Google’s new algorithms are all about helpful content. It may sound simple, but what does that really mean? If you’ve started a blog and haven’t noticed an increase in traffic in a while, perhaps you need to reconsider what you’re writing about. If you’re not producing original, informative and people-first content, you could be being penalised by Google.
We’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts for content strategies in 2023. Read on to find out more…
DO Try To Appease Google’s Helpful Content Update
The helpful content update was released in August 2022, and is designed to give more importance to people-first content. To put it simply, content that is useful to your users is going to be more successful.
This update is designed to discourage websites from generating large amounts of content that are only written to appease search engine algorithms. You might recognise this type of content. If you’ve ever been on a website that repeated the same keyword an unnatural amount of times, that was probably written for search engines first.
Although keywords are still important, the amount that you use them is probably not so significant.
When putting together your next blog, consider what you’re going to teach your reader. You could be educating them on a new trend, or giving them a step-by-step guide to carrying out a task. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re thorough and give your reader everything they need to feel satisfied when they finish reading.
DON'T Use Black Hat Techniques
As we mentioned earlier, keyword stuffing is a bad technique. This kind of practise is known as black hat SEO. It’s a risky way of trying to trick search engines into ranking your content. You might have some success using these strategies, but the success is often short-lived and has a negative impact over time.
You should avoid using dodgy practices like cloaking, using hidden text, paid link schemes and deceptive structured data. Even if you get away with using some of these tricks for a while, the algorithm will catch up with you eventually.
If your website is a particularly bad offender, you could get a manual action. This means that someone who works at Google has looked at your website and decided to punish you with a partial or full de-indexing. This is really bad for your organic traffic, so it’s not worth taking the risk.
DO Be Original
As well as being helpful, your writing should try to be original. There’s so much duplicate content on the internet. This makes it hard to rank for competitive queries, and it is harder for search engines to decide which content offers the most valuable information.
By writing something that has a unique take or angle, you’ll offer your users something new that they can’t find anywhere else. In turn, the algorithms will recognise this and place your content higher up in the search results.
Originality is a fairly loose term. Don’t be put off by thinking that you need to come up with completely new ideas or make unique discoveries to be seen on Google. Original content can be as simple as your personal experience with a popular product.
DON'T Use AI Software To Generate Content
Although we’re not very far into the new year, 2023 has already seen a huge increase in chatter about AI content generation.
AI generators cannot write in a way that connects with users emotionally – and that’s exactly the thing that makes a piece of writing engaging. They also won’t write with any sort of tone or nuance, so if you want your website’s copy to have a personality, you should pass on AI. If you want readers to spend more time on your website and connect with your message, the content should be written by a human.
As well as this, Google have frequently reminded SEOs that content made just to appease search engines is not best practise. If you insist on using computer-generated copy, you must thoroughly edit it to ensure it reads well, makes sense and has accurate information. The amount of time it takes to edit AI content to an acceptable standard could dramatically outweigh any time-saving benefits. It also means that you still need to have a skilled writer on hand. Wouldn’t it be better to use their skills to generate original content from the start?
DO Have A Niche
It’s better to be a specialist than a generalist. The helpful content update encourages websites to write within a niche. This shows that you’ve got deep knowledge on a subject, therefore increasing your trust with Google.
If your website currently writes across a spectrum of unrelated topics, like parenting and deep sea diving, you might want to consider honing in on just one of those things. Make sure the subject you choose is something that you can write about from personal experience, so you’re able to write originally and with authority.
DON'T Leave Your Audience Hanging
This is a big one. We’ve all been a victim to a clickbait headline at some point. Isn’t it annoying when you click on an article and read through the whole thing, before realising that it doesn’t actually answer your question?
There’s nothing wrong with creating a catchy title to hook in your audience. However, you shouldn’t suggest that your writing is going to answer a question that it doesn’t. For example, you wouldn’t want to title your article ‘Here’s Proof That The Moon Landing Was Fake!’, but not actually include any definitive evidence to substantiate your claim.
The same goes for false claims. You must make sure that what you write is informative, accurate and not misleading.
The best way to think about this is to consider whether your user will need to search again in order to answer their query. If that is the case, then you’re not writing valuable content.
DO Write Well
Good writing is both a skill and an art. If you’re not a trained writer, consider taking an evening class to bump up your skills. Even people with natural flair need training to be able to write well. Furthermore, being able to write for websites is a different skill in itself.
Best practise is to be concise, use correct grammar and punctuation, and to use the correct tone. If you’re writing about legal matters, you’ll want to be formal. If you’re putting together a lifestyle blog, you can be more conversational and casual.
Software like Grammarly can be really helpful to iron out any minor mistakes. However, we think the best way to proof your work is to get someone else to read it first. Allow someone you trust to look at your writing. Make sure they’re happy to give you honest, fair feedback. Don’t be offended if they point out mistakes in your writing. Use their feedback to edit, rewrite and improve your work. This is a great practise to increase your writing skills.
Final Thoughts: Write Genuine Content
We think the best way to start your content strategy is to carry out thorough market research and find your niche. The main message from Google is to ensure that everything you write is helpful. Gone are the days of being able to manipulate algorithms by writing spammy, robot-friendly content. The Google updates are more intelligent than ever, so there’s no point in trying to fool them. Be helpful, informative and genuine in your approach to content in 2023.