In the world of Internet marketing, a lot of advice is thrown around. With close to two decades of active attempts at SEO in some form, people have been trying to guess at the system for a long time. Someone new to SEO may encounter this wealth of information and look upon it with skepticism; how much of this is accurate and how much of it is out of date?
One of the common messages recently is the idea that a regular stream of quality content posted to your website will help it rise in the ranks. From the outside, however, that doesn’t seem likely. How can posting content — any content, not just keyword optimized, carefully linked content — benefit your site? It’s a large investment in time and money to create that much content. Posting just twice each week is still over 100 quality articles that need to be written.
Does it work? Fortunately, the answer is easy. A constant stream of high quality content, regardless of what that content is — with in reason — will work wonders for your site. It is a proven fact.
A Basic Introduction to Google’s World of SEO
In the world of Search Engine Optimization, Google is the undisputed king. Yahoo, Ask and Bing are all competitors, but none of them holds as much sway as the big G. The holy grail for a website is to reach the number one spot in the search rankings. This coveted spot drives more traffic than any other. Of course, no site can reach a general pinnacle of number one; they need to focus on a given type of keyword.
The more niche — that is, the more narrowly specific — a keyword target is, the easier it generally is to reach the number one spot. As sites grow, they can aspire to the number one placement on a number of different keywords in their industry. For the largest sites, that number one spot comes naturally for niche keywords, and generalized keywords are within their grasp.
The idea of SEO is optimizing every bit of a site to score highly according to the Algorithm. Google’s search algorithm is the almighty decider of search placement, and it takes in over 200 different factors to determine a page rank. Some of these are obvious; keyword relevant, site age, whether or not the site looks like spam. Others are less obvious, such as the directory structure of the site and the speed of its hosting.
The Flow of Content
One thing Google has decided to promote in recent years is the idea of value to the user. It analyzes value through a range of factors, but one of the predominant factors is the presence of quality content. If your site has a large number of valuable articles, users will visit it, browse through those articles and stay for value. Compared to a site with very little content, it’s clear which site is more valuable to the average user.
However, you can’t simply dump hundreds of useful pages and hope Google counts it as a library of quality content. Google also looks at the date each piece of content is posted. Older content is often relevant to older situations or connected to older pieces of news. Situations change and news grows stale; older content loses value. Some pieces of content are labeled Evergreen — that is, content that stays valuable through the months and years — but most content does not qualify for this label.
Fittingly, Google encourages websites to provide a constant stream of value. Posting content regularly, tying it in to other recently posted content on other websites and keeping your older content up to date are all important indicators of value.
As Google says, make content for your users, not for the search engines. A user visiting your site and seeing all your information posted in 2008 is going to consider your opinions to be outdated, and they will find a newer resource.
What Counts as High Quality Content?
Now that you know a steady stream of high quality content is critical to successful SEO, you need to ask yourself the next logical question. What counts as high quality content? Thankfully, Google has provided a number of questions to ask yourself about your content as a sort of impersonal litmus test. Step outside of your duties as webmaster and look at your content from the point of view of a user.
- Is the information in your piece of content trustworthy?
- Is the author of this piece of content an expert or knowledgeable enthusiast?
- Is the site packed with duplicate or otherwise non-unique articles? I.e. does it look like one piece of content was spun several times to match certain varied keywords?
- Would you be comfortable using your credit card to purchase something through this site?
- Is the article error-free?
- Is the content designed to match what users want to know?
- Is the article content original or is it rehashed from other authorities?
- Would you bookmark the article for future reference or recommendation to a friend?
- Are there too many ads on the page?
These questions, along with 14 more, can be found on the official Google Webmaster Central blog. They should help you determine what is considered high quality and what may be flagged as low quality or spam.
How Often is Often Enough?
The next logical question to ask is how often do you have to post to qualify as regular updates? The answer depends on you and your site.
Do you run a small site that is just starting out? Do you run a larger site, but happen to work solo or as part of a very small team? If you don’t have a lot of resources to throw at the problem, you’ll do well to post once a week, at minimum. Posting more often than that, while potentially beneficial, can strain your resources. It comes back to the quality vs. quantity debate; according to Google, in this case, quality wins. Shoot for once or twice each week.
Do you run a larger site with a large audience and a team of content creators? You’ll have no trouble meeting the requirements of posting once or twice each week. In these cases, you can post every other day, all five days of the week or all seven days of the week. This is where your judgment comes into play. Perform a few months worth of tests; posting on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, posting five days each week and posting on weekends as well. How does your traffic compare? Some variation will come from the content of the posts, of course, but you have to take that into account.
For most sites, posting once a day is a good maximum. Some sites, however, can benefit from a higher flow of content. These are the high-tier sites with huge audiences and large teams of content creators. Posting two, three or more times each day gives each author a chance to shine. Some of these larger sites even split posts among several smaller client sites for added benefit.
So there you have it. Quality content posted on a regular basis is a huge factor in modern SEO. The only thing you need to worry about is making sure your content is as high quality as possible before posting it on your regular schedule.
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