Most businesses have heard of SEO and are actively implementing strategies, or relying on a previously implemented process to carry them through multiple years. But, did you know that Google changes its ranking algorithm nearly once or twice a day? It all started in 2011 with Panda, the first update in the modern SEO era. Several major updates have since followed—the latest of which is the September 2023 “Helpful Content” update -which readily cracks down on spam content.
We’ve delved into the Helpful Content update here but now we’re diving into optimizing for the latest round of algorithm updates. Whether you’re a newbie or well-versed in SEO, we’re highlighting tips for keeping your site on that first page.
So how does Google determine if your content is helpful—or not? Google judges pages based on page credibility author, and website. In other words: E-E-A-T—Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Until a Google update in December 2022, it was just E-A-T (no “Experience”). While not a direct Google ranking factor, Google caters to results with strong E-E-A-T.What does that mean, exactly?
- “Experience” – demonstrates the creator’s first-hand experiencewith the subject matter, such as authentic insights, personal experiences, and opinions.
- “Expertise”—does the creator have the knowledge, qualifications and credentials required?
- “Authoritativeness” refers to your overall reputation in your industry, especially among experts and credible influencers.
- “Trustworthiness”—the most important part of E-E-A-T SEO—considers who wrote your content. Was it edited for factual accuracy? Are trustworthy sources cited? Are there numerous spam links or too many ads?
Page experience has its own documentation.
Prior to the most recent update, Google listed out individual page experience qualifications in its systems documentation. Now, the overarching theme of “experience” that was added to the E-E-A-T theme encompasses all aspects. No longer is each portion of the page experience identified individually on their score, but rather the page as a whole. What does that mean exactly? Google uses these factors to rank sites, but NOT as its own system. HTTPS, page speed, mobile friendliness and Core Web Vitals are still critical but think of them as a part of the whole picture instead of individually.
Keywords vs. Keywords2
Building trust and close relationship with your core audience is key as you’re focusing on Google’s everchanging trajectory. Over the last few updates, we’ve seen Google rely less and less on quantitative and more on qualitative. This is where you hear the “keyword stuffing” issue arise. Keywords are important but overusing them within content is detrimental. Companies should focus? Focus on supporting quality with an ethical link building strategy rather than seeing how many times you can include a keyword.
Third Party Content
Heed Google’s warning about third-party content: “If you host third-party content on your main site or in your subdomains, understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as the helpfulness of content. For this reason, if that content is independent of the main site’s purpose or produced without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site, we recommend that it should be blocked from being indexed by Google.”
You can also strengthen E-E-A-T by seeking out influencers you trust. Be mindful about whom you’re taking advice from and investigate the source of people’s data and claims. Unfortunately, with enough domain authority and the size of the business, larger entities can benefit from the occasional spam. We’ll look at reciprocal linking versus link exchanging. Technically the terms are interchangeable; however, Google has a different approach. In their documentation, they use the word “excessive”.
A small business can also lean into curation. Get yourself noticed and put yourself into pieces of curation from other people; websites like Forbes and The Spruce can help you. Also become a source of curation yourself. With all the buzz around GenAI and Search Generative Experience, there will be a demand for human curation.
Momentum is another ranking factor. For small businesses hoping to rank alongside giants in their industry, the task appears daunting. Many of these industry leaders build business models on targeting queries that allow them to drive business to affiliate links.
Small businesses, don’t panic! Consider your knowledge, expertise, and history in the industry. If you have a genuine investment in your niche beyond Amazon affiliates, and, if you can show expertise over these larger sites, you can start competing. Engage in aspirational tactics of fulfilling E-E-A-T rather than focusing on competition.
AI vs. Humans
AI is on the rise, especially in terms of aiding searches whether text or voice. Take steps to ensure your site competes with newer technology by creating more trust and experience. Ben Steele, Senior Editor, Ebooks at Search Engine Journal says, “That’s one thing that language models aren’t good at, being a source of well-curated information, because they’re predictive and can’t do analysis. Lean into the analysis and be the expert—this is a particularly good way to go.”
The Bottom Line
If you’re worried about ranking, Hammer Marketing can help you write content that satisfies intent, fulfills aspirations of E-E-A-T, and supports content with the existing ranking factors within systems. Reach out today to see how we can help your business.
Most businesses have heard of SEO and are actively implementing strategies, or relying on...