Content quality is a well known ranking factor. If you have a page which could use improvement and you make those improvements to the page, that page can indeed move into a higher position based on that single on-site SEO improvement alone.
This has been one of my closest guarded “secrets” for a solid 10 – 15 years now. Google it, and you’ll see nothing. Some people understand how this works but most of them are keeping the “trick” for themselves. After many years of research, I believe there are several factors in play. But at the end of the day, improving content on a page absolutely assists its rankings.
I have them but I am intentionally not sharing them in this post. That’s because I want to point out here that this is not a science experiment. There are far too many variables in play. I could post the screenshots of a page magically moving up in the rankings, but I have thousands of those.
(Update: I changed my mind and a complete step-by-step case study is now available here).
If you must have a screenshot AND you’re a paying client or a colleague feel free to email me and I’ll shoot over all the screenshots you want to see of sites moving from position 9 to position 3 or 4 with simple content improvements.
Sold. Now tell me how I can “improve” my content.
I have things I do when creating content that I don’t even realize I do. This happens after creating your 14,578th article. I can’t tell you how many times I go through and start a page from scratch and Bam! The page just rockets to the top of search results. But there are some definite things I’ve noticed.
- Cover the topic. I have said 100X on this blog, “Don’t count words, cover topics”. Cover the topic. When you thoroughly cover the topic at hand, you cover all the bases naturally. Algorithms can use a plethora of ways to examine content. If your content is about “how to build an engine” and is 400 words long, it sucks. If it covers timing, pistons, oil weight and is thorough, it is going to hit every keyword imaginable. That’s why, to me, most keyword analysis tools are fairly useless. I do not need some tool a geek wrote to tell me if I have covered a topic or not. You either have, or you haven’t. You can read about Latent Symantec Indexing and all the other stuff til you’re blue in the face if you want.
- Expand the content. I try not to make content larger than it needs to be just to make a page bigger. But in some cases there are additional questions people ask about a topic. These are easily discoverable through Google’s “People also ask” feature in search results. In some cases, I like to take these questions and add them as FAQs at the bottom of a page that I want to improve the content on.
- Content structure. On many sites I work with or consult with I personally like defining the page or answering the question people are asking neatly and concisely at the top. I have obtained hundreds of Featured Snippets using this method. Between that and most user’s inability to stay on a page for more than a short period of time, I know that delivering this as quickly as possible is something people love. If people love it, search engines should too.
- Other factors. I could go on all day long here. Does the site work properly on mobile? Are there ads blocking the content? How far do you have to scroll to get to the content? Does the content cater to the user’s intent? Does the content define the search query? How rich is the content – are there graphics when needed to assist the reader? Is it laid out properly? Should you be using a list or a table for the content? Is the content in an unusable Flash format? Is the content stuck in a poorly formed PDF file? Is the content easy enough for a 10yr old to quickly navigate? Is the content all on one page or do I have to click next 15 times?
Of course content improvement is an on-site SEO ranking factor, duh.
Quality content is a ranking factor. If your content can be improved, so can the organic rankings. This isn’t rocket science. No, great content alone won’t rank, but if it is placed on a powerful domain and has enough authority, improving content on a page will indeed move it up in the rankings.
How far it moves up in the rankings completely depends on how much improvement needed to be made and the power of the competitor sites. You can have the ultimate guide to the Nintendo Switch on a brand new domain and Amazon is still going to outrank you with their simple product description. But that said, content quality matters. It has mattered for well over 10 years now, and, moving forward, it is going to become more and more important.
Take the advice of a child!
I have many friends with children. They are my favorite people to ask SEO questions to. I asked a 10yr old the other day, “If there are 100 pages about topic X, how should google decide which one ranks #1?” Their answer was perfect. They looked at me with zero hesitation and said “Google should give the #1 spot to whoever has the best answer”.
Follow up article – a must read:
Improving Content for Better SEO and Google Rankings [Case Study]