity. Be as natural as possible in this space and the rewards online will follow.

2) Watch out for blogs that start to get repetitive – over time the more your contribute to your site, articles may start to sound the same. Watch out for this as duplicate content is a strict violation of Google’s guidelines. If you think that your starting to sound stale, perhaps get a staff member to start writing – this can give a whole new perspective and slant to the way your content sounds.

3) Lastly, be original. The temptation may be there to copy and paste content from another source but this is going to be detected and will get your site penalised – try not to take the easy way out with this.

Your web pages need to keep on growing. It is a constant process that cannot be ignored. I am only saying this because I know how quickly content marketing is becoming the favoured approach with some SEO companies – SO if you are not actively adding pages, then the guys who are dominating page 1 will be. End result = You loose.

Remember: This rule of adding content should be rigidly applied to all pages that you deem to be thin. Be honest with yourself and never brush this fact under the carpet cause the only one who is loosing out is you.

Has someone got a better SEO ranking than you using your content?

I would say that one of the most terrible things to happen online is that someone has completely ripped off your content and they are out ranking you. This happens all the time and it’s basically fraud and a breach of intellectual property.

That is, some competitor comes alone, notices you ranking well on the search engines, sees your website and they steal your content. They in turn start to rank and in some cases will jump above you.

googlescraperThey are too lazy to write their own web copy and feel that they have the right to go ahead and blatantly plagiarize from your website. Seeing this happen and watching them leap over you on Google is a killer and can have a serious impact on your business if this is not handled and mitigated early.

Businesses and companies who have had this happen to them have companies to the powers that be, that is Google and there is a solution at hand. Basically, because this is such a common practice Google has now introduced a Scraper Report tool.

This new Google Scraper Report form will not offer an immediate fix and solve all your worries as soon as you hit the submit button, but what this does is show that there is a rampant issue with content duplication and this is having a serious affect online.

Potentially, this will facilitate Google’s spam team to take action against these types of spammers and fraudsters. Basically these guys are spammers, and may have their website manually audited. This is a great step forward and show just how serious the search engine companies are taking this matter.

There is a downside to this and that is that people may report scrappers as an act of malicious behavior when in fact these are credible websites that have their own content and their own IP. I would say the good out weighs the bad as this problem does seem to be getting way out of control.

A rule of thumb here is that all content on your website should have been written by you for your customers. It has to be unique and original. Spend a bit of time on this and you will be rewarded. Taking the easier path and copying web content will be eventually found out and you are the only person that will suffer. Google has some very sophisticated algorithms that can detect duplicate copy and the culprits will not be able to evade this for too long.

Another issue that many people don’t realise is that when they are uploading descriptions for products that are common among other websites this can be looked upon as duplicate copy. Think about a car part that you may have that another company also sells. You both have the same description for the part on your sites so which one should rank higher. Truth is the website with the most authority and trust. If they are an older site and their product page has been live for a long time, then quite rightly it should be ranking higher than yours. Logic dictates this. If they are fierce competitors and the sight of seeing them above you simply turns your stomach then a way around this is to write a new and better product description. This might seem like and insurmountable task if you are a large eCommerce site with thousands of products but there is really no way around this.

A lot of people will outsource this or give it to an office junior but we suggest trying a few products out and seeing the effect that it has.

In conclusion, some websites just seem to outrank out even thought they have stolen your content. It may be the case they have spammed their way up the rankings and hence the results but as I always say, what rises quickly on Google will fall even faster. The way to combat this is to keep on writing your blogs, web pages and you will be fine. Eventually, these that copy you will drop. It’s just a matter of being patient and letting the powers that be, do their thing.