Research Reveals Importance of Quality Content for Top Search Rankings
August 9th 2015 | By Steve Grant
Recent research from Searchmetrics has delivered the news that Google is now more focused than ever before on rewarding good quality web content with higher search rankings.
So, what constitutes good quality content? Generally it’s material that is easy to understand and relevant to the search query.
Which raises another question: how is relevance measured? The answer here is that there are a few methods used, with time spent on the site one of the key factors.
The Searchmetrics annual study – Ranking Factors 2015 – also revealed that on average, 30 per cent of websites that appear in the top 30 Google US search results use responsive design.
This enhances the search experience because it automatically adjusts the site’s format so that it displays perfectly on any device whether that’s PC, tablet or phone.
The study, carried out annually since 2012, analysed the top 30 search results for 10,000 relevant keywords and 300,000 websites appearing on Google.com with a goal of identifying the key factors that lead to top rankings. The study measures the connection between a variety of factors. Here are the most significant findings:
Quality content vitally important
Web pages that rank higher in search results tend to have higher word counts and effectively deliver the information being searched for by going into greater detail. The content is also easy to read and understand. The average word count on top ranking pages has risen from 975 to 1285 words in the past year.
Good website structure crucial
Higher ranking websites tend to be well structured and are often responsive. Their internal linking structure is well planned out and the overall user experience is positive. Google measures things like this by analysing user behaviour.
Technical optimisation still essential
As has always been the case, title tags and meta descriptions are still essential, as are fast-loading pages.
Focus on backlinks and single keywords in decline
The key message from this latest study is that higher ranking sites tend to be moving away from using keywords based on search queries in favour of attempting to understand what the user is really seeking to find as a whole, hence a need for logically structured, good quality content. The quantity of inbound links is also in decline as a ranking factor.
CTO and Founder of Searchmetrics, Marcus Tober, says on this revelation: “Our research indicates that simplistic tactics that may have been effective in the past – such as increasing the number of keyword mentions on the page or using keywords in the domain name – are not enough to lift you up the search results. You need to try and understand the searcher’s intention and ensure your web content gives them the information they are looking for, ensuring you cover topics in sufficient detail.”
What it all means
Here’s a summary of what this all means to anyone looking to boost their rankings in the search results:
- Remove focus from keyword-based content and inbound links.
- Regularly add comprehensive, relevant, engaging and relevant content to your website. Pages should be around 1,000-1,200 words.
- Ensure your website is well structured with logically planned internal linking.
- Give serious consideration to making your website responsive.
- Make sure every page of your website contains a title tag and meta description.
- Ensure pages are fast loading.
Need some help with your search rankings? How about a hand with producing relevant, engaging content? Get in touch!