Your bespoke content team

You may be aware that content marketing can bring targeted traffic to your website. However, you might be wondering, if there is already so much content on the internet, how do you stand out and rank on the first page of Google? In this post, I will share my secrets on how to make your mark in a crowded marketplace.

Focus not on each post

This may sound counter-intuitive, but this one thing, done well, will put you head and shoulders above your competitors on Google search and deliver return visitors in the masses (which is where the conversions happen).

In the past (pre 2006), it was possible to rank on Google by simply 'keyword-stuffing' your posts, but as the internet became a haven for spammers, search engines had to come up with a solution. Nowadays, Google has hundreds of ranking factors designed to draw better content and more usable sites to the top of their listings (thus creating a better experience for their users).

After adding 5 new factors, we can still see that direct website traffc is the most infuential ranking factor. That is, when many users go to a website directly it is a good sign to Google that the domain has high authority and value.

— SEMrush

Ranking factors in 2019

According to a report by SEMrush (a leading data aggregator), Google's ranking factors and ranking priorities have changed significantly over the last few years. With keywords comparatively low on their agenda and user behaviour soaring to the top.

The no.1 ranking factor now appears to be direct visits, closely followed by pages per visit and time on site.

That's right, Google are less interested in what words you place on the page and more interested in what the users do when they get to your website. See for yourself:

Direct website visits Time on site Pages per session Bounce rate Total referring domains Total backlinks Total referring IPs Total follow-backlinks Content length Website security (HTTPS) Total anchors Keyword in anchor Keyword in body Keyword density Keyword in title Keyword in meta Video on page Less important More important

You can read the whole document here: Ranking Factors: SEMrush Study 2.0

Build a resource worth visiting!

As Google is less interested in your post and more interested in the behaviour of the users on your website in general, your focus should be on building a resource rather than fragmented blog posts.

Think of it like a book. Would you buy a single page of a novel? If there is no logical link to the posts on your website, they have little value. As a result, you will lose both pages per visit and return users — this will cost you in Google rankings.

It's not just Google that has changed the way it prioritises web content, here is a quote from Bing:

Your goal should be that when a visitor lands on your page, the content answers all of their needs, encouraging their next action to remain with you. If your content does not encourage them to remain with you, they will leave. The search engines can get a sense of this by watching the dwell time.

— Duane Forrester, Senior Project Manager for Bing

Markers of a good website

  • New content published frequently (more than once weekly)
  • Content which offers value or information that can't easily be found elsewhere
  • Content that links together to form a resource (that is worth bookmarking and returning to)
  • Simple, logical, familiar and mobile-friendly design with few distractions
  • Post content which is separate from the products or services
  • Reliable, well researched articles that link to sources
  • No spelling or grammatical errors (proofread your posts)
  • Consistent in both post frequency and content matter
  • Pages which are both secure and load quickly (more than 3 seconds and you're in trouble)

It's all about trust

The old methods just don't work anymore. Why? Because heavily keyworded search engine optimised websites are uncomfortable for the user and don't promote return visits.

Content marketing is about building a relationship with your readership and relationships are built on trust.

Thank you for reading. If you learned something from this post, please share it with someone who you think will benefit.