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SEO is constantly changing but search ranking expert Eric Enge still says that everything else should take second priority to content quality and links. In a recent video discussion (below) and blog post, Eric explains how the Google Ranking Score intersects with the Google Content Score which results in a Google Link Score.

Eric Enge is General Manager of Perficient Digital, a full-service digital agency. Previously, Eric was the founder and CEO of Stone Temple which was acquired by Perficient in July 2018. Here’s how Eric explains Google’s current method for ranking content:

Google Considers Content and Links the Two Most Important Ranking Factors

Earlier this year I was part of a live hangout with Andre Ropeta of Google where he said that Google considers the two most important factors for ranking to be content and links to your site. I provided strong backup for the power of links in a study I published last year. From my experience, I think many organizations could dramatically improve their SEO just by creating better quality content and more effectively promoting it but so few bothered to do that.

Are Content and Backlinks All That Websites Need to Think About for SEO?

Of course, just thinking about content and backlinks for SEO would be a gross oversimplification. There are still a lot of other things you can do that will help your SEO. These are things like a better information architecture, making better use of SEO tags, good usability and all that. However, I think it’s undeniable that all of those take a second priority to content quality and links.

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How Do Content and Links Interact?

To keep it simple, let’s imagine a hypothetical set of scores for content and links. Here ’s an equation that depicts the possible relationship between those two things:

Ranking Score = Content Score * Link Score

Now let’s pop that plot that on a graph (below). Notice two things, first the Y-axis is labeled Chances of Ranking, not Ranking. We’re dealing with probabilities here, the higher in the curve you are the more probable it is that you will rank high, but of course, they’re never any guarantees.

Second, notice that I’ve made the content score way more influential than the linked score. Think about it, if your content isn’t at least good quality and it doesn’t do a good job of satisfying your users’ query or if it provides a poor user experience then it really shouldn’t have any chance of ranking in the first place, no matter how many links you get.

While links are very powerful for establishing the basic authority of a page, Google is smart enough to know that they don’t tell the whole story. That’s why Google is invested so much in being able to discern the quality and appropriateness of content.

How Should Websites Apply This in a Practical Way?

My goal with my two step ranking model is to simplify SEO for most people without oversimplifying it. But making it simple in no way implies there’s not a lot of hard work to be done in order to be successful, far from it. It comes down to the two things that have always been true for successful companies, make really good stuff and market it effectively.

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In the case of content marketing, the good stuff is the content that goes above and beyond in creating delight, trust, and respect in your target audience. The marketing part is effectively sharing and promoting that content and getting it in front of the right eyes and if it’s really good that’s where the earned linked opportunities kick in.

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