Between Google’s 2011 Panda update and January’s introduction of Search + Your World, people can’t stop talking about the tech giant’s dramatic shift in favor of fresh and original online content for its search engine. While content marketers heralded the move as a new dawn in online consciousness, SEO experts cried foul. Yet one basic question seems to have been lost in the online shuffle (or scuffle, as it were): why exactly does Google love fresh and original content, anyway?
As my mother used to say, when you want answers, you go straight to the source – in this case, Google.
DID I SAY THAT?
In an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Google clearly spells out why you should follow their SEO best practices:
“…..following the best practices outlined below will make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.”
The guide goes on to clarify why Google likes organic content (my formatting, their words):
- New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
- Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.
- Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content
- Designing your site around your visitors’ needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results.
I’M SORRY, THAT’S CLASSIFIED
- “Information you give us – For example, many of our services require you to sign up for a Google Account. When you do, we’ll ask for personal information, like your name, email address, telephone number or credit card.”
- “Information we get from your use of our services – We may collect information about the services that you use and how you use them, like when you visit a website that uses our advertising services or you view and interact with our ads and content.”
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH ME?
That’s how they get your data. What do they do with it then? Under the slightly-more descriptive “how we use information we collect” heading, Google offers this explanation:
- “We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users. We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads”
OK, you use my data to improve the services you provide me (like search), to protect me, and to tailor content to me. Sounds reasonable enough. But what if I don’t want Google to do this for me?
Under the rosy heading “transparency and choice,” we learn about how you can control, edit, or even remove your information from Google’s services. They actually help you along by providing a link to the aptly-named “data liberation front” site run by Google engineers (sounds positively Marxian, but no bother).
Google goes on to give you the option of setting your browser to block all cookies, although they point out the problem with doing so: “it’s important to remember that many of our services may not function properly if your cookies are disabled.”
Bummer. They’ve got me there, as it seems like I’m dependent on Google more with each passing day.
The section ends with a flourish: “Remember that when you share information publicly, it may be indexable by search engines, including Google.”
Aha, now we’re getting to it. Realistically, if I don’t want Google to put me in a virtual timeout, I need to exchange my data for their (mostly) free services.
FRESH AND ORIGINAL
All of this evidence suggests that Google favors fresh and original content for three reasons: to improve user experience, refine ad targeting, and create artificial intelligence (AI) knowledge graph.
BASIC LEVEL: Improve User Experience – On a basic level, Google wants to provide a better experience for users. They are a service-based business, after all. Internet marketers’ increasing adaption of inbound marketing services that promote fresh, user-focused content does just that. Happy users mean more users. In their words:
“New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.”
ADVANCED LEVEL: Refine Ad Targeting – With 36 Billion in 2011 ad revenue, Google has become expert at aggregating data for targeted ad sales. In order to keep the gravy train running, they need ever-more-accurate data. It stands to reason that fresh and original online content provides a cleaner data set than stale copy with juiced-up keywords.
“We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads.”
EXPERT LEVEL: Create AI Knowledge Graph – Fresh and original content feeds (literally) into Google’s master plan of creating a comprehensive knowledge graph to power its AI-like search engine. This is why Google’s webmaster site pans inorganic SEO practices:
“…inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines…are annoying or nonsensical to users.”
In a recent interview with Mashable, Google SVP Amit Singai discussed the knowledge graph. He said Google is “building a huge, in-house understanding of what an entity is and a repository of what entities are in the world and what should you know about those entities.” This massive knowledge graph will radically increase the power and complexity of search.
Singh goes on to admit that they are not there yet. Right now, “We cross our fingers and hope someone on the web has written about these things or topics.”
Thousands of eager marketers and content writers pounding out fresh content is probably a good start.
Getting everyone focused on creating fresh and original content serves Google on three levels. In this way, you could say that Google’s future is heavily dependent on the universal adaptation of fresh and original web content standards. Or to put it another way, when you (like me) are sweating over a computer monitor trying to pound out a truly epic piece of content, you’re not only lining Google’s pockets, but paving the way for their future dominance.
So go ahead Google, I’ll sign on the bottom line – you can have my data. And why not, at least I get my G-mail, G+ and Google search for free (sort of). Besides, I’m really not that interesting – at least that’s what my wife tells me….
What do you think about the future of Google?
Do you really believe that Google loves content so it can build its knowledge graph? Surely isnt it just because that is really all Google can see.
Surely it is more “…Create content, because without content, I have no idea what your site is about and therefore I am a terrible search engine…”. Content is what Google needs to try and determine relevance. Too thin on content and it can’t work out whether the site is about widgets, knockers or whatever!
Thanks for the comments! I definitely see your point, and agree with it on one level. I think you aptly describe how Google’s web crawler’s “think.” It is their masters that have more complex designs. As my blog points out, Google loves content on many levels, the most sophisticated of which is to feed its AI Knowledge Graph. It’s actually quite brilliant, I must admit.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent article (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/technology/in-a-big-network-of-computers-evidence-of-machine-learning.html?_r=4&pagewanted=all)by the NYT covering Google’s secretive X Laboratory:”…Google research provides new evidence that existing machine learning algorithms improve greatly as the machines are given access to large pools of data.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out…