This is a guest post by Amy Balliett, the co-founder of
, a website focused on providing non-biased and thorough
shopping cart reviews
for the ecommerce merchant. Balliett is also the co-founder of Killer Infographics, an
firm based on Seattle.
If Panda taught us anything, it's that content is king today even more than it was 5 years ago. At the end of 2010, there were 255 million websites online, which made for quite a bit of content! After Panda, 11% of those websites took a pretty big hit to their organic traffic because their content was low in quality. As Google continues to iterate on its Panda algorithm, more and more sites are feeling the sting, but there are still millions (if not billions) of web pages going strong. So, in a world with so much information out there, how is your content going to stand out from the crowd and, importantly, how will you protect it from a hungry Panda?
The answer is simple: differentiate, improve, grow, and focus your content. Easier said than done, right? Well, here are some steps you can follow to take your content to the next level , maintaining/improving your online presence and growing your traffic.
Differentiate Your Content
It used to be that video was the perfect way to differentiate your brand from any other while positively serving your audience and gaining inbound traffic . Unfortunately though, video provides too many barriers to entry, the most important of which is budget. Because of this, video is still under-utilized and will likely continue to be on marketers' wish lists but not a must-have for many small businesses online. So what is a small business to do when looking for unique web content that won't break the bank? Here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Infographics: Infographics are HOT right now! They give you the opportunity to build your brand, be a thought leader on a topic in your industry, or just show off your humorous side. The right infographic can bring you dozens (if not hundreds) of high quality inbound links while also driving new eyes to your website. Around this time last year, I designed a PageRank infographic that explained Google's PageRank in laymen's terms. One year later, the page in which the infographic was posted has received over 30,000 new visitors and 2,500 inbound links!
2. Lists: Remember list-style articles? They aren't dead. If you run an online store, consider a weekly product roundup in which you list the highest selling products of the week as well as what makes those products great and unique. There are many great ways to incorporate lists into your content and many will require that you add one new article to your site per week at minimum (thus also helping you grow).
3. Interviews: For example, say you have a website about obtaining a degree. Consider interviewing a student about his or her experience in college and posting that interview to your website. Interviews can provide your readers with a new perspective that you can't personally supply while also adding unique and quality content to your website.
Improve Your Content
Low-hanging fruit is always there. Even if you think you plucked it all months ago, as time goes on branches get heavier and more low-hanging fruit appears. Low quality content is one of the easiest pieces of low-hanging fruit to take care of immediately. Perform an audit of your website to determine where to start. There are many angles you can take to improve poor-performing content:
1. Lengthen Content : Identify every page that has fewer than 300 words and determine a plan to fill out that content more. However, don't write content just for the sake of writing content. Some pages won't call for more content, and it's important that you differentiate between those in need and those that would become spammy with unnecessary filler content .
2. De-optimize Content : Yes, that's exactly what I said. Panda is Google's answer to taking spam out of search results, so if your content is too optimized or written for search engines and not the end user, then it will likely come under attack as Google hones this new algorithm. Go through your content with a fine-toothed comb and ask yourself, "If I wasn't trying to rank for that keyword, would I use it here?" If the answer is "no," then you either need to write better content so the keyword does fit, or remove the keyword from that sentence entirely.
Grow Your Content
If the last time you added fresh content to your website was a month ago, it's been too long. That may sound a bit intense for some webmasters, but ever since the release of Google Caffeine , the internet leapt from hyper-speed to ludicrous speed pretty fast. (Okay, maybe it's not that fast, but who can ignore the opportunity for a Spaceballs reference?)
You should always be brainstorming ways to add new content to your website that will also be beneficial to your audience. One way to look at it is that every single page of content is a doorway into your website. If you are not building more doorways into your site, someone else will put a doorway to their own content out there in its place. Because of this, it's important to continually grow your website. If Bubba was able to come up with hundreds of ways to serve shrimp, you can come up with hundreds of ways to evangelize your products or services through content marketing .
Focus Your Content
While growing your content is important, it is equally important to ensure that your content is focused. While Google hasn't said it outright, it is a common belief that the Panda Update put content farms in its crosshairs. Content farms have hundreds (or thousands) of pages of content that cover hundreds (or thousands) of topics. Don't do this. Instead, make sure that your content is targeted to one topic or industry.
If you have a website about health insurance, for instance, don't start adding broad content about various diseases unless you can find an informative and helpful way to tie that to health insurance. Your website provides you with the opportunity to be a thought leader in your space, so don't risk the good will that quality, targeted content can bring you by creating content that too loosely relates to your product or service.
Running your own website is the dream of many. Advances in technology have made it even easier to get started, but algorithm updates like Panda have made finding easy success a real challenge. By differentiating your content, focusing tightly on one topic, growing your number of related pages, and improving your existing ones, you'll still have a fighting chance. In other words, all success requires a little bit of elbow grease.
Image Credit: Kevin Dooley