SEO: There’s No Magic — Only Quality Content

Joost - Be the Best Result - WCEU

Gone are the days of keyword stuffing “Justin Beiber” into your metatags to rank highly on Page 1. There are no tricks that bring instant results. There’s no magic — only hard work and quality content.

On Friday afternoon of WordCamp Europe, Joost de Valk — Founder of Yoast — and his wife Marieke van de Rakt, gave a great presentation viewing SEO as a whole — holistic SEO.

You can’t just have good keywords or long content. Your whole site needs to be optimized for best results. Good, quality content is relevant to the WordPress freelancer and content marketer alike.

So, in that vein, let’s highlight some of Joost and Marieke’s main points.

Sustainable SEO

Joost talked about sustainable SEO as the overall strategy. It’s not tweaking one thing or another, it’s a strategic approach to the whole of your site and its goals.

Joost says,

“Any type of hacking should be sustainable. We’re trying to achieve things with lasting impact.”

In other words, in order to rank as the best result, you have to be the best result — as a whole. And Joost points out that Google is very good at reading context and content these days.

Google is Learning Context

Especially after the Hummingbird update to Google’s algorithm, Google has polished its reading skills. What does this mean for your website’s content? It means it should be clear, concise, and focused.

As Joost points out, quality means understanding. And this is a key in communication whether it is face to face, in a phone call, or online. The measure of communication isn’t the just about words being spoken, it’s whether it’s understood.

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” ― Lawrence Clark Powel

The Effect of Quality Content

Quality content doesn’t just affect your rankings on search engine results, it affects your bounce rate, social sharing, and more. Quality content addresses the reader’s question with a clear answer.

Quality content solves problems and answers questions. This kind of content will also be shared. Social signals from shared content helps your page authority which helps your ranking.

“More attention on social media eventually leads to higher ranking as well.” Marieke van de Rakt 

Quality Content is Clear Content

Each post and each page should have a single focus to your audience persona. With that person in mind, search your emails for questions customers have asked you. Make a plan — an outline even. Then write.

Clear and concise means you ditch the rules for a five paragraph essay from eighth grade. Each idea should be in a paragraph, that’s true. But as you progress from idea to idea, use transition words, contain ideas within short paragraphs, and keep the white space under control.

Quality Content is Readable Content

As much as you’d like your audience to be made of PhD candidates, it’s not.

“You could have a blog for PhDs only, but most of us have a general audience.” Marieke van de Rakt

Simple words, under four syllables, in sentences with less than twenty words are best. Joost and Marieke also recommend avoiding the passive voice.

One of my favorite readability tools is the Hemingway App but the new version of Yoast SEO 3.3 has readability checks in the form of content analysis. So, if you’re already a Yoast SEO user, you may not need any other tool.

Quality Content is Well-Styled Content

As if we weren’t already ruling subjective and nuance in the previous recommendations, we now have style. Well-designed text is easy to read and easy to scan and easy to understand. So, in many ways, style is the overarching label.

There is one factor, for example, that causes me to bounce more than any other factor: text size and contrast. Lately, it seems that almost every site has a very light gray on a white background in a font size that isn’t the easiest to see. I’m talking 8 point font of #D3D3D3 text, people. That is not accessible for people over forty years old. To me, this falls under style.

Quality Content, SEO, and You

So, how does this all apply to you — the WordPress freelancer?

Surely, you have your own web property that describes the services you offer. And this web property has pages that are dedicated to solving your audience’s pain points. We know, that as a freelancer, you are also spending the time to publish new content in your blog on a regular basis.

All of these things are hard work. And your freelancing business requires that you not only do the work, but work on your business.

Why not make a start today?

You can also be the best result. You have more quality content that you probably realize.

Look in your email and start a Google Doc of the top ten questions your clients ask you. Start with a list of the questions and answers. Make each one of those questions a blog post. Write.

Write every day if you have to. Aim to answer that question in 800 words (+/- 300). Schedule those posts to publish every Tuesday for the next ten weeks. That’s almost a quarter’s worth of content, just by answering questions.

Here are their slides: