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An Overview of SEO Ranking Factors – Part 2: Content, Keywords and Engagement

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king.” While true, the effect of content on search engine rankings may not be well understood. This article provides a broad scope to four of the most important factors surrounding page content.


As we mentioned in Overview of SEO Ranking Factors – Part 1, there are primary ranking factors that affect where a page will appear in search results. Content is the most important factor that resides on the page. Within the content factor are four elements that should be addressed when looking for high rankings:


Content Quality and Relevance – Does the content engage the viewer for more than a few seconds? Often the bounce-back rate to search engine results is a key factor. Does the page contain high-quality content? The page must provide unique, useful or valuable information. Is the content relevant to the search term? If the viewer quickly discovers that the content does not support the search term rankings will drop.


Keyword Placement – Do the keywords being used in the content reflect search terms? Solid keyword research is essential to building a high-ranking page. Do keywords appear frequently enough to generate SE interest? Keywords must have a density rate that will both attract interest from search engines but is not so plentiful as to appear as “stuffing”, which is an SE violation that merits lower rankings. Although there is no magic formula to achieve an appropriate density rate, many experts suggest a keyword rate of between 1.5% and 4% within the content.


Keyword research, which can be done using free tools (e.g. Google Keyword Tool), is critical in order to determine how popular the potential terms are. It helps to be as specific as possible relative to the content when choosing keyword terms. For example, “avoiding the flu” will likely be a better term than “communicable diseases” when the page explains steps to prevent catching the flu.


Content Engagement – How long are visitors staying on the page? There should be enough specific information to keep the viewer reading. This means that the copy both supports the headline and images. Does the content move the visitor through to other pages? The images and copy should be part of a process that keeps visitors within the site. The time-on-site metric is used by most search engines.


Content Freshness – Is there new and appealing content on the page? Updating Web pages to achieve higher rankings is not simply a matter of adding more information or rewording content. Most SE’s have a “freshness parameter” that analyzes if there is new content, and if that new content has generated significant interest from searchers. Sudden popularity versus normal activity is what drives rankings higher.


The bottom line for the marketer is to spend time analyzing the type and makeup of the content to be displayed on the page, and to ensure that updates to the page are relevant, unique and attractive enough to keep viewers engaged. Placing focus on content to achieve high SE rankings should be the starting point of developing a well-designed page.





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Adam Vandergang

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