When it comes to effective content marketing, it’s not sufficient anymore to rely purely on well-written blog pieces. You need to be proactive and strategic with your content. If you don’t take a holistic approach to your content marketing strategy, and view each published post as part of a larger machine which is constantly churning and working to increase traffic to your website, then you’re missing out on a major business growth opportunity. This is where content ranking metrics come in. At the end of the day, if your content doesn’t meet the metrics, then you’re ultimately going to be publishing into a void! Not only is this disappointing, but it means your content won’t get the attention and reach it deserves.
What are Content Ranking Metrics?
It all goes back to Google, and how this powerful search engine is able to do its job. Google’s number 1 goal is to provide users with the best content, in response to their searches and queries. It crawls all material which has been published to the web, in order to find and provide the most relevant content.
You’ve probably heard of SEO (search engine optimisation) and SERP (search engine results pages). Content ranking metrics are all related to these two little acronyms, and provide you with indicators on how to best optimise your content so that it will appear closer to the top of those search result pages.
Did you know, that the first page of Google search results receive 71% – 92% of clicks, compared to 6% for the second page? The first five link results on the page receive 67.6% of clicks, with the following five receiving 3.73% of clicks.
The content you see on the first page of your Google search was able to get there because they fulfil the top 5 content ranking metrics necessary to boosting web visibility.
Top 5 Content Ranking Metrics
Content ranking and SERPs used to be much more vulnerable to manipulation and SEO trickstery. In order for a page to be picked up and ranked by search engines, developers used to cram every white space of the content page with their targeted keyword – in white font!
Luckily, over the years, Google has become slightly more the wiser to SEO malpractices, thanks to updates to the algorithm such as Panda and Hummingbird. The most recent algorithm adheres to over 200 factors for ranking when crawling content, and some need to be followed more diligently than others.
Backlinks, or inbound links, are links to your website or specific pages on your website, referenced on another website page. As you can imagine, the higher the authority (and age) of the domain where your backlinks are coming from is also taken into consideration as part of this content ranking metric. More than any other ranking metric, backlinking is the best method of boosting your SERP placement.
If articles published on forbes.com, nytimes.com, techcrunch.com, or mashable.com, for example, contain links back to your content, then you can rest assured these inbound links are going to increase your content ranking potential!
2. Page Authority and Engagement
At the end of the day, Google wants to provide users with search results which come from reputable sources, and which hold authority in their areas of expertise.
There are multiple ways of building and increasing your domain’s authority and one of those is by fulfilling another content ranking metrics: engagement and social media shares. When your content receives comments and is shared across social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, this boosts your SEO and SERP potential.
This is because every share lets Google know that your content comes from a reputable source, which holds authority in the eye of the reader – exactly because it is being redistributed along a chain of prospective, interested readers.
3. Content Quality
The quality of your content is crucial. It absolutely has to provide the reader with valuable information, or an answer to their searches. Good quality content is well-written, original, and useful. Google is placing more and more emphasis on the importance of quality as a content ranking metric, and are working towards making this the main criteria for how high your content is ranked in search engine results.
Photos, images, videos, good grammar, and absence of spelling mistakes also all increase the quality of your content. There are of course metrics which can negatively impact how Google interprets your content quality, such as an excess of outbound links dotted throughout the article. It’s best to always keep this quality metric in mind when planning, writing, and editing your content, by asking yourself the question: Is this relevant to my audience?
There has been plenty of debate about how keywords impact your content’s ranking. While keywords don’t hold as much weight as they used to in terms of SEO, they still matter, and they still count. This applies to some industries more than others, of course, and whether your content is aimed at selling a product or increasing thought leadership.
When it comes to keywords, what really matters is keyword placement, not keyword frequency. Keyword stuffing can actually harm your content ranking, as it decreases the quality and readability of the piece. You don’t want to sound like a robot.
So be strategic with your keywords, make sure you’ve narrowed them down to the essential primary and secondary keywords, and focus on keyword placement. Page titles, URLs, sub-headers, image descriptions, metadata, for example – these should all still include mentions of your keyword.
The importance of web accessibility and best practices is receiving more and more attention. Not only do developers, creatives, and engineers want their products to be usable by all audiences, but it’s now clear that the more boxes in the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) category you can tick, the higher you will rank in search engines. Accessibility is therefore a vital content ranking metric, especially because it increases the pool of viewers who can now enjoy and engage with your content!
So – now that you have the most five important metrics Google uses to rank your content, perhaps it’s time to look back over some of your published work and see how you can adjust it. In any case, they should definitely be kept in mind when putting together your upcoming content creation calendar and workflow!
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