Google updates the algorithm that it uses for search engine rankings regularly. In January 2020, it released one of the most impactful core updates yet, and by understanding its new search criteria, you can boost your search engine ranking tremendously. And the best part is, there’s not much extra effort involved.
By continuously gathering data on the usefulness and relevance of search engine results to users, Google is able to consistently improve its search algorithm in order to ensure it rewards both users and website providers for making the internet a more content-friendly place. This change is set to increase the quality of online data.
Google Algorithm Update — What Has Changed?
While Google’s algorithm previously predominantly prioritized keyword usage, backlinking, relevance and layout (shorter paragraphs and relevant graphics), and to a smaller extent content quality, the new algorithm brings a far stronger focus to the quality of a site’s content. If you focus on nothing else, quality is king!
Although, most responsible and ethical content creators will have always had their eye on the human rather than the algorithm, this update should start to weed out (to a further extent) the keyword stuffers and serial backlinkers.
As a result, not only should we, as quality content creators, start benefiting by ranking higher in search results but we will also benefit in our roles as search engine users by receiving search results of improved quality. This will save time and reduce frustration.
5 Reasons Why Quality Content Is Now More Important Than Ever
Google is now prioritizing content that is original, substantial, and insightful. That means content that is written by you (or a ghostwriter on your behalf) and the piece should really get into the “meat” of the topic. Personal insights from a professional perspective are encouraged.
The algorithm update no longer rewards content if it is copied and pasted from other sites. If you want readers to value your content highly, then you need to provide them with your own content. If your site is filled with copied information from other sites (even if they are referenced), they may as well go to that site.
Google now requires headlines to be highly relevant to the content and clickbait headlines will see your content being deprioritized. This has always been rather important but the new algorithm does place additional emphasis on well thought-out, relevant headlines.
The algorithm seeks out content that is factual, error-free and could be trusted as a backlinking source or reference for other sites. This is vital; if your website is consistently found to be posting content that cannot be verified, you may be flagged by Google. While we all make the odd grammar error occasionally, there are many free spelling and grammar checking websites to use to ensure your content is error free. If in doubt, use a ghostwriter, or hire an editor.
Google seeks to reward sites that are producing content for a specific purpose instead of mass producing text. It is important to select a niche for your website, and if you decide to change tacks, start a completely new site as posting about dieting on a tech blog will not sit well with the new algorithm.
Quality Content for SEO Defined
Quality content solves a problem. Problem-solving is the entire reason that people engage with brands. Your reader will click on your article because your headline tells them you have information they want or a solution to their problem.
The starting point of any piece of quality content is: what problem am I hoping to solve? The end point for your creation process should always be: have I solved the problem that I set out to solve? The “problem” could be:
- A literal problem, for example, “How do I create a blog?” or “How do I train my dog?”
- A desire for additional information on a topic that the reader is interested in.
- An answer to a problem the reader may not be aware of; for instance, a reader searching for information on how to create a blog will find your article on blog monetization.
In answering your reader’s problem, your content should illustrate your passion for the subject and expertise around the topic. While focusing on trending topics in your space is a good idea, that is not the only route to take in creating quality content.
Some of the other aspects of quality content are spelling, grammar, correct formatting, good flow of layout, and interesting graphics and diagrams.
An interesting aspect of the problem-solving quest, as applies to Google, is that data shows that 49 percent of all Google searches do not result in a click-through to a site. This is because Google understands problem-solving, and they have become really good at it. Users are, therefore, finding many of the answers to their questions on the search results page.
This doesn’t mean that Google is “stealing” traffic from you; it simply means that you need to get even better at creating stand-out titles and meta descriptions. It also means that, in the future, much of the traffic you do get will be more qualified than before.
What Does This Mean for You?
The update to Google’s algorithm means that although standard SEO techniques are still important, major focus must be placed by the content creator on the value that a reader will glean from the content. As you scroll through your content, ask yourself what your reader will leave with at the end of the article.
If you were previously focusing predominantly on keywords and other SEO tools, this change means you will need to shift your mindset. If you do not change with Google’s expectations, your discoverability will undoubtedly suffer.
A Checklist for Improving Your Search Engine Ranking
When creating content, Google suggests you ask yourself some of the following questions in order to ensure you are creating content, which will be rewarded by their algorithm and provide value to internet users:
- Can my readers trust the information in this article? Is it factual and clear and would I be comfortable reading this out loud in front of a physical audience of people and then answering their questions afterwards?
- Does this article significantly overlap other content on my website? Do not duplicate content and simply change a few keywords to save time. This doesn’t provide your readers with value.
- Is my article free from stylistic, spelling, and factual errors? Use a free, online spelling and grammar checker to be sure; your word processor’s checker may not catch everything.
- Does my article provide substantial value when compared to other content that may also rank in this search query? Are you providing information or insights that others aren’t, or have you simply rewritten content from another source?
- Do I have an excessive number of adverts on my website that interfere with my reader’s experience of my content? There is nothing more frustrating than attempting to navigate an article with adverts after every paragraph.
How Can I Benefit?
If you are already in the habit of producing quality search engine optimized content, then you should continue to do exactly that. If you would like to give your website or blog an initial boost in this algorithm, you could use the services of a professional SEO content creation company such as The Urban Writers.
The Urban Writers offers six tiered SEO article packages ranging from a single article to 30 articles. The packages include the following services:
- A professional SEO copywriter and editor
- SEO titles and meta description
- Quick website analysis
- Main keyword optimization
- Up to four sub-keywords included in your copy
- Page links and optional FAQs
- 1 - 30 SEO-friendly articles depending on the package you select
If you are starting a new website or blog, the 30-article package could provide you with months of content depending on your release schedule, leaving you free to focus on other tasks.
Whether you choose to write the articles yourself or use a professional SEO content company, keep your focus on the user experience and the value that you are adding to the reader.
Check out the Competition
As at the publication of this article, the new Google algorithm is already in full swing. To get an idea of the type of content that you need to rank against, search a few of your industry-related trending topics (you can check these out in Google Trends).
Spend some time going through the first three websites that appear on the results page, paying attention to some of the following criteria:
- The article headlines — are they relevant and descriptive? What draws my eye to certain headlines?
- The article topics — are they diverse with little subject overlap?
- The type of information in the articles — did you learn anything new?
- Is this the type of website you would backlink to if they weren’t your direct competition? Does it scream “professional and trustworthy”?
The idea behind this is not to copy your competitors, but rather to get a feel for the level of content that Google is rewarding in your industry space. By doing this, you can get a feel for what valuable content looks like and then create your own with your unique slant. No matter what your goals are, someone else has already walked the path before you; there is no harm in learning from the route they took.
While the internet is built on code and algorithms, it is used by humans and this is something that must be kept in mind when developing your website and creating your content. A user-friendly website with quality content is the strongest foundation for digital success. Remember, you are not creating content for algorithms; you are creating content for people!
Google’s latest algorithm update is a major boon for creators of quality content and, when used in conjunction with SEO techniques such as keyword incorporation, backlinking, and headline optimization, you could soon be ranking higher than ever before.