You’ve heard it repeated over and over, ad nauseum.
It’s a cliched phrase.
And yet, we’re going to say it again anyway (with enthusiasm!), because it’s true:
Content is king. (Or queen ?.)
In other words, it’s kind of a big deal.
Without content, you can’t rank on Google’s first page.
Nope. Never. It’s not going to happen.
This is because content does two things for search engines:
- It provides information on what a web page is about, plus a roadmap for how the other pages within the domain relate to each other (called “interlinking”).
- It answers a user’s questions and/or fulfills their search intent.
Both contribute to rankings.
To find out whether your page nails either one of them, search engine crawlers will look for major clues – dead giveaways that your web pages provide exactly what the user and the ‘bots are trying to find.
If you don’t have content on your website, these ranking clues will be nonexistent.
That means your site and pages will not get indexed, let alone hit the coveted top 10 or top 5.
Content MUST be at the base of your rankings strategy. According to Search Engine Land, “Get your content right, and you’ve created a solid foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts.”
Content is not only king or queen; content is key.
If you want high rankings for your content and pages, you have to have it.
How does it work? Why does it work? Let’s explore.
7 More Reasons High Rankings in SERPs Depend on Content
1. Content Tells Search Crawlers What Your Page Is About
How do search crawlers figure out what your page is about? How do they know which keywords to rank you for (and if your page is worthy of ranking)?
They crawl the entirety of your page, from the code to the content.
The code helps distinguish your page, but much of the clues to what your content is about comes directly from it (Google calls these clues “key signals”).
The parts of your content that help organize the information for readers is also helpful for crawlers. Think:
- Keywords and keyword placement
- Link anchor text
- Hierarchy of headers (H1s vs. H2s and H3s, etc.)
2. Content Is a Framework for Natural Keyword Use
Once upon a time, you could repeat a keyword on your page with zero context and rank for that term. According to Moz, this meant search results had extremely limited value.
Conversely, think about search results today and how relevant they are – how they answer the questions you have or fulfill your information needs. This is possible because search engine engineers have improved the way results match up with user queries.
Search ‘bots don’t just look for instances of keywords anymore. Instead, they look at:
- The context of those keywords/phrases
- The relevance of the content to the user’s search terms
In other words, natural keyword use matters more than your primary keyword appearing X number of times on the page.
And, of course, the best foundation for natural keyword use on your page is to write comprehensive content on your topic.
3. Content Gives Users What They’re Looking For
Think about doing an online search. Most of the time, when you type some keywords or a question into the search box, you want something.
Content fulfills your search intent, depending on what you’re looking for. According to Yoast, search intent falls into four categories:
Wordstream defines the three major ones:
Each type of search intent has corresponding content:
- Navigational: Homepages
- Informational: Guides, how-tos, articles
- Transactional: Sales pages, landing pages
Knowing your audience and building content to match their search intent will help your site pages rank well. For Google, especially, satisfying users is #1.
4. Updated Content Keeps Your Website Fresh
Another factor for ranking that search engines look at is freshness – has your site been updated recently? Is someone taking care of it? Or has it been abandoned or forgotten?
The freshness of your content tells search crawlers that somebody is still keeping house. The lights are on, and yes, you’re home.
Publishing fresh content helps crawlers establish your relevance, but updating old content is helpful, too – it keeps the information you offer up-to-date and accurate.
Plus, according to Moz, “Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.”
This means publishing fresh content consistently will work in your favor for higher page rankings.
5. It Keeps Users on Your Page Longer
The longer visitors stay on your page before returning to a search engine, the more relevant it must be to their needs.
Makes sense, right? This concept is called dwell time, and it could be a Google ranking factor.
Image via WebpageFX
Similarly, “time on page” is the amount of time the user spends on your page before navigating off-page (the destination doesn’t matter).
Both concepts are relevance-related. That means, if your content fulfills your user’s search intent, they’ll spend more time on-page. If your content isn’t relevant (or, let’s face it, if it sucks), the user will leave more quickly – sometimes immediately.
If you keep your visitors on-page longer, it’s a good indicator of your page’s relevance, which can contribute to better rankings.
How do you create topically relevant pages? With quality content.
6. It Builds Connections Between Your Site Pages
Search crawlers can’t index your pages without links between pages. These links help the ‘bots understand how your entire site ties together and the various page hierarchies you’ve put in place.
Content with links to other pages on your site helps the ‘bots AND your users make connections between them. These are “breadcrumbs” that show the way, so to speak, so both crawlers and users don’t get lost navigating your website.
Without a defined link structure, your website will become a maze of pages that are too hard to navigate. (Image via Web Style Guide)
A logical link structure, including content pages that link to each other, helps create relationships that are easy to follow and understand. It’s a literal map to your website. (Image via Web Style Guide)
Interlinking your content pages in a logical way is a best-practice for higher rankings, because it makes your site user-friendly.
7. Great Content Helps You Build Links and Content Rankings
Let’s not forget one of the greatest advantages to publishing content on your website: link building.
It works like this:
- If the content you publish is high-quality, in-depth, accurate, and meets your audience’s search needs, they’ll find it valuable enough to share.
- As the piece is shared, your authority strengthens.
- Based on the authority built from your high-value content, people may start linking to your pages as trusted information sources.
These are called backlinks, and they’re ultra-high on Google’s list of ranking factors.
Backlinks are literal clues that people trust you, like your content, and find it relevant to their needs. They are votes for your page to climb the rankings. And, according to Backlinko, Google counts these “votes” heavily in your favor.
In fact, the number of referring domains/backlinks a site has directly correlates to their Google position. If you have more, you’re more likely to hold the #1 spot.
Therefore, a GIANT key to high rankings in SERPs is high-quality content. You can’t build authority without it. And, without authority, no one is going to want to link to you and “vote” for your site.
Want High Rankings in SERPs? You Need Content
Undoubtedly, content is the way to rank highly and advantageously on Google SERPs.
Without content, you’ll be attempting to steer a boat with no sail, rudder, paddles, engine, or any other key part that makes it move forward.
Instead, you’ll float aimlessly and get nowhere.
If you want better visibility online…
If you want higher authority and rankings…
If you want your website and brand name to matter…
You have to publish content.