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30th June 2014

Is content important for SEO?

Saying content is important for SEO is something of understatement. It’s now critical. Whereas before people may have taken shortcuts and got away with it, that’s not the case anymore.  Swathes of sites have failed the ‘Panda’ test. But more about that in a moment.

How many websites and blogs do you think there are on the internet? 5 million? 50 million?  According to the people who worry about such statistics there are over 300 million sites online. The question then is this:  how does Google rank your site when there are so many others?

When Google and the other search engines find your site (if it finds your site) it searches it for ‘signals’. These signals tell Google et al whether it can search your site and if it can, what the topic of your site is.  How can the search engines determine the topic? by the content. Only then can they begin to index your site and rank it for whatever topics you’d like to get found for. A site with little or poor content, gives the search engines the wrong ‘signals’.

The search engines are always looking for ways to improve the experience of users searching for information. From time to time Google (for example) updates how it calculates which sites should rank at the top. One of these updates, Panda (important updates are given a name) was specifically designed to weed out poor quality content.  For that read poor quality sites because it’s essentially the same thing. This means Google regards good content as a key ranking factor. Not the only factor, but it’s now a critical element of SEO.

So what’s poor content?  Content that’s not original or largely the same on every page is poor quality. Pages that have insufficient content are poor quality. Pages that are stuffed with keywords or have invisible text designed to boost rankings have also been penalised. In short, there are many ways to present the search engines with bad content that will damage your rankings. It follows that quality content has become essential to success online.

We mentioned keywords just above, hopefully that term will be familiar to you but if not here’s a quick explanation. A keyword or keyword phrase is the term used to describe the words you want to get your website to be found for. Hopefully you or your SEO consultant or agency will have done some work on these and you will be familiar with keywords and phrases. Google has semantic search functions which mean your content should focus on topics with various search terms that flow, not just a bunch of keywords included for the sake of it. This is a change from years gone by but goes to the heart of Google’s plans to make money from advertisers. But that’s another subject.

And there’s another dimension to this too. Google monitors how your visitors react to your content. If your visitors don’t stay long or you get high bounce rates (visitors making it to one page of your website and leaving immediately) you may find that your site can be overlooked by the search engines.

Taking all this together, you can appreciate that good, original content is vital for your website rankings and therefore SEO.

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