Rookie Website Mistakes, Part 5: Weak Content

October 6th, 2017 by Meaghan McCarthy

Welcome to Part 5 of our series on Rookie Website Mistakes. In Part 4, we learned about single page website design and how they often put form over function much to the detriment of your SEO and the user experience. While we all want a shiny new website with all the bows and whistles, it’s more important to focus on quality content that will give the users what they want. Having weak content can prevent search engines from exploring your site and leave visitors with more questions than answers. Avoid this mistake by following the tips below.

Hit the Sweet Spot of Content Length

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number for how long your content should be. Because I can’t tell you that precisely 253 words will make your page number one, I’ll instead give you the frustrating advice my high school English teacher gave me–your content should be as long as it needs to be. Obnoxious, right? But, what it comes down to is that your content should provide all of the related information on the given topic you’ve chosen for the page.

Very broad topics, like ‘what is family law,’ are going to be longer, while very specific topics, such as ‘features of Victorian-style roofing,’ might not have as many relevant details. Generally, more technical content like a plastic surgery procedure outline will be 500–700 words, while an ‘About Us’ page will be more around 250.

If you’re not sure how much you should write on a given topic, scope out your competitor’s pages to see how much they’ve written. If they’ve written 500 words, chances are you can build out your own content to be more competitive than theirs.

That being said, you don’t want to over-inflate your content just to make it longer. The other half of ‘as long as it needs to be’ is that it shouldn’t be any more than necessary to make your point. At Search Influence, we’ve named this superfluous content ‘fluff”; it provides the same amount of nutrition to your content as fluffy cotton candy. Fluffy content makes you sound less authoritative on the subject and doesn’t actually provide the reader with important or new information.

Focus on EAT Content

Google uses the acronym EAT to describe the characteristics of high-quality content: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. The opposite of fluff is EAT content. Producing EAT content gives you a better reputation in the eyes of Google, and it can help you rank above competitors writing on the same topic who don’t meet the EAT requirements.

Of all the EAT qualifications, expertise sounds the scariest. When you’re a marketer or a small business owner, you might not feel like an expert on everything you want to write about, and you may not have a degree or certificate that proves you’re an expert. For some topics, like medical and financial, Google expects that you have some sort of formal training to back up your knowledge on the subject. But for most industries, “everyday expertise” that you’ve acquired from working in the field or having a first-hand experience is sufficient. Google evaluates expertise by looking at how useful and detailed the content is, so the goal should be to write what you know, and your expertise will shine through.

You can also increase your EAT levels by incorporating specific statistics, studies, and other information from reputable sources. Make sure to cite the source and explain the findings in your own words if you can. You don’t need to be overly formal about this, either; saying something like “According to the CDC, 43 percent of sudden, unexpected infant deaths are caused by SIDs” would be sufficient.

Save Your Spam for Quick Lunches

Keyword stuffing is an old SEO practice that involves using a keyphrase as many times as humanly possible in the content, even if it doesn’t make sense in context. Sometimes, the keyphrase would even be hidden in the page footers and the background of the page! Google has caught on to this and will penalize sites they think are providing a poor user experience by being spammy. Focus on writing clear content that is centered on a theme and answers the reader’s potential questions. Then you can go back and naturally incorporate a few keyphrases throughout the content.

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Try to pick long-tail keywords that are more specific. For example, instead of using the broad keyphrase ‘botox,’ you could use variations of the long-tail keyphrase ‘does Botox work on crows feet.’ Google is clever enough to pick up on variations, so you can use the exact match long-tail keyword from the example above, and then use ‘Botox for crows feet,’ ‘crows feet Botox,’ ‘treating crows feet with Botox,’ and even ‘Botox around the eyes’ throughout the content to keep things natural.

If you’re unsure what keyphrases you should be using and trying to rank for, Search Influence can build you build a keyword strategy, track your keyword rankings, and even write content for you. Call us to discuss your content goals!

Put Some Words Behind the Scenes

While putting keywords in all sorts of nooks and crannies of your site is considered spam, there are some parts of the backend of your website where you should optimize for keyphrases. Make sure you check out this previous blog for an explanation of what the backend of the site means if you’re unsure what I’m talking about.

Readers can’t see the metadata of a page when they’re viewing your content, but search engines can see it. It works as a sort of behind the scenes shortcut to what your page is about. Your title tag, meta description, and image alt text should all have relevant keyphrases to solidify ‘this is what this page is about.’

But metadata is useful for people, too. The title tag and meta description appear in the search results; they encourage the viewer to click through to the page by showing them what kind of information they should expect from your content. Alt text on images will appear in place of an image if for some reason the image won’t display. It is also used by screen readers to describe an image to visually-impaired users. Without alt text, users and search engines could be missing out on crucial information.

Craft a Killer Call-to-Action

The final piece of really strong content is a great call-to-action. Now that visitors have read your content, what do you want them to do? This should be a specific action and related to the content they’ve just read. If you’re a cobbler and I’ve just read your page on all the different styles of shoes you can cobble, I should have a pretty clear idea if my shoes can be cobbled. So now, I may want to learn more about the process, what it will cost, or how I can go about making an appointment to have my specific shoe assessed. The call-to-action will direct me to something I will find useful and that will still serve your business needs and entice me to eventually come in to the shop. The goal is to use the call-to-action to convert.

Strong content will build trust with the reader, provide them with valuable information, and help drive them to buy your product or service. Putting words on the page just for the sake of it could actually drive them away. Download our whitepaper for more information, and tune in next time to learn about mistakes made when going to replace an old website.

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