Google wants to be sure the way websites are ranked in its results reflect the highest level of integrity. The days of purchasing 500 links and appearing at number one in the results are over. While certain obviously lame SEO tactics have long since been exposed, many still do wonder what Google looks for when placing certain sites higher than others.
Sam Tabar (thumbtack.com) has found that google is not very forthcoming in terms of exactly what it looks for and what specific criteria is employed. In general, we do know one thing. Google is putting a huge emphasis on quality above all else. Anyone who thinks they can publish spun or copied content is going to be in for a rude awakening. Not only will the site suffer in the rankings, a risk exists the website could be booted from Google completed. Once a site is de-indexed, well, it is not likely the site is going to get many visitors. For commercial websites, that could end up being devastating.
So, what does quality content entail? While Google is not specifically mentioning what it considers to be high quality, we can use common sense to infer what the search engine is looking for.
Original content that is well-written and fairly lengthy is going to rank over rehashed, cursory content. Why would Google reward poorly written versions of something better that is already published. Presenting quality work with unique ideas is always going to do better than rehashed material.