It seems like every time we content marketers look up from writing blog posts and ebooks, Google has changed the game, yet again. Below is a rundown of a few of the changes content marketers fear may be changing the rules forever.
Google’s Algorithm Changes
Google now penalizes badly-written content, as well as duplicate content posted to multiple sites. Keyword stuffing, which I’m sure you never engaged in, is now officially a no-no on Google’s list.
This algorithm looks at the inbound links your website gets. Google now scrutinizes the quality of those links. If you’re a lawn care provider, having links from babysitting and gambling sites could work against you. Not that you should have links like that, but I’m simply attempting to prove a point here.
All Searches Now Secure
Google now encrypts all search data, whether users are logged into a Google account or not. What that means is that no one can view the keywords you or anyone else are searching for. That means as a content marketer, I can’t see which keywords people searched for to find my site.
Some of the data is still available, but not all.
Google now allows content producers to link their Google+ accounts to the content they produce. On the surface, this is a good thing for anyone with an active Google+ account.
But for people who don’t bother to walk through the steps, we’re wondering if they will lose traffic as a result.
Now articles that are longer than your typical blog post are considered “in-depth articles,” and are called out in Google searches. I still haven’t seen many examples of this in action. But what I have seen only shows results from well-known publications.
So how does the little player like me get recognition?
Is Content Marketing All for Naught?
As you can see, there are a lot of changes happening. Many affect how we use keywords to drive traffic to our sites. After all, if we don’t know whether people are searching for “how to carve a pumpkin,” and we’re using that phrase on our website, how do we know if it’s working? If we have hundreds of links to our site, and Google thinks some of them are spammy, how can we disconnect from them?
The answers aren’t all conclusive, but here’s what I have to say:
The reason Google is putting so much into play is because many people were taking advantage of the system. They’d use what are called “black hat” techniques, such as listing dozens of keywords at the bottom of a page, in the same color font as the background so they weren’t visible, in order for Google to see those keywords and rank the site for them.
Article marketing sites were popular a few years ago, but they’re so diverse in both the subjects covered as well as the quality, Google chucked them as authority sites.
Sure, you and I have been playing according to the rules all along. And no, it isn’t fair that we have to shift our strategies. But c’est la vie.
The good news is, if you use the following strategies, you probably won’t have to change much in your way of thinking:
Write for Humans
Some people were writing for search engines and got us in the mess we’re in. Don’t worry so much about keywords. Focus on naturally flowing language that will appeal to visitors. Put keywords where you can, but don’t stress about it.
Be Less Analytical
We’ve killed ourselves with terms like “analytics” and “keyword density.” Let’s just get back to trying to show our authority in our niche and educating our target market. Keep an eye on Web traffic and conversion? Yes – but don’t go overboard.
Write for Reputable Sites
Guest blogging can still be a great marketing strategy. But focus on sites related to your niche and only on the best sites. Ask yourself, “Will having a link from this site help or hurt my traffic?”
Write to be Useful
Your goal in content marketing should be to provide answers and solutions for potential customers. That hasn’t changed. Keep delivering value, and you’ll reach your audience.
Worry Photo via ShutterstockMore in: Google