In their guidance for webmasters, Google gives 5 basic questions that you should ask yourself about your website.
- Is my website showing up on Google?
- Do I serve high-quality content to users?
- Is my local business showing up on Google?
- Is my content fast and easy to access on all devices?
- Is my website secure?
In this article I’ll be looking at the second point here:
Do I serve high-quality content to users?
That may sound a bit subjective, but from Google’s perspective, what is high-quality content? Google is chiefly concerned with relevance – in fact it could be termed a relevance engine rather than a search engine. It wants to know if the content your site provides is relevant to the subject the user is searching about.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say you are a photographer working in Oxford. You do mainly wedding and portrait photography. Content that talks about your photography, your approach to your work, locations, and venues that you work with, will all provide Google with a good picture of what your site is about. But let’s say that you like to blog, and have many other interests. Maybe you’re a keen cook or cyclist, and like to write blog posts about those things. Though there might be some users who enjoy reading those posts, Google will see them as diluting the core message of your site and might mark the site down in respect of relevance.
Google is intelligent enough to quickly detect keyword stuffing too, so the target should always be to write content for the reader and not the search engines. For example, if you wanted to be found by people searching for a wedding photographer in Oxford with a relaxed approach, it might be tempting to get as many keywords into a paragraph such as:
“I’m a relaxed wedding photographer working in Oxford. When I’m doing wedding photography in Oxford I find my relaxed approach to wedding photography puts my clients at ease. Oxford is a great place to do wedding photography in a relaxed style with it’s beautiful architecture.”
Now that’s really hideous of course, but you’d be surprised how many times I come across exactly this kind of awkward text written entirely for search engines rather than the user. Google will see it a mile off and penalise it accordingly.
It’s much better to write for your users:
“The dreaming spires of Oxford provide the perfect backdrop for weddings. I’m lucky enough to call Oxford my home, so as a professional wedding photographer I couldn’t be in a better place! My relaxed and discreet approach will ensure you have a wonderful visual record of your day.”
It’s also vital to write content that your readers want to read. By that I mean give them the information they are looking for. That way user will stay on your site and not leave it too quickly (a key part of how Google determines if a site is relevant or not). So if your users want to know where you operate, what style of photographs you take, how much you charge, what albums you can supply etc., then you should include that information. This will take a bit of research of course, since you don’t necessarily know right away what search terms your potential clients are searching for. This is known as keyword research and is a whole other topic!
As you can see, understanding your potential client is very important. What is their intent when they visit your site? You have to make sure you meet that need. If they are visiting for information, don’t immediately try to sell them something or they’ll bounce straight out. If they want some information but also a way to make an appointment with you, make sure they have a clear path to a contact form or your contact information.
These are all elements that comprise high-quality content.
I hope this has been helpful.