What is Searchable Content and Why Should You Care?
Bill Gates famously said in 1994 that "Content is King." This was amazing foresight because at that time, the internet had very little content. In fact, Google had not even been invented at that point. At the time there were search engines like Archie, Veronica, WAIS, Gopher and Alta Vista to name a few, but none of these performed searches very well.
In 1994, the best way to find useful websites was to use a directory. Most early directories were subject specific and catered to a narrow group. Still, by the time Gates made that statement, the internet had less than 3,000 websites...not too royal.
Great content marketing in Lake Charles, La now.
However, that rapidly changed. As more and more sites were added to the web, the internet became a place where people sought information. Libraries were still in use, but more and more people were adding valuable written information to the web.
Some information was lengthy, some less so. Some even included images, though quality was poor and few people could access them via super slow dial up services like AOL.
What is content?
Content is anything we find on the internet. It can be a written essay, an article about the latest fashion trends or a false claim about some politician. It can be images, memes, cartoons or any other form of visual including photos of your grandbabies.
Content may be in the form of videos like those found on YouTube, Netflix or shared by friends on Facebook. Content can also be audio like music, podcasts or online talk radio. Content can even be source code, an online video game or virus protection.
In short, content is anything we can upload, view or listen to online or download via the internet.
What is searchable content?
Searchable content is any content which has been added in a way that the search crawlers can read what is there. In the case of the written word, little needs done. The crawlers readily read it and know what is on the page, though it can always be better.
In the latter days of the SEO craze, certain unsavory SEO gurus known as Black Hatters even found ways to game the system using words.
One favorite method was to "mask" written content - they would add keywords to the page in a font color that was the same as the background. Humans could not see the words, but the search engines could. This resulted in the search engines giving high ranking to the websites even when there was little information of real value.
But this did not last and with the changes Google made from 2011 to 2016, websites deploying deceptive methods were penalized, some permanently.
Aside from words on a page, images, video and audio creates a unique problem for search engines. Search algorithms literally cannot see or hear, so for search crawlers to know what is contained in any of this content, special steps must be taken.
For audio and visual content, webmasters must add descriptions and alternate text (Alt Text). Originally intended to help the visually impaired "see" an image via a good description which their system could read aloud, alt text is also used by search crawlers who are equally impaired.
Audio is not the issue it once was thanks to the ability of computers to recognize speech, but it is still a good idea to add descriptions to audio files.
These descriptions, additional text information and captions all help the search engines identify what is visually displayed or heard.
Hence, searchable content is that which the search crawlers can read and index. Once the information is indexed, it can be shared when people search for it.
How do we search?
In the early days of Google, people would search for things using two to three very descriptive words or keywords. Today, thanks to smart phones, we often search by asking complete questions or making full sentences. Thus, the search strings (words used to conduct a search) have grown from about three a decade ago to nearly eight today.
But we still search like we did then...using words. Words are the key.
And the more clearly descriptive word combinations a website has about a given topic, the more likely it is to match what people are looking for.
For example. Say you want to know how to unclog a drain. You enter "how to unclog a drain" into the search engine and it returns a list of possible results. You scan through to see which you think would best solve your problem and click on it. Once you arrive on the page, you scan the article and either choose to read it all or look for another.
This example is one that I used for a prospective client. I checked and oddly, not a single plumber in the Lake Charles area answers this question on their website. This is important because if they did, they would get lots of people here finding them. But none do. In fact, only one has very much searchable content, yet this core plumbing question is not even on their site.
Plumbers in Lake Charles, LA are really missing an opportunity. "How to unclog a drain" or some variance of that query is the top question people ask of plumbers worldwide. That should be the first thing a plumbing website in Lake Charles or anywhere adds to their website, but few do.
In other words, few have searchable content...
...and are then surprised that no one finds their website.
The simple fact is that unless we are adding unique, searchable content to our websites regularly and helping people understand how we can help them solve a problem, our website is little more than an online brochure.
And we all know what happens to brochures. Once read, they get lost or tossed...if they are ever read at all.
Oakes Writing Website Services provides searchable content
Since 2009, we have been creating searchable content for website owners around the world. In that time we have written millions of words, tens of thousands of pages, and over a hundred books. We have also optimized images, video and audio so that search engines can index them and searchers can find them.
We know words and we know how to create written content that gets found in search.
And we can help you, if you like. Whether you need help creating content or would like to learn how, we are happy to do either.
However you choose to get in touch, you will be glad you did. Your website, your readers and your bottom line will thank you.