With all the recent enthusiasm for numbers and graphs, today we’ll take a look at the what Google’s Panda /Farmer Update and SEO at its most basic are always about – good content. In other words, what interests people, what they want to read and/or what drives them to buy stuff online – content that actually belongs in the top positions for Google search results.
The fact that other (lower quality) sites are (still) sitting in Google’s top positions, is probably due to a bug – but the search engine is constantly improving…
So – what is good content? While there are many possible answers, we’re going to talk about ‘page view duration’. I believe that this is now a critical factor for Google. More important anyway than a hypothetical keyword density or similar factors. Need an example? My article at seo-book.de regarding the Farmer Update was quite extensive but didn’t have anywhere near the same linking as other Farmer Postings. But a few weeks later I could see it here:
This post was at position number 1 for ‘Farmer Update’ – with a second result immediately below it. This looks something like ‘authority’ to me. But – how could this happen?
To the right are the vital statistics for the article. The page view times are rather eye-catching. Actually, a few days later I optimized another post on the ‘Farmer Update’ that logically had a much shorter page view duration – a few hours after this I lost my first place and subsequently my authority. Clearly there is still a bit of QDF hidden in the search string – so, the older (better) entry didn’t stand a chance against the younger article (despite the shorter page view duration), and this in turn, stood no chance against strong competition.
Now you can argue about the causes and sequence of events: what is clear is that this article had an average page view time of over seven minutes. And in my posts, I keep seeing that this (despite the higher bounce rate, or perhaps because of?) comes with a high ranking. But – how does it all work?
How should a page look to be eagerly and intensively read?
I have a few practical tips for this, that are of course based on the presumption that you have interesting information about a topic that people are interested in. Pure robot-driven content will have to try to cope in other ways. Here we go:
- The navigation gives a visitor the feel for the ‘size’ of the website and where they are located within it.
- Social Media Buttons naturally belong here. Though they can, of course, be closer to the content.
- Breadcrumbs: Webuser 2011 is used to this approach. We don’t want to disappoint them…
- Certainly, the strongest arguments that encourage further reading of a post tend to contradict themselves. Firstly, an original headline should make you want to read the post. But secondly, the headline should embody the functional message ‘this is what you want’ in relation to the keyword. We recommend that you solve this with a headline and a lead-in.
- Additional content elements are of course (formatted) text and images. You can never have enough of these.
- But don’t forget: subheadings, image captions, lists and other multimedia elements. Instead of graphs, normal images can be used – or a video.
- Outbound links in the text are not always ‘sold’ but also help build good internal linking. And there are studies that have claimed that outbound links on websites cause users to trust a website more. Is this still the case after so many years of link selling? Who knows…
- By the way, the small boxes on the bottom right are internal links to ‘related’ content. Or they can also be external links. The main thing is that the user doesn’t get bored…
- Anyone wanting to separate a longer post into sections should provide good subheadings and place a mini navigation guide (see Wikipedia) at the top, so that users can find what they want quickly and easily. While I haven’t shown it here, I can highly recommend it.
And the length of the post? We all suspect that it is a good idea to publish longer rather than shorter articles. But this is only true so long as the competition does the same. Scientific topics naturally lend themselves more to text than say, shopping sites. And you should orient yourself accordingly.
Conclusion – good content takes work
So, that’s it actually. What is particularly striking in all this is that apparently, good content doesn’t require just ‘think time’ but also care and work. It is important to really structure an article well and show even the most hurried visitor the bits that interest them using internal navigation and subheadings. Then all your hard work will really pay off.
P.S.: Who’s writing this stuff? My name is Eric Kubitz and I am one of the co-founders of CONTENTmanufaktur GmbH Anyone trying to reach me can do so via e-mail (email@example.com) or on Twitter. ‘Til next time!