Here’s Why Content Is More King than Ever – Here’s Why #218


You’ve heard that content is king, but today, content is more important than ever. Here’s why.

Content is king. It’s still king and it hasn’t really changed. And today, I’m going to show you three case studies that will show you that content is more king than it’s ever been.

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Content is king. It’s still king and it hasn’t really changed. And today, I’m going to show you three case studies that will show you that content is more king than it’s ever been.

I’m going to start though by talking a little bit about Google’s algorithm updates over the past 14-16 months. I’m currently showing a chart for you that shows all the major updates that were called “core algorithm updates” by Google.

Chart shows Google's Major algorithm updates dating from March 9, 2018 to March 12, 2019

It turns out that these updates all had a certain number of things in common. There seemed to be a pretty big focus on user intent and better understanding of user intent. They were looking to lower the rankings of poorer quality content and raise the rankings of higher quality content. But another element of it that I felt really emerged is a much bigger emphasis on the depth and breadth of your content. So, with that in mind, I want to jump into the case studies and show you some data.

Here’s the first case study. This is in the addiction marketplace. The first chart shows the publishing volume of one particular vendor in that marketplace.

Chart shows publishing volume of an addiction treatment site from January 2013 to January 2019

You can see that there are wild fluctuations, but at times we’re talking about hundreds of actual new pieces of content being published every month, some months as high as 700. So, that’s the first data point.

Second data point: Let’s look at the rate at which this site was adding links, that you see in this chart here.

Chart shows added link volume added to an addiction treatment site from Jan. 2014 - Jan. 2019

 The linked volume begins to grow rapidly around the same time as the content volume started growing.

And now for our third chart. This is the SEO visibility from Searchmetrics. You see that that begins to accelerate rapidly in May of 2017. So, it’s very interesting to see the correlation between the rapid content growth, the rapid linked growth, and how it drove massive changes in traffic to this particular site.

Chart shows SEO Visibility score of an addiction treatment site from May 2016 to August 2018Now let’s look at case study two. This one’s in the career space. And again, I’m going start with a chart on the publishing volume for this particular company.

Chart shows content publishing volume of a career site from January 2018 to March 2019

The volume was actually moderately heavy in 2017, running about 45ish pieces of content a month. That’s pretty significant—one and a half pieces a day on average. But in January of 2018, this scaled into many hundreds of pieces of content per month. So, now let’s look at the “rate of links added” chart for this particular company.

Here you see that the links did not really scale until you got into around March and April of 2018, when it has a really sharp spike.

Chart shows link volume added to a career site showing a spike in links adding in May of 2018

Now, what that sharp spike is actually showing us is: it turns out that that was due to a redirect of another domain to this particular domain, and so a lot of links transferred very instantaneously, if you will.

Let’s look at the traffic chart for this particular company. The traffic actually scaled very rapidly after the links took off in May of 2018.

Chart shows SEO visibility of a career site from 2018-2019 resulting

What I like about this case study is that it shows us that the content publishing at a volume where the links aren’t really growing isn’t going to do much for you. You need to create lots of great content. It’s a key part of the picture, but if you don’t promote it effectively, you’re not going to get the right results.

Let’s look at case study number three. This one is a consumer retail sales site. Let’s start with the publishing volume chart.

Chart shows publishing volume of a retail site from August 2018 to April 2019

This site has been adding content at a heavy volume for a very sustained period of time—it’s consistently in the thousands per month.

Now let’s look at the rate of links added for this chart. This doesn’t have as sharp a spike as the second example I showed, or even as dramatic growth as the first example.

Chart shows rates of added link volume of a retail site from 2013-2019

Yet you do see that links are being added steadily over time built on top of a very strong base.

Now let’s look at the traffic for this one. This is actually the SEO visibility chart again from Searchmetrics.

Chart shows SEO Visibility score of a consumer retail site from August 2017 to April 2019

In this particular case, the SEO visibility started at a very high level, but you get continuous steady growth over time, as supported by the strength of their publishing program and the rates at which they’re adding links.

I have two more charts for you before we wrap up.

This chart is data from a company called serpIQ that shows the correlation between ranking in Google and length of content.

Chart from a study conducted by serpOQ shows the correlation between ranking in Google and length of content. Google may rank longer content in a higher position.You’ll see from this chart there’s a clear bias for Google to rank longer form content. Now, before we go off and say that every page should have tons of content on it, it’s very dependent on the context. There are plenty of pages where you don’t need a long-form article. I’m not saying every piece of content or every page on your site needs to have a mass of text on it. That’s not the point. But from the point of view of informational content, it’s very clear that longer form is better

And then another chart. This one’s from HubSpot. This data shows that longer form content actually earns more links.

Chart from Hubspot shows longer form content actually earns more links

Now you can see how I’m making the connection here and drawing all the pieces together.

One last chart. This one’s a bonus chart from a Perficient Digital study that we published on links as a ranking factor. In this chart, you can see that Google ranks content with more links higher based on a normalized link score that we created.

Chart shows data from Perficient Digital on links and ranking - Google ranks content with more links higher.

Look at the three pieces: longer form content ranks higher, longer form content gets more links, site with more links rank higher. These three things are all tied very, very closely together. The reason why content is king is that you’re not going to get the links if you don’t have the right content to earn them. So, content is indeed more king than ever.

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Google at 20: A Shift from Text to Images

When Google celebrated its 20th birthday in 2018, the tech giant took the opportunity to introduce several important updates and transitions to how it performs its most essential functions. The company announced that users could expect a fundamental shift “from text to a more visual way of finding information.”

If you’ve been keeping tabs on Google’s updates and changes, this announcement didn’t come as a surprise. Google has been working to improve and expand its image search capabilities, adding new features like visual search engine results pages (SERPs) and Google products that focus on images. Here are a few ways Google is prioritizing images.

  • Algorithm Updates. Some of Google’s newest algorithm updates emphasize images in search results. Google has also updated the Google Image algorithm recently– the new updated Google Images algorithm will prioritize pages that display searchable images more prominently and higher up on the page. Google will also prioritize images that come from authoritative websites. At a January 2019 Google NYC meetup, John Mueller also said that image search will be a “bigger topic” this year.

  • Thumbnail images. Over the last year, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of thumbnail images featured on SERPs, especially on mobile devices. With more than 50 percent of Google searches now coming from mobile devices, the company is betting that adding a visual element will make it easier for users to find the information they need more quickly.

 

  • Image-based searches. Imagine seeing the perfect pair of shoes in a movie or magazine page but having no way to translate that into a fruitful Google search. Searching for “blue high heels” won’t help, but what if you could just snap a photo and use the image itself? With new developments in AI, products like Google Lens may be able to help you figure out exactly where to buy the shoes (or couch, or car) of your dreams.

Google’s image-focused shift is aimed at increasing user accessibility and creating new ways to present content. Until now, search has been fundamentally text based; shifting to a more visual way of providing information opens the door to helping users who have language processing issues or other problems with reading text. The company is hoping to meet users where they are, inviting them to learn more about topics that are relevant to them. An image-focused way of finding information is one important component of forming that invitation.

For their part, content creators who want to benefit from Google’s visual initiatives will need to anchor their pages with unique, highly-relevant images. Companies that want to achieve and maintain high visibility on Google will benefit by devoting more attention to the images they use in online content.

The use (and usefulness) of images might change between businesses, so it can be useful to think about how to use images in your specific vertical. Some of those use cases might not be intuitive. Clear graphs and charts, product images, graphics, and more, can help illustrate concepts and values.

One of the best ways to appreciate this visual shift is to see it in action. Sites like Waypoint, Slate, and Bon Appetit all have very different audiences, but they are all incorporating fresh new ways to use visual features.

This evolution from words to images offers exciting opportunities for businesses to create compelling web pages that utilize both images and text. Creative images that connect clearly with the text on a page will make that page more interesting, but they can also help boost search result rankings and visibility.