About seven years ago a client who’d been relying upon my expertise suddenly told me that he wouldn’t be needing as many of my blog articles and slashed his order from three articles per day to one per month. He’d been really happy with my writing so it was a shock, but it turned out he had discovered a cheap ‘content farm’ which churned out articles for cents. Within weeks, his company’s Google ranking fell from page one to page 36.
What happened? Google got smarter…
The new articles were over-stuffed with keywords and written in English by non-native English speakers using clunky syntax and glaring grammatical errors, and, to add the cherry on the cake, the writers had clearly never even visited the country they were writing about (they were extolling the virtues of the rolling hills and golden sands of the Maldives, when the Maldives is one of the lowest-lying countries on earth and is comprised of gleaming white coral sand, not yellow rock sand…).
Needless to say, these kinds of errors don’t exactly instill faith in any consumers who know what they want and are weighing up who to give thousands of dollars of vacation money to! This is an example of writing for a travel industry client, but the same reasoning applies to any industry.
Out with low-quality writing…
By 2011, too many businesses globally like this one were thinking if they could pump out low-quality writing stuffed with repetitive keywords, it would boost their website’s Google ranking. So Google quickly changed the algorithm to stop businesses from getting away with keyword stuffing and (thank goodness!) bland, un-informative articles that are boring, if not painful, to read.
It was great news for consumers – goodbye to: “Want to book a Maldives holiday? We have best Maldives sunny holiday bookings. Our Maldives holidays is…blah blah blah”. Nobody gets any enjoyment out of reading that, it’s not helping to advise or inform consumers, and it’s certainly not inspiring any sales from the educated and affluent demographic that vacations there. (OK, of course it was good news for content writers too because ever since then, Google has been demanding high quality unique content – the kind of content that only a good writer can create!)
In with quality content…
The Google algorithm has only continued to get even more sophisticated, so today more than ever, ‘content is King’. This phrase became famous thanks to Bill Gates who published an essay of the same title back in 1996, and although it’s been over-used since then, it’s never been more true. ‘Quality content’ (a popular content marketing phrase) basically means well-written content that users find valuable.
A content creator can discuss with you whether long-form content (in-depth blog posts/whitepapers/ebooks etc) or a combination of long-form and short-form content (infographics, status updates, short articles etc under 350 words) would be most beneficial for your type of business.
Establishing your authority in the industry.
As a general rule, short-term content can help to drive traffic to your business but longer-form content (with a longer lifespan) ranks better in search engines like Google. And to build trust and credibility, either employees or ‘subject-matter experts’ will help you establish your expertise in your field. This has led to an increase in hired content creators/bloggers and ghost-bloggers (writing on behalf of the CEO or company founder, for example).
How does Google (and Facebook) rank ‘quality content’?
- Unique, fresh, original content
- Does it come from a trusted authority on the subject?
- How much is the content liked/shared?
- Quality control to downgrade content with too many keywords
- Checking if it’s backlinked to other quality websites
- Analysis to see if the site is participating in link exchange programs (penalization for doing so)
Next, this is where a digital marketing strategy can come into play. You can hire a freelance content creator to create some glittering new texts/blogs/infographics for your website which will massively improve your Google search rankings, as well as help your customers to see you as a trustworthy source of advice/information/authority.
OR you can hire a freelance content creator BUT ALSO give your website an overall spring clean, perhaps by hiring a freelance SEO expert to advise you on your strategy and freshen up your website.
You could also try hiring a marketing integration specialist to look at your overall digital presence and come up with a longer-term strategy for improving it and/or to oversee everybody else working on components of the digital marketing strategy…Think of it like getting a roadworthiness test on your car! Just a few tweaks and you can be running better than ever!