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Why body content is key for high SEO rankings

Much has been discussed about SEO over the last 6 months with lots of changes being rolled out across the industry – from the complete re-writing of Google’s search engine algorithm (Hummingbird) to the announcement of 100% keyword data encryption, the last 6 months has certainly seen a lot of SEO turbulence.


These last few months have been tough on some SEO’s

Although many of these updates were pretty logical and expected, they have further blurred the lines of solid SEO strategy, especially considering what good SEO looks like in 2014 and how you can stay one step ahead of the curve.

One thing which hasn’t been negatively affected by the latest algorithm updates (and which has further cemented its place as the cornerstone of current and future SEO strategy) is that of good quality, non-duplicate and unique value-driven content.

Before we go into more detail regarding the importance of good quality content, we think it is a good idea to look back at some of the comments made by the founders of modern day search engines such as Google, as it is here we see, even all those years ago, how content was at the very forefront of their ideas and thought process:

“Our mission is to organize the world’s information. Clearly, the more information we have when we do a search, the better it’s going to work” – Google

“The increasing volume of information is just more opportunity to build better answers to questions. The more information you have, the better” – Google

“The ultimate search engine would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want” – Google

Although there is no specific mention of the word ‘content’ in the above quotes, the top SEO professionals have known for a very long time that this is what they meant, hence the ‘content is king’ mantra which is widely referenced by the top SEO professionals and SEO organisations across the world.

From the way search engines index your site and gather data to the penalties search engines can impose on your site for duplicate/scraped content and the many numerous experiments/case studies by top SEO’s around the world showing the positive impact unique and quality content has on high search rankings, it is fair to say that good quality content is one of the most important, if not THE most important SEO technique for 2014.

Its all about the content baby!

With the above in mind, let’s consider why body content is important for modern-day SEO.

A study conducted by Neil Patel over at Quicksprout revealed some really interesting stats regarding the value of good quality content and how it affected organic search engine rankings (this is a very thorough and informative article and I recommend readers read it in more detail.

To read Neil’s case study, please visit http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/12/20/the-science-behind-long-copy-how-more-content-increases-rankings-and-conversions/).

Some of the main points of his research revealed:

More content equals higher organic search engine rankings

Neil conducted research of the top 10 organic rankings for a variety of extremely competitive search terms.

His results show that all of the top 10 ranked pages had an average of 2,000 words or more on the ranked page – confirming that Google likes content rich sites.

Content rich sites get more backlinks (also key for SEO)

Neil touched on a research study by Moz (one of the world’s leading SEO consultants) back in 2011 when they analysed a random selection of their blog posts to see if there was any correlation between word count and backlinks.

After the analysis was completed, the results showed that there was a direct correlation between word count and backlinks.

This suggests why the top 10 pages have a lot of word content – people like value, detail and depth – hence why the more value you provide to people, the more chance people will link to it from their own sites (which fits in nicely with the quotes from the founders of Google above).

Social media prefers content rich sites/pages

Another study conducted by Neil on his own site revealed that there was a clear increase in social media sharing on pages with more than 1,500 words.

His conclusion was (based on his own site content and research) that if a page has more than 1,500 words in its body content, on average it receives 68.1% more Twitter tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than a page with body content under 1,500 words.

More content equals more user engagement and conversion

Finally, Neil talked about a case study conducted by world renowned sales conversion specialists – Meclabs, who analysed the conversion rate of long copy vs short copy. The results showed that on average, long copy always outperforms short copy.

(For more information on this case study, please visit http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/long-copy-short-copy.html)

So, now that we have addressed the reasons why content is key for current and future SEO success, I hear you ask the question “yes, I get the value of content but you still haven’t explained why some sites rank highly with minimal content across many pages”.

This is a very good question and one which can be explained quite easily. Simply put, in the vast majority of cases, the sites that are succeeding with minimal content across many pages are doing so because they have already gained enormous ‘authority’ and ‘brand reputation’ in the eyes of the major search engines.

To put it bluntly, sites like Ebay and Amazon can get away with it because they already have huge volumes of backlinks (with the majority of links coming from other authoritive sources), millions of visitors each year, huge volumes of citations across the web (a citation is a ‘mention’ of the brand/domain on another site), millions of followers on social media and usually have a huge ‘offline’ brand authority, reputation and track-record to underpin them.


Brands like Amazon have huge authority

In essence, they don’t need to provide content to rank highly in organic search results as Google already knows what they are about, what they offer, why lots of people use their site and why they are the most reputable companies in their field.

Summary:

To summarise, unless you have the domain, brand, user, reputation and SEO authority of the likes of Ebay or Amazon then in our opinion – regular publishing of quality, lengthy, relevant and value-driven content is by far the most consistent and most stable SEO metric in the industry and is the foundation of which high organic search engine rankings will continue to be achieved.

This is confirmed by the numerous cases studies conducted on this subject (some of which I have referenced) and the raft and pace of changes made by Google over the last year which have all in one way or another affected sites which don’t manage their content well.

To finish up, we thought it would be good to include a video from Rand Fishkin over at Moz in which he explains why good quality, unique and value-driven content is key to future SEO success, some of the ways to deal with low quality/duplicate content and some of the potential pitfalls that can happen if you don’t manage your content properly.

It is worth paying attention to the final point Rand makes regarding the ‘panda’ penalty as this has caused, and continues to cause, huge issues for sites who fall foul of quality content guidelines as discussed in this article.