By Steve Walsh
Google is releasing a new ranking update this week – a change to their process of determining the order/prominence that sites rank on Google.
The main reasons for this change are two-fold:
1. People are getting less and less satisfied with the results they’re getting from Google (Google isn’t helping people get to the content they want as effectively as it used to)
2. People are using TikTok to search more, eating into Google’s market share (directly related to point 1)
To combat this, Google’s update is aimed at ensuring “unoriginal, low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search.”
Called ‘The Helpful Content Update’, it’s essentially an attack on websites that try to game Search Engine Optimisation, and solely produce content to rank, rather than to help people.
What do I need to know?
First of all, this is what’s called a ‘site-wide signal’ – meaning that Google will take into account all the content on your site when deciding where your site will rank, rather than simply the content of an individual page or post.
Your approach to producing helpful content therefore needs to be actioned across all your pages, not simply by trying to rank one page with great content.
Second, this is about making sure the content on your site shows true value. One of our values at Jump, is ‘surface level isn’t our level’. Google is telling you it can’t be yours, either.
If you want your site to rank, you need to show you’re an expert in something, and not simply writing an article that anyone could produce.
Finally, you need to know your audience. Google wants to know what your site is good for, and what it’s not – trying to be a jack of all trades isn’t going to work from now on.
What should I do?
Take a snapshot of your current ranking positions. You’ll want to keep an eye on your best performing content over the next few weeks, to see if it changes and impacts your visitors.
Less visitors = less engagement = less sales. Keeping any eye on where your visitors are coming from and making up for any changes is a must.
Conduct a site audit. Catalogue your content for topics, content depth and target audience. Make sure you’re properly catering for the needs of your specific audiences with content that your audience would categorise as ‘expert’.
Add more value. Imagery, video, audio, case studies… add to your current content to improve its helpfulness. Talk to your target audience to see what more they needed from an article, that they’re not currently getting. Ask clients where the gaps in their knowledge are, that you can help bridge.
Build relationships with people who can link to your content. One of the biggest ranking factors in SEO is the quality and quantity of inbound links to your content. If you’re housing high quality content, build relationships with organisations that will want to link to it, to show Google its value.
Like anything in marketing, your website and its content need to be led by your goals and strategy.
Review these as a reminder as to what you’re trying to do, with whom and why, and that will help guide you to create awesome content that’s of high value, and crucially, in Google’s eyes, ‘helpful’.
Steve Walsh is managing director of Jump and works with people on a daily basis on strategy and digital.