Have you ever wondered what makes some websites rise to the top of Google results?
Or how does Google choose which webpages match which search queries?
The simple answer is quality content.
Think about Google’s business model: Google helps its customers — you, me, and virtually everybody else — find answers to their questions or more information about a topic.
Google’s helping you find what you’re looking for faster. That’s why Google must show only the best results for a search query on some of the most expensive real estate on the web: “Page One.”
While PPC and other SEO tips and tricks can help webpages rank higher, only the best, highest quality content winds up in Google’s page-one search results. But luckily, Google has outlined its criteria for high-quality web content.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can update your website’s content for better search engine visibility.
UP-TO-DATE, FACTUAL INFORMATION
This one seems obvious, but Google wants to send traffic to genuinely helpful pages. Content that’s up to date and factual tends to rank higher than outdated and unreliable content.
In some industries, the “freshness” of your content is a much bigger deal than in others. For example, if you sell clothes and accessories on your website, keeping your inventory up-to-date with new items and quality content about upcoming trends or new products is essential.
Your business’s blog is a great place to start. Set a regular blogging cadence so you’re regularly pushing out new and relevant content.
In most situations, websites aren’t intentionally promoting old information, but people forget about old blog posts, infographics, or videos that are affecting your search rankings. An annual — or even better, a quarterly — content audit can help you keep your content up to date, ensure all your links are working, and maximize your Google search visibility.
When people trust your knowledge of your niche or industry, they’ll seek you out. That’s what becoming an authority on the web is all about.
Start thinking about your website as a resource for people interested in your industry and create content that helps them, informs them, or entertains them. The more quality content you have on your website about your niche, the more you signal to Google and your customers that your website can be trusted and that you are a topical authority.
On the other hand, having content on your website that isn’t related to your industry or niche can hurt your credibility. As part of your regular website content audit, make sure that all your content still fits within your company’s niche, and if it doesn’t, try to rework it or archive it.
Topical authority is also important for getting quality backlinks. If other people are quoting you and linking to your website, that’s a trust signal for Google, pushing your site up in SERPs.
LENGTH OF CONTENT
For as long as people have talked about SEO, they’ve been talking about how many words should be on a webpage.
Here’s the reality: it depends.
All over the web, you can find advice that says you should always write a minimum of 2,500 words. Others say 3,000+. But the truth is, it depends on your audience and your topic. While most high-ranking webpages have 2,500+ words, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary.
When you’re creating content for your website, think about how much your customer needs to know about the topic. Remember, you’re creating content for your customers — not Google.
For some topics or products, it might be 500 words. For others, it might be 5,000 words. Next, think about how most people are going to consume your content. Are they reading on their phones or sitting at a desktop? For a mobile-first audience, short and punchy sentences, paragraphs, and even entire webpages are probably more appropriate than long and complicated pieces.
Understanding your audience and delivering content that’s right for them is much more important than writing 5,000-word webpages for search engines. Remember, your goal is to engage people on your website, have them visit more than one page, and keep them on your website for as long as you can.
GRAMMAR, SPELLING, AND READABILITY
Our final tip is a simple one: grammar, spelling, and readability are more trust signals for Google. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a grammarian to write quality content, but when you proofread and edit your webpages, it shows that you spent time creating thoughtful, helpful content for your customers.
For better readability, think about the Flesch reading ease score. Yoast’s SEO WordPress plugin automatically scans your content and assigns it a score between 0 and 100. The higher your score, the more easily it can be read.
Because reading online is different from reading a book or a magazine, keeping your readability score high is key. People are skimmers online, and most of them don’t take time to focus on hard-to-read content — they just skip over it or leave the webpage.
With all of these things in mind, it’s always important to remember that your content isn’t really for search engines — it’s for your customers. Make content that genuinely helps people. The rest will follow.