A couple weeks ago I had the express pleasure of meeting up with Sally Falkow, founder of Meritus Media, at the PR News Google Conference in San Francisco.
Because I’m like, totally mature and non-competitive, and a rather supportive and cheerleader-y type of person in general…I decided not to be jealous or mad or irritated the she was speaking at the conference and I wasn’t. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that when I originally spoke to the organizer of the conference about ME speaking he informed me: “Sally Falkow is already covering that topic.”
Oh. Ok. Got it. Let me take a step back.
Sally’s what one might consider an “industry vet.” She was probably talking (in her very charming South African accent) about Digital and Social before it even existed. She’s new school but with old guard wisdom. Her accolades include things such as, oh say:
#1 – Top 50 Social Media Influencers on Twitter
#2 – 25 Women Who Rock Social Media
#3 – Top 10 PR Tech Pioneers
Because I am partially responsible for the crowning of her third title above, I take particular ownership and pride in the SOS (Success of Sally). When push comes to shove, she’s hands down one of my favorite people in the PR industry…so if it seems as though I gushing, I most definitely am.
The point of that intro? You need to know that when she gives you insights about something there is a 99.4% chance that she’s right. So listen up as she shares her take on “Creating Content Google Loves.” Then go kick some content ass and take some organic names.
Over to you Sally…
When we talk about creating content that Google loves, it might sound like putting the cart before the horse – as we’re constantly told we need to create content that our audience loves. As indeed we should. In this post I’m taking that as a given. But once you know what topics your audience is interested in and what they respond to, when you craft that content make sure that it is also content that Google loves.
Search engines are now the media source used first (and most) to find news and information and to confirm and validate news. (Source: 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer)
This report also shows that search engines are now also the most trusted source for news and information.
And since we know that Google has the lion’s share of the search engine market, it stands to reason that every piece of content should be crafted so that it meets Google’s guidelines. There’s not much point in producing content if it’s never going to be found, seen and shared.
Google’s sees their mission as organizing the data on the Web so as to give people using their search engine the most relevant and useful results. They have been very open about what they expect, and what gets good ranking. Over the past few years they’ve updated and improved their algorithm several times:
- Panda – focuses on the quality of the content
- Penguin – catches spammy backlinks and “black-hat” optimization techniques
- Hummingbird – improved their ability to recognize themes and topics without having to harp on one keyword (Hummingbird)
So what are the Google guidelines for good content?
#1 – They want to see high-quality content that is relevant to a topic. It needs to be information-rich and kept fresh and updated. That means it has to be well written, cover the subject in an interesting way and supply rich and in-depth knowledge. Google likes to see what they call “Unique Value” – this means that even though that same subject or content has been seen before, it’s presented in a new way, with a new angle or perspective, or with new visuals.
#2 – Good visuals can make a world of difference to your raking in Google. But the days of adding a one-dollar stock photo are long gone. Google pays no attention to those. They want to see unique and original images, charts, infographics and videos. If you are not a Photoshop wizard, there are a host of tools you can use to make stunning images that enhance your blog post, article or news release. The image alone should be able to tell the story. Take the time to learn how to make these images and use them to enhance your content.
#3 – Google also looks for what they deem a Trusted Authority on a subject. To be a trusted source you have to publish good content on a topic regularly, have other trusted sites (preferably non-commercial sites) link and have good traffic to your blog, newsroom or website. This does take time, but if you never start you’ll never get there.
#4 – The visitors to your site have to find the content useful. One way Google can tell is by the bounce rate on your site. If people come to the site after a search and bounce right out, it’s obvious they did not find what they were looking for.
Still wondering if your content will pass the snuff test? Check out the Google Quality Checklist to make doubly sure.
Last word: Google Analytics and the Google Webmaster Tools can help you figure out what you need to do to improve your website content so that you get better ranking and more visibility. Be sure to dive in to all the amazing information offered by Google to ensure you’re taking all the right steps to get your content discovered and shared.