I’ve found that many people think of SEO (search engine optimization) as obscure technical wizardry that can only be done by computer geeks. People also think that you can take any website, and if the “wizard” performs magic technical work on it, suddenly it will rank higher in searches. I rarely encounter anyone who understands how large a role content plays in SEO. It’s certainly true that there are technical aspects to SEO, but content is more important than most people realize.
What is Content?
When we talk about content, people often think of text in pages and blog posts. But content doesn’t need to be limited to traditional pages and blog posts; it can appear in various structures and formats within your website. And content can go beyond text; it can include images, audio, video, slides, tools, and more.
Ultimately, content is the “stuff” people come to your site to read, listen, watch, or interact with.
What Do Experts Say About Content and SEO?
I could tell you that content is important to SEO, or I could show you what industry experts say.
Search Engine Land has a Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors. Several of the elements are related to content. The numbers in parentheses are the weights of the factors, on a scale of 3:
- Cq: Content quality (+3)
- Cr: Content research/keyword research (+3)
- Cw: Content words/use of keywords (+2)
- Cf: Content freshness (+2)
- Cv: Vertical search (+2)
- Ca: Direct answers (+2)
- Ht: HTML title tag (+3)
- Hd: The meta description tag (+2)
- Hs: Structured data (+2)
- Hh: Header tags (+1)
- Te: Engagement (+2)
- Vt: ‘Thin’ or ‘shallow’ content (-2)
- Vs: Keyword stuffing (-2)
Content is king. You’ll hear that phrase over and over again when it comes to SEO success. Indeed, that’s why the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors begins with the content “elements,” with the very first element being about content quality. Get your content right, and you’ve created a solid foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts.
—Search Engine Land: Chapter 2: Content & search engine success factors
SEMrush has a Ranking Factors 2.0 study which shows several content-related factors:
- Time on site
- Pages per session
- Bounce rate
- Content length
- Keywords in body
- Keywords density
- Keyword in title
- Keyword in meta
- Video on page
Moz’s page about Off-Site SEO shows that Page-Level Keywords and Content Features account for 14.94% of the weight in ranking factors. In their Search Engine Ranking Factors survey, experts gave Page-Level Keywords and Content Features a score of 7.97 out of 10 in terms of influence on Google’s algorithm.
Content and SEO go hand-in-hand. Without one, your efforts on the other are seriously diminished. For example, your keyword research won’t do much good unless you then use those keywords in your content. And, creating content without knowing what your audience is looking for will leave you without any significant traffic. Beyond that, high quality content is what earns you backlinks, and it’s also what search engines crawl when they arrive at your site.
—Moz: Content and SEO
Content and SEO. At their best, they form a bond that can catapult any website to the top of search engine rankings. …
when content is optimized, it drastically improves your visibility.
—Search Engine Journal: Why Content Is Important for SEO
There is no such thing as SEO without content. You need words, articles, substance, keywords, verbiage. I wince whenever I have to say it, because it’s so cliche, but it’s true: Content is king.
—Kissmetrics: Why SEO Is Actually All About Content Marketing
Your website’s content determines which keywords the pages on your website will rank for. Content that is unique and relevant to the intent of the keyword search will rank higher than “thin” content that does not satisfy searcher intent. …
Good content will be rewarded with strong SERPs [search engine results pages] positioning and higher click-through rates.
—Brafton: Why Content Is Important For SEO: 2018 Edition
From an SEO perspective, original and engaging content will set you apart from competitors, as it gives the search engines something to index that can’t be found elsewhere. …
Good content attracts links.
—Search Engine Watch: 8 Ways Content Marketing and SEO Can Work Together
The top three list now looks like this:
1 & 2: Links & Content
—Search Engine Land: Now we know: Here are Google’s top 3 search ranking factors
Don’t Forget: Content and Links Are Key. …
SEO is still all about content and links. Without amazing content, you’ll never get links.
—Backlinko: The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2018, Chapter 7
And just like an engine with no wheels, SEO without content is a shiny machine that goes nowhere. …
Start your SEO content journey by bringing the two together from the beginning.
—Search Engine Land: The complete guide to optimizing content for SEO (with checklist)
Writing high-quality content should be a key aspect of every SEO strategy. …
Conclusion: quality content leads to higher ranking and higher conversions
—Yoast: The importance of quality content for SEO
What’s the Point of All This Content?
Google sees links to a website as “votes” for that website. In general, the more links a website has pointing to it, the better its reputation with Google. Each piece of content on your website is another opportunity for attracting links from other websites, which can increase the traffic you get to your website, and improve your ranking with Google.
Also, each piece of content on your website is another entry point into your website. If you have a website with 10 traditional pages, then Google can only index those 10 pages, and your prospects will only find you in Google if one of those 10 pages rank in their searches.
Now if you add 20 blog posts and 2 landing pages and 1 resource page, Google will have 33 “pages” to index, and your prospects will have more opportunities to find your site.
Not All Content is Created Equal
Of course, not all content is created equal. Many sites spew a stream of garbage blog posts for the sake of creating more content. But you don’t want to emphasize quantity to the detriment of quality. Quality content is content that’s valuable to the target audience of the website. In the case of a business website, the target audience is the target market, or the prospects for the business’ products or services.
Give visitors the information they’re looking for…Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic.
—Google: Steps to a Google-friendly site
Google’s post More guidance on building high-quality sites contains several questions to ask to evaluate your content, such as:
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
What’s Your Strategy for Content and SEO?
We’ve seen that a variety of SEO authorities have emphasized the importance of content. We’ve seen that not all content is created equal, and the best SEO results come from producing high-quality content. Where does content fit into your SEO strategy? If you’re not confident about it, contact us for help improving your content and SEO.