For many businesses, content marketers and SEO professionals there’s a sense of anxiety having to keep up with Google changes. With active tweaks to the ranking algorithm, Google is on a constant mission to ensure users are being presented with information that is relevant, current and interesting. But it’s all in everyone’s best interest.
They roll out one update after another – usually in the form of an animal, to prevent black hat SEO strategies designed to cheat the algorithm and rank higher in search engine results. And as these updates make their way into the system, these type of dodgy businesses are getting killed off by the algorithm penalties.
Unfortunately it’s not just these type of businesses the algorithm brings down with it. There’s a lot of brands that are doing the right thing and still getting hit by Google updates. This is where effective content marketing comes in. One of the most successful ways to save your website from the algorithm penalties; here’s what you should be doing to avoid losing valuable rankings.
Understanding Google Algorithm Updates
But first, let’s take a look at the updates Google has rolled out over the years and the penalties that come with them.
Rolled out in 2012, Google’s Penguin update is to stop websites taking a shortcut to better rankings. Sites that have too many inbound links with the same anchor text tend to get attacked, or sites with links from bad / low quality sites and title tags stuffed with keywords. If your site has been affected, you’ll notice a sharp drop off Google’s search results or rankings for a particular keyword dropping off.
The Google Panda update is a search filer that was introduced in February 2011 and gets updated from time to time. Its aim is to stop sites with poor quality content from working their way up into the top of Google’s search results. Sites that are hit will notice a decline in traffic and search rankings dropped.
Rolled out in 2013, the Hummingbird makes up the new algorithm and uses more than 200 factors that can affect your rankings and search results. It represents the biggest change in 12 years and is in place to make the web a better, more useful place. The focus of the Hummingbird update is to offer better meaning behind words and search queries by changing the though process from ‘how do I rank for this query’ to ‘how do I best answer the question my users have’.
The benefits of all these updates promote a user-focused commitment by Google to ensure each search brings out the best, correct information for the user as quickly as possible. Content marketing is the driving force behind this.
1. Create Content that is Highly Useful
Because these updates penalise sites with thin and irrelevant content, it’s imperative to create content for your site that offers purpose. It needs to be highly useful – content that teaches your audience and communicates the right messages in the right language.
Start by creating a content strategy for your onsite blog that specifically reaches out to your audience and prospects. Your content strategy should include hot industry topics, appealing industry news and also address the pain points your customers or the industry may have. It’s a good idea to speak with your sales and marketing team for feedback to help identify these points. Readers want fresh idea so creating quality content that is linkable, likable, shareable and sustainable is key.
But it’s not just your blog section too. The pages on your site should be complete with juicy content that’s substantial and well-researched. SEO and content marketing go hand in hand, so it’s important to work closely with a local SEO agency to flesh out this content and make sure it’s useful.
2. Consolidate Approximate Duplication Content
Duplicate content is a big no-no in the eyes of Google and works against the current algorithms in place. But what about similar topics and pages? If your website has a lot of pages covering the same topic, it’s a good idea to put them all under one master topic or category. For example: if you have a page on content marketing, then another on content marketing blog ideas and another for optimising content for your content marketing strategy, bring them under one master category – content marketing.
3. Remove Keyword Overload
Sure keywords are a huge part of SEO and content marketing, but it doesn’t mean they need to be thrown around everywhere. Google is cracking down on keyword stuffing through the Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird updates so avoid overusing them.
Overusing keywords throughout articles and web pages scream spam so stick to them only when you need to. Keyword stuffing will not just affect your rankings, but it can lead to your site being penalised and makes your content look very unnatural.
4. Create Content for Other High Profile Websites and Blogs
Look for high quality blogs and websites that fit your industry and reach out for guest post opportunities. It’s the perfect way to tap into a new audience that your content on your website may not have reached yet and assists in earning high quality backlinks to your site.
Start by preparing an editorial calendar for writing articles and blog posts that can be published on other websites. You still want to ensure your content is high quality and offers something new to their site, but only approach websites that are trusted and reputable for real referral benefits. Using this opportunity to explore new marketing channels will help gain new exposure and brand awareness for your business.
5. Write Naturally – For Humans, Not Search Engines
As much as Google’s updates are important to consider and abide by, you still want to create content that is written purely for your audience and readers – not search engines. Since Google has rolled out the Hummingbird update, the meaning of content, its purpose and focus is important.
Write naturally by keeping your audience in the forefront of your mind and only including keywords when they appear logically. Avoid repeating target keywords in your text and opt for long-tail keywords and variations of chosen keywords without making the content unreadable instead.
Content marketing is one of the best way to safeguard your website from Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird updates. But not only will you be avoiding penalties, you’ll also be providing readers with a better and more reliable source of information.