When you’re trying to grow your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and build a website that attracts leads and brings in more revenue for your business, it’s important to create high-quality content that will engage users and rank well on search engine results pages. In an era when many websites are publishing a great deal of content for the sake of SEO, it can be hard to stand out. Google prioritizes its users’ experience, so it favors high-quality content. Essentially, Google wants its users to keep browsing so they get the chance to see more ads.
So how does Google determine what high-quality content looks like? There are three main criteria it uses to judge a website: Relevancy, Popularity, and Integrity.
Google takes popularity very seriously within its algorithm to estimate the authority and importance of a website. Popularity is determined largely by how many users visit the website and share its contents. Google uses a link-analysis algorithm called PageRank to assign a value to every webpage. Through the content you create, you’ll want to build natural links with higher PageRank websites.
Integrity is important because Google wants to send their users to trustworthy sites. Is the site safe for users to visit, free of possible malware? Does it give good information that isn’t going to mislead users? Have you ever noticed how the same handful of websites generally pop up if you search for anything medical-related? That’s because medical issues are a serious topic, and Google trusts those sites to provide information that isn’t going to harm the user. Certain topics, like medical advice, are incredibly difficult to rank for because of this. You’ll want to make sure you’re not providing potentially harmful information, as well as ensuring your website is protected and secure.
The first criteria I mentioned, and the one that seems to confuse the most people, is Relevancy. Of the three, it is certainly the most nebulous and subjective—but I promise it’s less confusing than you think.
Because the user experience is Google’s priority, they want to provide their users with quick and relevant answers to their questions. After all, that is its function. Thus, the way it measures relevancy is to determine how relevant a webpage is to a search query. In other words, how well does the content of the page address the user’s intent for the keywords they entered into the search bar.
There are a number of ways Google determines whether content is relevant to a keyword, such as how many times that word appears on the page (keyword density), how many inbound links it has from relevant sites, and how long users spend on the page after clicking on the search result.
I’d like to focus on that last one for just a minute. If someone clicks on a link to your website from a search results page and spends several minutes there—or even clicks around to other pages on your website—it appears to Google that they found something useful there. But if they quickly leave the page, called “pogo-sticking,” they likely didn’t find what they were looking for within your content.
If your users are pogo-sticking frequently (and I recommend you track this data so you know), it could be that you’re not creating high-quality content that users want to read, that you have intrusive interstitials—website features like popups or auto-playing videos—that interfere with the readability of the page, or that you’re simply choosing the wrong keywords.
The good news is there’s an easy, free method to find great keywords. Start by thinking of a search term your ideal customer or client might type into the search bar. Run a quick search, and scroll down the search results page until you find the “People Have Also Asked” section. It includes a number of questions people have asked, and each time you click on one, more questions will appear.
This is a great place to find topics for content on your website because they’re real questions that people have asked. You can also get a good idea of how to customize your keywords to specifically address those questions.
By creating content that directly answers people’s questions, you’ll increase your relevancy and draw more people to your website, also boosting your popularity. The great thing about the keywords and topics you find in the “People Have Also Asked” section is that they’re often not difficult to rank for in comparison to more competitive keywords or phrases. Any time you research keywords, always pay close attention to the ranking difficulty. How popular is the keyword, and what is the per-click cost for advertising? These will give you a good idea of what your competition looks like.
If a keyword has a great deal of competition, and that competition is high-quality, it will be much more difficult for your webpage to rank well on the search results page. That doesn’t mean writing content for those keywords isn’t worth your time. You just have to determine whether you want to put in the time, effort, and expense to compete with the top results. It may take months or even years to improve, and you’ll likely have to create a webpage that’s higher quality than the current top results. That might mean you answer the question or address the topic more effectively or in-depth, and you might need to write a longer article as well.
Generally, it’s more worth your time to focus on keywords with less competition and lower per-click cost that will still provide a decent amount of traffic. Think of these mid-range keywords as diamonds in the rough.
By creating high-quality content that checks all of Google’s boxes—relevancy, popularity, and integrity—you can rank well on search results pages that will put your website in front of potential leads and out-perform your competition. Whatever your competitors are doing, you just need to beat them in each of these categories in order to rise above them on the search results page.
Catering to Google’s priority of user experience is also a matter of catering to your users. It’s a win-win scenario when done correctly. The better and more useful you make your website, the higher your page will rank on Google, the more traffic you’ll get, which will turn into more leads you’ll be able to convert.