In this short video, Matt Cutts explains how Google ascertains the value of content and how to rank it, if there isn’t many links to an article or post.
According to Cutts, it is necessary to understand how search engines work initially, before using links as a form of ranking signal. In cases like these, he says that Google would base part of its ranking assessment on whatever the text is on each page.
Generally speaking, Cutts breaks it down to the following rationale:
The first word would usually be counted more when compared to other words on the page.
The second time the same word is seen counts a little bit, but not much more.
Reoccurring instances of the same word would give Google the general impression that the page is about a particular topic that the word is related to.
He goes on to stress the importance of avoiding keyword stuffing, which may incur ranking penalties and also points out that another way that Google may assess page quality, is by checking if the domain itself is reputable.
Cutts suggests that if a page satisfies a somewhat obscure query, then Google may also return that page based on the fact that it is a term that someone has searched for.