Content As A Google Ranking Factor: What You Need To Know

Content is king.

Content is SEO optimized.

Content marketers will rule the world (I just made that one, but I stand by it).

There is no doubt that content is an integral part of digital marketing and search engine optimization strategies. You can’t do SEO without putting something on the page.

You can’t deliver value or engage your audience without on-page text, images, audio, or video.

But is content a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithms?

Evidence of content as a ranking factor

Content is central to how search works – and it features heavily in Google’s own site.How does the search work?“the supplier:

Screenshot from, September 2021

Once Google understands the meaning of the query – the searcher’s intent – the content is analyzed to determine the relevance of each page.

Important content properties (and how much) are different for different types of queries. This is why Google has higher standards for your money, your life (YMYL) content, as this can affect a person’s wellness or livelihood.

paying off this is Google Webmaster Tools online course on how to build a great site, as it came out in 2014 (the page has since been redirected).

The unit lessons were:

  • 1.1 Decide if you want a website.
  • 1.2 Create a new website.
  • 1.3 Define your audience.
  • 1.4 Create valuable content.
  • 1.5 Organizing the structure of your site.
  • 1.6 Test.

The “How to Create a Great Site” module was incredibly simple – set up a site, know your audience, create valuable content, and get a good site structure.

This definitely indicates that content should be an important ranking factor.

Here’s what Google wanted you to know about what it considered valuable content at the time:

What Google has deemed valuable content in the past.Screenshot from, September 2021

Not much has changed, really. Google is looking for value, credibility, privacy, good user experience, etc.

See these threads again in SEO newbie Resources in the Google Search Center:

SEO resources for beginners in the Google Search Center.Screenshot from, September 2021

in a This sectionGoogle also recommends the following:

  • Write easy-to-read text.
  • Organize your topics clearly.
  • Create new and unique content.
  • Act in a manner that develops user confidence.
  • Make experience and authority clear.
  • Provide an appropriate amount of content for your topic.
  • Avoid distracting ads (prevent them from consuming site content).
  • Use links wisely.

We see these topics throughout our Quality Manufacturer Guidelines as well. I’ve evaluated whether these are ranking factors in another class (they aren’t).

But the Guidelines for Evaluators go into great detail about what Google is looking for in terms of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) for content, and how it is determined.

Now, you can read all of that and come to the conclusion that Google still hasn’t implicitly said that content is a ranking factor.

But in 2016 Google Q&A With Ammon Johns, Rand Fishkin, and Eric Enge, Andrey Lipattsev, Google’s chief search quality strategist, tells us what the top 3 ranking signals are.

Ammon John asked,

“We’ve heard that this (RankBrain) is the third most important signal contributing to results now. Is it helpful for us to know what the first two are? Can webmasters build better sites?”

Lipatsev replied,

“Yes. And I can tell you what they are. They are content and links pointing back to your site.”

Then it states that there is “no rank”, so it’s not a numbered list of 1. Rank factor = Content, 2. = Links, 3. = RankBrain.

Instead, different aspects of the algorithms are involved at different levels depending on the query.

So while it’s safe to say that content, links, and RankBrain were the top three ranking factors at the time, that doesn’t mean that content was the number one factor, or that those are the top three today.

get the latest, then; in August 2020 Video webmaster services groupJohn Mueller said in response to a question about H1 tags:

“On-page titles aren’t our only ranking factor — we look at content on its own, too.”

Evidence against content as a ranking factor

There really isn’t any.

You cannot search without content.

Content is fundamental to how search works, it is scrutinized in many different ways by Google’s search algorithms, and content is the ranking factor.

Content as a rating factor: our judgment

Content as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Google uses content as a search ranking signal.

Google uses many aspects of that content to gauge whether it is the best answer to a relevant query, so just having average content isn’t enough.

Focus on the elements that make your content exceptional if you want it to perform in search.

Featured image: Paolo Bobetta/SearchEngineJournal

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