The importance of content is paramount for your website. Both in terms of intriguing people for repeat visits and increasing search engine visibility. The reason people continue to visit your website is for the content that lies within.
Sometimes content is imagery, sometimes content is an article, and sometimes content is a comment or forum post a user has made. In any case, you always want to have something new for visitors and present this content in the most beneficial way.
Optimizing Content Types
Images are often overlooked as a result of how simple they seem at first. It may just be a picture of a red balloon, but how does the search engine know that? How does someone find it? That’s where the “alt” attribute comes in handy. This allows you to describe the image in text so a search engine can understand the contents of the image. This is also helpful for sight impaired visitors that rely on screen readers to interpret content for them.
Optimizing text is a simple process. If you are writing an article about how to wash a car properly, you’ll want to be consistent with your terms. As an example, you may be tempted to use multiple terms that mean the same thing such as “rinse”, “cleanse” or “hose down”. While this can make the article more colourful to read, the danger is not ever emphasizing keywords so that people will see your article on washing cars ranked higher when they use the term “rinse” in the search. You’ll want to keep that in mind while you write and make sure to have a slight bias to certain keywords.
Video and audio may be the most difficult media to optimize for search engines discoverability. The most effective practice is to employ a subtitle or transcription for the audio or video element. This makes your content more accessible by being translatable and searchable.
New content is more attractive than old content as a rule. People like to see new things. News websites only survive for having new articles to read and updated stories. Photo sharing sites like Instagram and Flickr are always showing a flood of new photos being taken at that very moment. Facebook’s news feed shows you what your friends are up to currently, not what they were doing last year.
Is old content completely irrelevant? Certainly not. That is why the importance of an archive remains a high priority for sites today. However, the number of visitors seeking out content they have already seen compared to visitors seeking something new is very heavily weighted towards the new.
Here is an example of MediaDoc’s own statistics over the course of a month. Notice how the majority of views are directed to the homepage of the site where new content is announced.
Consider the most often visited pages of any site and what content is presented there. The most often visited page of any site is the homepage. This is true of any site because this is the address that users bookmark and it is the one they know to type into the address bar when they want to return. Keeping content fresh and new on the homepage is a simple way to make sure that visitors will continue to come back to see more.
Visitors that are already familiar with your site are great to have, but everyone loves to be popular and so getting new visitors interested in discovering the content that awaits them at your website is an important part of growing your business and getting your message out there.
Search engines like Google appreciate fresh content just as much as visitors. Google will routinely “spider” or “crawl” your website to investigate what content you have and measure how often new content is being added.
But new isn’t the only thing that Google cares about. It also cares about the quality of the content. Quality can be a difficult thing to determine, so Google measures a few indicators it has:
- Traffic. Google monitors how much traffic they are pointing to particular websites within their search results and begin to rank sites accordingly.
- Accessibility. Content on the page must be accessible and optimized in the way we described at the beginning of this article.
- Relevance. The measure of keywords within the content is an important indicator for whether the content is relevant to the search query.
- Social Media/Popularity. Google also monitors the popularity of a topic and does often reward sites that are being talked about on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook with higher rankings.
There are many SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts that will all give you a specific spin on these topics, but the fundamental areas of focus do not change.
Google cares about popularity, but will not shy away from showing a less popular website when it is more relevant or experienced in a specific topic. This is where keyword use becomes very important because it could be the keywords that everyone is searching for but only your site is talking about.
Allowing your website to go untouched with new or fresh content will quickly decrease your ranking in a search engine. You may have a relevant article to the search, but if another site has an equally relevant article with a more frequently updated site, you can be sure that their site will outrank your own.
Attempting to lace an article with metadata that is not content which appears in the article is a practice that Google will not endorse. Hiding popular keywords regardless of relevance to your site’s content is an old trick to improve your rank on Google and simply won’t work any longer. Google sees this as content polluting and destructive towards the user’s interests.
Examine your site. Identify areas where you can provide more and updated information on a relevant topic. Continually demonstrate your expertise in your field and you will be rewarded.
The old idiom remains true to this day, content is king.