How quality content can improve your search engine ranking

Magnifying glass over Google image

Working in the search engine optimisation industry we know that great content can really add value to your website. Therefore it was really interesting to read that a recent SearchMetric report has shown that natural, relevant and high-quality content is a must have if you want to help improve your website’s ranking in the search engines. The key focus here is on high-quality content, which must be one of your main priorities if you really want to make an impact on how the search engines perceive your site.

What the search engines are looking for at the moment is not only lots of content, but also content that is truly relevant to your customer’s wants and needs. They want to see you offering something of real value to your readers. SEO experts have noted four main criteria that you should include in order for your content to meet all of the requirements of the search engines. So if you can keep these in mind when planning and writing your website, then you’ll know that you are providing the quality content that Google wants to see – and that your potential customers want to read!

In this blog we’re going to take a look at these five factors and talk a bit more about how you can use them to improve your website content.

Make sure your content is covered in a rounded and comprehensive way

When you write your content, you need to make sure that you think holistically about the general topic as a whole – rather than simply focusing on just one keyword. It means that as well as writing about the key topic, you also need to look at related issues and sub-topics and include those as well. As the Google algorithms get more sophisticated, they are now able to work out words that relate to each other and are likely to be relevant to each other. This is known as co-occurrence analysis. So, if you were writing a blog about bridal hair styling, it would recognise that hairdryer and hair salon were complementary phrases. However, if you included the word restaurant in the same blog, the search engines would pick up that it was not relevant to that topic.

It’s all about context and so before you write your content, consider which subjects complement each other, and think about the other sub-topics that your readers may want to find out about, which could be a good fit within that article. 

Ensure that your content is the right length

It’s very tempting to think that because people are often time-poor these days, that this means that content which is short and snappy would be more popular. Statistics show that this is not the case, and in fact, sites which have longer content are more likely to rank higher in the search engines. It’s also really interesting to note that content which had between 3000-10000 words actually received more social shares too. The reason for this could be that the longer an article is, the more value it actually adds to your readers, as you can include far more in-depth information and a greater and more helpful level of detail. 

Include engaging images and videos

Research has shown that including engaging images or interactive videos in your content can really help your search engine rankings. Google can tell when you have enriched your text with images and it definitely correlates to a higher ranking for sites that take the time to do this. It has also been found that posts which included videos or pictures gained twice as many social shares as those without. When you add images to your text, make sure that they are optimised as well to make them easier for Google to find.

Make sure your text is readable

We all know that consumers want websites which are easy-to-use, and a user-friendly website is valued highly by Google too. Part of making a site usable is ensuring that any text or content is easily readable. When high-ranking websites were reviewed, it was found that they all had content that was easy to read. When you have written your content you can review it using one of these readability tests. It’s also worthwhile re-reading any old content on your site to make sure it meets the readability requirements that the search engines require.

Encourage social sharing

Although Google says that they don’t currently use social signals as part of their rankings, it has been noted that many articles which do have a high Google ranking also have a large number of social shares on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. We feel that encouraging customers to share your articles on social media still has an influence over your site optimisation as it means that more people visit your site, and it will help you to build and increase your brand profile.

As you can see the quality of the content on your website can have a huge impact on where your business sits in the search engine rankings, and there is a lot that you can do to review and improve your content to support your online proposition.

  • Firstly, think about your content holistically and consider the sub-topics that might add relevance or bring real value to your readers.
  • Secondly, don’t be afraid to make your content longer and in-depth.
  • Thirdly, add images or video clips that will bring your articles to life for your customers.
  • Fourthly, when you have finished writing your content, check it over for readability to make sure that it will be easy for people to read.
  • Finally, encourage online influencers to share your content on social media to get more clicks to your site and improve your brand profile.

By focusing on what your customers want to see on your site, you’ll also be giving the search engines what they want to see and helping your business to rank higher in the search engines.

Why Conversion Rate Optimisation is important for SEO

Chart showing successful conversion rate optimisation

When it comes to optimising a site, it’s easy to focus on earning more traffic and gaining ranking success. For any business, it’s clearly beneficial to have more visitors to your site. However, visitors don’t necessarily equate to sales or profit. For SMEs especially, it can be much better to focus resources on conversion rate optimisation to really utilise the traffic and visitors that a site is already getting, rather than trying to attract more. Despite a shift in focus sometimes being required between CRO and SEO, this doesn’t mean the two are independent of each other. Indeed, conversation rate optimisation is an important factor in SEO success. To understand the relationship between the two, it’s important to understand exactly what conversion rate optimisation is and how it can impact your website.

So, what is CRO?

Simply put, conversion rate optimisation is a means of increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers or, more generally, take a desired action on a webpage.

If the desired action is, for example, to sign up for a newsletter, then CRO for the page would have the ultimate goal of increasing the number of visitors who click to sign up. On the surface, it may seem that to achieve better sign up numbers, work would simply need to be done on the call to action button, with some A/B testing to determine where improvements can be made. Whilst this would answer the question of ‘which is the best call to action’, comprehensive conversion rate optimisation delves much deeper than just examining the final engagement that triggers the conversion. Instead, the process looks at every step of the visitor journey and the factors that persuade them to take the plunge:

  • CRO assesses whether the design of the site is user friendly and intuitive
  • CRO examines whether the copy is engaging enough to lead the user towards a conversion.
  • CRO analyses the hierarchy to determine if it is easy to use.

User Signals

Looking at these factors is at the heart of CRO and helps to identify exactly where users are straying from their intended conversion journey. When users deviate from an onsite conversion journey, these are commonly known as user signals. It is these signals that bring CRO back to work alongside SEO. The most common user signals include:

  • Bounce rate
  • Click through rate
  • Time on page
  • Number of pages visited
  • Engagement with content

How does this affect SEO?

These user signals are not only a sign that your page isn’t creating the correct journey to a conversion, but also an illustration that the overall quality of the page might not be good enough. Google assesses factors such as click through rates and time spent on a page when determining where a page can be ranked. For example, if your page has a high bounce rate this may illustrate to Google that your content isn’t engaging or relevant enough. If the time spent on a page proves to be very short, it may seem like the content doesn’t contain the answers the user was looking for. With user intent becoming increasingly important in SEO, signs like this can negatively impact Google rankings.

The good news is that conversion rate optimisation and search engine optimisation can work extremely well together. Great SEO copy is well-written, engaging and unique and those are the exact qualities that conversion-driving copy also possess. A visually engaging site that is easy-to-use will have far more success in leading a user to convert, as well as encouraging them to spend more time on the page itself. It’s vital to consider on-site optimisation of any kind not as entirely separate processes, but as several factors of the same strategy which can affect and inform each other.

If you’re looking to convert more of your web visitors or want to understand more about the user journey on your website, Wagada are here to help. Get in touch and let Wagada wake up your website.

Clean up your site for SEO success

Go up and never stop neon sign

One mistake that many people make is believing that the Search Engine Optimisation for their webpage is static. So, they build a fantastic website with great usability and then optimise it for the search engines and that’s that – but this isn’t where it ends!  The world of SEO is constantly evolving as is the online world in general. So business owners need to be aware that what Google was looking for in a website last year is likely to be quite different now.

To make sure that your SEO is as up to date and efficient as possible, you need to give your website a clean-up on a regular basis to ensure that your SEO is still effective. Periodically reviewing your website can prevent any errors or duplications leading to a Google penalty and a fall in the rankings. When you are going through your website here are the 4 key areas you need to review:

Get rid of any low-quality pages

You may have a number of pages on your site that were set up in the past for specific reasons such as an AdWords campaign or a new product launch. However, if these pages now have low engagement, thin content or offer no value to customers, they could be damaging your whole website.  Google Panda means that Google views your domain as a whole not on a page-by-page basis, so if you have too many of these low-quality pages, it can cause Google to downgrade the ranking for your whole site.

Remove duplicate content

Websites can often become unwieldly and you could end up with duplicate content being featured on a number of pages. Google really dislikes duplicate content and it can also make your site repetitive, with some pages adding very little additional value to customers. Luckily you don’t have to trawl through every word on your website to help you identify duplicate content, as there are a number of online tools that you can use. You can set the parameters of these yourself, so for example, you could ask them to find pages that have 80% duplicate content.  Once you have identified pages, you can decide if you simply want to remove them or if you want to do some work on the content to make it more relevant and unique.

Review your links to and from your site

Getting links from high-quality websites can be great for your website and can bring over some fantastic “link juice” to help your domain authority. However, if the links come from a low quality or spammy site, it can cause Google to view your site as spammy too. There are two ways you can remove unproductive links. One is to contact the webmaster of the sites that are linking to you and ask them to remove these links. This can be difficult though, so if you are unable to get them removed you will need to submit a disavow report to Google Webmaster to show that you have no connection with these links.

Review your site to make sure that it meets Google’s current requirements

Finally, it can be a good idea to do a regular audit of your site to make sure that it meets the requirements of any new updates that Google has put in place since your last review. For example, this year Google announced that pages that were not user-friendly for mobile users would move down in the mobile search rankings, so you would need to make sure that your website worked for mobile users.

Keeping your website up to date and giving it regular “spring cleans” is a vital part of a good SEO strategy. Make sure that you are always aware of the latest Google updates and how they affect your site. You should also make sure that the online influencers that you are connected with and websites that link to you still have a good domain authority, in order to make sure that they are not negatively impacting your site.

Why your Google Business pages might be playing ‘Possum’

A family of possums

Due to the way that Google alters how it works behind the scenes, SEO practices must constantly change and evolve to keep up. Unlike most technological updates and innovations from other companies, Google doesn’t publicly announce the work that has been done or the way in which these changes will affect its ranking and results pages. Whilst there was no official confirmation, on September 1st 2016 SEO experts experienced a big change in the way local search works following a Google algorithm update. The change was so significant that up to 64% of local search engine result pages were altered following the update.

Within the local search community the algorithm change has been named Possum. In nature, a possum is infamously known to play dead only to be still alive and well and playing possum has become a popular term for when someone is laying low. The changes made by Google in the Possum update have caused many business owners’ Google Business pages to do the very same and no longer show in search results, which has caused  a bit of confusion and panic. The pages themselves, however, have not actually disappeared and have still been effected by the new filtering changes.

What are the key changes?

The most noticeable impact for business owners is the way in which Google now filters local search results. In an attempt to only show the most relevant results, Google will now filter out profiles that are affiliates rather than a main profile. For example, searching for a dentist would previously have returned the main dentist pages as well as potentially the profiles of each dentist practicing at the surgery. The results are now likely to be filtered out to ensure that the results returned are more diverse and, in theory, useful in answering the search query posed. Whilst it’s not been confirmed, it has been suggested that the age of the listing as well as factors, such as the number and frequency of reviews, may play a part in Google deciding which sites to filter.

Outskirts no longer means outsider

Another important change that the possum update has brought about is a higher chance of being ranked in the top local searches for companies who are situated a little further out on the outskirts of towns and cities. Previously, more central locations would be rank higher simply due to where they are. Now businesses further away on the edges of towns and cities are more likely to rank, providing they practice general good SEO and produce quality content. There is also now much greater importance placed on the location of the searcher. For example if you do a search without location services active on your phone for a ‘St Albans plumber’ you’ll retrieve different results to someone who has carried out the same search with their location services on.

Small variations make a big difference

Using similar but slightly different search terms would have previously brought up the same results. To take the previous example, if we were to search ‘St Albans plumber’ and ‘plumber St Albans’ we would have received similar search results prior to possum. Since the September update small keyword variations like this will now retrieve different search results in an attempt to offer  more diversity.

As with all Google updates, changes are still likely to be made in the coming weeks and months. For the user carrying out the search, Possum can be seen as good news as more variety in local results should be displayed. For businesses, and especially those located centrally in towns or cities who have lost local search ground since the update, the focus must be on continuing good SEO practices and producing great content on their websites. Rather than any particular local SEO tricks or variants, it is by maintaining a comprehensive on site SEO strategy that will help to yield the best local results.

How do successful businesses get links to their websites?

Six graphics of web links

If you are familiar with optimising your website to gain a high ranking in the search engines, then you will know that a great way to encourage Google to view your website as credible is to get some high-quality links pointing to the content on your site. The reason that such links can provide a boost to your search engine ranking is that a link from a high quality site can transfer valuable ‘link juice’ to your website. This means that Google recognises that a website that they view as authoritative is recommending your site – and therefore they take that to mean that your site must be credible too.

However, it’s not always easy to get the type of links that you need to help your company move up the search engine listings.  Whilst you could get a high number of low-quality links relatively quickly, this will not provide your site with the credibility that it needs. In fact it may actually end up damaging your search results due to the fact that Google will view lots of low-quality links as ‘spammy’ and may therefore categorise your site as a spam site too.

So, how do successful businesses get high-quality links to their sites and what can you learn from them? We’ll look at some of the great ways that they generate links and explore how this could benefit your business.

Build SEO into your PR and marketing campaigns

What we notice about the top firms is that they have very much built their search engine optimisation into their marketing plan as a whole. Rather than seeing SEO as a separate entity, it is fully integrated into the businesses’ marketing and PR campaigns. Reaching out to online influencers via great PR is a brilliant way to get natural links to your business, and getting your marketing campaign right means that you won’t even need to ask people to link to you – they will be so impressed that they will want to do it!

Target the most influential sites for your industry

When you are link-building, you need to make sure you target the sites that will work well for you. For example, if you are a clothes boutique then a link from a fashion blogger will be a lot more valuable to you than a link from a technology site. There are two reasons behind this. Firstly, the more relevant the site is, the more likely it is that your link will be clicked on by interested people who are eager to buy your product. Secondly, Google is very keen on links being relevant, and so if a company who has few connections to your industry links to your site it won’t have as much power and authority in the eyes of the search engines.

Blogs and editorial comments are some of the most linked to content

Of course, when it comes to gaining high-quality links, content is always really important and it is interesting to note that, other than paid links and PR links, the most linked to content is blog posts and editorial comment. Sites will want to link to articles that are useful and relevant to their readers, so it can be really important to provide interesting and inspiring blog posts and to add new content on a regular basis.

Link-building is a fine art but if you manage to get it right it can really pay dividends in terms of helping your website optimisation and seeing your website rise up the search engine rankings. Make sure that you consider SEO holistically as part of your marketing and PR campaigns, target the sites that will bring you the highest levels of authority and keep on creating interesting and relevant content such as blog posts. These tactics have been really successful for a number of top businesses and they can work for your company too!