I was in two-minds as to whether to include this section in the final guide because as a designer you might have limited control over content factors but there again in my experience; designers certainly have some responsibility for either the content itself or for formatting and publishing so I feel it is worthwhile to mention these factors.
Content language – Google uses the language the text content has been written in as a reference point for the relevance to the user making the search query. If you are targeting an English speaking country then content should be written in English. Obvious really but it does reinforce the need for localized websites if you are helping a client to target other countries that speak different languages.
Content uniqueness – one phrase I am sure you are bored of hearing is ‘create unique content’ if you want to do well in the search results. People keep saying it because it is true. Unique content sends the right kinds of quality signals to Google because more users engage with it and talk about, they share it, it generates more links. Encourage your clients to invest in useful, unique content that offers real value to the reader or if necessary take responsibility for this yourself.
Amount of content – the recent Google Panda algorithm update has had an impact on what could be considered the right ‘amount’ of content. My suggestion is that you encourage clients to consolidate existing content or target new content creation efforts towards smaller but higher quality hubs of content. Help and advise clients to remove pages that are basically just a carbon copy of another page on the site but with a few different keywords.
Unlinked content density – pages that contain a lot of links particularly to external pages never look good in the eyes of Google. It gives off a link farm/poor quality directory/paid link operation type vibe which is not just damaging to the page but also to the website and to the pages it links to. Whilst there isn’t an optimum density, as a rule of thumb the number of links should feel natural and be well balanced with unlinked text or other types of content. If all the links are absolutely necessary, consider breaking them down into smaller categorized pages to improve the unlinked content density.
Is the content well-written? – there isn’t any direct evidence that suggests Google penalizes a website for poor spelling or grammar however that being said, a badly written page is off-putting for the user and will therefore send off the wrong kinds of signals to readers or potential customers and since Google is incorporating user feedback like bounce rate into its algorithm, keeping the user happy is vital.
Expertise and Depth of content – Google is smart and since it is on a mission to organize the world’s information, I would be willing to bet that it has already hit the mark or is close to it when it comes to understanding how deep a piece of content goes and whether the author is an expert or not. Algorithmically it could probably quite easily detect if key topics within the theme have been discussed and whether there are any factual inaccuracies meaning it is more important than ever to really be the expert.
Keyword location and repetition – it is widely accepted that Google places more emphasis on links that appear higher up a page. This is based on the logic that if something is important, it is likely to be included first. My suggestion is always (provided it looks natural) to front load the heading of the page with the keyword being targeted and then to mention the keyword within the first paragraph and then depending on the length of the page at selected intervals throughout the text. The key is to keep it natural, there’s no optimum keyword density but there certainly is such a thing as over optimization and keyword stuffing both of which will see the page and possibly the site subject to a penalty. Interweaving keywords into text so that it is good for both user and search engine can be quite challenging but it is worthwhile.
Spam keyword inclusion – if you run an adult themed website then of course this is unavoidable but be vigilant of quite innocent and accidental inclusion of these keywords on what would ordinarily be a very family friendly website. This will be a real turn off for the search engines because of safe-search filtering and also because it may suspect your website has been violated by hackers who have injected spam keywords and links.