30 Jan 2018

How Does Google Judge The Quality Of Your Content?

In a recently released study: Searchmetrics Ranking Factors Study, the value of high-quality content is highlighted again as a key component of any SEO campaign. And, yes, we can all but hear the eyes rolling about another “Content is King” article. It is not breaking news, so how many ways can we can we explain it?

We understand that reaction–It’s essentially how we thought about SEO already, so we were caught a bit off-guard with this topic being presented as “ground-breaking” too! The article states: “this was not the case for a long time,” which we found thought-provoking. Publishing high-quality content is not becoming important just recently, it has always been important, correct?

As we delved deeper into the report, it became clear what they were referring to.

From a strictly SEO perspective, quality, relevant content was always seen as compulsory, but some of the more technical aspects of the process took the spotlight. How come?

We talk an awful lot about high-quality content, but how is content really judged, and by whom? Click To Tweet

In the days of tactical keyword placement and keyword density, generating “quality” content was so much simpler. Back then, “quality” was determined by how successful you were at using the most unnatural long-tail keywords in the most natural way conceivable (and you just hoped that your potential clients did not catch on to the fact that most people do not speak or write that way). Or perhaps, if you simply bolded your keywords, your rankings would skyrocket–right?

Obsolete technology (and tactics) are better left in the past where they belong. After Google released the Hummingbird update, search engines have started focusing even more on context-based, semantic inquiries.

Do Context and Relevance Equal Quality?

Defining the term “quality,” at least from search engines’ perspectives, is to distinguish the relevance and context of the content in question. It used to be a matter of simply inserting the right keywords in the appropriate places. Those days are gone, however, and now businesses need to take a more integrated approach to their digital presence.

Currently, targeting keyword groups – or even single keywords – just is not effective enough to compete in today’s digital environment. Ever since Google’s Hummingbird update, search engines have been developing a more grammatical approach to user searches, and that means they are looking for semantically relevant terms (the report calls them “proof terms”) and other pertinent terms that will portray the overall relevance and value of the piece of content.

This type of “semantically comprehensive wording” unquestionably signals that a particular page is contains information relevant to an inquiry, but deliberately selecting these phrases or terms will be more challenging than just conducting standard keyword research. Alternately, this approach will lead to more natural flow while creating your content, because if the content you are generating is truly valuable and informative, it should flow naturally.

The Best Part of a Semantic Focus

One advantage to this change is that now, as content writers focus on a more comprehensive method, they should be able to communicate more topics in their copy. As a result, the same page of your website becomes relevant for a variety of users with a variety of intended goals for their search intentions. The same page of content may begin to rank higher for additional, related keywords without even trying. (Well, obviously, with trying, but you know what we mean.)

According to the Searchmetrics report:

“If website editors want their content to rank better for specific keywords, the content should be created with the fulfillment of user search intent in mind.”

That’s awesome. But what does it actually mean?

Really, it just reiterates what we have been alluding to this entire article–that writing your content for the clients you want to attract instead of for search engines is imperative. If you are focused on addressing the questions and concerns of potential clients, you will produce the high-quality content that both your readers and search engines are looking for.

Is Quality about Readability?

Is the personal style you write with a factor in the overall quality level of your content? Are you a wordsmith–using phrases or words that are above the heads of your audience in an attempt to sound more knowledgeable? It may backfire on you, since just this year, the Searchmetrics report included a new development, and that’s the readability or the ability of your readers to comprehend your content.

The commonly accepted belief is that copy that is easier to read and understand ranks higher. The report even suggests a mathematical formula to evaluate the level of readability of any given piece of content, but it is not likely that search engines are using something like this to determine how well you write.

Instead, Google equals readability with “easy to understand,” so it makes sense that search engines look at user’s signals, like bounce rate and time on the site to determine whether your users find your writing understandable or not.

One interesting point, however, is that by utilizing those signals, search engines are not necessarily looking just at quality but usability too. This could potentially mean that the layout of your website and posts are crucial as what you actually say. (When we get into the importance rich media later in this article, you will see that is absolutely a thing.)

Does More Content Equal Quality Content?

We have seen a lot of increases in relation to the length of content over the past year. The report said that:

“This means that websites need to produce more content in order to remain competitive in searches.”

We understand that to mean that publishing more content volume is more successful–not specifically longer pieces of content. Think publishing frequency versus article length.

Rarely does “more” equal “better,” however. You still need to consider keyword/topic usage along with readability. You need to find balance in the amount of content with the quality features that indicate your company’s relevance in searches.

Rich Media Matters

Videos, images, and graphics almost always make content more attractive and appealing. They all increase the time your visitors spend on your website and reduce bounce rates, which means they definitely factor into the search engines’ definition of “quality.”

Stylish images and graphics will certainly enhance your content, but cannot be relied upon alone to increase your website’s rankings. Right now, you are better off focusing on composing high-quality content supplemented by rich images.

So What is Quality to a Search Engine?

Ultimately, a singular focus on a specific keyword is not going to be sufficient to demonstrate that your content is filled with quality signals and relevant information. You need to look at related terms and topics. You need to visualize your website as a universal entity. This will enable it to rank higher for multiple related terms and establish your spot at the top of search engine rankings.

Why AdInfusion?

Strategic content marketing attracts the qualified potential clients to your website and can convert them into potential clients. AdInfusion is here to help RANK YOU UP, and get your website making money for you. Contact us today for a consultation!

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