We all know that the days of getting your business noticed by slapping together a cheap website and throwing it up online are long gone. We also know that having a solid foundation of superior search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary just to get the search engines to understand what your business is trying to accomplish and what web traffic to send your way.
What a lot of people don’t realize is how incredibly important having excellent web content is. Not only is it one of the most important ranking factors, but it is also crucial to ensure that your customers, and your future clientele, experience is a positive one.
Excellent web copy should never be an afterthought.
How Important Is Content as a Ranking Signal for Search Engines?
Although Google and the other search engines tend to keep the weight of various ranking factors and signals a secret, they have gone out of their way to be incredibly transparent about the importance of first-rate content. As explained in Google’s “Steps to a Google-friendly site” their very first tip is, “Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do.”
Need more convincing about the value of quality copy on your website? In a recent Q&A with WebPromo, Google’s Andrey Lipattsev stated that Google’s top three ranking factors are content, links, and RankBrain (he did not divulge the order of importance). RankBrain is Google’s machine-learning tool that helps the search engine understand the search users’ intent behind a search query, as well as the meaning and intent of content on a website. Technically speaking, that means content actually comes up twice on the top three ranking signals list.
I don’t think they could have been clearer: Great content is the way to win the Internet.
Content, SEO, and Search Marketing
It’s clear that if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need exceptional copy. Back when the Internet was a relatively empty new frontier, simply having a website was enough to impress. Today’s Internet is busy and crowded. SEO is vital to make sure you aren’t invisible. Stellar web copy is needed to support your SEO. When done right, your website content builds your website’s ranking in organic searches.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the tool you use to get your online face out there and bring in the traffic you can count on for increasing conversions. However, business owners often underestimate the importance of great content: it’s a costly mistake. SEM might bring in your target clientele, but the traffic won’t turn into paying customers if your web copy is lacking. Think of it this way- SEM is your best salesperson, bringing people right to the door of your business. They peek in to see a business in bad order if your content is shabby, poor quality, or thin, and they’ll turn right around and go do business with someone who inspires confidence.
Likewise, search engines see low-quality content as an indicator of a poorly run business. They won’t increase your ranking- the bottom line is, they are interested in impressing their users, and so they’ll recommend the websites that have better content, which translates to higher authority.
There is no replacement for quality website copy.
How To Craft Superior SEO Content
Your website’s content has to be structured to support your SEO efforts to see the best results. The appropriate keywords and key terms should be weaved into your work naturally. However, if you use your keywords too often, or not enough, depending on the context and length of the piece, you’ll see little benefit or be penalized for keyword stuffing by the search engines. There’s a fine balance that must be created to maximize its effectiveness.
As for length, there is no magic word count amount to hit to win. The search engines are less interested in the length of an article than the richness of the text. As explained by Stephen Kenwright writing for Search Engine Watch, “thin” is often synonymous with “few words,” but what really needs to be understood is that what counts is, “…the value that content adds to the user.” If you can give great information clearly and concisely and provide the answers the search user was looking for, your content is doing its job. That is NOT to say that word count means nothing- it most certainly does. A good rule of thumb is 400+ words, but the word count should always depend on the subject matter and the information you are providing the reader.
Keeping the technical side in mind is great, but ultimately the goal is to create high-quality, engaging copy. You can’t write for the search engines and expect to get a boost- you need to write for your customers and your potential customers. There is no “tricking” search engines into loving your website- that strategy will fail miserably with impersonal algorithms. If real-life humans are put off by your content, that bounce rate will trigger the search engines to understand that your website was weighed and found wanting- your competition with better copy will shoot past you on the search engine results pages (SERPs). You need to write to enhance the user experience.
The Benefits of Rich, Quality, Engaging Content
After all this, are you really wondering what website content can do for you? Let’s break it down. First off, it establishes your company’s website’s authority and authority leads to higher ranking. It’s the key to building a solid SEO foundation so the people who are searching for you can find you. It compliments your SEM efforts, turning your website traffic into conversion opportunities. It engages your customers, who can find the information they need on your website, which in turn builds brand loyalty. It inspires new visitors to become paying customers. In fact, if you regularly blog, your authority builds with every piece you release, helping you write your way to the top.
If you want to blow past the competition, you need to make sure that your web copy is top-notch. It’s tricky but worth the effort. If you aren’t up to this monumental task, it’s critical to invest in a web content expert.