Jul 27

Is content really king?

Content is King Illustration

We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king.” But what does it actually mean? Is it just another meaningless digital-age phrase, banded about to impress those who are digitally clueless?

Well ladies and gentleman, it’s probably no surprise to learn that content is still king, and that king has never been more powerful. When it comes to websites, content is, in fact, the king of all kings. And here’s why.

RankBrain

Google’s philosophy is based on great user experience. They want you to find exactly what you are looking for every time you use their search engine.

To achieve this Google are putting artificial intelligence centre stage and it’s this that is cranking up the pressure on content quality for Google rankings. RankBrain is Google’s name for its machine learning artificial intelligence system that is being used to help process search results.

So what exactly does RankBrain mean for content? Google trawls sites to figure out which pages are the best fit for a search. It looks for signals (there are around 200 different major signals, with potentially 10,000 or more sub-signal variations) including title tags, keywords, keyword prominence, grammar and spelling to name but a mere few. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is complex, and it’s why businesses employ experts such as digital marketing companies to improve their website’s ranking.

But it’s not just the SEO tricks that websites need in order to rank highly. Google’s algorithms are increasingly sophisticated tools, and RankBrain, along with the Panda and Penguin algorithms, are dramatically affecting the extent to which content quality impacts search results.

Google are investing heavily in AI to understand the intent of the search engine user and to deliver better results. This means content quality is more crucial than ever before. Quick fixes and tricks when it comes to outwitting the Google algorithms are a thing of the past. And that is why content really is king.

5 top tips to create content fit for a king (and RankBrain)

It’s pretty obvious that good content contributes hugely to any successful website – catchy taglines, and thoughtful, clear, well-laid out content with great calls to action, as well as enticing link bait, all lead to better Google rankings, potential customer conversions and ultimately profit. To give your content the edge, here are 5 things you simply must do.

1 – Get clever with keywords

It used to be easy to affect rankings simply by adding keywords to poorly written text. RankBrain has a more sophisticated approach. Poor content rich with keywords will no longer suffice. Content not only needs to be of great quality, but the combinations of keywords within the content also need to be constructed wisely. Keywords with different combinations of suffixes, prefixes and phrases (known as long tail keywords) are essential to rank. Voice search is also gaining popularity so the combinations of diction are growing. Now content needs to include concepts and combinations of words that include keywords, as opposed to single keywords.

2 – Create original, conversational content

It’s crucial to make your content original. Why should anyone be interested in your content if hundreds of others have said it all before? Content copied from competitors is a big no-no. Focus on user experience, and write content that sounds human. Tell your story, use case studies, and give it a personal touch. Perhaps even add anecdotes from your personal life. If you’re not a writer, get someone else to create your website content for you. Quality is just as important as originality.

3 – Create valuable content that’s easy to find

Give your readers and potential customers value added information such as an FAQ page, guides, a blog, industry news and case studies. Building a relationship with your readers and providing relevant and engaging content is a powerful way to entice links and keep up with RankBrain.

User experience is very important. If the content on your website is poorly laid out or is difficult to find your bounce rate is likely to be higher. Valuable, user-friendly content that is easy to find is essential for your business and for RankBrain.

Research your competitors. Find out what is trending and what your customers want. Find out which competitors are ranking well and why. Videos and visual content are popular. Valuable content offering practical information is the way to go.

4 – Don’t ignore mobile optimisation

If you only do one thing, optimise your website content for mobile users. Ignore this and you’ll be missing out on a huge audience. Make sure your content works on mobile devices, and keep up with changes. You’ll also need to understand what mobile customers want. Your mobile target market will have different needs to conventional computer users. Mobile friendliness is also a strong ranking factor.

5 – Review, refine and improve content (and the layout of your website).

The worst thing you can do is leave your website alone. No matter how good you think your website is, refreshing content is now more vital than ever.

The design and visual impact of a website is also very important. A poorly designed website will likely lead to higher bounce rates and, over time, RankBrain will rank the site lower in the search results because of it.

If website owners want to convert potential customers to sales and keep up with the Google ranking game, they’ll need to invest in improving their sites, including usability and quality of content, in order to engage visitors and get them to take action.

While strategies for SEO must continue to adapt and change accordingly, the spotlight is on content now more than ever before.

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