By Megan G.
When it comes to online marketing and SEO, businesses care about high rankings in search engines. It’s as simple as that. However, how exactly one accomplishes this goal changes from year to year, and sometimes even from month to month. What’s the latest in search engine trends, specifically Google? Short answer: content is still king, but answers are the things to get you high up in search engine results.
A primary theme that ran through all search engine optimization articles in 2015 was the phrase, “Content is King,” which meant online marketing campaigns were not all about numbers, backlinks, and cheating the system—online marketing was content marketing that called for well-written content via regularly updated blogs, rich social media posts, and lovingly crafted websites.
If businesses wanted to rank, they had to complement their background SEO work with quality content—and a lot of it. According to popular SEO blog Search Engine Watch, the more indexed pages a website compiles, the better “opportunity” a site has to rank for a certain keyword and attain new visitors.
For 2016, this idea has not fizzled out, per se, but has changed its tune thanks to recent changes to Google’s Core Search Algorithm. As the algo stands now, lots of great content, even if it did well in the past, does not necessarily correlate with higher rankings in the SERPs.
What ranks now is quality content…that answers specific questions.
Google Argues Quality vs. Quantity
In studying the results of the core algorithm change, SEO experts find that many traditional, print publications fell in their Google rankings, while others experienced a positive surge. The difference between these pages lies in the usefulness of their content. While publications like The New Yorker and TIME undoubtedly have pages upon pages of content indexed in Google (which should be a good thing) their older content must not address user queries to a significant extent.
Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics explains “many loser domains are classic print publishers and their losses in rankings mainly stem from older content pieces.”
So, as opposed to sitting on a pile of content and letting all of those long-tail keywords do the work for you, as once was thought to be a decent (if lazy) marketing practice, marketers need to make sure their blog posts and social media engagements address the specific questions of their audience.
This is not a new idea in the “Content is King” argument, but Google’s renewed focus will hopefully incite businesses into putting more thought into their content—and to get busy with old article spring cleaning!
Tek Shouts! Argues Evergreen vs. “Classic”
Business 2 Community has suggested that the algorithmic shift from rewarding loads of content to rewarding relevant answers means that evergreen content “might be wilting.” Evergreen content, by definition, is content that remains relevant long beyond its publishing date, so B2C’s conclusion is understandable. However, their statement ignores a large part of what makes content evergreen, if you are approaching this traffic-garnering tactic in the right way.
Writers and marketers cannot just sit back and let popular content keep succeeding over days, months, or years. As an evergreen tree metaphor would imply, the blog post needs continued nourishment to survive and thus perform for your overall website ranking. Like trees need sunlight and water, your old blog posts and website need periodic updates and rewrites to ensure that each of your new visitors receives relevant, updated information.
Evergreen only works if you care, which is exactly what Google wants as evidenced by their new core algo update.
So, What Can You Do?
Answer your audience’s questions. Whether your new motto is “utility is king,” “context is queen,” or “answers for all,” the main idea to glean from these reports is that you must address your audience’s needs. If your customers want to know how your new product will solve a daily annoyance, tell them! If your students want to keep up to date with the latest marketing trends to ensure their entrepreneurial endeavors succeed, enlighten them!
Google benefits those willing to help web-users because, in the end, that’s what the fairest search engine of them all wants to do. If you work towards Google’s goal, the relationship will become beneficial to your business, the search engine, and—most importantly—your customers!
Has your site taken a hit from Google’s Core Ranking Algorithm back in January? Tell us about your experience and what you plan to do to turn that ranking around in the comment section below.