What business owners need to know about Google’s new updates
Google’s made an announcement, and it’s going to affect your business.
This year alone, Google has done over 3,200 updates to its algorithm – that’s a lot of updating. As a business owner, this is important to you because your clients and customers are using Google’s platform to find your business.
I’m going to share with you what you need to know based on this latest announcement from Google itself.
Focus on Content
There’s nothing new here to marketers, but it’s rare to find a business doing this well. If you do it right, Google will reward you handsomely.
Here are questions Google suggests you ask yourself and your marketing department:
Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Google wants your content to be fresh and not just something you took from another website, copied, and pasted on to your own. It wants to be able to send the person searching to one authoritative source for the information they were looking for when they performed their search.
Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Similar to the above, the goal here is to provide the person doing the search one place to go for the answer rather than having to visit multiple pages. This is why we’ve changed our marketing firm’s packages to reflect building a brand for our clients rather than just one aspect of marketing.
Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- This is where you get to showcase your area of expertise and how your brand is providing value to the end-user. If you run a personal brand, you’ll want to expand your posts beyond what the prospect is looking for and give them the information they don’t know they don’t know yet.
If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Let’s use these questions as an example – Google posted them online here, and I expanded up them to make them more useful to you, the business owner, or marketer. You’ll want to do this with your content as well. If you’re having someone else write for you, then make sure to use a plagiarism checker such as Grammarly to ensure your content is original.
Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- This one is pretty self-explanatory. A good way to think of your title is to think of it as the headline on the front page of a newspaper. It should give the reader a rough idea of what the content is about and a few key points.
Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
- Google is trying to put an end to clickbait type articles. An example is if I would have titled this article “Google Just Killed Your Business!” to get you to click on it. Websites like Buzzfeed are notorious for this and still get me to click even though I know what they’re doing. It works, but Google wants to put an end to that practice.
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Again, this is something Google wants you, the owner, to think about before you publish the article. As a marketer, I’ve been guilty of putting out content I’m not proud of simply to get something out. Back in the late ’90s, this was perfectly acceptable. Not anymore.
Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Google and I want your content to be authoritative. It sounds like I’m repeating myself, but this is extremely important, and I want you to succeed. There are at least 5.68 billion pages that have been indexed at the time I’m writing this. Make sure your page is the one that people will reference as the source.
Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- Think back to high school English class when you had to cite your sources. Your blog post should do the same. While I know it’s easier not to do this, it could end up affecting your ability to get found by prospective clients.
If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
- I believe this one will be hard for most people because we all think our babies are the cutest. Does your brand instill trust and carry a clear message across all platforms? This is where building a brand that sells comes in handy.
Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- We all get annoyed when we hear someone spout off about something they have no real knowledge in. The same goes for your content. Sharing your opinions is fine, but you’ll want to be able to back those opinions up with a degree of expertise and experience.
Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- This might be hard for political websites these days, but for the rest of us, we get to use our integrity and stop spreading a false narrative around the Internet – that’s the job for social media.
Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life?
- Your website must not only be authoritative but must also be credible. You’ll want to make sure the advice or information that you are giving to the reader will positively impact their life. Although this wouldn’t typically be thought of as SEO, it does have a lot to do with building a reliable brand.
Presentation and production questions
Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
- Avoiding spelling errors can be tough. Some of us are better than others, but we all notice them, and they can detract from the content itself. I use Grammarly, and even then, I miss things here and there. I suggest not only running your content through a spelling and grammar checker but also having at least one other person read it over. It’s amazing what our eyes can miss.
Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- I’ve been guilty of rushing to finish content before, and you can tell when you read an article that the writer did the same. When writing this piece, I took several breaks to change my energy and make sure I finished strong. There are apps and programs like the Pomodoro technique that can help you stay focused and fresh.
Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- What Google is looking for here is for you to provide as much of the content as possible on the page the reader has landed on after doing a search. If you link out often, causing the reader to jump from one website to another in order to find the answer, then that can cause the user experience to diminish.
Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Look, you’re a business, so you should promote your products and services, but no one likes an excessive amount of ads put in their face. This can make the article appear spammy and disjointed. A better approach would be to highlight your brand’s expertise and have a solid call to action in the article or on the website where a reader can easily get to it if they want to learn more.
Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?
- According to Statista, over 50% of all global web pages served to mobile phones from 2009 to 2018. Google wants the website your content sits on to be easy to read from mobile devices – this includes tablets as well as phones. Odds are this will also help increase your sales. Although it’s not on here, you should check your website speed as well to make sure it’s loading properly and quickly.
Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Can you add to the conversation or are you just repeating what’s already out there? This is where your expertise gets to shine. You can add your own take on things, but what Google is trying to avoid here are thousands of pages giving the same answer to a query. If you can explain it better, or perhaps in a different way, then great, but if not, please move on and find something else to write about.
Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- This is the very essence of these questions. You can’t just write for search engines anymore. We used to do that a lot in the late ’90s and early 2000s, but today it’s best to focus on the end-user and then use SEO tactics afterward. Making sure you do your keyword research and monitor your data is still necessary, but write for the reader first and the search engines second.
The key with these updates is to make sure that you’re building a business that has a brand that provides value to its audience. Content marketing is a great way to do this, but you want to make sure that you are checking all the boxes when building your brand. You can start with a simple checklist on how to Build a Brand that Sells here.