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Don’t Fear the Penguin! Part 2

The second of our two part series on Google's updates. If you haven't already, don't forget to check out part one. In this post, we'll discuss what good content actually is and why it's the solution. Remember: 'Content is King!'.

What is good content?

There is no exact definition for good content. It’s certainly true to say that the definition fails at the word ‘good’ rather than ‘content’. Oxford defines content as ‘information made available by a website or other electronic medium’. This basically covers the contents of a website, which offer the user ‘useful’ information. The information which us important, useful and of greatest quality is decided by the user and with this, the expression ‘good content’ is naturally distributed.

As anyone who works in the media will tell you, content can also be understood in terms of the various multimedia elements which contribute to the overall medium.

In their guidelines, even Google encourages filling webpages with high-quality content. How, exactly, this content should look isn’t a subject dealt with in any depth. Website owners are advised to offer their site visitors the information that they want, provided as unique content; copied, like automatically generated content, is frowned upon.

So, what can be concluded from the various definitions of content? Content doesn’t just refer to the written word, rather concerns multimedia elements, which, through their quality and originality, speak clearly and exactly to the intended target audience. How great the quality is, is a valuation which rests solely in the eye of the beholder and can, therefore, only to a certain extent be dictated by Google. In spite of this, the search engine giant puts great emphasis on the fact that website owners really put effort into their site, as it’s only in this way that online searchers can be kept in line. Good content ensures that Internet users are happy and satisfied – and that is with simple, safe and natural methods.

Why is good content the solution?

Content seems to be the all-fix solution which will satisfy both Google and the entire online world. It’s the answer to everything, a real cure-all, the secret weapon on the list of SEO tips and tricks. This is certainly how it appears to all attentive Internet users when they see the frequently repeated mantra, ‘Content is King’. The call for high-quality, well-researched and targeted content is old-hat for every journalist and has for decades been their cardinal rule.

Broadcasting great quality, original and user-oriented content works like a magnet for users. And this is despite, or rather exactly because, the mechanisms behind this are so easy, logical, and simple to grasp. Great content is necessary for every website because …

…good content is easy to incorporate:

Good content is a lot of fun. The user should get the impression that they’re really addressed and welcomed by the website, without having to exert themselves wading through masses of dense, useless information. No one enjoys arriving at websites which just present them with 10 pages of text, in a block, without paragraphs or subheadings. When the content is well-structured, understandable and interestingly presented, it will draw readers in.

Make sure that your users find the information that they need quickly and easily. Present your content in such a way that it’s fun for your site visitors to use: simple, entertaining, and multimedial. You should already indicate in the Google snippet, the short preview text in the search results, how useful and fun the content of your website is. Create understandable and clear content, without exaggerated subject jargon or confusing phrasing. That only shows the users that you’re going to prove your competence in the subject area by hook or by crook. Make use of entertaining topics which encourage your users to think outside of the box: If you’ve got a home page dedicated to kitchen utensils, why not place a ‘recipe of the week’ on there? That’s sure to be a winner amongst your site visitors.

… good content grabs:

The Internet is full of boring and useless content, and as a direct result of this, there are high click-off rates. When the user doesn’t find what he’s looking for, or the content just isn’t appealing, the user will leave the site. Google rates this ‘bounce rate’, the length of time an Internet user stays on a page, and uses it as a ranking factor. This provides the search engine operator with an idea of how useful and worthy of reading a webpage is. That means: Good content determines how long a user remains on the page and, consequently, how well the page ranks.

Good content doesn’t bore the user, it encourages further reading. Keep your target audience in mind and don’t forget their needs and requirements. Make sure you present them solutions to their problems and have their entertainment as your highest goal. Keep your writing interesting and varied. Have a think about a suitable format. Why not pack your information in the form of a fairy tale, for example? How about an interview with an expert to publicise a product? Only those with gripping content can have a website which likewise grips the visitors. The big bonus is: users love to send each other great content. This way, you’ve got organic linking to your page; a type which isn’t penalised by Google.

… good content helps:

Good content is useful. Not only does it help the users, on the one hand, it also displays your competence on the other. Users don’t want to go online looking for information, only to be plagued by adverts. When you’re on the search for information or advice, a website which springs up trying to sell your things is significantly less helpful than a website which shows you the solution to your problem. Sure, helpful content is never going to replace online shops; useful text is only ever going to close a sale, if at all, in the later stages of the buying process. Fulfilling the needs of the client, however, is an approach which really goes further.

With your content, make sure you give your users the security and reassurance they need, and ensure you solve their problems. When an Internet user types a question into Google, they’ve got to find the answer on your site. Take care that your content presents topics in a well-researched manner. Have a think about which questions your users often ask, and make sure you answer these questions, directing your response to your target audience and the complexity of the issue. Make your explanations clear, structured and practical. Check which search terms actually bring users to your site and react accordingly: Do the search requests fit with the solutions provided in your content? Yes – that’s great! No? Then adapt your content.

With well-researched and high-quality content, you’re heading straight towards a win-win situation. Your users will gain trust, and you gain a fan. Don’t think about the sale, rather just remind yourself that you want to help your users.

… good content binds:

When content is interesting and helpful, it speaks to your users. If, through this support and amusement, the user places their trust in the site, then it will be for the long term. Useful content really ensures a positive image and happy readers.

Update your content. Ensure that you’re offering your readers as much quality content as you can, and continually add new, relevant content. Remember: It’s better to invest in one high-quality text than to have multiple, lower-quality articles on your site. At the end of the day, this one text will remain relevant for a longer period of time. If this text is written to a high quality, as well as being professionally structured and presented, then you’re much more likely to reach more users and, because of this, it’s likely your ranking will improve. Of much greater importance, however, is that you create a brand loyalty with your users. You just have to convince them of the fact that you’re their competent friend and contact person offering the solutions to their problems.

…Google likes to see good content:

Google is happy when its users are happy. Internet users are happy when they have access to interesting and high-quality content. If you produce good content, then your users will be happy and you’ll be happy that you’re keeping Google happy. It’s just that easy.

How do I create good content?

Everybody profits from good content: Google can communicate good content, Internet Users can use good content, and website owners gain many satisfied users – including potential customers. Given the incredible use of content, creating this content is correspondingly demanding. Despite this, there are a few options available:

-In-House Editorial Team: the most professional and comprehensive solution. That said, not every website owner can afford to have an in-house team.

-Personal Freelancer: Professional, but certainly more complicated than an in-house team. However, this is a really scalable solution and often more affordable than having fixed employees.

-PR Agency: Equally professional, but much less flexible than an in-house team. It’s a long way to finding agreements on content and usually very expensive.

-Producing content: The simplest solution overall, but certainly the most consuming in terms of time, creativity and personnel.

-Text Marketplace: the cheapest and easiest solution with a wide range of topics available. Unfortunately, they’re often much less flexible and considerably more demanding in terms of supervision.

Up to date, helpful, engaging … just how the telephone book should be

Google needs good content, just as a telephone book needs current and correct telephone numbers. Otherwise, both are pretty useless. When you don’t get through to James Brown because the telephone book doesn’t have the current number, you’d get a different telephone book. Your telephone book provider has to take care of the fact that everyone who wants to be included in the book is included with the correct details.

This is exactly the same for the search engines: Google rewards correctly presented and attractive sites with good rankings, and so demands good content. If you don’t make sure your sites are helpful, easily navigated and clear, then you’re bound to face reprimand. It’s that simple. What helps is obvious: with good content you don’t need to fear the penguin and co. anymore!

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