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Five Must-Have Traits of SEO-Friendly Content

by Guest Blogger  |  
June 20, 2012

A guest post by Manoj Aravindakshan of On Target Media & Marketing Services.

Since late February last year, the SEO world has been taken over by a couple of endangered species from the animal kingdom, Panda and Penguin.

Those two major algorithm updates from Google focus on improving the quality of search results. With several data refreshes throughout the year, Penguin and Panda have impacted countless websites. Unfortunately, not all of them were affected positively.

Countless discussions are taking place regarding how to get rid of the penalties imposed by the “2Ps” or how to avoid getting sucked in when the next wave of these algorithms hit the shore.

After last year’s Panda update, Google put up a list of guidelines on the attributes of high-quality websites. Not surprisingly, most tips and suggestions focus on improving the quality of content. As search engines become smarter and make accurate subjective evaluations of content quality like users do, content quality will most likely be the biggest signal of relevance used by search engines.

Taking into account Google's guidelines and changes made in the last 15 months, I consider the following five attributes extremely important for quality SEO-friendly content. (Keep in mind that these might not be possible, practical, or even appropriate for every piece of content.)

1. Fresh

Add updates to content, where possible, with the new date stamps. For certain types of content, additions of updates work. For example, you can update a list of tips or an article related to a continuously evolving story (the Penguin update, for instance).

Make sure the contextual content around the main content---such as headlines and blurbs of newer articles related to the topic---get refreshed. Also, allow search-engine readable comments to get added to the content, which enables your web page to freshen up regularly.

Build page links from within your own website and from external sources. Newer links will also send out sufficient freshness signals to prevent a page from withering.

2. Original

Create original content. You don't have to create content from scratch. Doing so may be beyond the means (and even priorities) of a company. Creating content can also be curating an aggregation of views about specific topics from people.

You can also add value to your existing content by making a topic easier to understand or by presenting it in a different format. Your readers---and search engines---will love it.

3. Comprehensive

When delivering information to your target audience, you're better off erring on the side of more content rather than less content. Cover a topic in-depth, providing the necessary context and exploring various angles. Doing so inspires confidence, builds trust, and stimulates reader engagement.

Very often, an in-depth article becomes a source of reference on the topic as more people refer and link to that content. All that creates continuous organic search engine traffic. A side benefit of having a comprehensive article is the potential for natural inclusion of relevant keywords in the content, without affecting readability and without making the keyword-inclusion seem contrived.

4. Authoritative

There really aren’t too many shortcuts to creating "authoritative" content. You can either establish yourself as an authority, which takes time, effort, and perseverance, or you can get people already established as subject experts to contribute content to your site. Employ their authority to boost your website's quality and to improve its search engine visibility.

5. Local

An increasingly local or geographical bias exists in search results. For example, if I search for “SEO companies” on Google from Singapore, I get a greater distribution of companies from Singapore in the search results. And even pages from those international websites that show up tend to point directly to pages that have a Singapore connection. That happens even without any reference to Singapore in my search query.

Therefore, depending on your specific target geography, incorporate appropriate geo-signals in your content, whether by referring to the location in your content; including the city, state, and country in the date stamp; or linking internally to other pages pertinent to your targeted location.

Remember to be consistent in your content creation and marketing. Regularly create content that fulfills the above attributes to enjoy positive results and a return on your investment in content.

Manoj Aravindakshan is the managing director of On Target Media & Marketing Services, a Singapore-based online marketing company that provides content creation services.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Magnifier)

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  • by StephanieW Wed Jun 20, 2012 via blog

    Great article, thanks for sharing! Two questions for you:

    1) Our blog has time stamps, but not most of our other, content heavy pages - as long as we update them once in a while, will we still see the SEO impact, or does there need to be an explicit date on the page?

    2) How can we strike a balance between providing comprehensive content and being concise in our web writing? Particularly since most users simply skim web articles, I wouldn't want to overload users with too much information.

    Thank you so much!

  • by Patrick Zuluaga [PMZ Marketing] Wed Jun 20, 2012 via blog

    Yes, all the above is important aspect to consider for SEO however web content must always be written for your target customers! It must be relevant, interesting and compelling enough for them to take your 'call to action'.

  • by Manoj Aravindakshan Wed Jun 20, 2012 via blog

    Hi Stephanie,

    a) A time and date stamp is not absolutely necessary; it's just one more little thing that could provide some incremental benefit (it's also useful for users to know when something was written/ updated). I can understand that adding a date/time stamp may not seem right some pages/ types of content.

    b) As I wrote, I'd rather err on the side of more information than less. Retaining the interest of users will be, to a great extent, a function of the presentation of the information. For instance, using different types of visuals; bullet points; short paragraphs, separated by headers, etc.

    Overall, I think finding the right balance should be based on the outcome you want (or can realistically expect) from a particular piece of content. A short news story-type piece of content may score some points initially and attract search traffic in the first few days of it being posted; while a more comprehensive piece will most likely have a much longer "life span".

    Hope this helps.

  • by Manoj Aravindakshan Wed Jun 20, 2012 via blog

    I agree with you completely, Patrick. The aspects above are focused more on "attraction" of users; relevant, interesting and compelling content will help with "conversions" and "retention" of users. Of course, improving conversions and retention will also help with attracting more search engine traffic, as factors such as bounce rate of a site/ page get factored in by search engines.

  • by Anthony Thu Jun 21, 2012 via blog

    Great advice Manoj. I particularly like number 5, incorporating appropriate geo-signals in your content. Very clever.
    You say it's better to lean more towards more content than less content. I do agree with this, but I also think that short posts with pictures and video work well for engagement levels. I think having a well structured and varied editorial calendar will make sure that you cover all kind of posts: how to's, case studies, lists etc... Each different category of post will ensure that the lengths are always varied. Would you agree?

  • by Jennifer Bulman Thu Jun 21, 2012 via blog

    Thanks for a clear and helpful post that demonstrates your own points.
    I'd argue that if someone is already considered an authority - like Seth Godin - they can and do go for a short authoritative post, and get many hits and stay perpetually high in the search order.
    As for the rest of us, certainly I would rather read a longer informative post rather than a Zen-like pronouncement from someone who *is not* a guru.

  • by Manoj Aravindakshan Thu Jun 21, 2012 via blog

    Yes, Anthony -- having a well thought out editorial calendar with different 'types' of posts will provide variety and make it interesting for users. That would certainly be a key element of a good content strategy.

  • by Vincent C from Customized USB Drives Thu Jun 21, 2012 via blog

    I think Anthony makes a great point. Long and in-depth posts are great because they serve as a great reference for other people, which makes them extremely link-worthy. But, realistically it's pretty hard to write really comprehensive posts on a frequent basis. So, it's a good idea to mix in quick list posts, videos, and image-based posts to keep your readers visiting while you work on your longer pieces and to break up the visual style of your site.

  • by Anthony Fri Jun 22, 2012 via blog

    I'm glad you agree guys :)

  • by Manoj Aravindakshan Fri Jun 22, 2012 via blog

    Thanks, Jennifer. Yes, you are right--- authority once established could get greater weightage than comprehensiveness. It's a virtuous cycle that runs as long as they can keep retaining the visitors on the site that land up via search engines.

  • by Sujit Nair Mon Jun 25, 2012 via blog

    It is definitely a well written article with a key pointer towards quality of content & quantity of content. I agree with these points and would also add the importance of audience targeted communication. While these attributes are important to a majority on online publishers as well as organizations, it's really important to focus on who are writing to (typically this is important when you are making a B2B communication vis-a-vis B2C communication).

    Once again great advice Manoj ! I am sure it is going to help the content-creation community a lot.



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