Content is one of the primary ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm that has more than 200 factors altogether. If you want to increase your search traffic, posting high quality content should be one of your main focus. Whether we speak about Google or Bing, search results are determined by three things: topical relevance, content quality, and context.
Webmasters understand how crucial it is to have quality content on a website to generate more traffic and achieve better conversions. In this article, I’ll show you 5 easy ways to optimize your content, that can help you improve your search engine rankings.
1. Leverage Authority, Utility and Presentation
When preparing content for publication, it is crucial to understand the three pillars of content quality, namely: Authority, Utility and Presentation.
Let’s look at them, one by one.
Trust is the currency of the web, and to have good rankings, you need to gain the trust of search engines first. If they start to trust your website, it will rank it higher.
Authority means whether users can trust your content or not. There are many things you can do to increase the authority of your content.
Always provide accurate and newsworthy information, and cite the sources. Add original research, reviews and testimonials to your content. Each piece of your copy needs to have clear information about its author, and it’s the best if every author provides their social media profiles and is a subject-matter expert.
Get as many social shares as you can. The more you have, the better your audience and the search engines will trust in your site. Use secure HTTPS protocol, as it also adds a minor ranking boost. If your site contains medical information, it should be written by a certified doctor or a health care professionals.
Below you can see an example for a page with low quality content. It’s full of ads, written by an unidentified author, and has confusing navigational elements:
Search engine algorithms try to predict whether your content is really about the topic it addresses. They want to know whether the overall content provides sufficient supporting information to the given subject.
To increase the utility of your content, prepare it for no one else but your target audience. For instance, if your target audience consists of kids then the language should be simple, and accompanied by images and videos for easier understanding.
It’s also crucial to provide unique content instead of recycling articles or web copy from other sources.
Users want all the information at one place, so supply everything they may be interested in on the same page, and keep it simple and understandable.
Content must be well-edited and detailed as well. Try to provide supporting multimedia and links to closely related articles if it’s possible.
Your website content needs to be well designed and visually attractive as well. Good presentation will better explain and educate your audience about your products and services. Websites with appropriate information and elegant layouts are usually preferred.
To improve your content presentation, you need to reduce distractions on your site. Get rid of popup ads, in-text ads, top-of-the-content ads, etc.
The goal is to make it easier for users to find the primary content. Also make sure you don’t have any content hidden behind ads.
Navigational elements also must be user-friendly and logical. Always double-check whether your content is easy to scan. Using proper subheadings and relevant images can help you improve scannability.
2. Add Fresh Content Regularly
Google measures all documents for freshness, keeping your website updated and regularly publishing new content results in better search rankings.
QDF stands for Query Deserves Freshness, and it’s a component of Google’s ranking algorithm. QDF queries are related to hot topics that suddenly surge in Google Trends.
Use Google Trends to identify these topics, and write about them. This may help you quickly rank for these QDF queries.
To keep your content fresh, focus on actual topics, such as a recent political controversy or a popular sports event.
Publish new content often, as this way you can rank for new keywords, but also keep updating your older content to prevent it from becoming stale.
Add a relevant timestamp whenever you update your content, e.g. "this page was last updated on mm-dd-yyyy".
Apart from publishing fresh content, also have content focusing on regularly recurring events, such as the Dancing with the Stars TV series or the NFL scores.
It can also be a good idea to look up topics trending on social media and write about them.
3. Prepare Panda-Friendly Content
Google Panda was first released in February 2011. It was a major algorithm update that affected around 12% of search results. It targeted low-quality websites that had spun or duplicate content, and large content farms that generated similar content on long-tail keywords adding little to no value to users.
There were several updates in the Panda algorithm until January 2016 when it was integrated with Google’s main ranking algorithm.
You can improve your search rankings by impressing Google Panda. To do so:
- Get rid of boilerplate content and don’t overuse keywords.
- Always make sure you have a clear site hierarchy and valid and semantic HTML. (Higher bounce rates shows to Google that your site is not user-friendly, so consider how you can reduce it.)
- Don’t use deceiving tactics, such as cloaking and doorway pages.
- Ensure your site doesn’t have any broken links and faulty redirects.
- Have proper canonical tags in order to get rid of potential duplicates.
- Try to increase the quality of your backlinks as people tend to link back to quality content, and search engines use this factor in their algorithms.
- Avoid using scraped or automatically generated content as well. Your content should educate your readers by leading them from a problem to a solution.
- Also create FAQ pages that provide relevant answers to exact questions.
4. Use Schema.org Markup
Schema.org is an extensibe vocabulary that makes it possible to describe structured data on the web. Structured data makes it easier for search engines to understand your content. Adding Schema.org markup to your site will allow your content to be displayed among Google’s rich results that can lead to higher click-through rates, and better search engine rankings.
Recommended Reading: Improve Your Search Results with Rich Snippets & Schema.org Vocabulary
If you want to improve your rankings, introduce schema.org markup on your website, if you haven’t done it yet.
The simplest way is to use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
Log in, and select the type of data you want to mark up, then paste the belonging URL, and click the Start Tagging button. The structued data markup tool will be loaded, and you’ll be provided with a workspace to tag the data items (author, publication date, URL, etc.) on your web page.
Once you’ve finished, click the Create HTML button. On the following screen, you will see the HTML of your page with the relevant structured data.
Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to find out how your page will look like.
5. Be Displayed In Rich Answers
Rich answers are Google’s attempt to answer user queries right on the search page. In rich answers, Google displays direct answers from relevant and trusted websites. Having your content in the rich answer box is a great way to increase organic search traffic to your site.
Here’s how a simple rich answer looks like:
To get your content indexed as a rich answer, create a list of the most common questions people ask in your industry. Make sure you don’t use industry jargon as most people don’t use them in queries.
When you’re done with your list, create content that specifically answers these questions. One question per page. Wherever you can, use a step-by-step answer format, such as this step-by-step instruction below about how to boil an egg:
Use keywords in your answers, and mark up the question with the
<h1> HTML tag.
Here’s a screenshot of the HTML code that creates the web page for the rich answer for the query
why is the sky blue. Notice the
<h1> tag in the code.
Utilizing these methods can help you make your content stand out among the search results. Patience is the key here.
Don’t attempt to change the content of all your web pages overnight. Instead, adopt a slower yet more effective approach to replace your existing content with more actionable, better structured, and fresher content to achieve better search rankings.