Article created for Attract and Convert (web design and lead generation): October 2016
Is your website generating fewer customers than it once did? Perhaps traffic to your site has also been declining for a few years? One often-overlooked reason for this is outdated or poor-quality content. You might think that a bunch of old blog posts or duplicate material can’t be doing that much damage, but you’d be wrong. Here’s why:
Outdated content makes your website look outdated
Firstly, outdated content makes your site look sloppy. When I read a well-written, engaging post, glance up at the date, only to realise it was published two years ago, I get annoyed. It’s not that the content is old that irritates me, but the fact that the author or website hasn’t updated it, or linked to another article that talks about new developments in the field. I then have to waste my time Googling the topic again to find a newer article with fresh data, when I could’ve just been redirected to another article on your website that talks about this topic. The trouble with outdated content is that people stop noticing it. It’s the digital equivalent of driving along a street and seeing the same billboards everyday, after a while you stop reading them, because you know the content is exactly the same as the day before. You only notice the billboard again when a new advert has been pasted up. The same applies to websites. We probably wouldn’t visit a news site if it didn’t constantly update its feed with new, interesting and relevant stories. The same logic applies to your website. Before you start churning out new blog posts by the dozen, I should point out that the emphasis here really lies on the word ‘relevant’.
A website that isn’t updated with relevant and value adding content regularly makes your business seem lifeless and stagnant. If you also haven’t updated your social media channels then you’re effectively broadcasting your unwillingness to engage with your customers. Your site’s visitors might interpret this silence negatively, wondering whether you’d also provide terrible after sales services, or worse still whether you’re even still in business, before bouncing off your site in search of another company’s. Not maintaining your presence online creates the wrong signals – you want to pull people in, not push them away.
Why relevant content matters so much
It used to be said that ‘content is king’, but what really matters for a website is relevant content – you need to create content that is relevant to your customers. You shouldn’t just be doing this because it’s a nice thing to do, but because not doing so will lose you money. For at least the last five years now, Google has been actively rooting out ‘thin content with little or no added value’.
Why you should be wary of Google’s Panda
The message from Google is clear – if you’re not adding value to your customers, then they’re coming for you, or very likely, they’ve already caught you. In 2011, Google Panda was launched to target low-quality or thin sites, so that higher-quality, value adding sites could rank more highly. This is one of the reasons why your website might not be ranking very highly in Google searches and in turn not generating more traffic and conversions. Google themselves have said that ‘Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals. It measures the quality of a site […]Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.’ There you have it from the horse’s or rather the panda’s mouth – if you want to rank higher, create relevant quality content. If you’re thinking all of this sounds like more effort than it’s worth, then remember that 80% of people use Google to conduct their web searches, so opting out really isn’t an option. If you’d like to see some ridiculous Google usage statistics that back this up, then knock yourself out.
How to avoid being in Google’s bad books
‘Thin content’ is very easy to accidentally produce. Internet Marketing Driver gives three good examples of what can cause ‘thin content’ to happen. You think you’re being nice to your customers by embedding a ‘how to’ video from YouTube, but if that page only includes a line or two of accompanying text, Google will deem it to be ‘thin’, because it’s duplicating content from somewhere else, namely YouTube, and not adding anything else of value to it. Ecommerce sites are particularly prone to ‘thin content’. If you sell multiple versions of the same product than it can be very tempting to duplicate the exact same wording for each page, but again, in Google’s eyes this content isn’t adding value. Finally, pages that give quick updates of a few paragraphs and not much else are also likely to fall prey to Google’s insatiable Panda.
The larger the site then the bigger and more imposing these problems can be with ‘thin content’ potentially masking out your good and relevant content. It might even be the reason why Google is not ranking your site very highly. If you’re not ranking high, then your site is not generating as much traffic and conversions as it could be. Bear in mind, only 8% of people make it past the first page of a Google search results page. If you’re not on that page, you’re losing customers. So think carefully before you click the publish button. Ask yourself, ‘Is this content adding value to my customers?’