Holistic SEO Content Works in the Age of Smarter Search Engines
Marketing Content Strategy

Holistic SEO Content Works in the Age of Smarter Search Engines

New evidence shows that higher-quality content may have more to do with stronger search rankings than previously thought, according to a white paper from SearchMetrics. Titled “SEO Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations 2014,” the report credits this trend to smarter algorithms and better ways of quantifying the value of a given search result.

Many of the foundational components of SEO content remain relevant in 2014. Keyword strategy, including keyword-term frequency, is still critical to SEO success. The same is true for link building. But algorithms are getting better at using “semantically relevant terms” to verify the relevance and authority of content containing primary keywords.

That’s just one of several ways search-engine algorithms are identifying better SEO content online.

While additional types of media and content were highly valued among the most successful URLs studied, those that prominently featured advertisements didn’t fare as well. The reason, according to the white paper, is that consumers desire holistic content rather than paid advertising. Meanwhile, in many cases, longer content actually fared better among top websites, going against the popular belief that consumers want short content and won’t embrace longer articles.

“There has been a general rise in content word count, HTML length, and related features,” according to the report. “Furthermore, additional media, such as images, both enrich the content, and are likely to increase the relevance of a search result, especially when user signals are added in for measuring the interaction with these types of media.”

In this way, content is wielding a greater-than-ever influence on any brand’s reputation among its consumer base. Additional research suggests that this content is often used as a means of researching and validating a brand’s reputation before investing in its products or services. According to a new study from Hinge Marketing, online buyers use an average of 3.2 different methods for “checking out” a professional services provider before making an investment in them.

Three of the top four most commonly used channels were content-related, illustrating the importance of building a strong content presence. The study also noted that this online reputation is evaluated whether or not the brand actively invests in managing that reputation. When the brand isn’t creating content to manage its image, consumers are using other sources to get the scoop and draw their own conclusions.

Since online search was the second-most-used information channel, brands have to put a premium on their content marketing. And since those search engines are acquiring a sharper eye for quality content, weak efforts to provide holistic, relevant content will face potentially damaging consequences.

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