In an interesting article posted this week, SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin, posted his theories about a possible new feature to Google’s algorithm which measures the authenticity and passion in the content of a page.
Rand believes this new algorithm – however it might work – is ranking the more personal and passionate pages higher than the much bigger, commercial sites.
Although purely a theory, Rand’s thoughts have sparked much talk in the SEO world about what it is that Google is gauging, and what elements of a site are picked out for being more relevant than others.
Is there a direct correlation between the passion of a page’s content, and its ranking?
Rand – and many other SEO professionals – have noticed that small, niche websites with absolutely no traces of SEO have been ranking particularly high, above those with more domain authority and social metrics.
Based on not much more than a ‘gut feeling’, Rand thinks Google may looking at the ‘about’ or ‘contact’ pages of a site, to ensure it’s created by an actual person or team of people. If this were true, this would mean that smaller sites created for a particular hobby or passion, would be favoured over the corporate search-engine optimised sites.
Other thoughts on this theory include the belief that Google may be penalising the ‘over-optimised’ sites, trying to give the smaller sites – which often contain quality, engaging content – a chance in the competitive market.
Our own Director of Search, Patrick Altoft, recognises that the authenticity or passion of a site is not something which can be measured by a machine or algorithmic system. Rather, he believes those who are sincerely enthusiastic about their site and run them as a hobby, are more likely to often do lots of little things which contribute to making them far better sites.
Others believe that sites which have been optimised really quickly don’t stand as well against sites which have grown in popularity slowly, as the sudden optimisation is almost a false reputation.
Something to look out for…
Of course, none of these theories can be backed up with hard-hitting evidence, as we’ll never know exactly what it is that search-engines look for. But although it’s not (yet!) a rule-of-thumb to add to your SEO strategy, it’s certainly interesting to get a hint that Google may be taking a step towards rewarding quality content, written by people genuinely passionate about the subject.
By the very nature of search-engines, they’ll be trying to provide you with the most relevant results – the results they think you’ll want to see. Therefore, their algorithms will be evolving to try and show you engaging, informative content; rather than stilted, unoriginal content packed full of keywords.
Although not yet proven, perhaps what Rand’s theory has sparked is a gentle reminder that when writing content for websites – whether for SEO or not – remember that you’re writing for people, not machines.