Gone are the days when you could rank in a Google search by just making sure all the relevant keywords in your web pages’ metadata (titles, descriptions, and a certain percentage in your body text) and with average quality content. Now, with Google’s Quality (aka “Phantom”) Update (in May of this year), websites can no longer get away with ranking in Google just by using basic SEO tricks. Your sites got to have quality content.
And the criteria are …
Neil Patel, of Quick Sprout fame, lists 5 Ways to Create Content That Google Wants to Rank. As a checklist, these 5 points are:
- Is your content long and in-depth?
- Is your content clear, simple, and actionable?
- Is your content user-friendly and readable?
- Is your content backed up with expert opinions and statistics?
- Does your content give readers multiple options?
Of course, following this checklist, Patel’s article runs to about 4,180 words and is loaded with lots of easy to understand infographics, screenshots, entertaining and relevant anecdotes and Internet marketing advice – all presented in Neil Patel’s friendly writing style (go to the Quick Sprout page to read it).
These five tips are, of course, the hallmarks of high quality content – except probably the fifth point, which is just needed when your content, no matter how high quality, becomes too huge to handle without the help of simplifying filters – which are just a way to help limit what part of the content a visitor sees so the website becomes more useful.
But these points are easier said than done. What Neil Patel describes with his five points to great content are the characteristics that make content (blog post, webcast, video, tweet, infographic, etc.) viral – massively and rapidly consumed (read, viewed, or listened to) and shared.
These five points are a tough challenge to every content writer. It’s no coincidence that Neil Patel also wrote 9 Habits great content writers should develop in themselves – because you won’t easily be able to write long, in-depth, clear, simple, actionable, user-friendly, fact-and-data-rich articles if you don’t have what it takes to write great content.
The five points are the foundations of good SEO
The aim of SEO is to make your site or web page appear, if not number one, at least on page one of search engine search results for relevant keywords. You can’t do that by just tweaking metadata and keywords nowadays. If, in real estate, the mantra is “location, location, location”, the current mantra for SEO should be, and still is, “quality, quality, quality”.
And the best way to make a site popular is to have content that’s useful, interesting, remarkable, and, if not unique to your site, then the best of the breed. This way, people will flock to your site and share your content in their sites or social media platforms – and your content goes viral.
If the content of your site consistently checks in at least the first four of Neil Patel’s checklist (the fifth point is actually a matter of presentation design and would need the help of a web developer), then you have potentially viral content. As an example Patel’s five points to great content article alone, at the time of this writing, was published just 8 days ago (July 22, 2015) but has already garnered 608 Facebook shares, 1,300 tweets, and 152 Google+ shares. Not really very viral, but certainly more popular than most blog posts.
And then there’s location. A big factor making a web page popular with search engines is the authority of the site itself. It probably helped that the page is found at Quick Sprout, an Internet marketing site which has a SEOmoz domain authority (site popularity) of 76 (out of 100 – Google has 100 out of 100). In familiar terms, the page is a child of a famous parent. 😉
As of this writing, Quick Sprout also has a Majestic trust flow (how trustworthy are the sites linking to it) of 36 and Majestic citation flow (how influential a site is) of 55 (Google scores 99 on both trust and citation flow) – although trust flow should be accompanied by a lot of referring domains (15,362 in this case) to be really reliable:
|URL (the article)||Subdomain (www.quicksprout.com)||Root Domain (quicksprout.com)|
These data just show that it’s easier for a page to be popular if it’s in a high authority site. After all, there’s little chance for a low quality article to be appear, or even mentioned, in a high quality site. But it would be much easier for a page to rank if it has high quality content in the first place.
It takes time to build a site’s authority from scratch – and some sites never even get to be the number one authority for their industry simply because they can’t outclass the older, bigger, more popular and useful sites that got there first.
Your goal is for your pages to rank high in Google and other search engine results. And the best way to rank high in search results is to fill your pages with great content. But you must be able to write great content first – or employ someone who can.