I apologize for playing on the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to convey my point, but truth be told, the title of this topic is quite apropos to the current strategy and mindset of SEO Professionals world over. I would be lying if I said that I too was never part of the bandwagon that focused on content generation without thinking of its correct application in terms of both SEO and SMO.
I have always admired Google for their sheer devotion to the task of delivering logical results for each search query. How does Google do this? Well, they keep on rolling out algorithm updates periodically. Although you can see, the complete history of updates as and when they happened, here; these updates were not made on a given day and were more along the lines of “rolling updates”, whose implementation time lasted from over few weeks to a couple of months, depending on the vastness of the update and the percentage of queries it affected.
There has always been this misconception that, ‘the higher the number of pages that a sites has cached by Google or the higher the number of links to the site’, the better its SERP position would be. Many websites started using dodgy practices of either using duplicate or “spun” content to create pages that were not contributing anything relevant to the reader. With the Panda update rolling out in early 2011 and some smaller updates preceding it, Google shifted the onus well and truly on quality content.
Many reversions of the Panda Algorithm have been rolled out to date, the latest being the Panda 4.1. The improvements from the first to the latest update have been monumental, what has not changed is the fact that the move from “just content” to “quality content” is of the essence.
If it is so evident that Quality content is important, then why are people still investing in poor quality content?
Even to this day, there are SEO agencies out there who feel they have a dearth of content and continue to invest blindly into content generation without any foresight into its implementation. Many feel that the more content they have to post the better the site will rank. Some believe that the greater the number of contents posted on or about the site, the better its rank will be. This illogical practice of content submission to get backlinks, has created a cesspool of content that satisfies no purpose. Keywords stuffing, poor grammar, too many anchor texts etc. are clear markers of a poor quality content.
Content Writing Checklist
The problem lies in the question; there is no entity as “SEO based content”. All content should serve a singular purpose, it should answer the search query of the user as best possible or satisfy their requirement to the highest degree. Content should never be written for a machine, rather for a human.
If the content hits all the following check marks then it is considered as logical content, else it is nothing more than an addition to the ever-burgeoning “cesspool” of content.
1. Catchy Title: ‘Well begun is half done’. These words are ever so true when it comes to content writing. If the heading of the content is compelling then you can be sure that the reader will definitely give it a once over.
2. Is it visually appealing: Intersperse content with images that are relevant to what you are talking about, always remember, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Even if a user forgets, what you talked about verbatim, they can always recall an image that you shared to better illustrate the point.
3. Is it fresh: Instead of talking about the same topic in the same fashion as thousands have done before you, present it in a manner that either helps present your point-of-view, helps simplify the complex and verbose nature of a topic or is simply and extension of the thought.
4. Is it engaging: This point is what makes or breaks a content. Your content might have beautiful images and is very unique, but if it does not draw the user into it and compels them to read it, then am afraid it is of no use. A simple rule here, is to create content that caters to all 3 types of users; It helps a novice get the grasp of an alien concept, an amateur can further learn about the concept and an expert views it from the eyes of a critique to scrutinize the content.
5. Is it easily shareable: Although this does not have much to do with the content, it truly helps if it is possible to share the content easily over the web. Many people find some content pieces so engrossing and informative (wink wink 😉 ) that they wish to share it with others. By adding a simple code or using any of the major blog providers like WordPress/Blogger, you may enable your content to reach a wider audience and make it more visible.
If I were to summarize the aforementioned points, then the sentiment or mindset whilst creating any content should be, ‘No two snowflakes are alike, then why should two contents be…’.
If I were to say that, ‘content is important’, I would be wrong, the right statement would be, ‘Quality Content’ is important. Quality content can be a potent weapon, it is extremely important to use it judiciously and with prudence. Focus should not only be on content posting, rather on making sure that there is engagement of the content as well.