If Google has taught us anything over the years, it's that it has the prerogative to change its mind about what ranks best in search results.
In fairness to the mega-search engine, Google has always had the same goal: The highest ranking pages for any given search question should be the ones that are most relevant to that question. How relevance is determined, though, is an ever-changing model.
Recently, SEM Rush released a study on the newest factors that go into Google's ranking algorithm, which had some interesting findings. Keep these five factors in mind to create content that Google really wants:
1. Traffic Begets Traffic
Direct website traffic is the most influential factor for search ranking. When more users visiting your page or site from search, this indicates to Google that your domain has high authority and value.
2. You Can't Fool Google With a Headline
Google is pretty smart, and it's not going to rank content with a keyword-rich headline if the article has nothing to do with the keywords. In other words, don't try to capitalize on top search term "bitcoin" by writing an article "Why Content Marketing Is a Better Investment Than Bitcoin."
3. Backlinks Optimize Your Content
Backlinks factor into search in several ways. The more domains and sites that include links to yours, the better you will do in search. The more backlinks within those domains and sites will also increase your page's search value. In your own content, increase the number of inline backlinks to other pages on your site to boost search value.
4. Keeping Users on Your Site Helps Search
Pages with lower bounce rates rank better in search, as do higher pages per session. Part of this comes down to creating content that is useful for your audience, and part comes down to including plenty of inline links throughout the text that keeps your audience engaged with your site.
5. Longer Content Ranks
At our content marketing company Masthead Media, we've started encouraging clients to incorporate hero content--long-form, evergreen content that comprehensively answers search questions relevant to the brand--into their content marketing strategies. While this shouldn't replace an inventory of short-form, timely content, this study shows that content in the top 3 search ranking positions is typically 45 percent longer than the content ranked in the 20th position.