When you think of SEO, do you think of content marketing? You should.
The decade of the 2010's is definitely one where the Internet is present in everything, especially in marketing. Part of the allure of using the Internet is the near-instant accessibility of information. With just a few buttons pressed, one can conjure the most obscure material, which years prior would have taken hours, if not days of research. This presents a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to bring themselves closer to potential customers – people who are always on the web – which nowadays means pretty much everyone.
Visibility is still the name of the game. Whereas before the competition is hit up in billboards, streamers, posters, radio and television commercials, this time around it’s in web pages. Pop-ups, a term used to refer to the additional, often unsolicited web pages that appear with the purpose of advertising a particular product or service, were initially effective. Until, of course, everyone wanted a pop-up for his company. The market for pop-ups became so saturated that it was actually considered a legitimate problem with browsing the web for a time. It got to the point that software developers came up with programs or browser add-ons to filter these ads the moment they were supposed to come up. The marketing strategy was not considered effective anymore, and the focus shifted to search engine optimization (SEO).
Since the Internet is most loved for its ability to present so much information output with so little input, one of the most used web services are search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo!) Firms saw great potential in these, and initiated what is now known as search engine optimization (SEO). As an internet marketing strategy, it considers how search engines work – their algorithms and processes – in order to optimize unpaid results. Unpaid results refer to results that were not paid for by the firm. An example of this is going into Google, looking up “unpaid results” and seeing the article “Google Blurs The Line Between Paid and Unpaid Results” from searchengineland.com dated February 15, 2010 (as of May 2016) at the top. The article was put first by the Google algorithm not because searchengineland.com paid for Google to do so, but because it earned its spot through smart search engine optimization.
Search engines used to work only by ranking websites related to the keyword with the greatest number of views. That is not so now, especially when developers are molding them to be more sophisticated to cater better to users’ needs. Quality of the content present is increasingly become more and more the greatest factor considered by these engines, and here’s why.
Before we engage the question of the effect of content quality in search engine optimization, it is first important to dismantle and understand how search engines work. Since Google dominates the search engine market by having a 70% share (Biswal, 2016), we’ll be using its framework.
Upon the launch of a website, Google immediately examines its codes and files it for safekeeping. This process is called “indexing,” as the information gathered are used for record collections. It then organizes this massive conglomeration of information while simultaneously combing through the Internet for more new packets of data. Since it has in its file virtually everything in the Internet, it is able to retrieve very specific data when summoned.
When typing keywords in Google, the search engine goes through everything in its records that match. It again organizes them according to how strongly related they are to the keyword, number of links/backlinks, page views, content quality, etc. Only those that score the highest are returned in the results page.
The process is fairly easy to understand, since most of the work done is in the currency of numbers. The hitch, however, is found in the question of how Google determines content quality. Recall that search engines work through algorithms, or logical processes that sort and process data. Does Google employ people to click through the Internet, read web pages, and rate a website’s grammar, punctuation, and train of thought in its text? It only makes sense that content, that is, body text, contributes greatly to search engine results, purely because people communicate with words.
Aside from having content, it is important that such content is unique to the web page. Although tempting, it is very important to not duplicate content from other websites. Search engines give priority to the originators of the text – considered in sequence – so putting ripped off content does not really help.
Expert content writers actually see the body text as an opportunity to increase the incidence of the client’s preferred key words as much as they can. They make sure specific phrases appear now and then, for around 3 to 5% of the text only, since Google and other search engines also penalize keyword stuffing (repeating keywords excessively). Similarly, they also make sure to use the headline in the body text, as search engines take this as a plus-point towards the relevance of the website to an associated keyword/key phrase.
Lastly, more content actually gives the web page an opportunity to push its publicity in social media. Publishing content regularly generates material that it could share in Facebook, Twitter, etc., which significantly increases its reach (Patel, 2013).
Content is not restricted to body text, of course, as it is also in the form of images, audio files, infographics, videos, etc. However, it is important to remember that algorithms can’t process pixels, so providing the appropriate alt-tags (alternate text that appears in case the media file does not load) and supplementary text is very crucial.
The goal of search engine companies is to develop instruments that are able to provide users with the information they want. This is done through collecting and organizing massive amounts of data. Given this, the goal of search engine optimization is to make a web page rank as high as it could in the results page of search engines. The best strategy is to give these search engines as much data as one possibly could, in the form of specific, high quality content.
Here it is prudent to recall the true purpose of it all – why optimize a search engine, why launch a website in the first place? To attract customers who will purchase goods and services. Quality content does not only catch but retain their attention. Whether people read it or not does not matter; what’s important is that it’s there as a powerful resource (Old, 2013).
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