If you ask someone who listens to a lot of music who their favorite artist is, you’re often immediately met with a notable name, or even a “I have so many I can’t choose!” And if you ask someone who reads a lot which book is their absolute favorite, they may even give you the author’s name after supplying you with the title.
Now, how awesome would it be if, when asked which brand or startup produces the most helpful and engaging content, your answer was that quick and affirmative!
Unfortunately, today when you go into a search engine, or even social streams, brands and startups present much of the same information in the same, overly-used ways. And the landscape is flooded with content produced by startups, brands, and growth marketers trying to ‘game’ search engine algorithms rather than provide informative value to the reader and, ultimately, the buyer. Unfortunately, this often makes brands sound more like another robot than an authentic artist.
And as a result, consumers and business professionals need more help than ever getting their hands on the content that educates or helps them with their online intentions. That has become even more apparent with Google’s Helpful Content update taking effect towards the end of last year. And it changes the game for startup brands looking to ensure their content marketing is still being found in search engines.
Google’s Update: What Does It Mean for Content and Growth Marketers?
Google’s latest update was designed with this problem in mind and to enable those searching the web to discover more people-first content. It introduces a new site-wide signal that ranks websites based on quality for humans to pull needed information.
This allows search results to filter out unhelpful content and presents qualitative information higher in the list of search results. Ultimately, repressing the discovery of unsatisfactory content can advance the rankings of other content.
However, just because the signal identifies a site’s content as unhelpful does not mean it will never appear following a search again. The classifier for this update runs continuously and is, therefore, constantly monitoring both new and existing sites.
Sites that have produced various content deemed unhelpful will notice a more substantial effect by the classifier. Following Google’s guidelines and removing content that doesn’t satisfy searches can advance these sites’ web traffic following the signal’s impact.
In short, the update is a clear directive that content designed in a SEO silo will no longer stand out in Google search results. Therefore, startups looking to drive inbound traffic and lead generation must keep this in mind while evolving their helpful content strategy.
Content for the Reader First, SEO for Optimization Second
Based on the update, it’s now critical for content marketers to produce content that will be most useful to prospective customers first and then intertwine some SEO best practices second. That could include ensuring the right keywords and phrases are included, titles and descriptions are optimized, and website speeds are adequate.
However, these SEO enhancements must come after rediscovering the human factor. People who write for people tend to have a more robust understanding of the kind of content users are after. For the fields of marketing and public relations, this is exceptionally true.
Undoubtedly, content marketers have a more personal approach to information by writing with the user experience in mind. Content marketers work to produce the specific content that specific audiences are after, and with the additive of SEO tools to ensure they reach those who seek the information.
Equally as critical to producing specific information is the consistency content marketers bring to the table. Users who take a “liking” to the information they are provided with tend to return to the same sources when the results most frequently benefit their searches. Ultimately this liking becomes an established relationship of trust with the given sources.
Algorithms can speed up the results of a search, but content marketing goes beyond surfacing information quickly. Content marketers connect with users in building these relationships with their audiences and providing satisfying results consistently.
Building Thoughtful Content
While Google’s update may discipline marketers who aren’t providing thoughtful information, it might also highlight the content marketers who are. And it may serve as a reminder as to why the Internet was even created in the first place: To Search and Receive Helpful Results.
Helpful content could come in many forms, whether whitepapers, case studies, demand-generation blog posts, or even videos. Surveys and reports highlighting their findings are also an ideal data-driven strategy for providing helpful and educational content.
By strategizing the right questions oriented to your given audience, the data you collect can be just as influential to the market as it is for your own business. For instance, a retailer might survey buyers or industry leaders around the holidays to gather data that can be used to inform potential buyers and engage them. Not only can this help such companies prepare for the following year, but it provides the real-time data that helps the industry move forward.