By this point, we all know Google considers thoughtfully optimized content to be a crucial part of any high ranking website. But what exactly matters when it comes to high ranking content?
Searchmetrics released their 2015 Search Ranking Factors and dedicated a whole section to the ever-changing field of content marketing. Google considers many ranking factors when comparing the content of websites for similar products or services. Here are some of Searchmetric’s most interesting reported changes in content ranking factors from 2014 to 2015:
- Word Count: The average word count for top ranked pages has increased dramatically. In 2014, the top 10 pages had an average word count of 900. That word count has grown to an average of 1,200 in 2015. However, while the average word count rose in the past year, this ranking signal decreased in importance from 2014 to 2015.
- Keywords in Body Copy: The average number of keywords in body copy increased since 2014, but this does not apply to the very top search results. The number of keywords in body copy decreased in importance as a ranking signal. This follows the content trend away from keyword stuffing and towards well written content.
- Readability of Copy: On-page copy is now a little simpler, especially for the top ranked pages. The readability of body copy has also increased in importance as a ranking signal in 2015. So while the copy on pages is getting longer, it is also easier to read. However, Searchmetrics is quick to note that the difficulty of the text should still match the target audience.
- Relevant, Holistic Copy: The importance of supporting terms has become more important as a ranking factor in 2015. In addition to your target keywords, on-page copy also needs supporting terms that provide context and speak to the users’ search intent.
In short: gone are the days of hero images with no text and simple keyword stuffing. To rank well in 2015, your content needs to be long enough to really explore your topic, easy enough to read that your target audience will have no problem understanding, and most importantly needs to speak to the user’s intention as a whole.