TL;DR: Your good content isn’t good enough anymore. You need to do better, and it’s not as scary as it sounds.
Because brands have been investing in content marketing, good content is slowly becoming the norm not the exception. It feels like the search landscape is beginning to flatten, and in some markets all the top competitors having well written, targeted, deep content isn’t far off.
How do you react when your content doesn’t make your brand stand out to users or search engines like you’d hoped?
The answer is…
The painfully simple but laborious solution: make even better content.
We’re getting to a point with content where good isn’t good enough. Where doing guides of several hundred words targeting separate long-tail keywords is the minimum expected.
The brief hasn’t changed, it’s just harder to meet. Google wants to give a user the best search result. So give them the best search result you possibly can.
If you’re in a competitive search market and you really want to produce content that provides the kind of real, search-affecting value you want, you’re going to have to get ahead of the curve and aim for where the bar is going to be – not where it is now.
How much better?
As we’re talking about SERPs (search engine results pages), your improvements have to be the kind Google, Bing and the rest are going to notice. Pages that improve conversions and social engagement are very important for getting maximum value out of your site, but conversions and shares don’t get rankings on their own.
If we’re aiming to be several steps ahead of everyone else, inspiration is probably better found thinking beyond what you see on other sites and toward what you don’t find.
- How else can you satisfy user intents?
Always keep in mind a user’s primary and secondary intents: what they came to the page to do or find, and the other, slightly less important parts of their internal to-do list. You should already be looking at this, but think beyond just words on a page – how else can you give people what they’re looking for?
- What if Google didn’t crawl your content?
Search engines assess pages like an approximation of a person. But what if they read your content exactly like you do? Suddenly, a big part of your content doesn’t have to be crawl-able text, but can be anything at all.
What if you could publish any content format and spiders could still get it, be it HTML or images? Would you still choose to write a 1,000-word guide on fridge parts, or would you do it using exclusively images and GIFs, or an interactive tool?
If you were free from Google bot ‘oppression’, would that change how you target searches?
Granted, Google still crawls your site, so copy for it to read is still vital. But could you apply any results from the above thinking to how you do things now? Because at some point, it might be how you need to do it.
Start thinking outside of the confines of current search ‘rules’ before Google releases forces you to with an update.
- Consider video
Us search marketing people keep on about video. It can engage people who don’t want to read, and could squeeze more dwell time out of a visit. But we can all do better than just dumping it among a mass of copy, right?
And if it has spoken audio (not that it has to…) put a transcription up with it, or make sure the message is fully reflected in the copy. Google will surely be able to fully understand videos one day, but for now give it a hand. Basic stuff, but worth remembering.
- Stop half-arsing it: use experts
Stop relying 100% on online research for your content. Talk to experts instead.
Content marketing for search is beginning to cannibalise itself: writers researching using work by writers who did the same thing themselves.
To stand out to Google, and to give users something they might spend some time with or return to, you need to quiz people who know what they’re talking about.
Google is quite open about wanting to see expert content, so why aren’t you making it?
Keep going. If you don’t keep ahead of the curve someone else will and you’ll have to do it anyway.
It’s not going to be easy, but if you’ve been following the rules up until now, you should have a solid content foundation to build off already.
Your competitors aren’t going to start producing bad content all of a sudden. At some point, everyone is going to have good content. It’s your job to make sure that when they do, you already have great content.