Google’s algorithm is the reason behind the position of search results. However, that algorithm is one of the most hand-wavey and opaque phenomena in the digital marketing world.
What is or is not important to the all-powerful Google algorithm is still unclear. If there was an answer, well then you could imagine every content writer and SEO marketing agency would either be ecstatic or unemployed.
Instead, Google constantly changes its secretive search ranking methods to not only keep marketers guessing, but also to make sure it is the most popular and relevant search engine for the users that collectively do a Google search over 4.4 billion times each day. Keep in mind this is a platform that earns over 77% of the global search traffic.
Image source: Smart Insights
As difficult as it is to peg down precisely what makes a piece of content rank well on Google, there are certain factors that have been decided upon year after year to focus on for good SEO. Below we’re sharing a few that you can utilize, specifically in your website’s content.
Putting these into practice does not automatically guarantee to rank on the first page. However, they will entice Google to look favorably upon you, and contribute to an overall effective SEO strategy.
Relevant Articles Outperform Shallow Content
Google’s algorithm has evolved to not just suggest search results that contain a bunch of keywords similar to or the same as the search query. Instead, it analyzes the meaning of the question and provides an answer.
As a result, content that is in-depth and extensively covers a topic tends to rank higher. In fact, some research suggests that content relevance has a 19% impact on how Google ranks your content.
At Backlinko, they proved that in-depth content ranks higher in their study of 10,000 URLs. From their research, content with a high topical score ranked significantly higher than shallow content.
Perfect Grammar Enhances Readability
One of the factors that often go unnoticed in Google algorithm discussions is readability. Google tends to rank content higher that is more easily digested by the reader.
As such, spelling and grammar are key components to better readability. Since Google classifies content based on reading level, the better the grammar and spelling, the easier it is to read and the more likely it will be to show up in searches.
Other ways to improve readability include separating sections into subheadings, including bullet points, and creating lists within the content.
Longform Content > Short Posts
It’s still a contentious issue as to whether the length of an article greatly affects Google’s ranking of your content or not. Though the jury’s still out on the exact size of the impact, it is clear that lengthier content tends to better in search rankings.
No matter the SEO updates that Google releases, some maintain that at least 800 words are the key to quality content. This does mean the article must also hit all of the other components of quality, though:
- Topical and lacking in fluff
- Fluid grammar and spelling
- Well-organized into sub-headings and headlines
The NextWeb, meanwhile, has proven that much longer content is better for social engagement and link building, along with improving rankings. In general, content with a word count between 2250 and 2500 ranks highest.
Image source: TheNextWeb
Additionally, blog posts over 1500 words earn close to 70% more tweets and over 20% more Facebook likes. Though Google says it does not factor social shares into its algorithm, the idea behind social engagement mirroring on-site engagement is relevant.
As it turns out, content that receives high social engagement tends to also be ranked higher because the people that are compelled to share the content are also more likely to click on it in search results. Since Google bases its rankings on clickability, this level of engagement does correlate.
The Key is Quality
Again, there’s no key to achieving high rankings on Google. The process of climbing in the rankings is often a tedious, months-long process.
One piece of the puzzle that will never cease to be important, though, is the quality of content. The features listed above are all components of what Google considers to be relevant, high-quality content.
Topical, readable, and long-form content all tends to appeal to Google’s algorithm. Start implementing these features onto your site, be patient, and combine with other SEO best practices in order to watch your content climb in the rankings.