Content remains king in internet marketing. This year, Google made a change that shows just how important quality content has become.

Earlier this year, the search engine giant shut down Google PageRank from public view. The tool, used by websites to determine how highly Google ranked them as a site with authority on a topic, focused more on links and amount of content, not as much on quality.

With this change, many believe Google has put the focus on crediting sites that consistently create quality content.

How Google PageRank Worked

Google PageRank assigned a number between 0 and 10 to provide a value to a website’s overall authority. The tool also weighed the value of inbound links to a site. Google created the tool very early on, making it different than other search engines that it competed with at the time.

Unfortunately, ranking pages in this way led to what people in SEO call “black hat” strategies. They include such actions as selling links to improve PageRank performance or putting links into comment sections on other sites. Other also published a wealth of content, much of it not high on quality.

While the scores now are not visible to the public, Google still will use the PageRank tool internally as part of its overall algorithm for ranking sites. That also includes such factors as site speed, meta tags and domain history.

However, without access to page rank numbers, many website site owners now must turn to third party companies such as Moz to estimate where they stand on page ranking.

A Shift In Focus

Exactly how websites rank in Google search engine results intentionally remains something of a mystery. However, one easy way to determine where your site stands involves simply looking at where you rank when searching for certain keywords and phrases.

Also, most webmasters agree that certain areas should be focused on to improve rankings with Google. They include:

  • Quality content. Coming up with content ideas and getting them produced has never been an easy task, but it is almost impossible to “game” doing so. Google gives credit for sites that produce content users want or need, not just content for content’s sake.
  • Engagement. Do users come to the site and stay? Do they return to the site because they find the content engaging and useful? These issues can help drive your standing in search engine results.
  • Social signals. Do users of your site share content they find compelling on social media? Social signals measure how much users share content on social platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These provide Google clear indications of what content users find compelling.

Of course, exactly what factors Google uses to rank websites – and how those factors weigh relative to one another – remain unknown. Most estimate Google uses hundreds of factors. But consistent, quality content certainly has become a dominate issue. Focusing on content that users engage in and want to share is a smart move for webmasters.