Everybody knows you need a boatload of well-crafted content to attract search engines. But, if you think quickly stuffing your site with more pages is always the best option, think again.
Strong, SEO-friendly content doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long game.
That’s why publishing more pages faster isn’t always better. At least not if those pages lack real, tangible value.
To build search authority, you want to create legitimately helpful, keyword-optimized, well-organized, cleverly-crafted content that demonstrates your industry expertise.
And what does this mean?
And what defines quality content that naturally attracts search engines and generates organic traffic?
(I hear you ask!)
To help answer these questions, here’s a look at some of the defining hallmarks of quality content that boosts SEO. When you want to create content that gets noticed by search engines, you need to focus on quality more than quantity.
Valuable long-form content is better than short, ignorable posts
Writing five quick blog posts might sound effective, but you’ll catch the attention of search engines faster with one or two longer, richer posts.
- Lengthy content demonstrates expertise. If you saw two articles on any given topic, and one was 250 words long while the other 1,250 words long, which one would seem meatier? More valuable? More significant? Well the search engines would agree with you.Longer content demonstrates that you really know your onions about that particular subject. That you’re a thought-leader. An expert. A go-to source of wisdom. Search engines see your researched, informative, lengthy content and start to consider you authoritative — i.e., more likely to help relevant searchers (their customers).
- Lengthy content encourages links. A large part of effective SEO is link building — getting more and better sites to link to you. This goal can be challenging. But here’s the thing about long-form content: it naturally encourages links.How?By being more valuable. With more data. And more unique facts and expert insights. And this is the kind of content that others are naturally more likely to link to from their own content and social profiles. And yes, as more people link to your content, the more authority you build with search engines.
But…how long is long enough?
There’s no official standard, but generally speaking, you want to aim to create content pieces of 1,000-1,500 words or more. To achieve this, focus on deepening and detailing your content so that it provides another level of value to your readers.
More value. More depth. More insights. More links. More organic traffic.
At the same time, padded content will backfire
Just as overpopulating your site with short posts is counterproductive, so too is padding articles to make them hit a certain length. While long-form articles can be beneficial for SEO, upping a word count with fluffy filler text is foolish.
- Hollow content lowers quality. Never say in 500 words what you could say in 50; that only disrespects your website visitors and wastes readers’ precious time. Search engines recognize how long users stay on a page (AKA page duration) and how quickly they click away (AKA bounce rate). So, in order to productively create long-form content, you need to focus on finding more to write about, providing more value to your audience and concentrating on quality — not just fluffing copy to meet a so-called ideal word count.
- Hollow content frustrates visitors. Keep in mind, when it comes to SEO, getting people to your site is half the battle. Once someone finds your content through a search engine, will he or she benefit from what you provide? Or will your content send them running for the digital hills? If you’re filling your content with superfluous text, you could be losing potential leads.
After you’ve carefully crafted your content, you can measure its effectiveness by watching bounce rates. If visitors are spending time on your site and converting, congrats: your content is working. If, on the other hand, they’re disappearing back into the webosphere, there’s a reason you’re losing them — and it’s likely affecting (or going to affect) your SEO.
Building seo-quality content is a long, slow process
There are no shortcuts in SEO. Because the quality of your content is so important, it can’t be crafted all at once. Rather, creating quality SEO content is a project for the long haul — one that takes research and time.
Think of content creation for SEO as a long-term web development project in which you faithfully, consistently, slowly add valuable content to a site. Results cumulate and build over time. Search engines pay attention to what you’re creating and, over time, increase the authority of your site because of its steady, regular publishing process.
Focus on evergreen content for long-term seo benefits
Because search engines like fresh content, too many content marketers make the mistake of running a hamster wheel of content creation — posting, getting a burst of traffic, posting, getting a burst of traffic … and never driving users to old posts again. A better strategy is to keep creating evergreen — i.e., always relevant — content that can keep drawing visitors in like ants to a picnic, well into the future.
According to one HubSpot study, a post that stays valuable and keeps drawing traffic can generate six times more traffic than posts that disappear into the archives.
What defines evergreen content?
- It legitimately helps readers.
- It educates and/or solves a problem.
- It stays relevant long after its publication date.
Evergreen content can include blog posts, videos, white papers and all sorts. In every case, though, it’s useful to its audience — enough that they’ll want to share it online. So, to come up with ideas for valuable, shareable, always-relevant content, ask yourself what problems and pains your readers have, and offer them the perfect solutions. This naturally leads to the kind of content that will win over the search engines as well as your prospects’ hearts.
The bottom line
When it comes to content creation for SEO, the bottom line is that more isn’t always better. More posts are beneficial, in fact, only when they’re carefully crafted, designed to help readers and lengthy enough to allow for a deeper coverage of a topic. Quality is where it’s at for SEO — so set your sights on regularly creating relevant content and you’ll reap the best benefits over the long haul.
This guest post was a contribution by Shanna Mallon, a writer for Straight North, a Chicago web design firm.