These days, pointing out that “‘Content is King’ is a cliche” is even more of a cliche than saying “Content is King” itself. Still, the sayings persist. Content and SEO are so inseparable that it is near-impossible for a site to perform well in organic search without extensive, thoughtful content.
Search engines “understand” what is on your website by sending bots to scan your site’s code. This means that when a search engine comes to our homepage, it looks like this:
As you can see, all that the search engines can really understand and see is text. This leaves two kinds of context: code and written copy. There are some kinds of code that do a good job of contextualizing a page for search engines (see our guide to Structured Data), but when it comes down to it, your content is your bread and butter. The more you’re able to convince search engines that the content of your page matches a specific search query, the better you’ll rank.
Essentially everywhere. Any page that you want to rank well needs to have content on it. That means your homepage, category pages, product pages, and store location pages really need to have some amount of content on them.
Exactly how much content is right for each specific page depends on the purpose and the layout. You don’t want to push down your products out of sight with an overwhelming amount of copy, and you certainly don’t want to stuff a page with content for the sake of manipulating search engines. Which leads us to our next point.
Quality VS Quantity
Google has been uncharacteristically transparent about what it considers “quality” content. In order for content to help your cause, it must meet certain criteria. I’ve paraphrased some of the highlights here:
- Content should be written first to help the user (the search engine should be an afterthought)
- Content should not be hidden from the user
- Content should be very natural to read and should not seem forced (for reference, Google’s threshold for low-quality content is when overuse of keywords is even slightly distracting)
- There should be a satisfactory amount of content for the kind of page
- The content on every page should be unique from other pages or sites — duplicate content is deemphasized
Gone are the days of cramming keywords into content and expecting results. This ties into the above point that content should be for the user first and for the search engines second. It is still a good idea to target a certain keyword in your content, but the approach should be different than it was in the past.
Use a keyword as a guide rather than gospel. Don’t require a certain phrase be used x times by your writer — keyword density should no longer even be in your vocabulary. Instead, focus on making sure that the piece of content serves as a solution to whatever the searcher is looking for. Using the specified keyword is of course okay to an extent, but make sure to include synonyms and variances as well.
Reap the Rewards of Thought Leadership
This is up there with the most abstract (but also potentially most beneficial) benefits of having a robust content portfolio. Let’s break it down.
Brand Awareness & Equity
Beyond pure SEO, becoming an authority on a topic leaves your brand in a favorable position in the eyes of consumers. People want to spend money with brands that they trust and connect with. If you can develop content that answers common concerns that your target audience may have, they will return for more (and to shop when they’re eventually ready!).
Once some of your expert content starts ranking well, users who are in the beginning stages of research for a product or service will find you and use your site as a resource for research. Often times, if a consumer sees your content as high-quality, they will associate that with your product or service as well.
Ah, links. Both the bane and fuel of every SEO’s existence. The secret to getting links organically is to be an authoritative source for information in your industry. As people reference your content to create their own, you get the inherent SEO benefit of them linking back to you.
If you’re doing outreach, getting other sites to feature you is far easier when you actually have good content on your site.
Good content is at the heart of any SEO campaign worth its salt. Not only is it good for SEO, its good for your brand and business as a whole.