Why Content is the #1 Ranking Factor and How to Maximize It

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Content is king. You need content. Gotta have that content.

You hear people singing the praises of content marketing all the time but, really, why should you care?

Why should you bother with the investment anyways?

Well, most companies say they use content marketing to either create brand awareness or build trust:

Content Marketing Institute

Great, but how do you even get to those end goals?

For most brands, organic search traffic is paramount. That’s why content is so important for meeting every critical ranking factor.

Quick takeaways:

  • Content feeds SEO and SEO feeds content. There’s no winning at one without the other. If you want to boost rankings for your money-making landing pages and homepage, you need consistent content.
  • Content helps you meet every ranking factor including topic authority, backlinks, traffic, user engagement, brand signals, trustworthiness, pages to index, and more.
  • Pumping out regular content isn’t enough. The stakes are too high regarding authority and trustworthiness for mediocre content to suffice in any ranking factor. You must prioritize quality and consistency over quantity.

Content Helps You Hit Every Important Ranking Factor for SEO

Google looks at over 200 ranking factors when determining where to place your content. Every time you publish a piece of content, that gives you another chance to meet almost every one of them.

Here are a few of the top reasons every brand should think of content as a ranking factor in itself.

Consistently Proving Your Authority

Domain authority is a factor Moz developed (and now widely used) that judges how likely a page is to rank in search engine results, ranging from one to 100 with 100 being the highest authority possible.

Even the highest authority sites like Wikipedia and YouTube only make it into the high 90s. Instead, you want to shoot for an authority number better than your industry competition.

You can’t be an expert in everything. If you try, Google will notice, and you won’t earn the rankings you want on any URL.

Content lets you focus your authority around just one or two topics (and relevant subtopics). By publishing high-quality content within your expertise, the Google algorithms will figure out what you’re all about and you’ll earn the rankings you deserve.

Increased Traffic to Your Website

SEO is tough because you need the traffic to prove to Google that your content is worth showing in search results, but you can’t earn sustainable traffic without ranking in the results either.

Content plays the long game.

You start small with low-volume, low-competition, long-tail keywords. Rank well for a few blogs, earn the traffic from them, and Google will be more likely to include more of your URLs in the results for higher competition keywords.

I have this chart printed on the wall of my home office because moving from “random acts of content” to 2 articles per week will double your traffic

Better Website Engagement and User Behavior

Traffic alone isn’t enough. If enough people click your headline in the search results but only stay on the page a few seconds, Google notices.

Google wants to show people the best answer possible to each query. If you have tons of traffic but the users aren’t engaged, you won’t keep your rankings.

Publishing high-quality content is the answer. Use any existing rankings to keep people on your site with internal links, videos, graphics, and anything interesting you can think of.

Show Google you have integrity and prioritize quality through your content.

Earning Quality Backlinks to Your Website

Backlinks matter tremendously. That’s why Google has so many spam systems in place to prevent websites from exploiting backlink loopholes.

If hundreds of irrelevant or spammy sites link to yours, Google will flag your whole domain.

Like traffic and engagement, the Google algorithms want to know that your page is worth sharing with others via links. (On that note, avoid linking to low-quality sites on your own page too.)

You can’t fake quality backlinks. You can only earn backlinks from high-authority domains by creating expert content worth linking to. Backlinks alone are a big reason you should consider content as a ranking factor.

Giving Google More URLs to Index

The more quality content you publish, the more chances you get to rank for keywords across your entire site. Google loves content because the algorithms can use it to understand your area of expertise and what you do.

Every time you publish a new piece of content, you give Google more keywords to understand your brand. That’s why it’s so important to optimize everything you publish with relevant semantic keywords in your H2s, H3s, title, and descriptions.

Provides Value to Meet Google EAT

Expertise, authority, trustworthiness: That’s what the Google algorithms (and sometimes humans) look for as they study your content and compare it to your competitors.

That’s why scam sites can’t strong-arm their way to the top of important health results over pages from the CDC.

Trust, expertise, and authority all take time to earn. Fortunately, content gives you a new opportunity every day to prove yourself and build EAT for your brand. Don’t give up. Keep at it and Google will notice.

Just make sure you prioritize integrity in everything you publish and send Google the signals to notice. Include keywords in your headings and subheadings, link to reputable sources, write thorough and interesting content – create better content than what’s already out there.

More Signals to Reinforce Your Brand

Google will swear up and down that social media signals don’t matter, but we all know they must in some way.

Social media is a huge driver of engagement and traffic. It’s a massively important tool for establishing and maintaining your brand’s reputation. Make sure your social media pages are officially linked to your brand’s main website.

Likewise, branded keyword searches and branded anchor text for backlinks tell Google your brand has enough authority for people to reference it.

Regardless of social media or website backlinks, you can’t succeed in either without consistent content. Use social media to promote your content and establish your brand’s name. Over time, branded keywords and links will appear.

More Chances for Image Optimization

If you’re not optimizing images, you’re missing out on big-time content ranking factors and traffic.

Most people don’t optimize their content images, so you already have low competition for your images ranking in anything you publish.

Add images to every piece of content you publish and make sure they’re relevant to the topic. Include an ALT description that accurately describes the image using semantic keywords.

Plus, Google likes enjoyable content. Images make the content better. Not only will you get more traffic from Google images, but you’ll also end up with more traffic and engagement overall.

Maximize Your Content and Boost Your Ranking Factors with a Strategy

Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. It can’t afford to display lackluster results for any search – Google has its own reputation to keep.

Plus, Google has no shortage of options to display. If you want a spot in the search results, you must earn it.

You need a strategy. You need a content marketing strategy to laser-focus on your areas of expertise, choose the right keywords, and build your ranking factors with high-quality content better than anything already out there. If you can’t publish content better than what’s already on the first page, then it’s really not worth bothering.

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