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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)