How important is content to SEO?

We’re delighted to introduce a guest writer for this post, Mindy Schoeneman. Mindy is a writer, editor, and content marketer. She helps businesses and nonprofit organizations create no-spin content that is a reflection of why they do what they do the way they do it. She started as a freelance writer in 2013 and soon found her niche as a content marketer. She has read, researched, and read and researched, and lived and breathed SEO and how to optimize content to be as search engine friendly as possible.

What Google says about SEO

The top three most important factors that determine a website’s page rank on a Google search results page are:

  • Content
  • Links
  • RankBrain

Now, let me clarify that Google has never revealed if content is in the number one or two spot, but it is definitely in the top two. You can read more about what Google has to say on the subject here.

The thing about content is that it is not only one of the top two factors, but it also influences the third factor: RankBrain.

RankBrain is the artificial intelligence used by Google to read pages and connect the dots between content and searches. It is a highly sophisticated thing that I will probably never fully wrap my brain around, but the bottom line is that the importance of great content for your website can’t be overstated.

SEO-friendly content

You might be wondering what the heck SEO-friendly content looks like. Well, it looks like this article. How’s that?

First, there is a hierarchy in the content. Information is arranged to by headers and sections. Not only is this easier to digest as a reader, but it also signals to Google which words and phrases go together, making it easier for RankBrain to determine the overall relevancy of this post to a search conducted by a Google user. My headers have relevant keywords that appear throughout the body of this post. So, I’m adding weight to these words by using them in the headers.

Next, the content isn’t full of slashes, bullet points, and lists. There’s nothing wrong with a few bullet points or even a short list, like I did at the beginning of this post. But, like with everything, moderation is the best policy. Use lists and bullet points sparingly. Paragraph-style writing adds flow. It helps readers and bots connect thoughts and information.

The role of keywords in content

Keywords aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. You don’t need to repeat a keyword over and over to achieve decent ranking. Keyword density isn’t something you need to be calculating with every page or post you publish.

Instead, think of a theme. What is the overall message you’d like to convey to the reader? Think of that. Keep that foremost in mind while writing because you know what happens when you present a cohesive, consistent message? People understand what you’re saying, and you still end up with important keywords in your text.

The impact of traffic on SEO

Search engines look at the amount of traffic you’re receiving. If no one ever visits your site, then Google makes some assumptions. Assumptions that lead to lower rankings which leads to fewer visitors, which in turn leads to lower rankings. It’s a vicious cycle.

How do you avoid this cycle completely? I bet you already know the answer.

Publish quality content on your site that keeps people coming back week after week, month after month. Write posts, record videos, whatever, but make sure the content is helpful to your target market.

Think about the type of posts and videos you enjoy the most. Where do you go to learn more about a product, or where do you go to learn things you can implement into your business? What makes the content so helpful?

The goal of content

For your website content, the goal should be transparency. You need to show why someone needs what you’re offering, the benefits to hiring you specifically, and why you do what you do the way you do it.

If you’re blogging, whatever you’re writing about should be relevant to your business, but it doesn’t have to be about your product or service. The goal or what you should be aiming for with content is simple. You should always try to be helpful. How-to posts, step-by-step guides, and other posts geared toward education of your target market is what you should write. Why?

Because those posts are what people respond to the most. Because it establishes you as an expert on the subject. Because this is the type of content people share. Who do they share it with? Other people they know who will also benefit from the information.

As for your website content on your home, about, contact, and other static pages, it needs to be SEO-friendly and more. It needs to be sincere. You have to create a connection, draw people in, when they visit your page. You only have about 8 seconds to do so before they navigate away. So, get to the point, be sincere, and organize your information in a way that can be easily skimmed.

The big content picture

Content greatly influences your ranking, for the good or the bad. There’s a lot that goes into developing content for a website with little nuances that change with every site and every business. If you’re writing the content yourself, here are a few things you should check off your list before hitting publish:

  1. Make sure your headers are relevant to what you’re saying in each section.
  2. Make sure you have only one “Heading 1” or h1 tag on each page and it covers the overall theme of that page.
  3. Break up your paragraphs into easy-to-read chunks.
  4. Make sure the text is skimmable.
  5. Check the word count on each page (aim for 300+ words).
  6. Be sure that the content doesn’t sound like a giant sales pitch.
  7. Is it sincere and honest?
  8. Have someone else proofread the content.
  9. Now, have another someone else proofread the content.
  10. Ask someone who doesn’t know your business very well if they will take two minutes to look it over and let you know what they think you do and why someone would hire you.

The most important thing you can convey in your content is why you do what you do the way you do it. This is how you’ll connect with your target customer.

And always, remember to add a call to action in your content, kind of like this:

To learn more about content marketing, branding, or to hire me to edit that content you just wrote, check out my website.