What content survives Google algorithm updates?

SEOs are too accustomed to reacting to Google changes; especially Google algorithm updates. But what if you can build a site with content that you are confident won’t take a rankings hit after Google releases a new update. That is what most SEOs are trying to achieve.

In my keynote during our virtual SMX Next last month, I covered the past 20 years of Google algorithm updates and what SEOs need to focus on in the future. I later hosted a panel with a few veteran SEOs to discuss Google algorithms, including some advice from these experts on how to build content that survives future algorithm updates.

A high bar

You cannot get away with just producing good content because “everyone’s content has gotten good” and that is not enough, said Todd Friesen, director of digital strategy & SEO at Salesforce. When it comes to content that Google wants to rank, “the bar has been set.”

“I also work for a company that is known for its quality of product, its quality of marketing,” he said. This “kind of saves us from even going down that road” of pumping out thin or poorly written content, he added.

Anticipate what the user wants

Great content is easy to digest. “You need to anticipate what it is they want,” Carolyn Shelby, manager of SEO at ESPN said.

If you can produce content that the user wants, even before they know they want it, then you have something Google will be more likely to rank. This means that the content, user experience, the performance of the page and so on all meet and exceed what the users want.

“The trick is just to make sure that you know what your users, your target audience, wants and hand it to Google on a silver platter,” Shelby said. “Make it easy for Google to ingest it and dice it up and do what they want
with it and maybe if you’re lucky they will send people to your website so that the user can continue to experience that thing that they want,” she said.

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Understand your audience

Eric Wu, VP of product growth at Honey Science somewhat disagreed with Friesen about the importance of content depth. He said, “The idea of short-form content or long-form content, in some ways, I don’t really care if my article is short or long. As I’m doing what Carolyn’s saying, am I addressing that user need immediately and fitting them to that persona that that’s coming in?”

An example Wu gave was W3Schools generally always outranks Mozilla’s developer network for coding examples. This is even when all developers find W3Schools to be simplistic and prefer Mozilla’s examples. Why does Google rank W3Schools so high? He said, the “vast majority of people aren’t trying to be developers, they’re trying to hack their way through the piece of code. So W3Schools creates an experience that fits the majority of the
users’ needs and that’s what ranks really well.”

For Wu, content that ranks well on Google is written in a way that indicates that you “understand your audience and the audience that you want to go after.” He said, “don’t try to reach everybody.” Instead, “build a really good user experience for the people are really going to generate me in the most revenue.”

Write for users

Build the best type of content for your audience. The best type of content depends on who your audience is, how they get to your content, and what query they used to find you. If you can give them the answer they are looking for, even if they don’t really fully know their question, then your content will be more likely to rank — and stay ranking — in Google search results.

More from SMX Next


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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