What makes an article stick in the search results?
 by Kristi Hagen

What makes an article stick in the search results?

  • I sometimes see pages at the top of the search results that have been ranking well for a very long time, like 10 years or so. I'm wondering what makes some articles stick in the search results for years while others disappear rather quickly?


Although Google has never directly answered this question, we believe articles that "stick" have proven to provide the best answer to the search query over the long term.

Perhaps you've noticed new content that pops up to challenge the long term top results, only to fall back to lower ranking over time because, we believe, they don't generate the signals Google associates with "best answer."

So, what are the signals? It's safe to assume that time on Page is probably #1. Obviously, bounce backs and actual traffic levels are important factors as well.

It's probable that socially shared content (not necessarily a link) and/or bookmarked pages or even PRINTED pages are favorably noticed by Google's algorithm.

Another reason an article might stick around is when it offers an alternative viewpoint that also shows high quality signals. If Google can detect the differences semantically, it may choose to rank multiple viewpoints having them all compete against each other.

And then there's links, which can cement the deal by boosting a decent article to the level of an awesome ranking. However, you shouldn't expect a bad article to stick even if it has an assortment of "good" links. That's because it'll certainly need more than links and anchor text to become sticky in the long term.

Frankly, we're impressed at how "smart" the algorithm has gotten over the past few years. Gone are the days when we could take a top ranking article about, say, football, swap out the keywords and expect it to rank for almost any topic.SEN article end