It’s often been said that ‘Content is King’ in SEO, and it can be split into two broad categories; on site and off site.
It’s quite obvious that the content of a website is an important part of any SEO campaign. Google love original content, and that’s why behemoth sites like Wikipedia, BBC and other news sites rank so well in the SERPs. The exception is the “content farms” that the Google Panda Update took care of, but these sites contained lots of outbound links and were surrounded by advertising.
The more content which is hosted on a site, the more chances you have to include not only high volume search terms, but also long tail phrases that can bring small amounts of traffic over a long time. It’s important that onsite content is of a high quality, and it’s increasingly understood that social functions such as commenting, liking, sharing, rating etc. can have a lot of impact on authority.
Onsite content should always be about speaking to customers. In copy, this is where traditional copywriting practice comes in, identifying the right tone for customers and fulfilling their needs and expectations. SEO Copywriting is all about balancing the needs of the reader with that of the search engine – but often these overlap. Images play an important part of presenting products and services to customers, and videos can be an engaging way of presenting information. It could also be that visibility in image, video, blog or news search could bring traffic or conversions.
Marketers should carefully consider the mind-set of people who arrive at a website, and the words they use to get there are the best indicator. If they are arriving by searching for products by their name, then they are probably ready to buy, so make it as easy as possible for them. If they arrive on more general keywords then they probably want more information – and once they visit your site it is more likely to rank in their personalised search results next time. Product descriptions will help those at buying stage arrive at the site, and informative content can increase the chances of them returning when they want to buy, through their memory, their favourites folder, bookmarks or Google Personalised Search. When we optimise content, it will usually be for a mix of product descriptions, branded terms and generic keywords.
In SEO, offsite content is all about building links back to a website. Directories can be good sources of links, but anyone can submit to them by filling out a few forms or sending an email. Valuable backlinks come from websites with editorial standards, so we spend a lot of time writing good content in order to glean links from relevant, authoritative sites. In some cases this can mean submitting content, waiting for it to be reviewed and making amendments, and at other times it can cross over into Online PR, through communicating with editors and webmasters offering content as an incentive for a keyword-rich link.
Just like onsite content, video, image and video have an important part to play too. YouTube is the second most-popular search engine (at least in the US), so it can be considered a more important search engine to consider than Yahoo or Bing. Customers can be reached through YouTube, Flickr and even Facebook. Maybe even on Google+ one day.
Content curation might sound funny, but it’s an essential part of ensuring that content is “sticky” and leaves a wide online footprint. Increasingly marketers use it to create content itself, by sourcing and filtering streams of content onto new pages. This can be an RSS feed from a blog or a timeline from Twitter or Facebook, and they can be filtered by several variables.
These streams of content can really compliment the SEO value of other content – constantly updating content on a page will mean it is likely to be indexed by search engines more regularly. RSS filters can be used to modify these streams and create new families of content.