Content Marketing & SEO: How Quality Content Helps Search Rankings

10/03/2017 09:48 am ET

Photo Created By: <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.bluefountainmedia.com/" target="_blank">Blue Fountain Media</a>
Photo Created By: Blue Fountain Media

It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) as separate and distinct marketing tactics. While it’s true that content marketing serves many purposes, and that there are SEO tactics that are purely technical and don’t relate specifically to content, the truth is, content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked.

Content is what fuels a brand’s SEO efforts. At our digital agency, we’ve seen this principle in action with our clients. We’ve worked with companies in a wide range of industries, but the one thing that holds true for all of these different clients is that investing in the creation of high quality content is the only way to see real, substantive improvements in their organic search rankings. There’s value to building a site that has an SEO-friendly structure, and to putting technical optimizations in place from the get-go, but neither of these things will do enough to impact visibility in the long run if deep, meaningful, quality content isn’t also present.

Below is an overview of the ways in which quality content helps your brand’s organic search rankings.

Quality content helps search engines do their job

First and foremost, content is what tells the search engines what your website is all about. Search engines are capable of many things, but they are not all-knowing. They rely on text and keywords to be able to interpret the meaning of a webpage. That means you need quality content on your webpages in order to tell search engines how to interpret them. Without content, there’s nothing for a search engine to crawl. Your site won’t be returned in search results for the keywords relevant to your brand if quality content isn’t present.

  <em>The Market share of the most popular search engines, these search engines are the gatekeepers to users finding your sit
The Market share of the most popular search engines, these search engines are the gatekeepers to users finding your site, Photo Credit.

Quality content attracts links

Most people, even those who only know the bare minimum about SEO, know that quality inbound links is a key factor in ranking. Links act as indicators so other people on the web can find your site, or one element of it, and provide useful content in one way or another. Note that “useful” can mean informative, educational, inspirational, or even just entertaining. Either way, quality inbound links tell search engines that your site is valued by others.

Understanding why links are important is one thing, but finding ways to earn them is a different thing entirely. Most trustworthy, respectable websites don’t just go handing out free links. Doing so would damage their credibility and potentially their own organic rankings. So brands have to work hard to earn links. And what earns links? Quality content, that’s what. If you produce content that is interesting, content that solves a problem, or content that contributes to the conversation, other websites will be more likely to link to it.

Quality content attracts social shares

Search engines are incentivized to return results that contain high quality content because users are more satisfied with their search experience when they actually find the content they were looking for. The problem for search engines is that onsite factors are not enough to act as foolproof indicators of quality. Search engines rely on both onsite factors and outside signals when assessing the quality of a piece of content.

As mentioned earlier, links are a major part of this equation, but social shares also act as a sign of quality content. The logic here is the same - when someone likes a piece of content, it’s usually because it’s high quality. Maybe it’s funny, or helpful, or informative. Either way, they’ll probably only share, favorite, or “like” a piece of content they genuinely enjoy. Search engines use these social signals as a factor when assessing quality, so creating quality content is a key component of the SEO equation.

  <em>This demonstrates how successful social media content can translate into brand growth, </em><a rel="nofollow" href="htt
This demonstrates how successful social media content can translate into brand growth, Photo Credit.

Quality content increases time on site

Search engines want to display results that are useful and relevant to users, and one of the ways they assess whether a given result is useful or not is by measuring the duration of time users spend while on a site. If many users click a search result and then immediately bounce back to the listings, it’s an indication that something about the experience was negative, and that maybe the search engine should reconsider the sites ranking.

Quality content increases the time on a site because if it’s captivating and engaging enough, users will want to spend time reading it. An increased duration of time on a site indicates that users have a positive experience which in turn will boost a site’s ranking.

Quality content provides freshness

Content marketing is about quality, but to a certain extent it’s also about quantity. Yes, it’s true that it’s better to produce one piece of exceptional content than it is to produce ten useless articles just for the sake of it, but it’s also true that when it comes to content marketing you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. If you don’t regularly produce new content, your competitors will outpace you.

Content freshness also happens to be a ranking factor, indicating to search engines that a given piece of content is relevant, especially when the search query in question is timely or newsworthy. Publishing content regularly can help improve your site’s chances of ranking for these timely queries. Take Forbes for example, they have industry leaders, experienced professionals and everyone in between providing quality content onto their website day-in and day-out. Whenever you visit Forbes site you can be sure that you’re viewing the most up-to-date articles that contain quality material.

 <em>Forbes debuts fresh content, all day every day, </em><a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/#68cc2
Forbes debuts fresh content, all day every day, Photo Credit.

Forbes debuts fresh content, all day every day, Photo Credit.

Enacting effective SEO is impossible without high quality content to fuel your efforts. Content is what tells search engines how to interpret your site, and it’s what makes users engage with your brand when it appears in search results, which is something search engines value highly. Investing in quality content creation is the only way to achieve lasting gains in your brand’s organic rankings.

To learn more about SEO tactics visit Blue Fountain Media.

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