As many people who follow Simple SEO Group already know, we strive to keep our blog updated on a regular basis. Over the last 12 months, the least blog posts we’ve published in a given month was 8 posts and most was 14 posts. However as we’ve been blogging about lately, we’ve noticed a shift in what is ranking well in Google when it comes to blog posts.
What Used To Work With Blogging:
We’ve been a strong ally of blogging for SEO purposes for the last two years. We noticed a huge opportunity for our clients two years ago to start aggressively blogging, building content to their site, and developing a following of their blog. This was before the Panda updates began, far before the Penguin updates, and before Google started attacking low quality “SEO” work.
However two years ago, we strongly encouraged our clients to blog about anything and everything (and when the budget was there, we would write on their behalf about anything and everything). There never needed to be an emphasis on quality because very few people were really blogging on a regular basis two years back. So just by writing a post targeted at a long tail phrase, you were almost guaranteed page 1 rankings and in may cases top 3 rankings for that long tail phrase.
I used to pump out tons of content on our blog targeting different long tail phrases, and they ranked extremely well with 300-500 word long mediocre posts. The posts had some information in them, but for the most part their purpose was strictly to gain rankings for that long tail phrase.
Fast forward to 2013, and it seems Google has caught on to this. Rather than send people from search engines to sites ranking just because they optimized a mediocre post to rank for a long tail phrase, search engines seem to be able to decipher a mediocre post from a quality post. I’m unsure if the exact way they tell this is through length or if they’re able to actually start to read into the content with their computers, but the reality is mediocre content will get you less than mediocre results these days.
What Works Today With Blogging:
For the last several months, I’ve been writing higher quality content on our blog. By higher quality I mean two things:
Longer Content: Rather than writing 300-500 word long posts, I’ve been striving to consistently spend more time on my blog posts to write longer posts, anywhere from 800-2,000 words long. In some cases I’ve written 2,000+ word posts. In this experience, I’ve noticed posts in the 1,400-2,000 word long range are ranking extremely well and driving quality traffic.
Higher Quality Content: Higher quality content seems to be ranking better as well. This means instead of just touching the tip of the iceberg on a subject matter, actually go into greater depth with that topic. Post examples, case studies, links to other authority sites, and more information about the subject instead of just provide a vague article. Not only are these ranking better, but they help attract social mentions, links, and build authority in your niche.
This higher quality content seems to be driving more traffic, establishing more credibility, gaining more social mentions, and attracting more natural links. Below I’m going to go into more depth on these metrics with article specific examples.
A PageRank Example:
Simple SEO Group has a homepage PageRank of 3/10. We tend to not build many links to our homepage which likely accounts for this. However a few months ago, we wrote a great article which attracted tons of natural links. I was going back through and reading a few articles and noticed several articles that are PageRank 3 and even a few that are PageRank 4, higher than our homepage PageRank.
While PageRank isn’t a fantastic metric, upon digging deeper I found the article had attracted several extremely high quality links from websites in the industry that are PageRank 6-7. These are links that simply are invaluable, all attracted through quality content writing. Quite honestly, as an SEO company we couldn’t have gotten these links without earning them naturally as they are on extremely selective websites that simply don’t “give away” links.
What does this tell me? That quality content really does pay off much more than mediocre content. Authority sites will never link to content unless it really provides value to their readers, so if you want to attract natural links, you need to write fantastic content.
A Traffic Example:
Rather than just look at traffic to specific blog posts, I’ll go out and say we got started about 3-4 months ago with really focusing on the quality of our blog content on our own site. Prior to that, we put out good content (above mediocre, below high quality). These days we may strike out time to time, but we really strive to put out high quality content on our blog.
Below is a snapshot from our Google Analytics account. The area in red is prior to starting aggressive content marketing on our site, the area in yellow is when we were writing mediocre to above average content on our site, and the green area is when we were writing what we consider to be top tier content on our website. I think the traffic numbers speak for theirself in terms of how important content writing is, and how equally important it is to not just write any content but to write quality content:
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and the hundreds of others are some of the most popular and most visited websites on the internet. Likewise any good online marketing campaign should insure at the very least you have a presence on these sites, and at the very most should foster content writing strategies that engage the social audience.
In my experiences with writing higher quality content, I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in social shares of our articles and an increase in referral traffic from social media sites. This means I’m reaching a new audience outside our organic reach that we normally wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.
Many websites have social share numbers in the hundreds and thousands, which is fantastic for strong authority sites and large corporations. In our case, as a smaller business that is relatively newer to the industry (only about 3 years old), we were getting 1-5 social shares per blog post we put out, which we were happy with as it’s still higher than what many of our competitors are getting. However now that we started putting out quality content, getting 20-30 social shares per article is becoming common.
This puts a whole new dimension into content writing, allows us to reach a whole new market, and best of all it’s basically a free side effect of targeting long tail SEO phrases. I can’t think of anything much better than that!
Traffic is great, but what really gets a business owner excited is revenue. I don’t have any pretty graphics for this, but every month since we have put out higher quality content we’ve seen an improvement in lead quality and quantity. Rather than getting leads from companies in the lower price range (which we still love, of course), we’ve been getting leads from larger companies, marketing managers/vice presidents, and even referrals from some of our competitors.
Writing quality content helps establish yourself as an authority, whereas writing mediocre content helps establish yourself as someone who is just in it to try and make a few bucks. If you’re interest is in truly growing a business and improving the quality and quantity of your leads, then you need to start writing quality content.
So there you have it, my experiences with writing higher quality content. I’m sure 6 months from now I’ll have much better metrics as I continue to improve as a writer in our niche and continue to write more quality content on our blog, but initially we’ve been extremely happy with the results we’ve seen. We’ve also seen the same results with numerous clients who we are writing for or consulting on how to blog, so I know first hand that quality content pays off — no matter what niche you’re in.