Easy Ways to Beef Up Your Content

Nov 10, 2011   //   by Ty Banfield   //   SEO Blog  //  25 Comments

2011 has been a challenging year for many website owners. As Panda has continued to make clear, Google is serious about delivering quality content to its searchers. While it’s easy to spend a lot of time debating what is and isn’t quality content, there are some clear indications of what Google generally prefers.

Length is one factor that seems to be quite significant. In August, serpIQ ran an analysis of their database of 20,000+ keywords and front page results. As you can see from the screenshot below, the average content length for a Top 10 result is at least 2,000 words.

Average Content Length

Although this is obviously a cause of correlation and not causation, it does bring up an interesting question:

Why would Google favor longer content?

In general, longer content is going to be more comprehensive. If one website has 1,000 words about a topic and another website has 2,000 words about the topic, the latter is going to be able to cover more information than the former.

So, if your homepage is short on content, does this mean you just need to start writing whatever comes to your mind? Of course not! There’s a big difference between beefing up your content and filling it with fluff. Adding a bunch of nonsense to take up space isn’t going to help any visitors who are actually reading it.

While beefing up your content may seem like a really difficult task, there’s another reason you should be motivated to do it. Most conversion tests show that long copy converts better than short copy. This has been true since the glory days of direct mail, and it continues to be the case.

Since beefing up your content can help your rankings and your conversions, here are some tips for doing it the right way:

Start Answering Questions
: Open a blank document and start typing out all the questions a visitor might have when they come to a specific page of your website. Although it may take a bit to get warmed up, once you get rolling, you’ll find that you can generate a lot of good questions.

Once you have your list of questions, answer them. You can then add this useful information to the page you’re expanding.

Display New Posts: Just because your homepage is a landing page doesn’t mean you can’t showcase your latest posts. If you look at Copyblogger, you’ll see that the top of their site is devoted to their products. Then when you scroll down the page, they have a section for their posts.

If you’re using WordPress, this is very easy to do by creating a Sticky Post on your main page.

Address Multiple Point of Views: If you’re expanding an informational page, consider getting opinions and insights from multiple experts instead of just one.

If you’re working on a product page, talk about your competitors. Although some companies are afraid to even mention their competitors, if you can show visitors why you’re better than your competitors, you will be able to convert more of them into your customers.

Has the impact of Panda changed your content strategy?

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Ty Banfield

Ty Banfield is a freelance writer. Over the past five years, he's written on almost every topic under the sun. While variety is the spice of writing life, marketing and fitness are the two topics he never grows tired of exploring. He also provides business website development, marketing and conversion consulting that helps businesses attract more customers.

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  • dimaks says:

    Beefing up the contents is perhaps one of the points that I have been missing. That idea of preparing a set of questions with corresponding answer looks promising. I want to try it out.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

  • Maria Pavel says:

    I’ve seen some sites that have one single long post in his site. There are lots of links inside it. Not sure if at least every after 4 sentences. No paragraph at all. And when I read it thoroughly, I can’t fully understand what the article is all about. Funny wise that this site is getting high PageRank in it. Now I know the reason behind that long post. Anyway, I missed to tell that he’s into SEO so I guess he’s aware of the benefit of what he’s doing.

    • Ty Banfield says:

      While that sounds like the writer isn’t doing a good job of making his content readable, Wikipedia is a great example of content that’s generally longer and has lots of interlinking that’s actually useful.

  • cuzUcan
    Twitter:
    says:

    Yes you were right with that. Google Panda has it own preference on what is good content or not. Few of my sites were hit by Panda. We didn’t notice it, we just wonder why there not ranking anymore, later we know that it was Panda. Thanks to some information, now all the sites are doing well.

  • John A White says:

    I had no idea that the top ones would have so many words in each article! You have some good pointers like making lists for possible questions and answering them into your blog post. Thanks for the tips ;)

  • Michael
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have to say, long copy vs short copy really depends on the demographic of the industry. Short may work well for one website, while another in a completely different industry, long copy converts much better. AND, you are quite correct stating that it is much MORE of a correlation that a causation to run out and start adding content onto pages. The best suggestion I have is to look at your overall SEO before you start adding content. Unless it is completely useful (as you stated, answering questions for a specific topic) then don’t publish it.

    All in all, excellent post Ty. I really enjoyed reading it.

  • David Walker
    Twitter:
    says:

    The example of Copyblogger is really good (I love Copyblogger and Problogger). I think that some businesses may not realize just how easy it is to change to a layout that offers the same benefit. For a very small fee, just about any theme could be customized to display your latest post(s) somewhere on the front page. Many of them have the ability as it is, if you just look a little deeper into the settings, too. ~David Walker

  • Yohannes says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it doesn’t have to be a single long post with so many words. You just need to show summary of all your latest posts and you will have quite a good chunk of words on the front page. But it is true that more bloggers are switching to this format than the static page homepage.

    • Ty Banfield says:

      That’s exactly right. For some sites, it makes sense for the homepage to have several thousand words focused on a single topic. But for a lot, combining a featured section at the top with post previews below it is the best option.

  • Jon Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Awesome tips Ty!

    This might not be for everyone, but consider transcribing video into text – usually, a video has 1,000-3,000 words, so all you’re doing is grabbing free content that has already been created by you! Luckily, there are some great, cheap video transcription services out there, so budget shouldn’t be a problem (5-10$ for a 3-4 minute video).

  • MaryPablate says:

    Video is treated differently compared to text content, what we can do is we can add description in the videos for SEO purposes.

    I agree that long articles rank higher if you have maintained keyword density properly, used bold tags properly etc.

    Also, putting only 1000 to 2000 words text may not look good, you should also provide some sections including videos, images etc.

  • Quality content is very important in a website or blog. Also there should be a flow in it. Captions and transcripts for videos and podcasts always fill that gap.

  • [...] SEM Group analyzed the top 10 search results for over 20,000 keywords and noticed a [...]

  • I absolutely agree that long informative posts work better and bring more conversions that small posts. Plus when visitor spends more time reading the post on your webpage, it adds credibility to your site.

    Thanks for the psot. Though I kind of knew this, the post comes as a strong re-assurance. Thanks!

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