Because Google says so…that’s why!
Well, that’s the easy answer. But it really doesn’t go into enough depth.
However, Google does make the rules of the internet. See this chart that shows the percentage of searches done on Google over the past year:
If you follow the above link and look back for years, the chart looks exactly the same. The only reason Baidu and Yandex get any market share lies in the fact that they serve China and Russia.
DuckDuckGo also gets an honorable mention. It averages around 30 million searches daily, but as you can see, that doesn’t even put a measurable dent in comparison to other leading search engines.
Even though Google enforces the rules, they really base their policies on what search users just like you and I want.
Everything you do through Google gets measured. Every time you click on a website. The length of time you stay on a website. The pages you visit or don’t visit.
Google collects all that data and compiles it into its search algorithm. So every action you take works like a little vote. And then Google figures out how to rank websites and return search results you like.
Understand that Google’s business model revolves around advertising. In 2018, for example, $24.1 billion of the company’s total Q3 revenue of $27.77 billion came from advertising.
If Google fails to return the best search results in comparison to other search engines, they have a lot of money to lose. So they work their tails off at making sure you get what you want and fast.
Google isn’t perfect. I’m sure you’ve clicked on really crappy and useless websites on Google’s first page and wondered,”How did that get there?”
Google still makes mistakes. People still figure out ways to manipulate it. But on the whole, it does a far better job than any other search engine. And that’s why people like you and I think of it first when we need to search, despite the availability of other search engines.
So now you understand why Google ranks websites the way it does. Take a look at what is arguably the most important ranking factor: consistently useful content.
How Do You Know Content Is So Important?
The amount of evidence, and the word directly from the mouths of the folks at Google, overwhelms.
You would have to be insane to claim anything else.
Google’s John Mueller is now the go-to when it comes to questions about the algorithm and how it ranks websites.
This tweet shows how he views what you should do to rank:
More on “awesomeness” later.
If you’re curious how much content affects your rankings, I have some additional evidence for you.
Backlinko, a leading SEO blog which studies what makes sites rank higher than others, found “Comprehensive content with a high “Content Grade” (via Clearscope), significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth.”
Neil Patel, an independent internet marketing thought leader, adds that it’s not necessarily the length of content that matters (although that helps), but really Google wants to see:
- Focus on a keyword
Finally, according to Content Marketing Institute, 56% of businesses increased their spending on content marketing in the past 12 months.
So you really have no question about content’s utility for ranking in search.
How Do You Make Content That Ranks High?
It’s not easy. Sit down sometime and try to write a 1500-word article on any topic you think your customers will like.
You’re smart and capable. But writing content takes a special skill all its own.
So, creating “awesomeness,” in the words of Google’s John Mueller, could mean a lot. And it means different things in various niches. So let’s go right to where you and I operate: the small and local business level.
You’ll find a big difference between how we and larger businesses treat content.
Slightly larger small businesses, like ones with several dozen or hundred employees, have a content budget. They publish regularly on their blog, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or whatever channel mix seems most useful for their market.
They may have a combination of in-house and contracted content writers. You get in-depth posts that contribute something specific and actionable.
The content can include custom graphics and videos. It’s basically like reading a magazine.
In other words, their audience, and Google, consistently have something to chew on.
Now at the small and local business level, anything can happen.
You have blogs that haven’t been updated in months. You have posts written in an awkward language (and littered with grammatical errors) by foreign writers with general information that doesn’t engage the audience.
And every once in a great while, you have a splendidly solid blog consistently updated with super-useful information that people read, use, and remember.
But effective blogs remain an exception, rather than a rule.
At the small and local business level, it’s not hard to create a barebones blog that provides genuine utility to your audience.
Create one post a month. That post has to be super-helpful. For example, if you rent dumpsters, teach your readers how to evaluate the associated costs.
And over time, you learn more stuff your customers want to know. You simply answer that in a blog post.
They read it. They remember you. Then they become a customer or share your content with their network later on down the line.
To understand what “awesomeness” means, you simply research your competitors. Then you top what they have. As long as you aim to give your customers the most value for their time, you’re doing awesome.
And of course, like any business process, you learn more about what your customers like and feed them more of that information.
How Content Generates More Customers
Most small business owners think customers come to their website, read a blog post, think, ”Oh my gosh. That’s the most awesome blog post I’ve read on that topic. How do I hire this company?” and then they use your website’s contact form or make a call.
That’s not how it works at all.
That’s how your sales pages work (home page, services pages). When potential customers come to those pages, they’re evaluating whether they should hire you.
So on those pages, you do want to be salesy and talk up the benefits your business delivers.
But on your blog, they just want an answer to a question.
In other words, when they read your blog, they’re a lot earlier in your sales cycle. They’re not ready to buy yet. They’re just researching, looking for answers.
You really can’t make a sale to blog readers right now. You’ll only scare them away because they’re just not ready to buy yet.
Think of it like asking for a long-term exclusive relationship with someone just minutes after meeting them on your first date. That’s strange. They don’t want that yet.
But, you can use your blog to build the relationship. Your blog is all about winning attention and staying in someone’s memory.
So, by consistently producing useful information, they have a reason to remember you and come back.
When someone else they know needs your service, they remember your name. They share your company name on social media. Or they tell someone in person.
And then you get the opportunity to turn that person into a paying customer.
Eventually, you might come to a certain point where one of your readers needs your service.
Well guess what?
Because you’ve spent time building trust and credibility by creating a useful blog, they already feel like they know, like, and trust you.
…And so you have a sky-high chance of being hired for the job.
Now, remember that your blog works for you 24/7/365. Many people can read it. So you have the potential to generate many customers from your blog.
And this creates a fly-wheel effect of positive momentum. The more useful your post, the more people who choose to click, share, and stay on the page for a longer time.
Those signals all tell Google you have something your market likes. And that means you climb up the search rankings.
That specific post benefits, and so do all the pages on your website. You’ve created something people want to find in search.
But it’s important to note that this process takes months. You can speed it up a little by marketing your post and getting it in front of more people.
However, the primary thing you can do to make it work is to create useful content your customers need.
And then everything spreads from there.
Unlike a salesman who sells just once and moves on, your blog sells for years. It could even sell for decades, assuming the information remains relevant and useful to your audience.
Just a Single Post Per Month Will Do
So, like I mentioned earlier, businesses with dozens of employees may have several writers creating a half-dozen or so blog posts monthly.
As a small and local business, you’ll be fine with just one post. Most importantly, it interests your customers. And if it makes them happy, you’ll please Google too.
That’s the simplest formula to staying at the top of Google’s rankings in 2020 and the foreseeable future.