I came across a fun game: the LinkedIn viral post generator.
It’s a parody of LinkedIn posts that are written in a formulaic way, picking up on popular writing styles and ideas to attract reactions. Essentially spam posts.
Although it’s for fun, there is a serious point to be made about writing content. Especially in light of the new Google ‘helpful content’ upgrade which launched yesterday (25th August) and is rolling out across websites.
How will the Google upgrade affect websites?
Google search will reward quality content that has been written authentically with your audiences in mind by sending it higher up the search rankings.
Content editors will need to write for people first. Your website content needs to have purpose and show your knowledge and expertise on a subject. Google Search Central explains in more detail what writing content for people first means.
Editors will be penalised for content written specifically for search engines, for example:
- Content that you don’t have expertise in, i.e. are you linking to or summarising other people’s content?
- Content that jumps on a trend but is low value to your users
- Using automated content generation tools!
Google is advising that content that has been written specifically for search engines should be removed from your website. Search Engine Journal has written a helpful summary of the initial impacts of the upgrade.
Creating a people-first website
Google doesn’t explicitly say how the ‘helpful content’ upgrade searches will work, Google’s search ranking algorithm is a dark art!
I would suggest that when you are writing it’s really important to use your own voice and to write about topics that are important to you. Think about:
- What is the purpose of your website? Write content that supports your business ethos or organisation purpose and which could start a meaningful conversation with your users.
- Know your users and understand why they are visiting your website and give them the content to help them achieve their goals.
- Use SEO to add value for your users and help them to reach the content they need.
We often talk about creating human-centred websites at Studio 24. Writing authentic content is the first step. Thinking about how that content is presented will enhance what Google refers to as the ‘satisfying experience’ for your users. I’ll just touch on two things to consider:
- Website Architecture
- Technical SEO
Website architecture, also known as information architecture, is something you should invest time in because it helps users to access all your excellent content.
- A well-structured site will help both Google and your users to navigate your website. Obviously, the user experience should be your number one priority, but doing this will also boost you in the search rankings.
- Think about how many clicks it takes users to get to the content they want. It should be as few clicks as possible.
- Surface the information that is most important to your users. This information can be discovered through user workshops. Getting a deeper understanding of your users and their needs will also help with writing content.
Technical SEO is often managed by developers, but it is helpful for content editors to understand best practices when writing and uploading content.
Technical SEO includes:
- Responsive design – websites should be designed for mobile first and work on any size of screen.
- Performance (i.e. quick loading times).
- Accessibility – for example optimising images and adding alt text. This is important for users as well as search engines.
- Checking for and fixing broken internal and external links.
- Make sure your website is running over HTTPS, this is best practice these days and Google will expect it.
- Be authentic in your writing – use your own voice and draw on your own knowledge and expertise.
- Think about your site architecture to help your users get to the content they need.
- Keep on top of technical SEO so your website performs as well as possible.
Being authentic online should be its own reward, but a little help and validation from Google doesn’t hurt!