SEO Basics, Part 4: Good content and the long tail

Photo by Steve Harvey

Continuing our series of SEO tips, we come to what is probably the most important of all: add good content to the site, and add it regularly. You are developing this site for people, not for search engine robots, so make sure that the content will draw people in. (Luckily, good content is also helpful for those search engine robots.)

Search engines love text

The more relevant text you can provide, the more they will gobble it up. (Definitely include images, illustrations and photos, but make sure that there is plenty of good text on the page).

Users love good content

The more interesting/informative/educational/other content you provide, the greater the chance that someone will link to it (see also: external links), send it on to their friends/coworkers/family/others, or help your page go viral via social networks. (The other key is that the content should be original -- or at least include a lot that is original -- for maximum impact.) Offer something valuable from your particular area of expertise.

Keep the content coming

Don't just create a site and leave it sitting there. Keep new content coming to keep your readers engaged and keep the search engines coming back for more. In general, the larger the site is, the more "authority" you will have with the search engines, and the more chances you'll have of getting hits from more specific strings of words and phrases. (More on that below.) Examples of ways to keep the site growing with good and relevant content are to keep an updated "news" section, add your press releases to the site, start a blog on your site, or even begin a forum or discussion area if you have an active user base -- who can do some of the work of generating content for you.

Remember the long tail

You will begin to get search hits that are for phrases and terms you may not have suspected and likely haven't optimized for. Embrace this. Certainly you can focus on the most important keywords and phrases that you identified at the beginning, but make sure to prepare your content with the long tail in mind. In short: a good portion of your search hits will be for the "short tail" keywords and phrases that you optimized for, but a significantly larger portion will probably come from more specific keywords (or collections of keywords) that may or may not be related to the ones that you were targeting. Create your content with these users in mind by developing content for real people, not just for search engines. The more relevant content you create, the greater the chance of attracting this type of "long tail" traffic.

Conclusion: "Don’t try to fight the big players with your own generic ‘everything for everyone’ bland offering. Instead, actively position your business in hundreds of niches." (quote from a LeftClick article that is ironically not online anymore. More on the "long tail" theory is at Wikipedia).