A lot of emphasis is placed on the content of each individual page along with the overall content of the website by the various search engines. Ultimately it is this content that really determines what subject a page is on. In this regard search engines will do a fairly thorough analysis of every page that they find on your site as they crawl and index it.
Technically, what a search engine does, is perform an analysis of all the text (text and whole phrases) and other content that appear on the page, along with other meta data that is not normally visible to your site visitors but is on the page. A virtual map is then built from that analysis, allowing the search engine to show your page’s results when they match a search initiated by one of their users.
Technically, the map is sometimes referred to as a semantic map, and it tries to define the relationships between the words (and other content such as images, PDFs and documents) making up your page. By better understanding your page’s content, the search engines can deliver the best results to their users.
Pages with low or little semantic matches have a lower possibility of showing up in user SERPs (search engine results pages). The specific words you use, along with the overall theme for the
web page therefore play a fairly big role in how your site will perform in the search engines.
Pages are not however, just full of content. They contain other elements, such as navigational structures as well as content that may form part of your site’s template. While the search engines will not totally ignore such content, it nonetheless plays a smaller role in determining the page’s unique content and subject matter. The ‘real content’ on the page, is what the search engines will focus on though.
Given that the vast majority of web surfers are interested in an answer or information on a specific top, the unique content on a page is very important to search engines. Users are often less interested in being directed to a site where they need to carry out more searches, than they are in just getting to the right pages. As a result, navigation and other site thematic content that is important once the user has landed on your pages is far less important for SEO.
Search engines do try to judge the value of a site’s content based on how their users interact with the pages. For example, sites that bounce (users quickly return back to the search engines after following the link) users are going to be more penalized than sites with sticky pages. That said, the search engines do try and make inferences from the site’s pages.
Some questions that are considered include; Is the exact content (text in particular) available on other sites or is it unique? Is the unique content the entire article, or just a couple of sentences? Is there excessive use of the same keywords (a tactic used in the early days of SEO to try and fool search engines)?
In short, getting the right content, unique to your site, and with just the right amount of keyword usage is going to be important to any SEO effort, and cannot be ignored by anyone seriously intending to improve their site’s SEO performance.