Google's "Good Writing" Content Filter

by Joel Walsh

The web pages actually at the top of Google have only one thing clearly in common: good writing. The usual SEO sacred cows and bugbears, such as PageRank, frames, and JavaScript, seem to matter little or possibly not at all.

I was recently struck by the fact that the top-ranking web pages on Google are consistently much better written than the vast majority of what one reads on the web. Yet traditional SEO wisdom has little to say about good writing. Does Google, the world's wealthiest media company, really rank web pages based primarily on arcane technical criteria such as keyword density, link text, or even PageRank?

Apparently not.

Most Common On-the-Page Website Content Success Factors

I looked at Google's top five pages for the five most searched-on keywords, as identified by WordTracker on June 27, 2005. Typically, the top five pages receive an overwhelming majority of the traffic delivered by Google.

The web pages that contained written content (a small but significant portion were image galleries) all shared the following features:

SEO "Do's" and "Don'ts" that Don't Really Matter

A hard look at the results slaughters a number of SEO bugbears and sacred cows. PageRank. The median PageRank was 4. One page had a PageRank of 0. (Note that the low PageRank would seem to discount the idea that these pages owe their ranking completely to numerous incoming links.) Frames. The top two web pages listed for the most searched-on keyword employ frames. JavaScript-formatted internal links. Most of the websites use JavaScript for their internal page links. Keyword optimization. Except for two pages, keyword optimization was conspicuous by its absence. In more than half the web pages, the keyword did not appear more than three times, meaning a very low density. Many of the pages did not contain the keyword at all. Sub-headings. On most pages, sub-headings were either absent or in the form of images rather than text. Links: Most of the web pages contained ten or more links; many contain over 30, in defiance of the SEO bugbears about "link popularity bleeding." Moreover, nearly all the pages contained a significant number of non-relevant links. On many pages, non-relevant links outnumbered relevant ones. Text content: a significant number of pages contained little or no text. These pages were almost all image galleries (there was one Flash movie), with the images being photographs of the subject covered by the keyword. Originality: a significant number of pages contained content copied from other websites. In all cases, the content was professionally written content apparently distributed on a free-reprint basis. Note: the reprint content did not consist of content feeds. However, no website consisted solely of free- reprint content. There was always at least a significant portion of original content, usually the majority of the page.


About the author
Joel Walsh is the owner, founder and head-writer of UpMarket Content. To read more about website content best practices, get a consultation with Mr. Walsh, or get a sample page for your site at no charge, go to the SEO website content page:

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