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The 10 Essential Rules for High-Quality Content Creation

Content creation is one of the biggest factors today that can make or break your website. For truly high-quality content, stick to these must-know guidelines. 

For those who are new to the process of website management, creating quality content can feel like running a maze: confusing, frustrating, and nearly impossible. But the factors behind what makes a good website aren’t so confusing when you keep one simple principle in mind–your customers. You’re a business looking to provide solutions to your customers, which means you want to give them the best experience possible.

Here are 10 guidelines for what you shouldn’t do in the process of high-quality content creation (and what you should do instead).

1. Automatically Generated Content

Content is king. The problem is, it’s hard to come up with new ideas every single week for months or years on end. In this sense, automatically generated content can seem like a godsend. But Google doesn’t look kindly on automatically generated content, particularly if it’s been designed to manipulate search rankings instead of helping users. This includes things like:

  • Text that makes no sense to the reader but contains search keywords
  • Text generated through Markov chains and other automated processes
  • Text generated using automated synonymizing or obfuscation techniques
  • Text generated on an automated tool without human review
  • Stitching together content from various sites without adding sufficient value

If Google sees that you’re engaging in any of these techniques, they will take action against your site.

What to do instead

The answer is simple: create original content. That is, create content that is more than someone else’s ideas rehashed. The content should be your original ideas, in your own words, answering the most pressing questions your customers are asking. It should be useful, engaging, and relevant.

2. Sneaky Redirects

Sneaky redirects are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Let’s say you click on this link about why a title tag is valuable. You’re expecting a page about title tags. Instead, you get a product page.

This is bad SEO for one simple reason: you’re deceiving search engines and users alike about what your page offers and ranking for searches that aren’t actually relevant to your page.

What to do instead

Instead, give your users what they ask for. If they click on a link to your old dog page and you redirect them to your new dog page, that’s fine. If you redirect them to your horse page, that’s a sneaky redirect, and Google won’t be happy about it.

3. Link Schemes

Google’s stance on link schemes is pretty clear: any links intended to manipulate PageRank or your site’s ranking is viewed as a link scheme and is thus in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank, including exchanging money for clicks, exchanging goods and services for links, or sending a free product in exchange for a link
  • Large-scale article marketing campaigns with keyword-rich links
  • Excessive link exchanges
  • Using automated programs to create links
  • Requiring a link as part of your Terms of Service

Basically, if you buy links in any way for the express purpose of tricking Google, you’re engaging in a link scheme.

What to do instead

There are no two ways around it: you have to earn the links you get. That means building a strong internal and external linking structure while creating high-quality content. You should be creating high-value content that acts as a resource other sites will want to use when creating their own content.

4. Cloaking

Picture this. You’re searching the web, minding your business. Let’s say you’re doing some research on API encryption. And let’s say you find the perfect result on Google. You’re excited. You click. The site you get isn’t anything like the site you were promised.

This is what happens when a search engine lists a cloaked site by accident–they think the site is something different too. The whole technique is about tricking search engines to achieve short-term search ranking results.

What to do instead

However you frame it, cloaking is about tricking search engines. Eventually, search engines will figure out what you’re doing and you will get blackballed.

Worse, cloaking is antithetical to good SEO practices. You’re ranking for a search that has absolutely nothing to do with your site, which means you’re not actually getting any business from it.

Use your common sense instead and work on ranking for search terms that are relevant to you.

5. Hidden Text and Links

Sometimes, gaming the system is a little more subtle than cloaking or sneaky redirects. Some site owners will keep their sites readable to humans while hiding keywords and links on the page in order to rank for them, as web crawlers can’t always tell the difference.

One way to do this is to make keywords or links the same color as the background of the page. Humans can’t see it, but web crawlers can, so they rank the site for those terms. 

This only works for a short while, as human searchers quickly figure out that your site has nothing to do with the terms you ranked for, as the results aren’t useful. Search engines figure it out pretty soon after that.

What to do instead

If you’re going to rank for keywords or links, do it the right way. Naturally incorporate keywords into your content, as if you’re having a conversation with someone. They shouldn’t feel shoehorned or unnatural–if you’re working with keywords that are relevant to your content, this shouldn’t even be that difficult.

6. Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are sometimes called gateway pages, portal pages, jump pages, or entry pages. It’s an SEO technique in which the door is designed to capture the attention of a web crawler using relevant keywords and phrases, often in hidden text so only the spider can find it.

These doors are then programmed with a fast meta refresh to bring the user to the page the site actually wants them to visit.So a user clicks a link thinking they’re getting one page and winds up somewhere totally different.

In other words, once again, you’re going to a lot of trouble to trick search engines.

What to do instead

Google doesn’t like doorway pages, as they don’t look kindly on this type of trick. This is for a few reasons:

  1. It’s highly unlikely that your page is relevant for such a wide range of search terms
  2. Black hat SEOs will often include links to their other clients on doorway pages

Not only does this drain your site’s link popularity, it redirects potential customers to a page that may have unsavory (or illegal) content.

Don’t fall into the trap of doorway pages. Give your viewers what they signed up for right from the beginning.

7. Scraped Content

Scraping content is when you illegally take content from somewhere else on the Internet and present it on your site as your own content. Some sites will copy entire websites and present them as their own. It’s like plagiarizing your high school English paper, except instead of a paper, it’s your web page and your business that will be docked for it.

It’s pretty easy to figure out why search engines disapprove of this practice.

Here’s the thing: if you’re engaging in content scraping, you probably know it, since you’re literally copying and pasting a page straight onto your own site. Unless you hire a black hat SEO expert to do it for you.

What to do instead

As with your high school English paper, the answer is simple: stop copying other people’s work. Put in the time and effort required to craft your own.

A high-quality SEO agency would never offer this kind of service. They know it’s illegal, and they know it will come back to hurt everyone in the long run. If you’re struggling to come up with original ideas, work with an SEO agency that will help you plan ahead.

Whatever you do, don’t fall back on copying the work of others.

8. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs aren’t automatically a bad thing for your website. In fact, they can be fantastic for your SEO…if you and your affiliates are both following good ranking practices and performing well because of it.

Bad affiliate programs, however, fall back under the category of link schemes–you’re exchanging a backlink for money. The key is to do your affiliate program the right way.

What to do instead

Follow the example of good affiliate programs everywhere. You should offer quality affiliate links to your partners and only pay them when a customer buys a product or service through their link.

This should not be a link exchange, but rather a solid affiliate program that rewards both sides while abiding by search engine guidelines.

9. Irrelevant Keywords

Irrelevant keywords are at the heart of most underhanded SEO programs. You see, a human can tell whether a complete webpage is reliable and relevant to their search, but a web crawler doesn’t read a website the same as a human. They have to rely on keywords as their first clue about how to index a website. SEO experts are back and forth about the importance of keywords, but the fact remains that you have to smartly use keywords if you want search engine spiders to see you.

It may be tempting to rank for any keyword you can think of in order to game the system and get your site ranked highly, as this will, in theory, help you rank higher for keywords that are actually relevant to you. However, it doesn’t do your customers any good to rank for keywords that aren’t relevant to you. Search engines are in the business of providing a good customer experience to their users, so they don’t want to rank sites if they’re not relevant.

What to do instead

In the long haul, ranking for irrelevant keywords will hurt you. Think of it this way: if you sell lawnmowers, it doesn’t do you any good to rank for Chihuahua collars, as those customers aren’t going to spend any money on your website. Instead, focus only on keywords that are relevant to your offerings. If you’re a law firm specializing in traumatic brain injuries, then you want to rank for search terms related to personal injury.

10. Creating Pages with Malicious Behavior

We said earlier that search engines are in the business of providing their users with the best possible customer experience. As a rule, web pages with malicious intent don’t qualify as a good customer experience. According to Google guidelines, this includes things like:

  • Including unwanted files in a download requested by a user
  • Injecting new pop-up ads on a page
  • Changing a user’s browser or homepage information without their consent
  • Installing trojans, malware, spyware, or other viruses
  • Manipulating the location of content on a page so that a user’s click registers somewhere else on the page

Basically, if you’re trying to do something other than provide useful information to your customers, you’re not going to rank well on search engines.

What to do instead

Does this really need an explanation? If you’re in the business of helping your customers, you should be in the business of giving them the best possible experience on your website.

That means giving them a webpage that provides genuinely helpful information without any hidden tricks, underhanded techniques, or harmful practices. They’re your customers–take good care of them so that they become return customers.

Better Content Creation from the Start

The key to good content creation is to keep your customers in mind. Good SEO, after all, is all about giving your customers the best possible experience. That’s where we come in. We offer affordable website solutions for enterprising business owners, whatever you might need or want to accomplish. We know that you have one simple goal: keeping your customers happy. And our goal is to help you do it. If you want to find out more about what we can do to help, get in touch with us today.

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