Although it often feels like it, Google doesn’t own the internet. But if Google dismisses your content as spammy and untrustworthy, it’s likely you won’t receive much traffic or visibility for your website.
Most people pass through Google before landing on a given piece of content. It’s widely accepted that the number one position in Google’s search results scores 33% of traffic for any given search term. So the creation of Google-friendly content highly important.
The results of Google’s broad core algorithm updates are also proof of this, as some businesses have taken severe dips in revenue as a direct result of Google’s changing algorithm. After all — if you can’t get your customers through the digital door of your website, it’s pretty impossible to sell to them.
This case study, put together by Search Engine Journal following the Google Medic update — which largely targeted medical content— shows Google’s real impact on a website’s sales. In summary, to make a full recovery from severe ranking losses is difficult. It’s a long process, which requires the site owner to begin prioritizing quality, expert content. In other words, you’ll need to start providing content that is liked by Google and has a better chance of appearing in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Whether you’re patching up a website that’s suffering or improving fresh content to help a new website to start ranking, there are five important things to remember when creating Google-friendly content — which we’ll outline in this article. All relate to Google’s guideline E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust) — an acronym developed to describe the three main factors that high ranking content should possess.
Hire Expert Content Writers
Arguably, you should spend the largest chunk of your content marketing budget on hiring expert content creators. If you’re currently splashing out on content promotion, you should convert some of these costs into writer’s wages. Why? Well, if Google does deem your article to be the most informative answer on the internet, you’ll likely receive higher volumes of traffic than you could ever receive as a result of an advertisement.
Expert content writers are particularly vital if you’re writing sensitive content. For example, if you’re providing readers with potentially life-altering advice, you should be getting your facts checked by an industry professional. This includes content centered around health, finance, legal issues, and gambling. Google names this type of content Your Money Your Life (YMYL) content as the text can impact a reader’s financial or mental health.
If you’re writing about pretty much anything other than trivial celebrity news, you should take your editorial responsibility seriously. That said, if you’re reporting on the latest celebrity diets, you’re simultaneously chatting about celebrities as well as providing a form of YMYL content as this would also act as an example of health-related content. To be sure, you should create a team of expert content writers who can either fact check, provide additional comments or write content on your behalf.
While you might view an article on celebrity diets as a piece of fun, informal news, others might have a more serious perspective and end up basing their future health choices on this information. Google will always take the view that searchers are impressionable and easily influenced by say, Kim Kardashian’s diet as the search engine is responsible for protecting their core audience.
It’s a no brainer that using expert writers will make Google favor your content. And while the search engine will see value in the meat of your articles because of this, they will also approve of expert author bios making your content reach new heights on the search listings. If you can provide health content written by a field specialist with a Ph.D. Google will feel much more comfortable advocating your advice (and possibly granting you with a golden search snippet).
If you want to hire qualified authors who hold a Ph.D. or equivalent status, you can use freelance platforms like Kolabtree to find them. If your goal is to create content that’s backed by scientific data, years of experience, and expert accreditation, you’re in the right place. To get started, you’ll need to post about your project, so that relevant freelancers can make a bid. Advertising for scientific writers is a great way to slowly build a team of specialist authors who can regularly contribute to your publication.
Remember, to reserve the majority of your content marketing budget for activities like this.
Include Rich Media and Plenty of White Space
Both people and search engines rely on more than just words to assess the quality of a content piece. In sum, a blog post is more than just an explosion of written thoughts on a page. Posts can be picked apart to reveal the anatomy of a blog, with features such as compelling headlines, featured images, and even newer items such as sound bites. A blog post’s anatomy splits into two different elements — rich media and white space.
Rich Media is a digital term often referred to in advertising. Google describes rich media as any advanced feature that tends to take a visual form. For example, images and videos are the most common types of rich media as they provide a compact and vivid reference for what you’re talking about. Audio is also a form of rich media. Although it isn’t a visual reference, audio is commonly used to engage readers who prefer to hear information rather than read it. It also works for readers who are preoccupied with other tasks such as driving or working out by allowing them to digest content without being distracted.
White Space is essentially the opposite of rich media. It’s the absence of extra information — which gives the reader a break between sentences or paragraphs. The term white space means literal white space on a page and is essential to break up a heavy text, making an article easier to read. In short, white space is a quick, formatting rule followed by the best blogs. For example, master content creator Buzzfeed rarely ever publishes a blog post without masses of white space. You’ll be pushed to find a Buzzfeed story that has a paragraph with more than three sentences in it.
Both rich media and white space should never be an afterthought. Although the quality of your content takes priority over the inclusion of a pretty picture, ignoring essential formatting will cause your expert information to go unnoticed.
To keep it simple, your content should pose several routes for different readers to take. These readers are:
- The Avid Reader — This is someone who is super interested in the subject matter. For them, you should provide a long-form, in-depth content piece, which satisfies the user’s query. Detailed content is where an expert subject writer comes in to play to create the base of your content. It is also the most important part of your content when it comes to Google’s crawlers and what is essential for high-ranking status.
- The Rushed Reader — Usually someone who is frantically navigating around the internet for a bite-sized piece of information. This is someone who is pressed for time and wants to find a quick answer to a question. As such, you should make sure to provide plenty of visual aids. All blogs should have a featured image as well as some form of infographic or summary video. Within the text, it is also beneficial to break up key ideas into bullet points or quotations so readers can scan the content and pick out the best bits.
- The Non-Reader — Since podcasts and audio content pieces have become more popular, you should also try to include sound snippets for this new type of reader (who ironically, doesn’t actually read). This reader might lead a busy lifestyle, or maybe they just don’t enjoy reading. Either way, your competitors are beginning to address this reader type, and so should you.
The New Yorker catered to all types of readers perfectly in their recent interview with Game of Thrones star, Emilia Clarke. They introduced the article with a quality, featured image of the star, purposefully shot for the publication. The written interview stands at a whopping 3,712 words for those who really want to dig into Emilia’s thoughts. To break up the volume, The New Yorker has also provided sound bites of the live interview. These act as bonus content for the avid reader and quick summaries for those in a rush or who prefer audio.
Keeping these three reader types in mind makes your content optimized for all potential visitors. This means your page is likely to receive higher traffic, page engagement, and most importantly, an increased page duration — all good signals for Google.
Make Your Content Multilingual
Making your content multilingual is a small content improvement trick, but by no means is it a quick fix or substitute for expert content. You should pair it with expert content already optimized for each reader type. In other words, making your content multilingual only helps if you already possess a piece of Google-friendly content.
The theory behind improving your search engine rankings through multilingual content is simple. More languages mean more visitors, which leads to a better position in the search. You can also target regions more precisely by doing this.
Google views a page with high traffic and visitation figures as highly relevant content — a straightforward fact that isn’t too technical to grasp. If a page is deemed popular with users, Google will assume the content is of high-quality and is also likely to be popular with other users who haven’t discovered the content yet. The search engine will likely try their luck by boosting the page further up the search results in the hope the consensus of a smaller audience will match that of a larger one.
How to translate your content to other languages is a little more complicated. Whether or not you should use Google Translate is debatable. Google Translate could be seen as a lazy way to make your content multilingual, ultimately compromising translation quality. Ideally, you’ll want to find an individual translator to do the job who can alter sentiment, colloquialism, and sentence structure appropriately.
Making your content multilingual also doesn’t mean creating thousands of versions of a single article to please the search engine. Article translation should be natural in that languages should be chosen based on interest from certain nations. For example, translating an article on “The Best Nail Salon in New York” to rare tribal languages is hardly going to be useful, in practice (although, you never know this might interest an incredibly small niche).
Trusted publications such as Healthline do a great job of using translation in an authentic, believable way. Most of their content pages awarded search snippets — such as their article on the keto diet — translate into a singular language — Spanish. This choice of language depends on the publication’s demographics or regional interest in a specific topic.
Create Supporting Pages on Your Website
Other than focusing on the content at hand to improve your chances of ranking, you can also take a step back and evaluate your overall website. Google prefers sites with journalistic integrity. Such integrity shines out of the copy of solid policy pages such as your sponsored content policy or publication’s mission. If you get your website as a whole into Google’s good books by having clean values, creating Google-friendly content will become easier across the board.
It’s no surprise that websites like The Guardian often appear at the top of the search results. Sure, this is because The Guardian’s articles truly are helpful to readers and provide value, but it is likely also as a result of the site’s trustworthiness, according to Google.
It seems the search engine favors this news source because of its journalistic integrity, which is particularly evident on their support page. On this page, The Guardian asks for the financial support of its readers to “give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account.”
The publication openly discusses their content creation process, stating they have a strict policy: “Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion.” This statement is music to Google’s metaphorical ears as The Guardian is so transparent about their commitment to giving quality information without any ulterior motives. Similar to Google itself, The Guardian attempts to have no informational bias, only reporting on and highlighting what should matter the most to the reader.
Take a Reverse Approach
Reverse psychology works in plenty of situations, including the creation of Google-friendly content. Before commissioning, planning, or writing a content piece, you should firstly think of the finished product. Why? It gives you space to imagine a searcher’s journey as they explore the search results and discover your content. What’s on the searcher’s mind? What type of phrase would they need to key into their browser to get their intended answer?
Asking yourself these questions can help you to find a suitable key phrase which you’ll want to target in your article. Not only does a keyword help you to rank in Google by using text searched frequently and picked up by the algorithm, but it also makes sure your content is laser-focused before you begin writing about it.
There are plenty of tools you can use to help with keyword research, including the tool Answer the Public. This website suggests relevant keywords and content ideas in downloadable, visual formats. For example, if you’re doing some initial research on a topic such as invisible braces, Answer the Public might suggest focussing on some key queries such as “are invisible braces free on the NHS?” or “invisible braces or veneers” to help form a popular article idea. These ideas are taken directly from searches in Google with high monthly traffic, ensuring you’ll be writing about a topically relevant question.
As you can see, creating content from the searcher’s perspective can cause you to take an alternative, more specific direction. Starting with search is a prime example of creating Google-friendly content as your topic will be designed to match search intent from the start.
About the Author: Ramya Sriram is a UK-based digital content writer and marketer. She manages communications at Kolabtree, a London-based startup that helps businesses hire freelance scientists online. Her experience spans 10 years in publishing, advertising, and digital content creation.