Your Google ranking may sink if SEO leads to so-so content
Google is now penalizing website content that’s written primarily to rank high in search engines, but isn’t helpful to users.
Google has just rolled out its “helpful content” update, which, as the name implies, was launched to ensure people see more original, helpful content in their search results.
Google says its systems will automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches. Their search ranking will suffer, as will presumably traffic to those sites.
“Google wants to remove over-SEO-optimized websites meaning those filled with keywords, but not helpful to the user,” says Juan Vides, President of Oceanside-based TechACS, a web design and search engine optimization (SEO) firm.
While SEO is important, when writing content you have to make sure you’re providing valuable content to the user first and foremost, he says. Google offers some guidance on this here: https://tinyurl.com/ym3rbhe8
According to Google, if you answer yes to questions like these below, you’re on the right track with a “people-first approach”:
- Does your content clearly demonstrate firsthand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Some warning signs on if you should re-evaluate how you’re creating content, says Google, include:
- Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
“I do see companies put out a lot of auto-generated content,” says Loren Wildes, president of Bar Harbor Web Design, a Port Jefferson-based digital marketing and web development agency. Basically, they are using software that creates content for you, she says.
Also they load the site with repetitive keywords that add little value just to rank higher in searches, she says.
This doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your site with relevant keywords, but you should be writing for your audience first and then make sure it’s optimized, Wildes says.
Among her tips: write quality content for which you are a subject-matter expert, make sure you’re writing content easy for users to scan with headings and paragraphs and don’t put in blocks of text just repeating keywords you think will rank high in search.
Among websites that will be penalized, adds Vides, are those creating content in bulk; those covering any random topic they’re not experts in; and those using copied content or clickbait (deceiving links that entice visitors to click on it but doesn’t give users the information they’re actually seeking).
He said posting your latest projects, showcasing your work and having updated reviews all help with user experience and providing value.
Vides helped Giorgenti Custom Clothing in Garden City, which designs made-to-order apparel for men and women, do this on their site.
If you scroll down the site, www.giorgenti.com, it has links for customers to leave a Google or Yelp review and then those reviews also show up on the website itself getting updated routinely, says CEO Janine Giorgenti, whose daughter Aneesah Saeed, also helped with the usability and design of the website. The company debuted its newly designed website in April.
“We did a lot of user-testing with our clients,” said Saeed, noting they asked them what kind of questions they’d like to see answered on the site and have updated it accordingly.
For example, people were unclear about what they can expect if they come into their store, so that’s laid out in three clear steps highlighted on their home page, Saeed says. They also added new images to appeal to their changing audience.
When the company started out over two decades ago, they catered mainly to men. Now, the store’s customer base has widened to include women, people shopping for wedding garb and Giorgenti pays attention to a more diverse audience such as ethnic and LGBT populations. The expanded outreach is reflected on the site.
Giorgenti said it’s these and other updates to their website that make her confident its ranking won’t be penalized by Google’s new update.
It’s good to showcase your voice and expertise to enhance user experience, says Anthony Savino, president of Benjamin Marc, a Lake Grove-based web design, logo design and marketing firm. He does this on his own website with a blog that he updates weekly with tips, industry news, and company news.
“Updating content regularly will help ranking visibility and usability,” he says.
He says Q and A’s can also be helpful to the user.
“Your website needs to be user-friendly,” Savino says.