Last week, Searchmetrics published the findings of a new study based on the nature of quality content. Google frequently advises us to get quality content on our sites but that begs the question, what is quality content anyway?
According the report, it’s more than just a handful of keywords; it’s a wealth of information and a feast for the eyes to boot.
Investigators analysed the results of 10,000 keyword searches, scouring more than 300,000 websites in the process to find out what it is about on site content which helps a page to rank well.
You won’t be surprised to learn that keyword relevance was a factor but rather than simple phrase matching it was comprehensive relevant wording and plenty of it that provided upward mobility. In general the higher the word count on the page, the better the performance of that page in search. On average, web content appears to be getting longer and Searchmetrics found that search results in positions 2 to 10 often had more than 900 words of content.
Ranking also appears to be improved by the presence of images and videos on the page. This makes sense. Google wants to provide users with the best quality of information and a page full of rich, interesting content plus images and video is likely to be more useful to a visitor than a few keyword stuffed sentences.
Sensible then, maybe, but noteworthy nonetheless; has the proliferation of mobile devices sparked an increase in the relevance of visual content? We know that visual content has greater appeal from a user perspective but now it appears that its presence could help us to rank too.
Ultimately, however, Searchmetrics admit that brand is hard to beat, regardless of the quality of your content. They found that well known brand websites continued to rank in the top positions in SERPs; even if they fail to meet the criteria that other sites are judged by.
So what does this mean for smaller brands competing in the digital sphere? It means that content is absolutely essential to improve rankings. It also probably means that these companies should look to build PR, social media and general visibility campaigns to boost awareness of their brand and their ability to compete with the big boys.
Big Brands may have a natural advantage in the SERPs however smaller businesses can look to compete by being better than them at producing content; focusing on producing content that is useful to browsers and content that they will naturally wish to share with their friends.
David Cobourne, an SEO Executive here at Hit Search, said: “It isn’t a surprise that researchers would find longer format content ranking well because recent Google updates have been designed to promote whitepapers and sources of real information rather than just keywords.
“As more companies invest in this kind of content and give Google more of what it wants to see, it’s only natural that pages with lots of content would find their way into SERPs. But I don’t think this content tactic is suitable for all keyphrases or search targets. It really depends on what kind of page or content you want web users to find.”