There have been 100's of blog posts discussing the importance of content as a ranking factor in the last couple of years following Google's release of the Panda update to their algorithm. However, the importance of content on long tail keyword focused web pages was really brought home to me the other day.
I was reviewing the click thru rates to our site for various keyword queries. A result that really caught my attention was that queries for the term "Mac Duggal Size Chart" are only producing a 45% click thru rate to MacDuggal.com. This raised the question of "why is a search on this branded term producing a click thru rate of less than 50%?"
The answer to the low click thru rate was pretty easy to uncover. Searching on Google and Bing showed that one of our authorized retailers was outranking our site and had the top search result position for this branded term.
The next question was "how could one of our retailers be outranking us for this branded term?" The answer seems to be that their Mac Duggal Size Chart page features more and better content than our does. The other site includes a content section on "tips for measurements" in addition to the size chart, and our page only feature a size chart.
While there are myriad other factors that are likely influencing this ranking result, and I may be jumping to an incorrect conclusion based on a single anecdotal outcome, this seems to serve as a good demonstration of just how important on-page content has become in ranking well for long tail search terms. The fact that another site could outrank us for this branded term has the appearance of being a dramatic demonstration of the importance of on-page content as a ranking factor. In this case, the other site has obtained the top ranking for a term associated with purchase intent, so this result is probably generating good value for them.
Providing viewers with relevant on-page content on long tail keyword focused pages has almost certainly become a critical search engine ranking factor. While the "Mac Duggal Size Chart" example is admittedly thin evidence to prove the importance of content as a ranking factor, it is the type of correlation that has made a believer out of me. Adding the deepest content about a subject to a keyword targeted webpage almost certainly enhances the likelihood of a high ranking.