Over the last few years, Google has moved towards favoring longer-form content. While search engine marketers have known about this phenomenon for a while, we have only just discovered why the search engine prefers longer-form content, and exactly how to create the type of long-form content that tends to rank well. In this article, you’ll learn how to create the “complete content” that makes Googles loves your website.
How To Create The “Complete Content” That Google Loves
Analyzing the top-ranking posts for high volume searches indicates that Google wants to rank articles that answer every possible question that a searcher may have on a given topic. The success of pillar content and “ultimate guides” is a testament to this.
These types of posts have been branded as being “complete content”. Articles that are “complete” tend to dominate the SERPs for both seed keywords and longer tails as Google seems to be giving a smaller range of content visibility but rather having these long-form articles monopolize the top of the SERPs.
It’s therefore vital that you start creating “complete content” if you want to have any success with a strategy based around organic search. Here we are going to explain exactly how Google measures the “completeness” of content, in order to know exactly what to put in an article to make it complete.
Why does Google prefer “complete content”?
Google’s preference for “complete content” stems from the search engine’s shift towards assessing the quality of webpages based on user engagement metrics and how it measures this engagement.
Google wants users to be able to end a search when clicking on the first piece of content that they deliver for any given keyword. If a user searches for a keyword, clicks on to a result, and then ends their search, then this indicates to the search engine that the webpage in question has provided the right answer to the user’s search.
Compare this to searches where a user clicks onto a webpage and then clicks back to the search engine results page (SERP) and then back into another search. The fact that a searcher has had to click onto a second page tells the search engine that the first page that they clicked on did not provide an adequate answer to their question. If this happens repeatedly then the page in question will be demoted in the SERP.
The main reason why users “pogo stick” from page to page is the discovery of new information from reading a piece of content usually leads to follow up questions. If an article fails to provide answers to these follow-up questions, then they will move onto another piece of content in order to answer them.
To satisfy the type of user experience that Google wants a piece of content to provide, your articles should therefore address and answer all the possible follow-up questions that could arise – in other words, create complete content.
How does Google measure the completeness of content?
Google has a number of ways that it assesses the completeness of the content. These measurements broadly fall into two categories. These are on-page factors and user-experience factors. Let’s run through them now.
A page’s word count gives some indication to Google about how complete an article is. A study by Neil Patel confirms the positive correlation between word count and average position in organic search:
While you should not pad out your articles with unnecessary words, looking at the word count of the top 3 or 4 ranking pages for a given topic gives you an idea of the amount of depth that is required to create a complete piece of content.
If you can, try to write articles that are slightly longer than what is already ranking. Again, make sure that you do not pad out your articles unnecessarily in order to do this.
The addressing of semantically related questions in a “topic cluster”
Google has become sophisticated enough that it lumps several related topics and questions together into one “topic cluster”.
When evaluating the completeness of a piece of content on a specific topic, the search engine will identify the larger “topic cluster” that the article falls into, and will look for evidence of you have addressed all the other questions within that cluster.
The more of these related questions and points you cover in your piece, the better you are likely to rank in Google.
When planning out a post, you should think about what wider topic the article falls into and brainstorm all the other related questions that arise out of that topic in order to answer them in your post.
User experience factors
As mentioned earlier having users click onto your page, bounce off, and then click on to another page in the same search will, if it happens regularly enough, tank your rankings.
This is avoided by leaving every stone unturned in your articles. If your competition covers the same topic as you do in a more comprehensive way then a degree of “pogo-sticking” is inevitable. Update your content regularly to ensure that you are always one step ahead of your competition in terms of how thorough your articles are.
“Search completion” (positive) to create complete content for Google
Every page on a website should have an intended “conversion goal”. This can be an email sign up, clicking through to another page of a website, or making a purchase.
Search engines are beginning to get a vague understanding of what conversion goals are for each webpage.
For informational searches and articles, such as blog posts, Google sees the goal of these pages as being to end the user’s search.
By “ending the user’s search” we mean that once reading a webpage, a user will either stay on a website or make a completely unrelated search.
This is essentially the opposite of “pogo-sticking” where a user continues their search after reading a webpage.
If a user completes their search when visiting your page, this tells Google that the page has answered the question comprehensively. The page thus completes its intended goal (in this specific context at least).
Dwell time and scroll depth (positive) to create complete content for Google
Google’s equation with dwell time (the length of time that a user spends on a page) and scroll depth (how far down a page someone reads) is one of the key reasons why the search engine has begun to give a preference for longer-form content.
Currently, it seems that Google reads a user spending a long time on a page as meaning that a user is engaging positively with an article and that the article in question is, therefore, satisfying a user’s search.
While longer-form articles do on average have a higher dwell time, you should not sacrifice conversions or other aspects of user experience in order to make your article longer.
Rather, the use of multimedia such as illustrative videos and infographics, and the use of tables of contents and jump-to sections can help improve your page’s dwell time and scroll depth without potentially lowering the quality of your article by padding it out unnecessarily.
How to create complete content For Google
Now we have looked at why Google prefers complete content, and how exactly the search engine measures the “completeness” of content, let’s take a look at how to create these types of articles.
While the best way of creating complete content would be to have a genuinely deep understanding of the topic. That you are writing about. There are some ways that you can “hack”. The creation of complete content even if you are not a topic expert. Here are some techniques on how to do this. Ideally, you want to be combining these methods to create the most thorough piece of content possible.
Use the “people also asked” box to discover topic clusters
Remember the concept of “topic clusters” that we discussed earlier on? Well, Google actually gives to a number of the questions that it believes are clustered together in a particular topic. Google gives you this in the “people also asked” box. That it displays at the top of a SERP when you type in a question:
The “people also asked” box for the question: “how to write a blog post”. These semantically related questions can give you an outline of the points. That needs to be covered in order to create a complete article on a topic.
Try to answer as many of the most relevant suggested questions as you can within a topic. Some of the questions that Google delivers to you in the “people also asked” box. Not relevant enough to merit inclusion in your article. So you will need to use some common sense when choosing what questions to answer.
Given that Google looks to whether you have addressed these semantically related questions. When assessing the completeness of your post. It is well worth putting these questions in H2 tags and dedicating specific paragraphs of your article. To answer the specific questions. This will ensure that Google can read that you are addressing these questions in your piece.
Make a note of any of your followers’ questions and answer them in your posts
Google’s “people also asked” tab will not exhaust all the potential follow up questions.
An excellent way to find more potential to follow up questions that someone may have. When reading one of your posts is through taking note of questions that come up. When speaking to your customers, or that your followers have when reading a particular piece.
You should write down any questions that come up when you speak to your customers. Segment these questions by topic. These questions should then be added to your post and answered.
If you have a comments section enabled on your website. A reader asks a question, you should edit your post in order to address that question. As well as answer the question directly in the comments when possible.
Look in forums for additional questions to answer
Forums such as Quora, Reddit. Those that are specific to your industry are an excellent place to find extra questions. In your blog posts in order to increase their completeness.
The reason why forums are such good places to find these types of questions. That people tend to ask questions on forums. When they have Googled a question and not found a satisfactory answer to it.
If you can add this question to an already comprehensive piece of content on a broader topic. So, answer it thoroughly, then you have both created an overall more complete piece of content. Then your competitors and you have likely won another visibility for anyone who searches for that question in the future.
Always look to one-up your competitors to create complete content for Google
Google’s preference for complete content has essentially created an arms race. Who can create the most thorough, useful piece of content on any particular topic?
Not keeping an eye on the other articles ranking for your keywords. Ensuring that you are always creating something better than they are, will see you slowly lose visibility over time. To keep up with your competitors you’ll need a page rank checker tool. It actually allows you to see how your pages rank for certain keywords, and in addition, you can check out your competition.
Make sure that you are always providing a more useful piece of content than those around you in the SERPs.
What is needed to create a better piece of content than your competitors depends on the search term in question?
Here are some of the more common ways that you can create more complete content.
- The searcher is asking a factual question, such as “what is the depreciation on a Ferrari”. Then it is worth doing some original research into this question and publishing the data on your post
- If a searcher is looking for instructions, such as “how to tie a tie”. Then a video going over how to do this in a step-by-step manner will be more complete.
- If a search calls for professional advice. Such as “how do I know if I need a filling”. Then interviewing a dentist and publishing what they have to say on the matter will be a better article. Then one that has no such professional input.
In short, you should try to ensure that your article provides the best answer. To a specific question on the internet.