With an ongoing goal to “better connect people to helpful information,” Google has introduced a new SEO update to their Search platform “to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
Websites that provide users with a satisfying experience that feature quality content with people in mind – and not search engines – will be favored in the SERPs. But what does this new ‘people-first’ search indexing mean for sites with strong SEO strategies? Will they be cast into poor-ranking purgatory?
Let’s take a closer look:
How The Update Fits Into The Existing Algorithm
Even though Google is downplaying the impact of its latest update, the ‘helpful content’ angle of the platform’s new update could potentially hit some sites harder than anticipated. Yet, Google’s search liaison, Danny Sullivan reiterates that it’s simply part of a continued effort to improve search Websites with generally good content that already abide by Google’s many rules and recommendations will be unaffected.
This signal will be activated site-wide, meaning it will affect not just content considered to be of less value but websites as a whole. Plus, it will operate in tandem with existing signals, identifying stronger webpages while pushing others down the rankings. Even in a sea of unhelpful content, the good stuff could still rank, but as the signal is weighted, it’s not a guarantee. That’s why removing non-people-first stuff will be every website’s best step forward.
Changes have been sluggish since the update’s August 25th launch, but Danny warns that doesn’t mean they aren’t coming. The idea is to make “incremental improvements” with monthly launches to help filter out quality content from its weaker counterparts. Regarding SEO, those “utilizing best practices to add to the value of content designed for people” shouldn’t see their rankings suffer, only sites looking to take advantage of search traffic.
Creating People-Focused Content
Despite reassurances, a major update such as this one does create concern. SEO has become such a fundamental aspect of all web content creation that boundaries are blurry. With the best will in the world, you can find yourself focused on writing for search engines over people, and it’s hard to know how that will be judged anyhow.
Luckily, Google has provided us with some guidance in evaluating this with the following reflective questions:
1. Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
With this point, Google seems to be issuing a word of caution against writing about topics outside your particular niche simply because they are trending. If you’re hoping to capitalize on keywords that lie far outside your area of expertise, you’re not likely to be providing value to your site visitors (as Google sees it). Consider whether this content would exist if search engines didn’t. Be really honest with yourself. If not, ditch it.
2. Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge?
Google has tackled unhelpful product reviews in past core updates, and this one carries on in this tradition. Pages deemed to be mainly a summary of existing content without offering readers anything extra will find themselves demoted. This will be the case for any content written without clearly apparent first-hand experience by the author of the product, service, or place in question.
3. Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
To get eyes to their site, some companies create content that tries to be all things to all people. In other words, they will post articles on a vast array of topics with the aim of ‘being informative,’ However, the true purpose of many of them is actually to rank well in Search. Featuring content that is not relevant to your site for the sole purpose of ranking in the SERPs will be as confusing for visitors to these pages as it is to the search engines trying to index them. Simply put, the reason why your website and all its content exists needs to be clear to both users and the SERPs.
4. After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
A person who has taken the time to conduct a search query and navigate to a link in the SERPS usually has a clear purpose in mind. The pages they are led to should contain enough relevant information to help them feel closer to achieving the goal of their search query. That’s why all content needs to either provide relevant information or help the user accomplish a specific task, not force them to search further to get what they need.
5. Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Google wants to connect searchers with answers that fully meet their needs. That’s why they work hard to weed out links that leave site visitors dissatisfied with the information they find there. Content can tick all the right boxes otherwise, but if it doesn’t address the question at hand, then it has no value to Google users and no value to Google. That’s why it’s vital to consider what is bringing people to your pages and ensure they get it.
Finally, Google also asks website owners to ensure that when developing content for their site, they keep their guidance or core updates and product reviews in mind. While this information is typically clear and thorough, it is ever-changing. Even more so now with the promised incremental updates. That’s why, unless you have a considerable amount of time to dedicate to the task, you could easily fall behind.
SEO experts at Firon Marketing understand the importance of staying current on all search updates. That’s why we are able to offer advice and support to all types of businesses on their website needs through our comprehensive SEO services. As part of our continual management of the websites we develop, we apply knowledge based on the most up-to-date information to ensure your website continues to rank well.
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