Pretend you’re hiring a writer. You post the position and receive a hundred resumes. After sorting through all of them, you select a pool of people to take a writing test. Every single test must be evaluated to determine which applicants are good writers. That’s a time-consuming process! What if you could wave a magic wand over the 100 resumes and resumes of good writers would fly to the top of the stack? Now the search is narrower, and the only time you spend is on good writers.
Google wants to be the magic wand. It sorts through search results for you and attempts to put the results most relevant at the top. How does it know which sites are most relevant? Algorithms. That’s the secret sauce. Algorithms are simply rules for the computer to follow.
Google is forever tweaking algorithms to improve the user experience. It remains relevant by providing relevant content.
Google’s focus on content in 2017 included:
- Favoring content-rich sites with relevant content
- Increasing snippets to be longer and more descriptive
- Adding a job search feature
- Cracking down on intrusive interstitials such as pop-up ads and ads requiring clearing to access content
- Giving preference in rankings to secured pages
- Disfavoring ad-heavy sites with little real content
The internet is teeming with speculative news about Google algorithm updates, and Google will periodically officially announce major updates. However, in a recent interview, Gary Illyes, webmaster trends analyst at Google, mentioned that it does “two to three updates to the search algorithm, ranking algorithm every single day.” That’s a lot to keep up with.
One of the most important updates in 2017 was the focus on content-rich sites. If your postings are thin on content, fatten them up! Ad-heavy sites – sites with little real content whose primary purpose is to generate revenue from advertising – are going to suffer in the search rankings. Sites that are valuable resources because they have relevant content are going to move up in the world.
Word Count … Counts
One of the ways Google can tell if your content is relevant is in the length of time someone stays to interact with a site. Bounce rate is about how quickly someone leaves. If most people bounce away quickly, then that site has a high bounce rate. This will drive the site rankings down.
Generally, today longer posts do better in the search rankings. There’s no real magic number, though, and long content for the sake of high word count won’t keep someone on your site. People have long attention spans for things that matter to them and very short attention spans if time is being wasted. As soon as they realize that they don’t need the information they’re reading, they’re going to bounce away. People want information, but they need to be quickly convinced that they’re going to get it.
As a jumping off point: When writing a blog, think in terms of about 1,000 words. If you are writing about something very popular – where you’re using popular keywords and there is likely going to be stiff competition – think in terms of 2,500 words. Again, content is what really matters. Two thousand words of fluff that bounces the reader quickly will hurt you. Never choose quantity over quality.
B2C Blog Tips
It’s irritating to do a search, skim the results, and follow a link only to discover after reading the first paragraph that the content is useless. Maybe it’s so thin that it only has a couple of paragraphs and then points you somewhere else. Now, you must start over back at the search results and try again. The experience becomes the internet version of an annoyingly complex voicemail system. You feel tricked and annoyed. That’s not the emotional experience you want your potential customers to attach to your business. Annoyed people don’t convert to customers.
Whether a business offers a service widget or a product widget, its goal is to sell its widgets to consumers. Consumers buy from businesses they respect and trust. Consumers share businesses with their friends that they respect and trust. Use the blog to position the business as an expert in the field by making sure the reader learns something.
To best leverage the new algorithm that favors longer, content-rich blog posts, keep the following in mind:
- Who are you writing for? Keep your audience in mind and make sure the content is specifically relevant to them. A tile installer may want to write a blog post about grout cleaning.
- Deliver on your promise. Make sure the blog delivers the content that its title implied it would. Best practice – under promise and over deliver. The reader of the grout cleaning blog should really understand what to do to get the desired results.
- Add visual elements. People love pictures. Use before-and-after pictures of cleaned grout, or use charts, graphs, or video. Give readers something to look at, as long as it relates to the content.
- Don’t be coy. Don’t bury the point at the bottom of the post. If readers think they are being strung along, they may click away. Get to the point and then expand on it in more detail as you go.
Most important, think in terms of what’s best for the reader – comprehensive, relevant content. Stick to that and you’ll be fine!