If you haven’t heard, Google recently released an update to its algorithm. The changes, designed to increase the visibility of helpful content, will impact search rankings for existing and future digital media.
You could say that Google’s update is more of a qualitative approach to evaluating and ranking content. This means that the search engine optimization and content marketing strategies you’re used to may not hold as much weight. Instead, search engine rankings will prioritize quality and whether the content is relevant to audiences’ needs.
Businesses that rely on content marketing and SEO strategies can get caught off guard by any algorithm change. Content audits can help, but companies must also pivot and revamp their approach to creating and publishing online material. Before you throw in the towel, here are some ways to improve your SEO in light of Google’s latest changes.
1. Audit Content From the Audience’s Point of View
Google’s update rewards content that delivers valuable original insights that address search intent. Say someone sustains a work-related injury and wants to research their legal rights. A piece that glosses over the basics might not give enough details to satisfy search intent. More than likely, content like this will prompt readers to keep searching.
To rank, your previous law firm SEO tactics may have homed in on keywords and keyword phrases for search intent. But now you have to think about the questions people might be looking to answer. Often these questions will be something like, “Can I sue my employer if I get injured on the job?” Your audience’s search intent can also contain multiple questions that feed off each other.
Another question about work-related injuries might be, “Who pays my medical bills if my employer says I was at fault?” You can make improvements or remove unhelpful materials by auditing your content from your audience’s point of view. Any future pieces you create can also build on what your target audience needs and add human-driven insights. Including personal stories and knowledge from direct experiences strengthens content and displays empathy.
2. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
It’s no secret that AI is influencing the world of content marketing. AI tools, including those that write content, do provide some benefits. These tools can help writers generate ideas, create outlines, and correct errors. AI can also allow content creators to work more efficiently or facilitate scaled content strategies.
With scaled content strategies, creators may look for opportunities to repurpose existing materials. They might also start writing pillar content, which begins with a general topic and builds on it with subtopics. The idea is to have more content assets so there’s a higher chance of ranking. A second goal with scaled content strategies is to reach larger percentages of target audiences. More assets can equal a greater chance of being seen, read, or watched.
While scaled content strategies aren’t necessarily the wrong path to take, relying solely on AI to produce content might be. Technology can create materials faster with only a few keywords or phrases. However, Google’s update takes a fairly dim view of content that looks like it’s been written by machines. If you are going to use AI, be sure to supplement its efforts with a human touch. Focus on increasing quality instead of hitting a specific number of assets.
3. Use Analytics and Qualitative Data for Insights
Monitoring content performance according to analytics might be something you’re already doing. Trends in organic traffic volumes can reveal whether your content is showing up in search results. Traffic boosts from organic sources could indicate your titles and meta descriptions are compelling enough to get people to click. Lower bounce rates typically show your digital media is relevant to readers’ needs.
Content performance analytics on a granular level usually reveal insights about how a business’s content satisfies its audience. Low-performing pieces might need more time to attract readers, or they could be irrelevant and unhelpful. In some cases, low-performing content can uncover opportunities to bring pieces more in line with audience intent. Comparing which content performs well over time and which materials don’t may reveal differences that point toward why.
That said, you often have to dig deeper than the numbers to figure out why content performance varies. Pulling out themes from readers’ comments, observing engagement levels, or surveying blog subscribers are ways to gather qualitative data. You can also practice social listening and see how similar target audiences react to your competitors’ content. Social listening may add more context and understanding about audience intent and what drives readership.
4. Create Content for People, Not Search Engines
Organizations sometimes create content that rehashes trending topics or popular keywords. The goal is to increase traffic, gain a larger audience, or even go viral. Perhaps sales will also get a lift by drawing more attention to the company’s name. But this approach can backfire under the new algorithm because trending topics don’t always match what a business does.
Creating content related to whatever subjects are popular at the moment isn’t providing helpful information for target audiences. It’s creating assets for search engines instead of people. Straying away from your company’s core competencies or unique selling points may signal that you’re simply trying to generate traffic. Unless you have expertise in a subject area or niche, it’s best to stick with what you know.
If you’re a cybersecurity company, it doesn’t make sense to start blogging about inflation’s impact on holiday spending. Yes, the topic is popular, but leave it to the economic and retail experts. Otherwise, you risk alienating or confusing your target audience and coming across as artificial. There’s also the chance your piece will disappear into a crowded content space. Instead, lean on your actual expertise to advise audience members on how to keep their personal data secure during the online shopping season.
With Google’s latest update, your company’s SEO and content marketing strategies will need to shift. While some may welcome the change to more qualitative ranking criteria, others might have to rethink their SEO efforts. Helpful, distinctive content that aligns with audiences’ needs stands a better chance of rising to the top.
Follow Techiemag for more Technology News.