High-quality content can come in many forms, from webpage or article text, videos, GIFs, or images.
But all content is screened and ranked by search engines.
This article outlines what search engines ‘like’ in terms of content, why this is the case and discusses content best practices.
A modern history of search engine content
Search engines initially favoured volume of content over quality. This meant that producing lots of content made it easier to increase website rankings in search engines, regardless of the actual quality of the content itself.
As a result of this, the top pages of search engines were often full of low-quality spam content. Users began to complain that search engine results were irrelevant, uninteresting and frankly annoying.
In response, Google altered the landscape of the Internet by announcing the Panda Algorithm in 2011.
The Panda Algorithm and high-quality content
The Panda Algorithm completely changed the way that search engines rank web pages by penalising low-quality websites.
With this update, Google produced 23 questions for users to determine the quality of their content based on four main principles:
Further details on the 23 questions under these four principles are set out below:
Authority and high-quality content
Authority - Assessment
Search engines like Google use complex algorithms to find the most authoritative sources for readers. Writing with authority essentially tells the reader that they can trust your content. It tells the reader that you are an expert in your field.
Search engines measure this in a variety of complex ways. However, the most important metric for authority comes from links and shares.
Whenever you include links to another site, such as this external link to the Search Engine Journal, (https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-guide/search-authority/) you are effectively showing Google that you trust the authority of the site you are linking to. Therefore, the more sources that link to your site, the more authority you will have with search engines.
However, not all links are created equally. Say you are an online fashion blogger. Two sites link to your blog; one is a small local boutique website, and the other is comes from the website of fashion giant, Armani. Obviously in this case, the link from Armani is worth a great deal more than the link from the smaller, lesser-known boutique website.
This also works with shares on social media. The more shares, likes and views your content receives on social media, the more authoritative it is seen to be.
A page that has a large number of links and shares from other reputable, authoritative sources will be measured as an authoritative source by search engines.
Value and high-quality content
Content Value Assessment
Search engines also measure the value of any content produced. Therefore you need to ask whether the content you are producing adds value to the reader.
Google encourages the production of original content on the basis that original content written by an expert provides value to the reader. Duplicated or plagiarised content does not add value to readers.
Zach Bulygo of KissMetrics writes:
Your ideas should be original! Rehashing the same concepts or other posts over and over again is not original. If your content is played out, no one will link to it. – And that defeats the purpose of writing content in the first place.
It goes without saying that you should never plagiarise content. However you can also create original content by using your own analysis, putting your own spin on your chosen topic and drawing unique conclusions.
Relevance and high-quality content
In addition to authority, search engines also measure the relevance of webpage content. According to Search Metrics, ‘Content Relevance is used to indicate how relevant a website is in relation to a particular search term or topic.’
Essentially, you want your website content to match up with the terms that people are using to find you in search engines. If the content of the page is relevant to a search query, the better the page will rank.
This is interesting because it means that no matter how well your content is written, if it isn't relevant to readers, it won't rank well – Again, take the analogy of the fashion blogger. Your content should be about fashion and related issues. Therefore you should expect to rank well for search terms such as ‘2019 style trends’ or ‘what to wear to a wedding.’ You’re not likely to rank well for search terms such ‘autotraders in my area.’
Search engines measure content relevance in many ways such as:
- Keyword research - Including the terms and keywords that people are likely to use in search engines. Avoiding ‘industry terminology’ and focus on the words your customers use.
- Language – ensuring that the language used on your webpage matches with the keyword research you have undertaken
- Titles and headings – ensuring that these keywords and search terms are used within titles and headings
- Images – the captions and alt tags of images should also include common and relevant search terms
- Page views, low bounce rates and high-dwell time – all of these factors mean that your content has engaged readers, and this usually means a high degree of content relevance
There are many ways to measure the relevance of your site, but you should never underestimate the importance of market research. Google’s John Mueller stated in 2018:
"Try and get feedback from your users to figure out how they feel about your website and to try to really get objective feedback on what you could be doing differently or what you might want to target differently, or set up differently."
By understanding the customer journey specific to your industry, brand or sector, you should be able to create relevant content that engages your readers.
Readability and high-quality content
The last aspect of high-quality content as outlined by Google relates to readability.
Readability includes areas such as:
- Content length
- How easily the language can be understood
You want to be sure that any content you write is able to be easily read and understood by readers and that visitors are not put off by incorrect grammar, long or unbroken paragraphs, or complex industry terminology.
There are a variety of plug-ins and readability tools that you can use to ensure any web content you write can be easily read and understood, such as Storychief, Yoast, Flesch Reading Ease or SMOG Index.
For more information, why not check out our blog post on how to improve content readability?
How can we help?
At Cambray, we specialise in creating tailor-made, high-quality web content.
We can provide advice on how to create content that search engines like, or we can create the content for you.
Contact us for more information, or to book a free, no-obligation consultation to find out how we can help to grow your business.