The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s often true with Google and the updates they make to their search engine algorithms. Google frequently tweaks its search engine and the results it produces – but at its heart, the search engine’s primary functioning and aims remain the same. Google aims to deliver the highest quality content possible to search users, and thus, most of the algorithm tweaks (including the Helpful Content Update) serve that mission.
Among other things, Google’s updates emphasize the importance of high-quality, in-depth content. If you’re just scratching the surface, you need to change things up and take a deep dive. When possible, you’ll want to bring your genuine expertise to the table. Focusing on niches can help. It’s also smart to examine competitors and to ask, “How can I do this…but better?”
Many SEO experts and content marketing services strive to stay on top of Google’s changes. We’ll give you all the information you need to make sense of this update and recover your rankings moving forward.
Write for People, Not Search Engines
Google wants to provide users with relevant, high-quality solutions to their problems.. This means that all of their algorithms are designed to uncover, present, and rank the highest-quality content. Crucially, this is considered from the reader’s point of view. While Google’s search engine can’t think or feel like a human reader, it does its best job to uncover content that humans will find useful.
Some websites and writers write content that they think will appeal to the search engine, rather than the reader. In the past, this often meant keyword stuffing (placing an over-the-top amount of keywords into content) or writing long, long chunks of mostly useless and repetitive content. These so-called “black hat” tricks can sometimes fool search engines, but the results are almost always temporary.
Google knows that some writers will try to game the system, so the algorithm knows to keep an eye out for black hat SEO tactics. Instead of giving a webpage a high rank for keyword stuffing, for example, Google might bury the page in the backwoods of the SERP.
How can you avoid such a fate? First, you’ll want to ditch any black hat tactics, if you happen to be using them. Second, you can stay in Google’s good graces by simply writing quality content that appeals to humans. Each paragraph, each sentence, and each word should add value to readers – and ideally, “help” them. Accomplish that, and you can potentially secure and maintain good rankings; even as the algorithms evolve, you can stick at or toward the top.
Consolidate Existing Content
When it comes to helping users, making sure all the relevant information is on one page can go a long way. You don’t want users having to search through page after page to find answers, especially if you can present it all in one place. If you happen to have a lot of smaller pages, you should consider consolidating all the information on a single page.
Of course, you shouldn’t simply cut and paste. Remember, you’ll want to help your readers as much as possible. That means building a cohesive piece of content that flows well and minimizes repetition. Consider telling stories to tie everything together, or offering thought experiments, examples, and other illustrations of ideas. Content marketing services can help you craft world-class content.
Creating a media-rich site with infographics, beautiful images, and other assets can also make a big difference. As with written content, if you’ve got a lot of media floating around on your website, consider consolidating some of it onto relevant pages and in the appropriate articles. Your SEO services provider can run an analysis/audit to determine whether multiple pages might be cannibalizing your traffic or which page is already ranking well and is a better candidate for expansion.
Remove Unhelpful Content
Out with the bad and in with the good. If you’ve got low-quality or unhelpful content on your website, now is the time to put it out to pasture. Increasingly, Google emphasizes quality and is, in some ways, deemphasizing quantity. Of course, more helpful content is better, but more low-quality content could hurt your site.
Be honest when making appraisals and ask yourself, “Is this really adding value to readers?” If the answer is no, then the solution is obvious: It’s time to cut the content. You might also rework the content to improve it, but make sure you remain honest regarding the quality. You can work with content marketing services to evaluate your existing content and identify good candidates for pruning.
Cutting content can be difficult, but it can lead to improvements in your search engine rankings. Google will often recognize and reward those websites that emphasize quality. Even if your site featured poor content in the past, you and the right content marketing services provider can turn things around. By focusing on quality content and ditching what doesn’t actually serve your site, there’s a good chance that Google will look at your efforts favorably.
Monitor Content Performance
You’ll want to monitor your content, including rankings for keywords, organic traffic, and other metrics. Keep in mind that changes sometimes won’t be observed for at least a few weeks or even months. Even if it seems like nothing is changing, be patient. More time may tell a different story.
Don’t panic if you initially see results worsen. This sometimes happens, especially after an algorithm update, even if you’re doing everything right. If you’re observing long-term declines, however, it’s important to isolate that content and try to figure out what might have gone wrong.
Conversely, if you’re seeing dramatic improvements with some keywords, pages, or pieces of content, it’s smart to analyze the situation to see if you can find difference-makers. What makes these high performers different? If you uncover insights, you or your hired content marketing services agency should try implementing them on other pieces of content. Then you can monitor these pieces to see if they improve.
Get Used to Change
The search engine algorithms Google will use in a few years will look different from the algorithms in use right now. Change is a constant, but you can safely bet that Google will continue to focus on providing readers with the best quality content. If you follow suit by creating unique and high-quality content, putting readers first, and doing whatever you can to help them, you can boost Google’s perception of your site.
Let’s step back for a moment and acknowledge an important truth: Google will continue to update its algorithms in the future, and this will impact rankings. By focusing on crafting excellent content that adds value to readers, you can stay afloat amid the sea of change. Even if you take a temporary hit, and some content gets knocked down a bit, if you emphasize quality for human readers, you can keep on swimming. Don’t have time to stay on top of Google’s updates or not sure if your content is up to par? Contact us right away for content marketing services to impress both human readers and Google’s search algorithms.