People ask me all the time, “how can I get ranked in the search engines quickly?” Sometimes, I can point out a couple of things that will make a near-immediate impact on Web sites — such as fixing a duplicate content/mirror issue by implementing a 301 permanent redirect strategy, correcting a robots.txt file (I spoke with someone at the Search Engine Strategies conference whose development team had put “disallow: /” in their robots.txt file — this isn’t good, by the way) or, including keywords in the title tag that are relevant to every page (people still don’t do this — I don’t understand!).
More often than not, though, the answer to long-lasting results in the search engines comes back to one simple truth: search engines like content. And good content takes time.
When I mention content, it certainly can be in many different forms (video/audio/images and text). For the purposes of this column, I’m referring to textual content.
The Perfect Search Experience
The number of pages and the quality of the content available on the domain is one of the major factors that search engines use to determine “authority.” I refer to this as the “Wikipedia effect” because Wikipedia has a ton of pages indexed. It seems like Wikipedia shows up in Google’s top search results for nearly every search, doesn’t it? Yet, only one page of its site is specific to what you searched for.
This is the perfect search experience: search for a keyword and get a result for a Web page that’s specific to what you searched for.
Wikipedia also does a great job theming their content. It’s not enough to have one page of content to support your most important keyword. For the search engines to believe your Web site is an authority for a keyword, your site must have a treasure-trove of content to support the idea that you’re “the authority” for “keyword phrase number one.”
Also, remember that one ranking for one keyword probably isn’t going to equate to success in the search engines. You need a long-term strategy against many keywords (don’t ignore the tail, or those keywords that have smaller number of searches performed against them).
In recent client pitches, clients have asked me what it takes to compete against a given list of keywords. After I reviewed their competitive landscape, I told them that we’d need to develop about 1,000 pages of unique content to get them where they want to be.
Needless to say, many companies would just say “wow,” and contemplate sticking to their PPC activities. The cost, in terms of time and money, may overwhelm them.
However, these two prospects appreciated that I didn’t try to make them commit to an agreement and then deliver this news. We had further discussions about how to develop a plan for creating the content, make the content user-friendly, and add value to the user experience by delivering what searchers are looking for.
It’s no mystery. Google wants to give their users a quality experience when they search. You must strive to deliver a high quality user experience when people visit your Web site.
Users search because they want to read about stuff. If someone’s searching for your most important keyword, and you have an entire section of content on your Web site devoted to that topic, you’ll do well in the search engines for that keyword if other proper SEO tactics are in place.
The other byproduct of having great content on your site: visitors might want to link to your page.
If you can’t think of a way to structure this content within the main architecture/navigation of your Web site, create a blog. This is a great way to add quality, linkable content to your Web site. Some suggestions:
- Offer advice on your industry.
- Offer tips to your audience.
- Deliver industry news.
You can categorize this content by your most important keywords, offer it via an RSS feed, and promote it through social media marketing efforts. Or maybe the content will be good enough that others in your industry will promote your content on their favorite social media Web sites.
No successful SEO effort takes place without a foundation of quality content. So if you have a small 10-page Web site, you’ll likely need to create a content strategy before you realize the benefits of SEO.