Issue #004: I’m writing since 2011 & I see a lot of things (You know what I don’t see? Spam content ranking on SERPs)

In this issue, I’m going to talk about the helpful content update that Google started rolling out on Aug 25, 2022.

Growing search traffic on a website is becoming a crucial step for any online business. Knowing what to do to grow organic traffic is more important than wanting to grow organic traffic. Do you know what’s also important? Knowing what not to do.

Learning how to create helpful content is useful for any business owner. If you know how to create helpful content, you’ll seldom go wrong with your messaging and positioning. Hence leaving little to no room for error.

With AI becoming mainstream, content creation has lost its value (it just seems like it). The problem with AI tools is that no matter how well it creates the content but they cannot understand your audience. You can’t teach that to a tool, if you do, you better forget growth altogether. Many people are falling prey to such tools only to invite trouble from the big G. Since you’re part of my community, I’m not gonna let that happen.

Why Is It Important To Create Helpful Content?

Danny Sullivan of Google penned down his thoughts on More content for people, by people in Search. The title itself explains why Google had to come up with this update. He has barely scratched the surface but has enough meat to understand the gravity of this situation.

AI tools are cool, but who’ll take responsibility for the conversion? Can it create content that converts? The whole point of creating content is to promote your business and make conversions happen. That’s exactly why you should focus on helpful content. Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a human rather than a cheap AI.

  • AI can’t figure out search intent: This comes after spending years following your target audience. AI can never do this, will never do it. You will anyhow require someone to validate what the AI tool pukes out, why not have a dedicated team?
  • People need help with making decisions: The whole point of creating content is to decide on behalf of your target audience. What I have observed is that these tools are amazing for just scratching the surface. These tools lack depth which is where the obstacles hindering their decision-making processes lie. Only active research can uncover these obstacles.
  • Conversion & Personalization: These tools are miles away from creating content that’s personalized. If you only care about ranking #1, sure AI tools ‘may’ help you get there. But what will you do with the traffic it doesn’t convert?

There’s still one problem that needs to be sorted out. How to create content that takes care of personalization & conversion? If you manually create content, will that rank? I can’t comment on that, but I can teach you what Google is looking for (apply these & you’ll be just fine)

Additional notes: The updates have begun to roll out, I found a helpful thread to see if the content had set any effect on your site.

Step 1: Don’t create content to attract clicks

I get it. You may not be using any tools and have a dedicated content team. However, do you often check with them if they’re creating content only to rank #1 on SERPs? Ranking won’t help or the products listed at the #1 spot won’t sell themselves. If not, please do consider talking to your content team about this. The goal isn’t to rank #1 and maintains it, but it’s actually to convert. If that was the case, Google would create all the content that they can index. Why not? Two reasons this isn’t happening, the storage cost would eat all the profits, & it will be biased them if they rank their own content. Remember, How Amazon is bashed for ranking their own product above all?

Step 2: Create an experience out of yours

When someone searches for something, they’re looking for a solution, just like you and me. Forget about selling something, most of your customers aren’t even ready to make a purchase yet. What you create is usually out of your experience. Something you’ve spent years accumulating. How many times have AI tools failed to learn things the hard way? Zero. What about you? Exactly my point.

Depending on the intent of the end user, create pages & internally link pages that target four types of intent (AIDA) & four types of keywords. This will take them on a buyer’s journey keeping them with you until they make a purchase. Each page should be interlinked with the other three pages targeting each of the four stages of the buyer’s journey.

Step 3: Focus on people-first content

Okay, this will sound crazy. Imagine doing something for decades & waking up one day to see your job taken away by a lifeless piece of code. But then you realize that the code is stupid & can’t replace your decade-old experience.

Even if the tool can help you create content faster which (for some time) can put you in the #1 spot for your target keyword. Then what? Will that make money? Will that sell? People will see through it & immediately reject the content as it will never have the touch of experience that humans bring to the table.

These tools have a single purpose of creating content fast so that you can rank atop. These tools don’t care about conversion, because they can’t create content that converts. So have someone who knows how to use a tool that’s becoming unpopular these days – the brain. Put your brain to work for creating people-first content. That’s what helpful content update is all about.

TL;DR

I’d like to end this issue with a quote by an extremely experienced SEO, someone who has seen Google grow into what it is today, Wil Reynolds. He says “MY MANTRA, I’D RATHER BE THANKED THAN RANKED.

I’m not against these tools, I personally use tools to come up with content ideas when I don’t feel like emoting anything out of the experience. You can’t always come up with ideas passively, you need external input. Use these tools as supplements, & not as replacements. Our over-dependence on AI will create problems beyond our control.

If you had paid attention, the July’22 update has already declared war on bot-generated reviews that were surfacing on SERPs of Google.

That’s a wrap! I’ll see you at the next one.

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