How Important Are Content Signals To The Rank Worthiness Of Your Content?
Content signals, or the nuances within your content that lend weight to base keywords, are an interesting factor in the search world. With Google’s continued quest to match their users search wants to the proper group of search results we are seeing the use of more than just keywords in their analysis and evaluation. So, how important are content signals to the rank worthiness of your content?
Factors of Rank Worthiness
Gone are the days where a few well-placed keywords would allow content to rank highly. Now the process of analyzing and evaluating is so much more in-depth. Yes, keywords do play a part in ranking just like the quality of the content itself does. High value content is always desirable, more read, and shared, but in the long run Google is looking to ensure the right high value content is ranked properly for varying search queries.
There are also link signals to consider. Links have and will continue to have a high level of importance to how an article or piece of content is ranked.
However today we are going to focus on an equally important part of rank worthiness that doesn’t get as much attention as it should; content signals. Google has gone to great lengths to analyze on-page content from a variety of ways to try and consider the true value it presents which goes beyond standard keywords and the more common factors.
How Content Signals Affect Rank
- Intent Matching – One goal of search is to match the intent of the person searching based on not only what they input but also based on the results of thousands upon thousands of other searches. Google is going beyond just a raw keyword match looking also into the intent of the user. With that it considers not only how words are used but also synonyms and common connections people might make. For example, words like “best” or “top” or “greatest” all have a general implication on their own but when you add that to other words in the search string it can change the intent. “Best tire brands” provides a good example for a search because you see other words like “high performance” or “cold weather” in the top search results which makes you think that for Google and tires the word “best” certainly relates to performance under certain conditions.
- Keyword Co-occurrence – This is when Google sees other common words or phrases in a search string along with keywords, so much that that association becomes almost like additional keywords. For example, if when people are looking for “best tire brands” the articles that are most read have the words “all-season” and “performance” repeated consistently then content that uses those terms in an intelligent manner will be rewarded while articles that don’t might lose some rankings. Related topics and terms can help promote content because of the keyword co-occurrence signal.
- Content Format – Another interesting signal is the style of the article in regards to format, language, length and the like. What we mean by this is that certain types of content are more desirable in one particular type of format over another. Things like lists are the easiest example to use. Any time an article is titled with something like Top 5 or Top 10 the most preferred content format is a list of items along with basic analysis of how/why they are ranked as such and perhaps a useful image. On the flip side, those pieces of content that are calling themselves the Top 10 whatever that have only one item from the list and force you to page ahead for each additional item are going to rank lower because people do not like that format.
- Brand Association – Certain websites, business and brands are going to associate with particular subjects or formats better than others, which does play into rankings. For example, the site Instructables.com is a premier instructional site for how to create things using a step-by-step format. Almost any time you use the word “recipe” in a search the Allrecipes.com site comes up rather quickly. For a long time About.com was a premier site for learning all about lots of stuff. The overall concept behind this signal is that along with the words, phrases and topics used in content, the business and brand itself can add or detract to the strength of the signal depending on how authorative the business is within that niche. So if you want to rank highly for articles on a particular subject you need to ensure that you are also showcasing the authority of your site as well.
The Bottom Line
The important thing to remember about content signals is that they are a part of the entire evaluation process. It is hard to be specific as to how much weight they truly carry because Google simply does not share that type of information; but they are most certainly a significant factor because Google has told us they are. Content signals are important to the rank worthiness of your content and if you are not considering them as a factor then you are missing out on something that can help you rank higher.