The fact that content marketing and an overall digital strategy is essential to your success online is no longer a point anyone will argue. But often the way we present content is all wrong. We are concerned with search engines and SEO, but we have to keep some things in mind.
First, search engines are getting smarter. Through machine learning and artificial intelligence, Google and other search engines have learned things on our sites that annoy users. These include those full-page pop up ads, interrupters that ask for email subscriptions, and more.
It also includes paginated stories, often used in the past to gain rankings, and keyword stuffed content that is not really meaningful. In other words, if we are going to rank well in search engines and make our websites work for us, we must remember that when it comes to Google, content may be king, but the user is the queen.
Your Virtual Location
The first thing, of course, is to look realistically at your domain and make an honest evaluation. How does it look to the user? What does the domain name say to them? It is relevant?
What about the names of our pages and blog posts? If we are not presenting content that is relevant to users, the information they will read and use, then we will not rank long term in search engines either.
Your header and graphics including your logo are like the sign on your physical location. They attract the user and get them to the site. The home page is your lobby, and it needs to be attractive and let the user know right away what your site and your business is all about.
Your showroom floor is your product pictures and descriptions, or the way your services are presented and defined. These descriptions must not only be clear but must engage the reader and compel them to buy.
Your virtual location is as important as your physical one if not more so, and making sure you have that right first of all is vital. This is where your content lives, but not only that, it is what draws the queen, the user, to take a closer look.
Your virtual location is largely about the way things look and how they make the user feel. This is the start of the user experience, and it is just as important as the restaurant you would choose on a first date. You want to impress the user, but at the same time, it is not just about your location.
When we create content, it is easy to keep in mind what Google wants and does not want. However, often we miss a piece beyond SEO and website ranking. It’s about how our content impacts the user once they get to our site. You can have a great website, but if it is populated with mediocre content, you won’t keep users around for long and chances are, you won’t get many shares or natural links to it either.
Already we mentioned pop up ads and paginated articles, things Google not only does not like, but even penalizes sites for. It’s more than just about avoiding the negative though. It is about making the user experience a positive one, and actually answering their questions, offering them easy ways to navigate your site, and presenting products in a way that they both understand, appreciate, and as a result desire.
This content includes everything from your blog posts to landing pages, product descriptions, photos, and more. There are many types of users, and your content should appeal to all of them the best it can.
- Streakers: These users are looking for quick answers, or are ready to buy.
- Strollers: These users are nearly ready to buy, but need a little more information, things found in your blog or product descriptions.
- Studiers: These users are looking for more detailed information, long form blog posts, videos, and detailed specs on your product or service. They have often arrived at your site through a multi-thread search.
The more types of users you appeal to, the more likely your website is to be successful and have a high conversion rates. The user is who you need to appeal to, but the result of doing so well is that your content will also please search engines.
The internet is the information superhighway, and what you have to decide with your content is if you are going to contribute to the information, and therefore win over organic traffic. It’s not enough just to rank or to write posts that are keyword stuffed and fool Google into thinking your site is relevant.
We have known for a couple of years now that Google’s evaluation guidelines follow the E.A.T. principle, and that there are certain things they are looking for in web content:
- Expertise: Who wrote the post matters, and should be an expert in the field or the company itself must be considered experts.
- Authority: The site needs to be authoritative, and this depends on the expertise displayed on a consistent basis, and the quality of the information contained on it.
- Trustworthiness: Is the information you are providing accurate, and is this backed up by links to other authoritative sites? These outbound links send signals to Google it interprets to determine how trustworthy your content is.
The better your content aligns with these principles in your niche, the more likely Google and other search engines will present it high in search rankings, so you as your content meets the query intent of the searcher.
Your content is king—it is what matters to search engines, what enables you to earn organic traffic and backlinks, but it needs to do more. It needs to provide a good user experience. The user is the queen of the content kingdom, and if the queen is not happy, no one is happy.
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