Rankings Are A Trailing Indicator Of Good Content Marketing

content marketing and non-marketing

What comes first the rankings or the good content marketing? Are they mutually exclusive or does one require the other? In the past, they were often mutually exclusive because rankings didn’t require good content marketing. Rankings were achieved with poor content and technical on-page sculpting for the sake of link building.

Today’s post-Panda and Penguin reality make link building for the sake of link building and poor content tactics for SEO. The analytical obfuscation from Google’s SSL, iOS 6 and Firefox, the publishing frequency favoritism of Caffeine’s Freshness update and Google’s admission to using social signals further add to the riskiness of older tactics.

In addition, Google has a patent on what it calls Ranking Documents. Rather than webmasters making updates and seeing normal SERP movement, the webmaster will see a random transitional rank for a random period of time  prior to seeing the final target ranking. This randomness will make it very difficult to see the cause and effect of unnatural link building.

What is Good Content Marketing?

Good content marketing is in the eye of the beholder. However, when it comes to rankings, the only eye that matters is Google’s. Over the last two years, Google has become better at aligning its algorithmic eye with the human eye. As a result, they’re getting better at rewarding quality content. This desire to align its algorithm with the human eye is clearly reflected in their principles for quality guidelines below.

Webmaster Quality Guidelines – Basic Principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

What does Good Content Marketing Look Like to Google?

SERP performance is correlated to a variety of social signals and inbound links. However, it’s safe to assume that the correlation between inbound links and rankings are based on inbound links not targeted by Penguin. You can assume that in the future the impact of an inbound link will not be known until transition rank has run its course.

Based on this study, and the Google updates outlined above, a page is mostly rank-worthy due to social signals and natural inbound links. But how is this accomplished?

Good content marketing will naturally acquire links and get organically shared across many platforms without breaking Google’s guidelines. Therefore, SEO today should be content-focused with an emphasis on quality and publishing frequency. This will drive social signals and natural inbound links. For this reason, rankings are a trailing indicator of good content marketing. Download A Tale of Two Studies: Establishing Google & Bing Click-Through Rates to learn how organic rankings affect click-through rates.