We have heard it over and over again. SEO evangelist, Google, cyber hipsters and pretty much everyone else says, “high quality content is required to do well in search engines.” In fact this narrative is repeated so much that I regularly see very smart people completely misunderstand the basics of information retrieval, which is the corner stone of SEO. So much time is spent talking about content in regards to SEO, that major caveats are often ignored.
So, what you are saying is that Google doesn’t care about high quality content?
No, not at all. What I am saying is that as a search engine, Google doesn’t have a concept of “quality”.
I love fried chicken. Growing up in the south I have had the pleasure of eating some of the best friend chicken available. My favorite place to get friend chicken is Yogi Bear Honey Fried Chicken. They use a light batter that is infused with honey and taste amazing! Some folks say they have had better, but seem to always finish their plate.
Does Yogi’s have the best fried chicken in South Carolina? I think so, but many would argue otherwise. This is because “quality” is depended on opinion and taste.
Robots, computers, and search engine algorithms do not have opinions. They feel the same way about fried chicken (and content) that my right shoe does. Quality is a subjective value that only human beings can judge.
This doesn’t mean that Google isn’t concerned with quality, in fact it is the corner stone of their algorithm.
If a computer can’t have an opinion, then how do you write a search algorithm to find high quality content?
Google’s algorithms use pattern matching rules and machine learning to make relative assumptions about content quality. This means that Google has identified patterns that are typically associated with high and low quality content. Then searches their massive index to either filter or promote content that fits these patterns.
So you are saying to quit building high quality content and only focus on the right patterns?
No, high quality content is required for every aspect of digital marketing. SEO should only be a portion of your marketing efforts, and high quality content is required for every other aspect. You need to start building both high quality content, AND make sure they are leaving the right high quality patterns for Google to find.
What are some patterns we should be mindful of?
I could write a book about this! In fact, maybe I will one day. But for now I wanted to touch on Guest Blogging. Recently Matt Cutts stated that Google’s web spam team would start to take a more aggressive look at those who use guest blogging as a link building tactic.
In typical SEO fashion many SEOs went bat sh*t crazy. Other more wiser SEOs said that you should be fine continuing to do guest posting as long as its high quality.
So hypothetically speaking if you were to create a blog of only high quality guest posts do you really believe it wouldn’t work
— Michael Gray (@graywolf) January 21, 2014
My response to Michael is: It may work, but at the same time you need to avoid the footprints associated with guest posting. Otherwise a risk adverse pattern will be created. There’s a lot of sites that have risk adverse patterns that never are affected by search algorithms, because the high quality content attracts enough positive signals to give the site enough authority to rank well. However, every good SEO works to mitigate any potential risk to current and future organic traffic.
— Brian Clark (@brianclark) January 20, 2014
Yes build quality no matter what. But not because you want to rank in search engines, do it because its fundamental to the core of marketing. If you want to rank in search engines make sure you are changing the patterns that your high quality content produces to mitigate risk and elevate your domain. Those are the two fundamental goals every SEO should be concerned with.