Google’s latest SEO update is a content marketing game changer
Ready or not, it’s here.
Last week, Google rolled out their latest SEO update. Simply titled the “Helpful Content Update,” it does what it says on the box — that providing great content will equal better SEO.
If you’re aware of the relationship between SEO and content, you’re already on the right track. You’re consciously working to provide value within your channels for your prospects and clients. Your content strategy may only need a bit of tweaking and updating in this direction (for more on this, read on).
But if you’re still writing primarily to beat the search bots, your business’s visibility could take a hit in a user-first digital landscape.
There is even less emphasis on keywords
Starting back in 2011 with the Panda release, Google adopted ’user first’ ranking. They continue to stress the importance of UX/UI in site design and content relevance to this day. Most recently, they introduced Core Web Vitals and mobile page speed as an important ranking factor.
“As far as keywords go, they are still a foundational SEO attribute,” explains Jim Van Horn, SEO and Digital Content Specialist at BNP Engage. “But ensuring your site content answers your customers’ questions will help page rankings more than keyword stuffing and redundancy throughout page content.“
Despite an ongoing shift to a focus on people-first content, there have always been businesses that still attempt to “use” keywords to outsmart bots. Just a few methods include updating content with various semantic match keyword targets with different deliverables like informational, conversational, and transactional content to guide traffic to their site.
Importance of relevant content
Have you ever wasted two minutes of your life reading an article that suggests they have a release date for a product, movie, or TV show — only to get all the way to the end and find nothing is confirmed? Or clicked on an article covering a niche topic but found the source has no real expertise or relevance?
That provides an awful user experience. And even if you get the traffic, it isn’t the right traffic. This practice is annoying, deceitful, a waste of people’s time, and it ultimately doesn’t work. It breaks trust. And in B2B marketing, that’s simply bad business.
What this new shift does is stop the practice of trying to force bots to recognize an otherwise irrelevant site page for searches based primarily off of triggering keywords used within the search.
Instead, make sure you’re providing the kind of value that ranks high. Jim advises that you always ask questions about the content you are providing. Does the content answer the end user’s questions, needs, and problems? If so, what’s the added value?
If the answers to these questions are making you nervous about the value you’re providing, you’ll need to perform a content audit and remove all of your unhelpful content. Otherwise, it could be dragging down your rankings.
Do keywords no longer matter in B2B content marketing?
So, does that mean B2B content marketers should abandon the use of keyword research altogether?
“Keywords still matter, but not like before,“ says Jim. “They still help the bots when crawling your pages, but they shouldn’t be seen as the ‘be all, end all’ for the actual page content. It always needs to be valuable and authentic to the reader.“
Google now uses a semantic match, which connects a singular keyword with many variations. So simply inserting the keywords you want to rank for will no longer work.
This means your best practices for SEO-optimized content are evolving. Instead of doing research and forcing the content based on keyword volume, concentrate on writing useful content first. Then, work backward into keyword research.
An overlooked element in your content marketing strategy
Another reason for this algorithm shift is for something that you may be using every day but haven’t incorporated into your own marketing — voice search.
“Voice search is growing each year. Search engines care more about how users actually search and the overall UX/UI of your site over the ability to scan a target keyword 100 times in a page of content,“ explained Jim.
To rank higher in voice search, here are a few things to consider:
- Create question-and-answer formats in your content. When creating content, think about it in terms of “Hey Siri …”
- Mark up your content with schema, or structured data, so search engines will know what your site is about.
- And, above all, create that rich, compelling content that is so valuable to your audience.
In a nutshell: a basic content checklist
If you’re looking for a little more guidance, here is a short checklist for you that comes straight from the horses’ mouth (Google’s):
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge? For example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place.
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal or answer their question?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
In order for businesses to drive qualified leads to their site, they now need — more than ever— to guarantee high value content throughout their site. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. If it were, more businesses would be investing heavily in building a library of valuable, searchable content on their site. And doing that takes a lot of work.
By regularly setting aside some dedicated time, you can manage some quick wins for your business. But even with enough expertise, it can still be overwhelming. You still need to research, write, and consistently deploy all of the the right B2B content, at the right time, to the right audience.
Take your B2B content marketing strategy to the next level
BNP Engage helps grow established B2B businesses by building authority, trust, and expertise with their audiences by using data-driven digital marketing. We’re ready to help you go beyond those quick wins and help you not only reach but exceed your business goals. Reach out to us today to discover how our B2B content marketing services can help drive your consistent success.