Last month, Google announced that it would be rolling out updates to its search function to make it easier for people to find high-quality content. The new ranking improvements are meant to stop low-quality or unoriginal content from appearing high in rankings, according to TechCrunch.
The update will target “SEO-first” content – articles created primarily to rank on search engines – putting an emphasis instead on what Google calls “human-first content.” In a blog post, Google explained: “If you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously encountered articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere on the web. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.”
So, what does that mean for small businesses in the promotional products industry that use content marketing and search engine optimization tactics to raise their online profile and establish themselves as authorities on branding and logoed goods? Experts say there’s no need to panic. “I think Google’s new changes will penalize the sites churning out robotic content designed only for crawls, and (hopefully) reward those of us who focus on creating quality content that appeals to real people,” says Heather Clarke, marketing and communications manager for aloSIM, a company that sells prepaid phone data packages.
Still, it’s worth taking a look at your content strategy to make sure you’re serving your intended audience well. Here are a few quick tips to ensure you’re producing high-quality, customer-centered content.
1. Focus on what you know.
It’s a well-worn trope to “write what you know,” but when it comes to content marketing, it’s important to take note. High-quality content will help establish you and your business as an expert in your field. “It should be informative in a way that only someone in that niche can provide, but still understandable to customers,” says Sarah Brodsky, a digital analyst for search marketing firm 9Sail. “Writing about areas of your business that you know well and have personally experienced also demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the topic at hand.”
2. Make it readable.
Your articles should be easy to digest and get your point across without too much fuss. Use headings, subheadings and small blocks of text. Visual elements, like photos and infographics, can also help break things up. “People don’t like reading large blocks of text,” says Jessica Kats, an e-commerce expert at online shopping platform Soxy. “They get distracted, and it doesn’t get a good response.”
3. Use keywords naturally.
Keywords are still an important part of SEO strategy, but they shouldn’t make your writing stilted and awkward.
Once you’ve done your keyword research, find ways to incorporate them into a piece without it seeming forced. “It’s a delicate dance, trying to find that balance between writing in a fun, personable way and writing with SEO in mind,” says Clarke. “Because, of course, even the very best content won’t work if no one can find it.”
Above all, your keywords and chosen topic should mesh well. Your content, says Aissa Djalo of full-service creative agency Tiny Giants Co., should “answer the keyword’s search intent” – in other words, the reader should feel more educated after finishing your post.
4. Keep content fresh.
It’s tempting to repost evergreen content, especially if you’re a harried small-business owner with too much on your plate, but that could be a mistake. “If small businesses have been repeating or reposting their content, they’ll find that it does more harm than good after this update,” Brodsky says. “They should strive to create only new content – even if they’re repeating topics, all text should be unique, and the perspective and insights should be new.”