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How Do Google and Facebook Measure Your Content's Quality?
Posted on April 11th 2014
Find out how your content compares, plus three quick changes you can make right now. Quality is a popular content marketing buzzword at the moment and quality content can be loosely defined as content that online users find valuable. Since so much of content is routed through Google and Facebook, and since they're both recently dramatically updated the way they identify and promote quality content, we thought now's the perfect time to look at how they do it (see also: What the New York Times Can Teach You About Quality Content).
How Do Google And Facebook Rank Content? The aim of both Google and Facebook is to show users content that they want to see and share with others. When searching for quality, these are the signs that they look out for:
- Number of times content is liked or shared: This gives a strong indication of how many people enjoyed the content.
- Source of content: Does it come a trusted authority on the subject?
- Uniqueness: Is the content fresh and original?
How Google Sees Quality in Content
Google's algorithm has traditionally relied on the presence of keywords to identify content's topic and how relevant it is to a particular search query. Content that contains the keywords used in the search query is identified as relevant (see also: How to Make Sure Your Content’s Quality is Suitable for Google News).
One of the first quality control measures Google introduced was to downgrade content with too many keywords, as these pages are usually spam sites trying to artificially inflate their search rankings. Counting and classifying backlinks is another strategy that Google has used for many years to find quality content. Content that is linked to from many other high-quality pages is likely to be high quality. Conversely, pages with few backlinks and those whose links are all from poor-quality sites are likely to be low quality.
Google's advice: Create a site that offers real value to your readers, add links to other relevant sites where appropriate. Wait for links back to your site to organically develop, rather than participating in link-exchange programs. If Google's algorithm analyzes the patterns of links between your site and others and realizes that you are part of a scheme to artificially create backlinks, your site will likely be penalized in the search rankings.
Authority is becoming increasingly important in the way that Google classifies content. Google Authorship offers a way for bloggers and other writers to quickly establish themselves as experts in particular fields, by allowing them to officially claim ownership of all their articles, regardless of where they are published. This way, Google can judge a new post based on the quality of previous work by the same author.
How Facebook Sees Quality in Content
Facebook once delivered all your friends' posts and photos to your news feed in the order that they were posted, but that's changed. The news feed now organizes content by how interesting readers find it. Facebook makes content visible if it has a lot of likes, comments and shares, as these actions are a sign that the content is something that many people enjoy seeing.
Recently, Facebook has changed its algorithm to give more visibility to content from high-quality sources, such as well-established news sites, and less visibility to sites that exist purely to elicit Facebook likes and shares, such as Upworthy and ViralNova, which do not create their own original content. Facebook also learns what individual users want to see on their news feeds. Users are encouraged to give feedback, such as "Don't show me content like this," which Facebook uses to decide how to display posts to a particular user.
To some extent, Google does the same thing, altering the ordering of search results based on the searcher's location and past clicks, but the amount of data that Facebook holds about its users means that it has the potential to deliver content that is not only high quality, but also highly relevant to the person viewing it.
3 Quick Changes You Can Make Right Now
- Improve SEO by focusing on searchable key phrases, not keywords, in your content.
- Register for Google Authorship to claim your blog post under your name.
- Quality beats quantity in both algorithmic changes. How does that help? You don't have to produce a piece of content if you're not in love with the idea.
Keeping ahead of the changes in Google and Facebook's algorithms is dizzying, made more daunting when you add other social media and search platforms. There's good news, though. All these changes are trending towards valuing good content, so, as long as you're committed to quality, you won't be left in the dust. Scripted readers, how do you make your content quality-checked for Google and Facebook? Share your thoughts with us below!