In online marketing, people used to say ‘content is king’ because well, content is the backbone of the world wide web, but with Google’s new algorithm update, the new adage should be ‘quality content is king’. Of course, you still have to promote that content, but that will be another blog post.
Google’s new algorithm update – what is it and why should you care.
My business partner Alex covered it earlier in a blog post, but if you haven’t read about it, Google has updated its algorithm, named the ‘farmer update’ by Search Engine Land, earlier last week, in a bid to rid its search rankings of websites with high rankings but low quality content.
These websites are called ‘content farms’ because they specifically look for popular searches in a particular category (i.e. help topics), build thousands of optimized pages of low quality content specifically tailored for those searches, and spend little time or money on the content. The pages have ads on them and generate lots of revenue. Great business model, poor user experience.
An example of low quality content.
Here’s an example. If you searched ‘how to get pregnant fast’ you may find a high search result from www.ehow.com providing low quality tips such as ‘have fun’ “enjoyable sex is key’ and ‘live healthy and see your doctor’. This page is hardly great content on the topic and under the new algorithm, fits the definition of shallow content.
The effects of the algorithm update.
What this means for the rest of you, from small business owners to ecommerce websites, is that you should be concentrating efforts on producing quality content for two outlets: your website and (on page optimization) and external websites/blogs (off page optimization) that link back to your site.
The definition of quality content can be subjective, so I offer these criterion.
- It is well written, with paragraphs, topic sentences and bullet points
- It is grammatically correct
- It contains appropriate references to other articles online
- It uses expert verbiage.
The last two points are the ones that you should really concentrate on and are the secrets to having quality content.
How to write quality content (the secret).
When Google ranks websites it does it through many process, but mainly through analyzing your website content and code, and two, analyzing the type of websites that link to your website content.
Now that the farmer algorithm update has occurred, in order to convince Google that you deserve to be ranked highly for a keyword, your content needs to follow the guidelines above, and, in my opinion and experience, must use the words Google associates with your target keyword.
The Google Wonder Wheel
Google actually tells you, through its free search tools, what it sees as quality content, by suggesting words it associates with the keyword you put in its search tool. Basically, you can see the types of terms that Google perceives as relevant to your keywords of choice, and use these keywords in your content to convince Google that your content is highly relevant to the search phrase.
There is a little Google Search tool called Wonder Wheel, which is found by clicking on the right side of the page at “more search tools” and then clicking “Wonder Wheel.”
You’ll be taken to a page that shoes related search terms in a visual wheel spoke and it allows you to explore relevant search terms which might be the ones you originally wanted to search for. What we can use it for is to understand the words Google is looking for in close proximity to the keyword you wish to rank for. If you include all these words in your content, then Google will find your content to be quality.
Clarifying with an example
Let’s say you are a modern furniture e-commerce store, and you want to rank for brand name manufactures of furniture. In this case, let’s use the example of Jielde, a modern lamp manufacturer that is very common. You sell Jielde products and if you ranked for the broad search term in Google, you will certainly get traffic and sales.
But in order to rank, you will need to convince Google that your web page is the most relevant one for the keyword by producing a lot of content about Jielde, both on your site and off site promotional content. Before you start outsourcing this content writing or writing it yourself, I suggest you go over to the Google Wonder Wheel, put the word into the tool, and see what words Google sees as similar to your term. Here’s a screenshot of what I found for Jielde, the manufacturer I spoke about earlier.
By including the above related keywords in your on page website content, you’re going to be providing a great user experience and show mastery of the topic, which ultimately is what Google wants – send users to a site with expert content. Scraped, or crappy content, will not be able to contain all of those related words and sound coherent, so you’ll be a step above the competition. Similarly, when Google crawls this great content on other websites, and finds a link to your site, it will associate that link and content, and give your site the benefit of the doubt.
While this is not THE secret to top rankings in Google, its a great start to writing quality content for both users and the search engines and obtaining better rankings.