John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, once tweeted that the #1 ranking factor is “awesomeness.” He meant that content must stand out and be the kind of thing someone would bookmark or share on Facebook.
While the technical side of SEO is critical, Google has repeatedly said that the user remains at the center of its innovations and updates. In addition to core updates like the May 2020, the search giant continuously carries out thousands of minor updates every year to help improve the search experience for users.
For SEO experts, writers, and marketing specialists, this constant change can be a bane or a boon. We have seen major websites hit hard by core updates and lose tens of positions in ranking, mostly because they overlooked one thing or another in their content production strategy.
Here are some expert tips on how to make sure your content survives future updates and outperforms the billions of pages already out there.
1. The User is the Key
All of Google’s algorithm changes to date have all had one goal; to improve user experience. We can reasonably expect future updates to be similarly user-oriented, but how do you make sure that your content stays appealing and valuable?
- Anticipate user needs. Right now, we are seeing user needs change from long-form, in-depth content to shorter but informative pieces. Users aren’t looking for less value, just fewer words; learn to anticipate and meet such trends.
- Gain the user’s trust. It is important to come across as a credible and authoritative source, and one of the best ways is to create topical relevance. Be diligent in creating related content and across as a subject matter expert.
- Be unique. A lot of the content online is regurgitated from other sources. It’s tough to be unique when there are billions of web pages and millions more being created every day, but a little extra effort always goes a long way to add value. Instead of mass producing your content, take time to craft polished content based on facts, established data, and scientific evidence. It takes more time and effort, but the results are worth it.
- Write for people. It’s sad that many leading brands are still creating content to rank, instead of writing for the user. We already have AI tools that can create perfect SEO content, but the truth is that your audience will be the judge of the quality of your content. Create engaging content that is funny, relatable, conversational, and quotable if you will outperform your competition.
2. Content Presentation
Google values quality content presentation because it affects user experience. We have all seen those fishy sites with tiny fonts, suspicious images, and endless ads. Depending on your industry, you should always think about how to make your content easier to consume and digest.
One way to think about the presentation is to imagine what you would want the content to look like if it was actually published in a magazine. You would want high-quality images, gorgeous layouts, and easy-to-read fonts. You would also want it to be free of grammar and styling issues.
Secondly, think about how the content displays. We have seen mobile devices outnumber PCs in the past few years, which makes responsiveness a crucial factor. For example, you don’t want ads obscuring your content. The same thing applies to podcasts, videos, infographics, and other non-text content – make sure that it is worthy of the user’s attention.
3. Content Quality: Develop Expertise
Many content creators today have the same production methodology: research top ranking websites, rewrite the information gained, and you have a new piece that is “greater than the sum of its parts”. This patchwork content strategy works great, but there is an even bigger demand for original and reliable content.
One reason why big brands are unbeatable is that they have the resources to commission studies and research projects. This gives them the authority to become subject matter experts instead of just citing the same sources used by everybody else.
If you can’t create original content in this manner, at least make sure that your content is written by someone who knows the subject well. Anybody can research a topic and come across as an expert, but someone who is faking expertise can always be spotted.
It’s easy to make factual errors when writing on technical subjects such as law or engineering, and this will hurt your reputation. If you are outsourcing, always ensure that your content creators know what they’re writing about.
4. Stick to White-Hat SEO Tactics
There’s a thin line between white-hat and black-hat SEO, and many established brands prefer to walk this line. Tactics such as negative SEO (against competitors), hidden links, content automation, among others will put you in Google’s bad books. Subsequent updates may be created to address such tactics, and you will suffer for them.
5. Follow Google’s Published Instructions and Tips
Google has been religious with publishing the Webmaster Newsletter and developer’s guidelines. Thus, we always know what the company is looking for in terms of awesome content and website design. It sounds obvious but – listen to Google!
6. Plan Ahead
In addition to published guidelines, senior Google officials such as Mueller are always dropping hints and answering questions on social media. It pays to follow these people and pick up hints on what to expect for the future so that you can adjust and plan ahead for future updates.
Plus, Google usually warns of significant algorithm changes months in advance, so make sure that you have your ear on the ground.
It can be difficult to keep up with the constantly changing face of SEO, but taking heed of these tactics will help to save you heartache in subsequent Google algorithm changes. Remember that getting to the top may be tough, but staying there is even harder. Create evergreen content that captivates your users and pleases Google, and you will have done what very few brands have achieved to date.
We hope this article helps you to create good content for your readers. If you have any comments/experiences you want to share, please feel free to use the comments box below.