Google has performed another of its core updates this week. As always, only Google itself knows exactly what this entails, and the ramifications of it will not be immediately apparent, so it can be difficult for site owners to know how to react to this news.
The search engine doesn’t give unique advice on each core update anymore, but instead directs webmasters to an August 2019 blog post on how to make sure their sites are not adversely affected by algorithm tweaks. Advice on content forms the bulk of this post, presented as a bullet-pointed list of rhetorical questions, almost as though Google wants you to work the answer out yourself rather than giving it to you.
What we’re seeking to do in this blog post is give your three clear answers to Google’s riddles.
1. Proofread everything
One of Google’s most pertinent questions, and top of the list in the ‘Presentation and production questions’ section, is:
“Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?”
When we read our own writing, we read it in our heads the way we meant to write it, so we don’t always spot our own mistakes. I certainly don’t! Always get a second pair of eyes on your work, as we do at Engage Web. Aside from their effect on rankings, sloppy typos put people off and make your site look amateur.
2. Give unique, actionable advice
Two questions under Google’s advice on content and quality are:
“Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?”
“Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?”
Whatever your business is, you will have knowledge and expertise within it that is beyond what the average Googler will be able to claim, so use it. Don’t give advice the reader will already know, such as that the weather is normally warmer in the summer than the winter. Give them insight from your industry that they’ll want to come back to time and time again.
Indeed, that’s what we’re aiming to do with this very post!
3. Use links and sources intelligently
One of the more verbose questions posed in Google’s post is:
“Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?”
What I take from this is to consider how intuitively your site “talks” to its internal pages. There’s nothing more annoying than to read “click on our About Us in the top-right corner” within a website. Why not just include a link to the page? Not only is this much more user friendly, but it also safeguards your site against any future web design changes, as well as differences between how it displays on desktop and mobile devices.
If you’re quoting statistics, don’t be wishy-washy. Passive-voice assertions like “they say that a third of our time online is spent on social media” are much less convincing than “a 2017 study by Global Web Index revealed that 30% of time online is spent on social media”. Placing external links in web copy is a sticking point among some who worry that it diverts users away from their site, but remember that they can be set up to open in a new tab. Earlier this year, we wrote a blog specifically about how to use links on your site.
We hope that this demystifies some of what Google is doing when it performs these now roughly quarterly core updates. Much of it is common sense, and simply goes back to the same point about the value of regular, useful and high-quality web content. Here at Engage Web, we can take care of that for you.