Why Content Is the Most Important SEO Ranking Factor

SEO experts and content marketers are constantly in search of ways to improve their performance on search engines. But one search engine optimization (SEO) ranking factor reigns supreme. Read on to learn why quality content is unquestionably the most important SEO ranking factor.

Why is content so important in digital marketing?

No aspect of digital marketing exists without some type of content. Even if you just have an infographic, that’s content. Every photo, banner ad, blog post, or long-tail article is content. So no digital marketer will get anywhere without a solid content strategy, starting from the editorial calendar for content creation all the way to a social calendar that maximizes the reach of your published content. 

Content is the way consumers interact with your brand, for better or worse, in the digital age, so how can you ensure they’re having positive interactions with what you’re producing? And how can you make sure that your content delivers the results you need?

Content matters! (Yes, it’s the most important ranking factor)

Before we get into why high-quality content can turbocharge your digital marketing efforts, let’s start with the basics. Even going back to 2011, Google has been very clear about how prioritizing quality content is crucial for building high-quality sites. Today, especially as Google consistently refines its search algorithm, it’s prioritizing high-quality articles over-bloated clickbait with too many unnecessary keywords.

This refinement provides two major benefits to users. First of all, if you’re looking up a topic, the results on page 1 are more likely to provide you with articles and blogs you actually want to read. So you’re not stuck seeing five robotic articles with as many backlinks and keywords as possible that have risen to the top of the pile.

Second, this change means that your high-quality blog posts and articles will be able to rank well on Google. So you can focus primarily on creating compelling content that connects with your audience rather than thinking about SEO tricks and tips that will get you ahead. That said, you’ll still need to use some SEO techniques to craft your content so that searchers can find you. But if you focus on content as your primary focus, you’ll see great dividends on Google search rankings.

content as ranking factor
Content is the most important SEO ranking factor.

What is a ranking factor?

In SEO terminology, a ranking factor includes pretty much any variable that a search engine might use to index results for a specific search. Ranking factors include domain authority, page speed, optimization for mobile, user experience, external and internal links, backlinks, social signals, HTML code, and other components. But even if your website is perfectly calibrated, the actual content needs to match the intended search results.

For example, if someone looks for “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson,” they’ll first see on-page results from a highly-respected web page like Wikipedia or IMDB with basic filmography. The top-performing pages will almost definitely have evergreen content, come from reputable sources, and have lots of relevant information related to his life.

Right below that, you’ll probably see some top questions, both asked by Google fans (and answered by him in a video format), as well as other questions people really want to know, like “What does the Rock eat in a day?”

Below those search results, you’ll see trending news from reputable sources and ads on similar topics.

How do you rank an article?

How does this example relate to ranking factors? For starters, high-quality content, whether an article, photo, or video, shows up at the top. After that, content coming from trusted domains ususally gets high positioning. However, if you were to tweak your search and look up a long tail keyword phrase like “Dwayne Johnson diet,” the top-performing results come from websites like manofmany.com, which isn’t an impossibly difficult domain to beat out.

So how did it get to the top of the search results? They used SEO tools to create optimized content. Here are some highlights:

  • This article provides definitive answers to the question of what The Rock eats in a day; it’s a relevant piece of content that answers the search query.
  • It has a reasonably fast page speed.
  • This website has several articles on male celebrity diet and workout plans, so it’s an expert in this specific niche.
  • The photos in the article are optimized for SEO- as the author has used best practices for labeling them with words related to the article.
  • This webpage goes beyond The Rock’s dietary patterns and also delves his workout, so the users get a rich content experience.

Content creation guidelines

What are the key takeaways from this example, as it applies to your specific website and content marketing plan? If you want to ensure your content stays on top of SERPS, even after the next algorithm update, here are a few pointers to add to your writing checklist.

SEO Ranking Factor

  • Do your keyword research before you start writing so you know what your target audience really cares about and how to address those issues. This first stage of the content creation process is the time to also look at the search volume for specific topics. Many tools will offer that and a list of terms that might give you better results when searching for a quality keyword. That way, you can get better results on topics with similar relevancy. Yes, relevance matters, whether you’re blogging or writing more serious content!
  • Pay attention to the technical aspects of your writing. Even if you write great content, if you neglect some technical SEO components, it will be more challenging to rank on SERPs. So don’t forget to include a meta description, external and internal links, photos that are clearly labeled with your keyword, or even an infographic that might illustrate your topic. All of these elements go a long way towards overall content creation.
  • Promote your article on social media. Not only will social shares get more people to read your article, but they’ll also improve its ranking. Remember– readers will often share good content, but they won’t share junky articles.

What is the most important ranking factor?

In case you missed it earlier, to use the cliche, content is king! So if you want to see your search traffic increase, investing in SEO content that will bring viewers to your site remains a crucial objective. Creating blog content that people actually want to read matters! Even if a few of your technical aspects need improvement, if you can create the type of content your audience is looking for, you’ll see tremendous ROI on your content marketing efforts. 

Create quality content that ranks well

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when confronted with everything you need to consider when creating great content. But you don’t have to embark on this journey alone! The rellify platform guides your content creation process from the topic ideation process to writing, editing, and publishing. It even monitors your published article so you can see how your content is performing. Contact one of our experts to learn more!