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Should We Write Content for People or Search Engines?

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All high-quality content pieces in written form have two things in common: they offer real substance to the reader, and each is well-written (or at least decently written 😊).

But all too often, digital content writers worry too much about “writing for SEO,” mistakenly focusing on writing for search engines instead of the human beings who are actually reading the content.

They worry too much about content length, keyword density, using keyword variations, and adding local modifiers. And not because it helps the user — because it could potentially help SEO efforts.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, but most importantly because Google and other search engines don’t need us to write for them.

They need us, or the brand we represent in our writing, to understand a topic well enough to be able to offer a thorough, easy-to-understand answer for its audience (i.e., people) to be able to read, understand, and, yes, find on the web.

Google Is Built to Understand Good Content

Google has ever-evolving, highly sophisticated search algorithms that are getting better every day, and drastically better each year.

This isn’t limited to solely its traditional search results.

The growing number of search features that improve usability and accessibility are big additions to the overall experience Google offers its users.

All of this is helping parent company Alphabet generate billions of dollars in revenue every quarter.

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A large driver of that revenue is Google’s extensive advertising network, but it starts and ends with Google search and its pay-per-click advertising there.

Google is the most-visited website in the world, and its success to continue to be No. 1 hinges on the success and accuracy of its search platform in all other capacities. That drives the traffic, advertising, and 3.5 billion searches done daily in Google search.

Google has become what it is today – essentially a synonym for search – because of the quality of its results.

And let’s not forget: Google wasn’t the first – there are plenty of alternative search engines.

But it is the best search engine.

While we wouldn’t go so far as to call it perfect, Google has been the most accurate and useful search engine we’ve ever had to date – and thus the longest-lasting – much due to its dedication to getting it right.

The proof is in the numbers (daily visits, users, revenues, etc.). That’s why Google serves more than 2 trillion searches annually.

And its role in the everyday lives of humans across the world becomes greater each passing minute, deeply rooted in Google’s dedication to ensuring its search engine is giving users the best-possible answers to specific search queries, anytime and anywhere.

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For these reasons, Google (or any other search engine) doesn’t need us to write content that is specifically designed for it. Google serves its users, and it wants content to serve them as well.

If you write good content for people, Google will reward. The same cannot be said for content that is strictly written for search engines.

What Exactly Is Good Content?

Google knows how to identify high-quality content.

We know its algorithm and ranking signals help find the right content to satisfy any given search query.

But what does Google deem is good content? What makes bad content bad? And how come well-written content doesn’t always rank well?

For information about “good content,” Google suggests reviewing its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

And, while Google’s John Mueller made sure to point out that the quality-rater guidelines are not directly related to its ranking factors, he said the document, which was not released to the public until 2015, offers useful information for creating good content nonetheless.

The 164-page document is made up of guidelines given to quality raters (people hired by Google to rate its search results) when manually evaluating the performance of Google’s algorithms.

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The document doesn’t just talk about what Google considers good content; it also points out the qualities of bad content.

Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting an overall Page Quality rating:

  • The purpose of the page: The first step in understanding a page is figuring out its purpose.
  • Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness: This is an important quality characteristic. Learning the reputation and credentials of a certain piece of content should not be hard to achieve.
  • Main content quality and amount: The rating should be based on the landing page of the task URL.
  • Website information/information about who is responsible for the main content: Find information about the website as well as the creator of the main content.
  • Website reputation/reputation about who is responsible for the main content: Links to help with reputation research are provided to reviewers.

In addition to being well-written and researched content with a purpose, relevancy is incredibly important for visibility in search.

As simple as it sounds, one of the most important ranking factors for content on the web is relevancy to the query. No matter how good the content is, if it doesn’t answer the search query, it’s not the right result.

These aren’t signals triggered by keyword usage, exact-match phrase inclusion, or any other “gamey” search-marketing tactics. This is just good content being delivered for the right search queries. The only way to achieve that is to create good, wholesome content.

Basic Guidelines for High-Quality Written Content

Don’t fret. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and doing it well.

The one thing working in our favor is that if you write well currently, you know how to write well for people. Don’t change that position and think too much about creating content for search engines.

The brands and marketers that rush to publish content just to try and give their website some life with no real purpose aren’t hitting the mark, and they won’t win the click, either.

Here are the basics for writing quality content:

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  • Define a purpose: All content should have a purpose. In turn, it should have a topic of focus, an audience, and even an intent stage for that audience.
  • Research thoroughly: Get the whole story before you start tearing stuff apart. What’s the beginning, middle, and end? Personally, I like to outline my content first so that I always know where it’s heading and what I need.
  • Write well and make sure to edit (and edit again!): It doesn’t need to be Hemingway. But use punctuation, check grammar, and try to keep it to the point and on-topic. Give background when necessary.
  • Have a byline: Google cares about where content comes from. Who is the brand or person behind the content? It wants to know. Make sure it can find out. The more authority a person’s reputation has, the better.
  • Make it informative, thorough, educational: Make sure there is substance in the content. We have a purpose. Does it satisfy the purpose? And does it explain it thoroughly? Educate your readers and they will appreciate and depend on you.
  • Cite sources: Always cite your sources. Statistics and data mean nothing if we don’t know where they came from. Be sure to always cite the original source whenever possible.

SEO

Google Debuts 9 New Shopping Features

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Google Debuts 9 New Shopping Features

Google shopping experience for users is getting an upgrade. In today’s Search On event, Google announced nine new features and tools geared to help improve the user experience.

The overarching theme of the updates is visualization and personalization.

Visualization Shopping Features

Google emphasized that users spend a lot of time researching, exploring, and discovering their options before purchasing. Four visual features for users Google announced:

  • Search with the word “shop”. By starting your search with “shop” followed by what you’re searching for, you’ll now see a visual feed that includes products, research tools, and nearby inventory. This update also expands the shopping experience beyond apparel. It’s now available in all categories on mobile.
  • Shop the look. For the apparel category, users will now be able to “shop the look” which showcases individual products to help create an entire outfit. Google’s tool will show complimentary products to the main product a user is searching for, such as handbags or shoes to go along with a top or jacket.
  • Trending products feature. This is a new feature in Search which will show popular products in the category users are searching for. Google confirmed this will be available later this Fall.
  • 3D shopping. Expanding on the earlier launch of 3D shopping for home goods, 3D visuals of sneakers are coming in the following months.

Further, Google announced a way to build and create 3D visuals because they understand creating this type of asset takes a lot of time and resources. Their tool will use machine learning to automate 360-degree spins using a few still images.

Encouraging Confident Purchasing

The next set of tools announced from Google are geared to help users make more informed decisions when purchasing.

  • Guides for complex purchases. Google announced a buying guide for complex purchase decisions. The buying guide will consist of insights about that category from a range of trusted sources.
  • See what others are saying. Specifically, in the Google app, Page Insights will be available. This feature bridges content on a website users are on or a product being researched, along with ratings, pros and cons, in one single view.

A More Personalized Shopping Experience

The last set of updates focuses on the individual shopping experience, including privacy preference enhancements.

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  • More personalized results. Users will start getting personalized shopping results based on their previous shopping habits. To protect user privacy with this enhancement, users will have the ability to tell Google their preferences directly, as well as easy-to-use controls to toggle the feature on or off.
  • Shop with dynamic filters. Search filters will now adapt to real-time Search trends, meaning the filters are not static.
  • Using Discover app for more inspiration. Users who have the Google app will start seeing style suggestions in the Discover tab based on their shopping behavior.If a user sees something they like, they can click on the product and Lens will open up to provide available options on where to buy.

Next Steps For Advertisers

While the Search On event focused on the user experience, many advertisers are wondering how they should prepare for these updates.

For advertisers in the E-Commerce space, make sure your Merchant Center for Shopping Ads is in tip-top shape. This can include optimizing images, descriptions, titles, and including as many specifications as possible so users can better find your products.

More information is coming for marketers to help understand how these user experience updates will affect advertisers. We’ll continue to report on follow-ups from Google as they are announced.


Featured image: Vladimka production/Shutterstock

 

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