Ever wonder why some websites rank higher in Google’s search results for key terms than yours does?
Google has an algorithm that tells it how to decide whether the content on any given site is high- or low-quality. This algorithm essentially has everything to do with how well your website attracts traffic — also known as potential customers for your business.
Google released its latest large-scale algorithm update back in 2011 and has made some tweaks since then. Its goal has been to reward quality content by pushing those sites higher in search results and to punish so-called “thin” sites (those clearly aimed at getting users to click on ads) by driving them down the list.
What this means for your company’s website is that you have to know what Google considers quality content. Although it won’t provide specifics of how its algorithm works, the company has published some guidance, including a series of questions that authors should ask themselves about their content.
Many of Google’s questions are straightforward, but here are a few that may require more explanation if you’re unfamiliar with how search engines work.
1. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations? First, look through all of your site’s content. If your content is largely based on the same keywords or close variants, Google may penalize your site. The newest Google algorithm can recognize when keywords are overused. If, in the past, you were advised to make a list of relevant keywords and write a lot of content based on the list, consider removing some of the content that didn’t receive a lot of traffic. This assures that Google won’t see your site as written too heavily around a few keywords. Next, turn your attention to your individual articles.
2. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors? This question is basically asking, “Is your content well-written?” If you’re not a strong writer, hire somebody to help with content creation. Your website’s content must be well-written, factually correct, and unique to stand out to search engines. Read this article for advice on how to make your content read like it was written by a professional .
3. Does the article provide substantial value when compared with other pages in search results? What would customers search for in Google to find your business? Do a search for that word or phrase to see what makes the first 10 entries rank as high quality. How can you create content that has that level of quality yet is unique? Different subjects? Timely news? More actionable advice for your customers?
4. Does the article describe both sides of a story? Each business will have a different balance between ad copy and information, but in general, the Google algorithm will be more impressed if you inform and educate more than you sell. That means: Don’t shy away from the potential negatives of your industry. If your readers are asking the questions, provide honest answers.
5. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious? The internet is full of sites that rewrite other people’s content. Produce unique and insightful content that provides the reader with information they haven’t read on another site already. Since you’re an expert in your field, write about your experiences and point readers to resources that other writers missed.
6. Is this the sort of article you would want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend? Your subject matter may be unique and insightful, but is it interesting? Is your website a visual experience with images and video? Could you make a small investment in providing an infographic or other engaging piece of media? Make your words original and informative and then pair them with compelling media. When you post new content, use social media to promote its consumption and sharing.