Search marketers that have been in the game for a while will tell you that many times we’re not aware about what Google is brewing until a game-changing algorithm update is rolled out. When we’re lucky, Google opens up and lets us know what they’re planning next, like they did prior towards the end of 2014 before their mobile-friendly algorithm update was rolled out in April this year.
This is one of those lucky times for search marketers and business owners, since we have an idea of what Google has coming for 2016. What is coming is the Knowledge-based Trust (KBT) factor, which is likely to take effect early next year. Basically, Google will begin checking your content for factuality; not in the vague, inbound-link quality kind of way – they will literally check facts against their huge fact repositories.
The KBT score software was patented early this year, followed by a summary of how it is supposed to work, documented in February 2015. This should come as no surprise to you if you think about the fact that for many years Google has given Wikipedia special treatment in search results. An Intelligent Positioning study where 1,000 search queries were taken at random found that Wikipedia ranked among the top 10 results in 99% of the terms – and was at the top of 56% of those searches. In 96% of times Wikipedia ranked among the top five results.
Why do you think this is? Because Wikipedia has consistently proven themselves to be a reliable source of accurate, fact-based content compared to any other site on the Internet. Google is placing more and more emphasis on content quality and value, and factuality is a big part of both.
Demystifying Knowledge-based Trust
The KBT score software is a factor Google intends to add to its algorithm. This new software will be able to compare facts found on a website or a piece of content and compare them to known facts stored in Google’s fact repository: the Knowledge Vault. The Knowledge Vault has been populated over time with facts collected from different parts of the web.
This software will determine the number of incorrect facts found on each page – that part was very clear – and perform an analysis against the correct facts. Sites with fewer incorrect facts will be assigned a higher KBT score. Higher scores indicate more trustworthiness.
Sites that have few or no facts checked against the Knowledge Vault will not be penalized. You cannot, for instance, fact-check poetry. Consequently, this does not mean that poetry sites will automatically have low KBT scores. The only factual data that will be checked on a site like this would be publication data, author data, information on poetry structure etc. Sites that have no facts to be checked should theoretically have high KBT scores, since they don’t have incorrect facts.
Exactly how KBT score will be integrated to their search algorithm and how much weight it will carry remains unknown. One logical supposition is that KBT Score may be used in place of the Page Rank score, which assigns popularity to a page based on the number of inbound links to that page.
Implication of KBT on Content Marketing and SEO
The main purpose behind content creation and amplification, or content marketing is to create relevant content that will resonate with your targeted audience thereby attracting and retaining customers. Given the fact that KBT has yet to be implemented, we cannot say how KBT will affect content marketing.Although, given the information we have, we can make a few educated guesses.
- High Quality Content is Important for Search Ranking
This part is nothing new; in fact, Google has rolled out several updates to weed out sites with low-quality content using black and grey-hat methods to get high rankings. Once implemented, the KBT will only be an additional measure to cut away sites with poor, untrue and/or shallow content.
This one’s possibly the easiest to hack. As a thought leader and a business owner, invest in high quality, in-depth, factual and well-researched content. Long form articles are becoming more preferable over shorter articles that have been ruling the scene for the last few years – anything between 1400 and 1700 words is advisable, though anything as low as 1000 words is still passable. However, no major page on your site should have less than 300 words.
High quality content will not only please search engines, butit will also sell you among your audience and directly drive traffic from different sources to your site hopefully leading them to conversions. Which is really what you want, isn’t it?
One company, Inside Out used content marketing to improve their lead generation by more than 380%. The company, whose previous strategy focused on outbound sales-based messaging shifted focus towards creation of attention-grabbing and compelling content to bring in leads. Six months in, the company has 20% more click-throughs, 87% fewer un-subscribers, and 388% more leads.
- Free, High Quality Content is Vital for SEO
Sometime ago, there was a great debate regarding content provisioning. Then came Google’s directive about devaluation of content behind interstitials. Whether or not all content should be free is a debate for another time, but the main idea is that Google wants sites to offer accurate, high quality, relevant information FOR FREE.
Chris Brogan is a well-known blogger recognized and loved for providing a huge chunk of information, tips, and help free of charge. His rationale is that by providing helpful content for free, you set yourself to be able to sell your premium content. With KBT coming, sites like these are going to perform a lot better than sites that require subscriptions prior to content access.
Previously, gated content was ranked based on other attributes – e.g. if the site has high credibility, like an authority news site, then it would rank highly. However, for future success, website owners should provide high quality content for free, and then charge for premium content.
- Opinion Counts
Finally, as all sites move towards offering high quality factual content, there will be a greater thirst for unique information. The idea is to have factual content, but deliver it to your audience in a distinctive way, perhaps presenting it with an original perspective. This is what will help you propel your social engagement – a factor that can improve your ranking on SERPs.