What is a high quality web site?
Over the years the whole SEO industry is talking about the need of producing high quality content and top experts came up with the clever quote ‘Content is king’ meaning that content is the success factor of any web site.
While this is true, does it mean that a web site with good content is also a high quality web site? The answer is NO. Good content is not enough. It is one of the factors (the most important) that separates low from high quality sites but good content alone does not complete the puzzle of what is considered by Google as a high quality web site.
To succeed online in the long term you need to have a high quality web site. Whether you are running a news blog, a content driven web site or an ecommerce store, it has to be different than the thousands of other sites in the same niche. A quality web site will grow over time both in terms of loyal readers but also in terms of search engine trust which is equivalent to more organic visits.
Rank of high quality of web sites that are of good quality of its service. It is not an easy task taking into account that everything has to be decided by a computer program and not a human; nevertheless with the introduction on ‘Panda’ two years ago, it seems that they are in the right path. The ‘Panda’ algorithmic changes made a good job in identifying which of the web sites are better than the rest and deserve a position in the top spots.
A high quality web site has the following characteristics:
- Unique content – Content is unique both within the site itself (i.e. each page has unique content and not similar to other pages), but also compared to other web sites.
- Expertise – Content is produced by experts based on research and or experience. If for example the subject is health related, then the advice should be provided by qualified persons who can professionally give advice for the particular subject.
- Unbiased content – Content is detail and describes both sides of a story and is not promoting a single product or service.
- Accessibility – A high quality web site has versions for non PC users as well. It is important that mobile and tablet users can access the web site without any usability issues.
- Usability – Can the user navigate the web site easily; is the web site user friendly?
- Attention to detail: Content is easy to read with images (if applicable) and free of spelling and grammar mistakes. Does it seem that the owner cares on what is published on the web site or is it for the purpose of having content in order to run ads?
- Optimization – A good quality web site needs to have non-optimized content as well. This is my opinion and although some people may disagree it is a fact that over-optimization can sometimes generate the opposite results. The reason is that algorithms can sometimes interpret over-optimization as an attempt to game the system and they may take measures to prevent this from happening.
- Balance between content and ads – It is not something bad for a web site to have ads or promotions but these should not distract the users from finding the information they need.
- Speed – A high quality web site loads fast. A fast web site will rank higher but will also create more conventions, sales and loyal readers.
- Social – Social media changed our lives, the way we communicate but also the way we assess quality. It is expected for a good product to have good reviews, Facebook likes and Tweets. Before you make a decision to buy or not, you may examine these social factors as well. Likewise, It is also expected for a good web site to be socially accepted and recognised i.e. have Facebook followers, RSS subscribers etc.
- User Engagement and Interaction– Do users spend enough time on the site and read more than one pages before they leave? Do they interact with the content by adding comments, making suggestions, getting into conversations etc.?
- How does it compare with the competition – When you take a specific keyword, is your site better than your competitors? Does it deserve one of the top positions if judged without bias?
How do you create a high quality website?
Taking into account the above characteristics of a high quality website, how do these translate in practice? What can you do today to increase the quality of your web site?
- Check your site for content uniqueness : Ensure that you have unique content in all the pages. (I use copyscape to check all content before publishing to ensure that it is unique). Check your existing pages and if you find duplicate content either remove it or de-index it. If you have pages with similar content merge them into one and redirect the pages with 301 redirections.
- Implement authorship : A must do for every publisher. Each and every page of your web site should ‘belong’ to a verified author.
- Go mobile : You should provide for both a mobile version and native apps. The experience of the reader is important regardless of the platform.
- Tidy up your content : Check all articles/pages for spelling and grammar mistakes. Make correct use of formatting tags i.e. H1, H2 and bold. Use small paragraphs to make reading easier and add images, illustrations or infographics to make your content more interesting and appealing.
- Find out what readers want : Use the search engine friendly keyword tool to find out what people are searching and give them content they want but avoid over-optimization. You can write content around the keywords they understand but try to make your posts social as well. Avoid using optimized titles all the time but keep a balance between optimized and non-optimized content.
- Minimize the amount of ads above the fold : Ads above the fold is also not good for the user experience. If you have good content, ads below the fold and at the end of your articles can also perform well.
- Make your web site load fast : Check your web site with the page speed tool and ensure that it loads as fast as possible. I know that it’s not the easiest task to do but it is very important.
- Work on your social media promotion : Do you have a Facebook page, twitter account, Pinterest page and Google+? If not you are missing many opportunities. Read my previous post SEO boost your social media profiles on how to make the most from your social media profiles.
- Check your bounce rate : One of the measures you need to monitor bounce rate, Bounce rate is the percentage of people who left your web site without viewing other pages. You need to aim for a low bounce rate so check your analytics and identify which pages of your site have a high bounce rate and correct them. Although the bounce rate is not a ranking factor, it is certainly a factor that can help you create better quality web sites.
- Check your competition : Check your competitors and try to make your content and web sites better! There is nothing wrong with that, in fact this is something you should do before creating your content. What you do before writing an article is search the keyword I want to rank my article and taking a closer look on the web sites in the first page. You check things like content length, authority of the web site, authority of the writer and try to make my content better and more usable.
- Keep your web site healthy and spam free : Last but not least, a high quality web site is spam free. One of the mistakes made by big web sites (think Newspapers) is not moderating their comments. As a result you see a ton of spam comments below their articles which is not a good user experience. As a rule of thumb you need to keep your web site up-to-date in terms of software updates and to monitor and delete spam or inappropriate comments.