Google, Content & SEO. What is the relationship and what does it mean for small businesses?
The reason I'm writing this post is that a client of ours was recently advised by her web designer that WordPress couldn't do SEO, that only a hand crafted site would get her on the front page. Now I know, because my site runs on WordPress and it is on the front page for relevant search terms, that the web designer was talking nonsense. So I thought I'd look into the relationship between Keywords, Content and Google Search.
Search engine algorithms have evolved. That means that the methods used by Google to rank pages have become a lot more sophisticated. Back in the old days, when men were men and web design was a job for geeks, Google and other search engines used keywords to assess the ranking of web pages. These keywords could be found in meta tags in the header of the page. The idea was that if I wrote a post about photography, my keywords would be things like camera, light, film etc. The intention of the meta tag was to provide information about the content.
People being people, it didn't take long to realise that a term like Canon or Nikon would be searched for more often than the term light, and the dark art of SEO was born. This realisation quickly led to people using keywords that had nothing whatsoever to do with their content, on the grounds that it might drive people to read the content anyway. What is the most searched for term on the internet? I'll leave it to you to guess, but it has no place in a post about photography!
In response to this gaming of the system, Google started to analyse the full test of the page and penalise pages where keywords were not found in the content. Almost immediately, the bad guys hit back by stuffing keywords into the page, often making the language tortuous and confusing the readers. Google hit back by penalising this practise, known as keyword stuffing. Immediately people started to put keywords into lists of links - this ticked two boxes - links are good for SEO and if a link contained a keyword, happy days! Of course this led to unwieldy and unattractive pages consisting largely of keywords clumsily tacked into lists of links leading back to the same web site.
This is not to say that SEO is bad, it is good, it is a given. You need SEO in order to rank at all. However, the art of SEO is constantly changing and understanding the relationship between Google, Content & SEO is essential.
These days, the game has substantially changed. Google do not prioritise keywords any longer so simply having lots of keywords no longer matters as much. It is in fact better to have just one keyword per page that actually sums up the content on the page. Because content is where its at. Google would like to think that the pages returned in response to a search are relevant and useful. today, full test analysis can actually deliver an opinion on the relevance and therefore the usefulness of the content on a page. Check out this article on Search Engine Watch for the latest state of play with Google.
What this all means is that content and the meaning of content is now king. Well written, relevant posts and plenty of them, will get your site further in the Google rankings than any amount of shenanigans with the code of the web site. The web developer I mentioned earlier is mistaken. WordPress accounts for 33% of all web sites in 2019. Does anyone really think that it would be so popular if it couldn't do SEO?
Chris Wright, the author of this article has worked as a web site designer since the year 1992 when he designed and hand coded one of the first e-commerce sites in the UK. Subsequently he worked in the New Media industry on sites for Birkenstock, Red Dwarf, Orange and latterly for IBM, the BBC and BSkyB.
Helter Skelter Studios create compelling content for discerning web sites. We offer Photography, Video, Copyrighting and Design.