Everyone in the SEO industry knows that a well written and unique article is what’s required to achieve top rankings as well as several other factors of course. It only took a few releases of Google Panda for all those evergreen content posts to start rolling in, but how much content should you write per page and how much actual effect does it have on your rankings?
My thoughts? It really depends on the SERP, if the Google search is a question or relates to something where you want to find information then content is key, which is why Wikipedia ranks first for almost every page its users produce. If you want to find out more about what the guidelines are for writing good content then all you need to do is read up on the Google Panda update.
What interests me more is the SERPs which contain sites that don’t have a massive amount of content, often in relation to ecommerce or betting, does the content really make a difference on these results? One particular result that’s always interested me is “Casino Slots”, what makes the difference between Virgin Games ranked 1st, Slots Heaven 13th & Free Slots 50th for example, in terms of content and what further interests me is the use of a rich snippet from the Virgin Games site, which is extremely rare for a gambling based SERP.
I know there are obviously a lot of factors to take into account when talking about rankings in such a competitive SERP but I simply want to understand if content is having a major effect in a result where it doesn’t really mean much to the user.
As you can see they have a good word count, especially considering they are an online gambling site which rarely have content at all, but is this the reason that they are ranking where they are?
Interesting to say that they are only position 13th, perhaps their ranking will go up in the future.
Well let’s now compare those results with Free Slots, and it’s clear to see why it’s in position 50th, there is no content throughout the site despite a few disclaimers and T&C’s so not much interesting there.
You can clearly see why they rank where they do, the lack of content and the quality of their website.
Another SERP that interested me was “Mens Shoes”, mainly because Amazon didn’t rank for it for some unbeknown reason, was content a large player for ecommerce websites? The website’s I have picked out to analyse are Schuh who are ranked 1st, TK Maxx who are ranked 13th and finally Amazon who are surprisingly ranked 18th. Typically my thoughts are that when you’re buying shoes you want to know about them, they can be an expensive purchase, so you’re going to want to read content.
The top ranking SERP for Mens Shoes is Schuh, after running them through the tool this is what we found.
A very low word count yet still achieving a maximum rank, this is low even when you compare it to the gambling SERP which is extremely surprising as I think the user intention is the opposite.
Well let’s take a look at the second ranking site TK Maxx and see if it has more or less content than the first, with TK Max obviously being a reputable company you would think they would achieve a higher ranking.
Again, surprising, a page with over the recommended content amount not achieving the rankings it should be.
What about the last ranked page we picked out, Amazon’s. If you have ever been to Amazon it’s clear to see why they often rank first for everything ecommerce, they offer a great description, reviews and an easy check out process, so why don’t they rank higher for this SERP?
Similar to TK Max in content level, yet still not achieving the highest rankings. That says to me that content isn’t the main focus for Ecommerce based sites, broadly speaking.
The final SERP I’m going to analyse that interested me is travel, particularly the competitive term “Car Hire”. Now this is interesting because there are a mix of comparison sites, companies and advice sites, so here I would like to analyse 1st placed Enterprise, 3rd placed Sky Scanner and 29th placed Gov.uk. My initial thoughts is that sites with a small amount of almost bullet pointed content is what I would personally want to see.
The top ranking site I’ve picked out is Enterprise car rental, what content amount do they have on their homepage (the one that is ranking best for the SERP term).
A decent amount of content, higher than the recommended amount by Google, so this page would be deemed as acceptable, but what’s the difference between them Sky Scanner and the Gov website.
Moving on to analyse the Sky Scanner result, they typically have a nice amount of content with good information but the main focus is on the booking engine.
Again, a decent amount of content, which further leads me to thinking that this SERP is more about the quality of content as opposed to the amount.
Finally and interestingly is the UK Gov site, now my theory of why this doesn’t rank is because the user doesn’t intend to have an informational query as an answer to booking a car.
This then further supports my theory that it’s about the quality of content in regards to the user’s intention.
To wrap this up the aim of the article was just to give a bit of food for thought, I know this is negating a lot of different factors and of course a company with the reputation also being a major factor. The reason I wrote this was just to say that content isn’t always king, you have to aim your page towards the user intention for the search and you will be rewarded, it’s also worth investigating what your competitors are doing for some of your top ranking keywords.