It’s no secret that content is king if you want to perform well in search results, but how does that content get from your fingertips to the first page of Google?
This post explores how Google may look at the lifecycle of a piece of content to determine it’s value. Each step includes sources about Google’s algorithm that align with the theory.
A. Consider Content Structure
In this phase, Google’s algorithm considers the structure of the content and coding of the page. Is your content offering a unique perspective? Is it well-formatted? Does it offer other forms of media (images, videos, documents)? Do you provide links to other resources to expand upon the subject? Or is your content unoriginal, stuffed with keywords, filled with ads, link spam, and/or grammar and spelling mistakes?
Side Note: This article assumes that the site isn’t penalized/filtered by Google’s Panda algorithm. If you think your site may be affected by this update, try using our content strength audit process.
B. Predict Potential Value
In this phase, Google attempts to predict the value of the new piece of content based on the overall site authority and historic content value scores. A good indicator to look at is whether content like the piece in question has performed well in the past. At this phase Google may also be asking if the site is an authority on the topic or how relevant the piece is to the site’s overall theme.
C. Score Social Engagement
Now the content begins its online lifecycle. It’s been published and beings to attract eyeballs. At this point users don’t necessarily need to visit the content to engage with it. This engagement can instead happen on major social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest or other content sharing networks. Typically, a successful piece of content will attract social engagement. You may look at this as the content marketing version of social proof.
D. Weigh Third-Party References
If the content is truly valuable, it may acquire references from third-party sites. Typically these will include personal and professional blogs, media outlets, magazine sites, etc. These types of links will extend the content’s lifecycle in the search results. In other words, it will be less likely for the content to drop out of search results.
If a site can continue to attract these types of signals, it may become a static piece on the subject. This theory aligns well with why you see Wikipedia in search results often. The content on Wikipedia is rich, and it acquires many third-party references over time.
For example, Wikipedia currently ranks #1 for the search inbound marketing. As you can see, this page has steadily acquired new links each month, which has lead to keeping this content at the top. Now that this page has acquired so much authority on the subject, it will be harder for other sites to take its crown.
Source: Links to Your Site
E: Measure Visitor Satisfaction
Here comes the real test… now that the content has acquired visitors, how have those visitors responded to the content? Did they instantly leave the site? Did they appear to read it? Did they share it? Did they leave comments?
At this point Google is trying to determine whether the content is not only answering queries but if it is also offering a good experience. At the end of the day, Google wants the people using the search engine to have a good experience. Not only should be people enjoy the search engine, but where it is taking users. Keeping this in mind is vital to SEO success.
If your content takes on a lifecycle similar to that mentioned above, then you have a good chance of performing well in Google’s search results. On the other hand, if your content doesn’t create signals of this nature, it’s likely you won’t perform well in organic search. So get out there and create some great content that will lead to social engagement and a high visitor satisfaction.
Featured image source: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/
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