Every marketer should know by this point that creating good content is a valuable technique when it comes to supporting your digital marketing efforts, and all marketers should be implementing various content elements into their strategy. If you don’t happen to be doing so, I think you may need to change career.

The culmination of Google updates has seen the most recent (Panda 4.1) making changes to the way Google values content, meaning it can now provides users with the most relevant written or visual content relevant to the search query. As an example, the Humming Bird algorithm made changes in the way that Google now understands the human meaning behind search queries, and judges the semantics behind written content.

bigstock-Judge-Using-His-Gavel-3021360-1 How Does Google Actually Judge Content

Even though everybody talks about content being necessary to increase rankings in SERPs, how many of them actually can get down to the nitty gritty of what Google actually looks for in content? You may already exactly what to look for, but if not, here are 4 of the main elements Google looks for in a brand’s content:


Google measures many different factors within content with the aim of delivering usable results. One element is the readability of the text in written content. For example, how easy it will be for a user to read your document.

There are many readability tools available for free on the web; these include read-able.com, readability.info, online-utility.org and lexicool.com. These are just a few, but makeuseof.com have a list of great readability tools if you are looking for a deeper selection.

Each of these tools seem to take into account one major contributing factor, measuring through Flesch-Kincaid reading ease.  This analysis method basically provides a score for different levels of consumer. In short, the scores and relative audience are listed below:

  • 0-100.0: Easily understood by an average 11 year old
  • 0-70.0: Easily understood by 13-15 year old students
  • 0-30.0: better understood by higher educated people

By knowing your Flesch score, you can figure out whether the content you are writing is relative to your target audience. Generally, high DA sites will have a relatively easy to understand readability, however if you are targeting more academic and specific search terms, you may be ranked higher for having a more in depth, high score.

Holistic Content

Ever since the Humming Bird update in 2013, which I previously mentioned, Google now has the knowledge to identify the semantics behind search queries and content. By this I mean that they can now identify, reasonably well, exactly what a person’s intent is in their content, instead of just being text filled with keywords.

To enable higher rankings using a holistic approach, companies or bloggers should veer away from optimising text to be keyword heavy. Instead they should focus on a more comprehensive approach, identifying relevant keywords while talking heavily around the subject, using clustered terms to enable them to produce holistic content. This way, Google can see more relevance for the user in your site, making your site relevant even when primary and sub search terms are entered.

Length of a Post or Text On-page

The length of a document hasn’t always being a high ranking factor in the eyes of search engines. However, according to a study performed this year by Search Metrics, the top ranking search results had an average of 975 word, or 8,313 character text on-page.

It seems to be that along with its more holistic approach, Google is now seeing higher worded content as more in depth, thus more valuable to the reader. However, this doesn’t mean you can just write an extra 200/300 words of thin content with keywords stuffed in there to extend a document.

Remember that a holistic approach means Google is now looking into the semantics of written content, so even if your document or on-page text is word heavy, it still needs to be thick, quality content targeting a variety of content clusters and not just individual key terms.

Less Use of Advertising

I understand that a lot of sites on the web nowadays are there purely to make money through advertising, sponsorship and affiliate marketing, and I am not saying that is a bad thing; if you have a concept that generates interest and you can make a solid income off of it, by all means go ahead. However, one thing to take into account is the amount of advertising you have on your page.

It has been found that the top 30 ranking sites for any search term tend to have much less active advertisements than the typical lower ranked website. Going back to the concept of holistic content, Google wants to be indexing your site to find high quality, lengthy, clustered and relevant information to present to their users. With their knowledge of Latent Semantics, Google can recognise that a site with too many advertisements will not be of interest to the user and only provide a distraction, and therefore they will lower your ranking position.

Ranking on Google isn’t the be all and end all of your business – social media and conversion rate optimisation can both increase traffic and have a big impact on your site. This doesn’t mean to say, however, that you shouldn’t be following each of these 4 points; after all, you never know what Google will do!