Doesn’t it feel like the SEO community is forever abuzz with concerns over content rankings?
That’s because Google’s algorithm updates occur in their thousands every year. Google has changed, and is in fact changing as you read this.
In 2018, Google reported 3,234 updates, which is more than 8 times the number of updates in 2009, according to Moz.
With Google now updating its algorithm on an almost-daily basis, it's safe to say there’s a ‘New’ kind of Google in town and - spoiler alert - it’s no longer defined by a checkbox approach to SEO ranking factors.
According to Google’s official Quality Rater Guidelines - a 168 page content bible - Google’s E-A-T formula is all about creating Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy content, and building the right connections between that content across the web.
Through AI and a process of self-learning, Google is now able to decipher not just keywords, but topics and connections, to rank content accordingly.
Since the Medic update in 2018, it has begun reorganizing the SERPs based on quality of experience and user satisfaction. This, along with it's E-A-T prioritization, has spelled the beginning of a ‘New’ kind of Google.
There was a time when we were all privy to a bit of keyword stuffing or link buying, but search engines (not just Google) are getting wise to this.
As content creators, gaming Google is something we need to put firmly to bed. Content planning should now be defined by getting into the minds of our customers; thinking about the questions they want answered, and the intent behind their search.
To have a hope of ranking in the ‘New’ Google, you need to perfect your content in accordance with the Google E-A-T formula.
But how do you make the jump from writing for search engines, to writing for customers?
Long-tail queries and questions are great opportunities; less competitors are likely to be targeting them, they can help you to land SERP features, and they reveal a lot more about your customers’ intent.
For some time, your content planning may have veered away from questions, as search engines didn’t have the power to understand them (AskJeeves anyone?) but now these should be a staple part of your content planning.
Using the BuzzSumo Question Analyzer, you can generate hundreds, if not thousands of questions based on your chosen content topic, and weave answers to these queries into your content, to reinforce trust, better satisfy customer intent, and, in turn, better satisfy Google.
For example, if you were looking to create a guide around ‘Content strategy’, you could focus on answering the question ‘What are the differences in content strategy on YouTube vs Instagram for content creators?’ based on a question asked via Quora.
According to Moz, to become an expert in the eyes of Google, you have to know “what your audience wants and how best to deliver the information to them.”
One way you can do this is by using the BuzzSumo Content Analyzer to understand which content is most engaged with across the web, globally.
Let’s say you worked for Hubspot and were looking to build your profile as an expert in ‘Social Media Marketing’. You can simply enter that phrase into the Content Analyzer, and take learnings from the most engaging content.
Study the articles with the most shares and engagement.
Sort by top-linked content, to examine the articles that are most likely to be referenced.
Prioritize by evergreen score to see which content receives the highest number of social engagements over a sustained amount of time, after being published.
Head to BuzzSumo’s Keyword Tool for a view of the top ranking content in the SERPs for your topic.
Take learnings from all the above articles to feed into your next piece of content.
Matthew Barby at Hubspot applied this method to great success. He says:
To find out which topics to prioritize in your content planning, you can turn to the BuzzSumo Topics Explorer tool, and enter a relevant keyword, for an insight into thousands of the most popular associated topics.
This will give you a better understanding of the content your customers really want to read, and will make your content favorable in the eyes of Google.
In the example below, you might want to create a piece of ‘Pillar content’ around the topic ‘Content marketing’ and a subsequent ‘Cluster content’ article on ‘Blogging’.
When it comes to content length and E-A-T, Google says it wants to see a “Satisfying amount” of content, but what this actually means depends entirely on the intent behind the search, and the topic or purpose of the page.
You can assess just exactly how much copy you would need to create for your content to be a success, by entering your specific topic into the BuzzSumo Content Analysis report, and heading to the "Average engagement by content length" chart.
This shows you the engagement of thousands of articles broken down by the word count, to help you understand the optimum length you content should be.
For example, analyzing 26,000 of the most popular "Social Media Marketing" articles across the web, reveals an optimum length of between 3-10k words, so creating a thorough guide would work well for this topic.
Rankings are now hugely influenced by your E-A-T score. Google employs 10,000+ quality raters to manually grade your content on its quality.
The results of this audit then get fed back into the self-learning algorithm.
And, guess what? One of the most important things these raters assess is how you build connections between, and surrounding your content ecosystem, to exert your authority and trust.
In the 'New' Google, connections are everything. And by that we don't just mean links.
Building real relationships is critical to your content performance.
You want to start by discovering the most credible authors and publications, to promote your content.
BuzzSumo research and outreach tool, Journalist Profiles, can help you find authoritative voices writing the most engaging content in your niche.
Just head to the Content Analyzer, type in your topic, and hit the Journalists filter.
Then click on a profile and get to know what the journalist writes about and shares, before reaching out via Twitter or email to collaborate.
Give them first dibs on exclusive content or products, ask for their input and, most importantly, make friends – #MatesFirstLinksLater am I right?
Building ongoing relationships with authoritative voices that have the power to push your content further, will be a huge E-A-T signal to Google that you're also an authority on your subject matter.
Even if no links are exchanged, the "New Google" will be able to semantically detect if your brand, as an entity in it's own right, is referenced regularly alongside other influential "entities" ie. brands or people.
In short, a whole lot, but a logical first step would be to go and read Google’s E-A-T guidelines.
Google’s intelligence is growing through machine learning, and will begin to understand content almost as well as a human would.
It therefore makes sense that as SEOs and Content Marketers, we need to be creating content for our customers - not ticking boxes for search engines of a bygone era!
Start making your E-A-T friendly content with a free trial of BuzzSumo. You can test-drive it free for 30-days – no credit card required!
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