Google Algorithm has evolved over the past decade, and it has been evolving considerably in the past 3 years. The major changes from 2003 to 2010 was towards optimizing the results against sites and brands that were using SEO tactics that were black-hat, and spammy in nature.
The Florida update in 2003 was such an algorithm update where the target was websites that used keyword stuffing in description, and body of the text.
The “nofollow” tag was introduced in January 2005 to combat comment spamming that involve inserting targeted keyword rich anchor text in comments, and ranking for the same. The 2010 May Day update was another update that targeted SEOs who were creating thin content based on long tail keywords.
During Feb 23, 2011 – Panda update became the first major Google Algorithm update that accounted for a much larger set of content metrics. With the update, Google started penalizing thin content. These sites created new content based on keywords without adding any value in the space.
Panda update was followed by Penguin update in April 2012 that targeted brands that created duplicate contents, and used keywords stuffing, and other link schemes to outrank their competitors.
With the introduction of authorship in 2011, Google started ranking Authors. The ranking factors have changed considerably over the past 3 years. Content Metrics have become more important than meta-data, and Businesses that have realized the shift in metrics have benefitted the most from it.
So what are the content metrics that matter?
1) Average Time on Page
This is the first metric that allows brands to evaluate engagement. Unless the visitors spend 1-2 minutes on the page, it is unlikely that they would be influenced by the content, and take necessary action that is beneficial for both the brand and the visitor. The time on the page should be combined with the average reading rate of the brand’s target market. For example, American graduates have an average reading rate of 400 words per minute. For a page with 800 words created for this market, average time on page that ranges between 1-2 minutes shows that the engagement is high.
2) Scroll Rate
Average Time on Page in itself gives very little information about engagement. A key metric that gives an idea about how the visitor is consuming content is measured by scroll rate. Most web pages have 30% of its space allocated for Footers that can include About the Author section. If the scroll rate is around 65-100%, the content has succeeded in creating value.
When you combine the two metrics – Scroll Rate and Average time on page, brands get a much broader picture on how content is influencing the visitor.
Although Share metric is important to understand the capability of the content to propagate over the network, most brands make decision on the influence of the content based on the shares in Facebook, Plus Ones in Google Plus, and Tweets and Re-tweets in Twitter. A more important metric that brands can measure is the new dialogues that your content has created in top social media networks, either directly on the share threads or through other conversation.
4) Click Through Rate
Most of the time, brands give very little emphasis on the click patterns, inside the content, and on related links in sidebars, or below content. The click through rate in content area is one aspect that can give insights on how the content has influenced the visitor to take action, which in websites begin with clicks.
5) Lead Generation
If the content has influenced the visitor to share Name, Email, and Phone Number with your brand, then your content has been influential in building the trust that brands require to sustain and grow. Remember the last time that you had shared your personally identifiable information with a brand. Probably, only after the brand has consistently met your expectation in terms of content (knowledge), and service.
Lead Generation is the first step towards generating sales. If cookies are set right, brands can measure the impact of the content in generating sales over a 1 year time period, a time frame that allows the brand to review the content creation strategy, and fine tune the tactics to improve lead generation and finally sales. The sales cycle varies across Businesses, and it is important to understand the average sales cycle in your industry, and fine-tune the conversion and content strategies.
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