With the advent of Panda, Penguin, and a slew of other colorfully-named Google algorithm updates, one thing is becoming abundantly clear in today's search engine optimization (SEO) landscape: Quality content is essential to scoring those top search result ranking spots that your dealership craves.
The only problem? Most people in the digital world have no clue what quality content actually looks like, or how to craft these high caliber offerings. To help cut through the ambiguity that surrounds this concept, let's spend a few moments laying out a clear and actionable definition of what constitutes quality content. From here, you'll have all the insight you need to start revamping and reinvigorating your website with an injection of high quality blog and site content selections.
Google's Definition of Quality Content
Since we're already on the subject of Google - and the guys over in Mountain View, California tend to do a pretty good job of setting the tone for how sites garner visibility and authority on the Internet - it's a good idea to start this conversation off by looking over how this search engine leader assesses the quality of a site's content. Specifically, Google's webmasters point to five defining characteristics that correlate directly to the quality of your content:
- Useful or Informative - High quality content should never be "fluffy." Whether you're listing off your dealer location and hours of operation, or offering up insight on how to lease the latest model on your showroom floor, the content on your site needs to have a purpose and impact the viewer experience.
- Valuable (Especially When Compared to Your Competition) - With so many similar sites already flooding Google's index, this is a big one. Don't just parrot what other established sites have already posted, add your own perspective or provide new and valuable insight that hasn't yet been covered by the competition.
- Credible - The message you're sending might be powerful and impactful, but why should people looking to buy a new car in your area believe you? Citations, links, testimonials, reviews, and anything else that lends credence to the points you're trying to make goes a long way toward building credibility.
- Uniqueness - Mass-produced content is a big no-no with Google, so don't expect to earn the "high quality" label if your content is syndicated or available on other sites across the web.
- Engaging - Great content becomes truly engaging when it is supported by appealing site design, relevant visuals, and multiple methods of interaction (social widgets, comment sections, etc.)
As you can see, meeting - and exceeding - Google's expectations for quality content is no easy feat. However, aiming for these characteristics across each piece of content that represents your dealership can help ensure that you're providing the best possible user experience for your new and returning viewers alike.
Pursuing the Highest Echelon of Quality Content
While these basic guidelines from Google are a fine starting point, they are just that: A starting point. Truly maximizing the quality of your offerings - from site copy to your weekly blog - requires a commitment to going above and beyond the bare minimum and achieving the greatest possible user experience.
If this process has you feeling concerned or uncertain, don't worry; you're not the first dealership to feel the anxiety that comes with pursuing the highest echelons of quality content. Fortunately, breaking down this process into a few key parts can make meeting these goals - and blowing your competition's content out of the water - a far easier affair.
Giving Proper Grammar and Spelling its Due
As Jayson DeMers of Forbes magazine notes, going the extra mile starts with getting all of the little details right. In particular, we're talking about utilizing proper grammar and syntax. The thought process behind being technically sound with your writing comes from the fact that even a minute or simple error can completely destroy the impact of the most compelling or engaging ideas.
"Google has placed a huge emphasis on the trustworthiness of pages and sites, and a page with poor spelling, grammar or typos is much less likely to be seen as trustworthy. Even if Google were irrelevant (which, of course, it isn't), your website visitors are far less likely to trust and rely on information that isn't written professionally."- Jayson DeMers, Forbes Magazine
In other words, if you're skipping out on the suggestions offered up by your spell checker or letting punctuation fall by the wayside, don't be surprised when viewers end up leaving your site in droves. The greater digital community doesn't have the patience for these avoidable errors - and neither should you.
The notion of writing in a coherent and logical manner shares plenty of overlap with the first topic on our list. Much like the challenges caused by poor grammar and shoddy spelling, it's hard for your dealership to generate any sort of meaningful connection with readers if there's no rhyme or reason to its content.
So what's a quick and easy way to ensure that your content isn't a jumbled mess? Try asking yourself a few questions throughout the writing process:
- Is the content on my site or blog organized via overarching themes and descriptive subheadings?
- Is there a better way to "map out" the point I'm trying to get across?
- Did I get my facts right?
The first two questions posed here help mitigate the risk of awkward or unorganized content, while the final member of the list shields your dealership from the backlash that comes with one of the digital world's ultimate nightmare scenarios: Being flat-out wrong and presenting incorrect information on a sensitive or important subject.
Speak in Your Audience's Language
Once you have the facts straight and you're all brushed up on the particulars of proper grammar and syntax, it's time to show off your expertise and insight into the car-buying experience via a bombardment of industry jargon and insider lingo within your content, right?
As Crazy Egg's Kathryn Aragon points out, speaking to your audience from an understandable perspective isn't just a way to make complex concepts and ideas digestible, it can also help optimize and refine your site and blog content. By keeping tabs on the latest social media conversations, checking in on consumer forums, and making regular stops at other high traffic areas frequented by your target readers, your dealership can adopt a style that is relatable, adds even more depth to your offerings, and ensures that your message never gets lost in translation.
Inject Your Personality into the Content
Personality is a major player in the high quality content experience. Don't believe it? Take a moment to think about your own favorite content producers from around the web. Whether your thoughts turn to a persona on social media that never fails to make you laugh or the blog of an industry insider who seemingly always has the scoop on the latest breaking news, there's one constant that remains universal across all of these examples: Each entry on your personal list has a style and method of presentation that is entirely unique to that group or individual.
From this viewpoint, it makes plenty of sense to follow in these footsteps and inject your own personality into your content offerings. Not only does this tactic further differentiate your dealership from competitors that flood the web with bland or generic selections, it also guarantees that your content - be it site copy, blog posts, or anything in between - is easily recognizable and provides a consistent reading experience for viewers that filter in from a variety of digital channels.
Create a "Full-Service" Experience
The most overlooked piece of the quality content puzzle - bar none - is the realization that truly high quality content isn't just jam-packed with great insight and information, it's also easy on the eyes. In fact, Jack Simpson of Econsultancy points out that this attribute is so important that it plays a major role in how Google ranks your content.
"Creating a brilliant user experience is something we often talk about on this blog, and it is no surprise that good UX can impact on Google rankings."- Jack Simpson, Econsultancy
So what does it take to knock the visual aspect of the high quality content experience out of the park? It all starts with leveraging a pleasing theme that makes good use of brand colors and logos, as well as relevant graphics and images that enhance your message and generate additional interaction from the end user. After you've worked in these visual bells and whistles, going responsive with your website rounds out the process and keeps these good vibes flowing with your mobile following.
By this point, it's safe to say that we've not only gotten to the root of what quality content is, but also covered how best to utilize these offerings within your dealership's digital outreach strategy going forward. All that's really left to do now is let this new take on high quality content guide you and the rest of your team toward a happier - and more prosperous - connection with the people that matter most.