Content, Schmontent; Does Google really mean it?

Much has been written about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates so I won’t spend time exploring how the game has been changing for SEO’s. The bottom line is that the pendulum appears to be swinging back to the early days of SEO where quality on-site content and optimization have become more relevant to achieving top rankings. If you’re like me you are probably bored to death reading every article in an SEO-related trade magazine discussing how important quality content is. But alas I’ve conceded these people probably know a lot more than I do so to prove this I’m sharing with you an example of a success story with my own Ecommerce site, BraceAbility.com, which shows what a difference focusing on-site can make these days with minimal investment.

For a good overview of algorithm changes and the details behind them SEOMoz has a great Google Algorithm Change History page to check out.

BACKGROUND ON BRACEABILITY

To step back for a minute; BraceAbility sells high end orthopedic braces and supports. I just acquired the business a few months ago but it was just launched in the fall of 2011 so Google doesn’t have a long history with the site. The link profile is growing but I’ve found that a site typically needs a good couple of year’s history with Google to rank broadly across a wide spectrum of keywords and links need to age to show their true value. Prior to Panda and Penguin you could combat that disability of a new domain by sheer volume of links. Content on the site barely mattered. My mini-case study shows on-site content does matter now and how perhaps this is how we combat the disabilities of a new domain now.

ANKLE SUPPORTS CASE STUDY

I recently optimized our Ankle Supports category page and got some amazing initial results. In the 8 days following the optimization our page views grew nearly 178% over the week prior and more importantly revenue was up 140%.

 

OPTIMIZATION PROCESS

The optimization was a straightforward process and took just a couple hours time. It’s a simple formula I’ve been using for some time now that has worked consistently.

TITLE TAG: Yep, this is still most important. I used the most relevant and most searched keywords (in this case 4) that would fit in the 70 character limit for proper display on the search results page.

META DESCRIPTION: Although this doesn’t have any direct impact on your rankings it does impact your click through rate and bounce rate which Google has publicly stated is now taken into account for rankings. Stick to facts and a quick tip is to see what your competitors are saying and say something different. Whatever sets you apart from them in a consumer’s mind.

But don’t optimize just for clicks. Make sure you are getting clicks that will convert otherwise that pesky bounce rate may get you.

H1 TAG: In our case the H1 tag for our Magento store is the name of the category. Again, I focused on the most relevant and highly searched terms but I had to keep it shorter than the title tag so it wouldn’t wrap around to the next line on the page and push the products down further.

URL: Same rules as the Title and H1 tag but this can be longer and a little more keyword rich. Keep in mind though that Google states they will be imposing penalties on people with “stuffed” URL’s so make sure they are relevant and not too long. In my case I used the same 4 keywords as I used in the title. As a general rule having your title tag, H1 tag, and URL match is good practice for reinforcing keyword relevance. And don’t forget to use a 301 redirect from your old URL to the new.

Page Content: Last but not least is content on the page. For category pages I follow a practice of it being 600+ words. The content can be utilized to reinforce your primary keywords via H2 tags but can also be used to work in all your longer tail terms and less searched but also less competitive terms. The closer the longer tail terms are to the top of the hierarchy on your site the more likely you are to rank for them. I also use the content section to deep link into sub- categories or to specific products as long as they are relevant to what you are saying. The most important thing about the content is that it teaches the reader something. In fact, I tell my writers that if they are teaching me something about the products then they are on the right track. You’ll know if you hit the mark if your bounce rate goes down and time on site goes up.

So there you have it a simple, inexpensive, and Google-friendly way to boost traffic and engagement for your site. And best of all it’s a permanent change that becomes part of your site equity helps your brand stand out in the eyes of your visitors. I’d love to hear your ideas though too. Anything I missed or suggestions for how to make my page better? Am I full of it? Please leave a comment.

Author Bio: Shaun is the Owner and CEO of the Ecommerce site BraceAbility.com and a self-professed SEO geek. He’s been making a living doing SEO in one form or another since 2005 and plans to continue doing it as long as Google will let him.