Sites without content no longer rank. That’s a well-known fact. Google meanwhile goes a step further and claims Content Relevance. This demand is made possible by the use of artificial intelligence in the algorithms. Thus, Google gains an unprecedented ease. Ranking factors lose their general validity: keywords, backlinks or long, epic texts sometimes improve the ranking and then again not.
Also the SERPs became frickle and show different results at the weekend than during the week. Occasionally there are also clear differences between day and night SERPs. One might almost believe Google went crazy. It’s only understandable if take the new SEO superpower in account.
Content Relevance relativizes ranking factors
By AI Google is getting closer and closer to its long postulated goal, to be a search engine that can be asked by users if they approach a human being quite naturally. The search algorithms meanwhile involve the intent of a search query. Correspondingly, the competition for the best ranking places is no longer exclusively won by those who observe as many ranking factors as possible.
It still does not hurt to focus on ranking factors. On the contrary, technical SEO measures are still the basis on which rankings are founded. But to tick off as many ranking factors as possible is no longer the only true royal way. Decisive for a good ranking is that Google recognises the relevance of a website for the particular purpose of the search query.
While content was years ago only decorative SEO-attachment to host desired keywords, it is now actually becoming a supporting SEO pillar. However, the precondition is that the offered content is also relevant to the respective intentions of the search query. This leads us to Content Relevance – a value that website operators and SEOs will have to pay a lot of attention to in the future.
Relevant Content for the mass, not the individual
The Oxford Dictionary defines relevance as “The quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.” For example, a term such as “freedom” has a significantly different meaning for a prisoner than for someone who first comes to a German motorway with his new 400HP machine. Nevertheless, Google would display largely identical SERPs to both people (differences depending on location, browser, browsing history, etc.). At least, this still applies at the moment. Whether or not Google displays completely personalised SERPs, is not least a question of data protection.
Mobile-First strategy leads to more frequent, temporary changes in the SERPs
In the web search Google is not oriented towards the individual but the average user. Example: On the day after the Champions League match FC Bayern München against Arsenal London the SERPs for the query “Bayern Arsenal” were led by a knowledge graph with the result of the match, including three top news about the game. But those who were looking for “Munich London” this day got travel information for flights between the cities.
Thus Google checks the intention behind a search query and displays relevant pages on the SERPs according to the word choice, but also depending on the time. By switching to mobile-first strategy for indexing, the time of the request became an even more important criterion for the ranking. Google itself calls this criterion Micro-Moments. This describes the time and context-dependent web browsing on smartphones (and other mobile devices).
Google often bases Content Relevance on the time of the request
During the week and by day many SERPs meanwhile turn out to be more business-related. Whereas at the weekend and in the evening more informative and entertaining sites are shown. Is “BMW” searched by day more purchasers are shown. In the evening and at the weekend sites with car reviews, tests and similar are pushed forward. Thus, the ranking factors are evaluated by Google according to the time of the request. This new flexibility from Google requires more effort from web site operators. This new flexibility of Google requires more effort from web site operators.
To be able to play on as many SERP variants as possible, a diverse content offering is required. To stay in the example: a car dealer is well advised to offer not only the description of own services, but also information with driving reports and detailed reviews. Indeed, from the content-marketing point of view this was recommended much earlier. However, it is no longer just a matter of covering as many keywords as possible. A broad range of content is becoming more and more a prerequisite, in order to rank as often as possible.
How can I ensure that my website is content relevant?
The simple answer: understand what’s interesting about your offer for your costumers and satisfy this interest with corresponding content offers. If you sell make-up accessories, you will certainly reach your customers better with a well-made video or picture story with makeup tips than with a long, sprawling essay about the history of make-up. The essay would certainly contain many keywords, synonyms, and related terms (and possibly would be excellent written, “valuable”), but it does not meet the average user’s search intent.
Therefore it is essential for the optimisation of a website to create a keyword set. Keywords are still of central significance. In order to achieve content relevance, however, the KW set should be recorded and exploited in its entirety as a topic. Whether on one side all information on a topic / offer should be accommodated, or whether it is better to establish many landingpages on a domain, must be decided in the individual case, respectively, sometimes also simply tried.
What is crucial is that a text should no longer revolve around a single keyword. SEO-compliant texts now serve a topic. To be said with the utmost clarity: due the sematic-holistic operation of the AI elements in the Google algorithm by now texts are able to rank to a keyword, in which the terms are only mentioned in passing or not at all. The prerequisite for this is, however, that the topic (the general content framework) for the keyword is well taken. The textual frame of the offered content is therefore as important as the content based on keywords. In short: topic before keyword.
Studies from Searchmetrics show that the Content Relevance of pages is highest in the ranking places three to six. The two first places, however, are often occupied by well-known brands. This logic also follows the dictum, to serve the search intention of the average user as quickly and good as possible. Brands usually accomblish both. They have gained trust and competence among their users in their fields. brand building is therefore one of the many disciplines that make up SEO.
A good way to ensure Google’s required content relevance for your domain is also to establish itself as an authority for a topic or offer on the web. This can be done via blog posts or via informative pieces on the categories and subpages of the domain. For shops and service providers, a closer look at the Customer Journey is also helpful, in order to find relevant topics with which users can be brought to the site and turned into buyers.
Understand Customer Journey to create Content Relevance
One of the best models for Customer Journey is the five-phase model according to Kotler. When users opt for a product or service, there are five points of application where traders and service providers can tie on.
- Problem/need recognition
- Information search
- Evaluation of alternatives
- Purchase decision
- Post-purchase behaviour
Content-relevance is achieved by shop and service pages especially if they are targeted at these five points. Concrete:
- Which needs does my product please? Which problem does my service solve?
- What do buyers want to know about my product? What does the service include?
- Are there any differences to previous models? What has improved? What is the difference between my offer and the competition? Are there similar offers in the shop? Then the advantages and differences of these offers should be carved out.
- People like to be supported by other people in decisions. Potential buyers are grateful at this stage for testimonials and reviews. However, factors like the price or the convenience of the order also play an important role here.
- While the sale of a product for many dealers has completed the purchase process, the fun begins for the customer here. With tips and tricks on the products, customers can be easily tied up and even become fans.
Google now evaluates content according to its relevance to the purpose of a search query related to the average user. As a result, the previously rigid ranking factors are weighted more flexibly. Website operators and SEOs can adapt to this flexibility by aligning their content offerings with the needs of their users and presenting their offer as comprehensively as necessary and as multifaceted as possible. General SEO solutions are just tickets for a blind flight in the SERPs. It’s about to calm down and to not evade hard work to offer users, what they are looking for: relevant content.