Google has always said that "high-quality content" plays a role in a website's rank in search engine results, but they've only recently shed some light on what exactly that means. With the release of a guide aimed at helping Google's internal content creators, Google has shared some top tips for creating high-quality web content. In this post, we dive into a few of the tips Google shared in their Developer Documentation Style Guide.
1. Use friendly, conversational tone. The days of keyword saturation are over. In fact, writing solely for SEO purposes can actually hurt your rankings. It's important to create content with your readers in mind, including answering questions they may have and giving a clear call-to-action. Google stresses the importance of tone by making this one of the first tips in their guide.
2. Use words that readers will easily understand. Don't use your web copy as a way to impress everyone with your extensive vocabulary. Most often, simple is best. Another important thing to keep in mind is whether your website will be translated into other languages. Google recommends writing for a global audience with web copy that will translate well (i.e. shorter sentences and consistent terms).
3. Use numbered lists or bullet points. It turns out that readers aren't the only ones who prefer skimmable text - Google does too! They recommend using numbered lists for sequences and bulleted lists for another list.
4. Use descriptive link text. When linking to something else, Google recommends using the exact title of the linked-to page or a description of that page. Avoid using phrases like "Click here" or "this document".
5. Use standard American capitalization rules. Although it may be tempting to use all-uppercase for emphasis, Google highly discourages it. Instead, they recommend using traditional sentence case (i.e. capitalizing only the first word) for titles, headings, glossary definitions, and items in a list or table.
While these content tips don't reveal anything new or groundbreaking, they do reinforce the type of content that Google favors on websites. That said, Google also makes it clear that they do not have the ability nor the desire to enforce every one of these rules. They include a George Orwell quote in their guide which states: "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."
If you're in need of developing content that provides value as well as SEO benefits, try incorporating these best practices in your next copywriting exercise.