Google is continuously updating its search engine algorithms with the goal of making each visitor’s search more credible. That means weeding out advertisements and disguised advertisements so that the visitor can find more precisely the information he or she needs and wants. With that in mind, study after study has been conducted to determine what Google considers good content and what does not make the grade.* According to some of the latest studies published in November 2014, the following content characteristics are what get higher rankings and better placement in Google search results.
Topic coverage: Historically, one way to “game” the Google search engine system has been to fill an article with keywords that may point to a company’s products or services, with less emphasis on what is actually being discussed. This does not work that well any longer. What Google likes to see is quality, credible content that is focused more on covering a topic than using specific keywords. Repeating keywords frequently in a blog posting, for example, can now work against you. Although keywords still should be employed, use them sparingly and responsibly. Two or three per posting is best.
Content length: This is one variable that has changed considerably over the past two or three years. At one time, the rule of thumb was to keep word count to about 500 words for an online article. Then some studies said that longer—much longer—as many as 2,000 words—was best. However, according to the most recent studies, content with about 975 words gets Google’s attention most.
Easy to read: We’ve mentioned the Flesch–Kincaid readability scale before. What this scale does is measure how easy or difficult it is to read content. A lower the more difficult. Some search engine optimization services, such as those on WordPress, will provide a readability score for your content as soon as it is uploaded. For Google, the best readability score to have is in the 60 to 70 range, or what would be understood by a junior high school student.
Advertising: Best to keep advertising near or around a blog posting or online article to a minimum. As soon as Google detects this is more advertisement than content, it gets pushed down in rankings.
Images: A surprise in the latest findings is just how important images are to search ranking. Very often one or two images are added to online content to beef it up and make it attractive. This may no longer be enough. What the latest studies have found is the more images there are, the higher the search engine ranking. According to Marcus Tober at Searchmetrics GmbH, “the top ranked sites in Google’s search results tend to have six to eight images on a page.”
* Why is Google’s algorithm the one everyone wants to study? Although the percentage can vary, up to 90 percent of all searches are conducted on Google. Further, when Google adjusts its algorithm, the other search engines tend to follow its lead.
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