Google is favoring content “by people, for people” over content written with search engines in mind in a new and extensive search algorithm update. The changes are responsive to user frustration when clicking on links that rank well in search but lead to content designed to rank well in search rather than be helpful or informative.
We know people don’t find content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers. So starting next week for English users globally, we’re rolling out a series of improvements to Search to make it easier for people to find helpful content made by, and for, people.
Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search, Google
Roll-out and impact. The changes are expected to roll out over the next two weeks. The timeline will be posted here. Subject areas that have traditionally attracted a high proportion of search engine-first content are likely to feel the most impact. These may include arts and entertainment, for example, where links lead to aggregated content from third-party sources (such as film reviews) rather than original content.
It’s important to note that the impact will be sitewide. In other words, if the algorithm determines that the site offers a high proportion of unhelpful content, all content on the site will be impacted.
Why we care. Content marketers especially should reflect on what these changes mean for their content strategy. Brands want to see high search rankings for their content for purposes — obviously — of brand awareness, product discovery and customer acquisition. But those aims can no longer be pursued at the expense of providing rich, informative and original content.
This is a lesson many brands were learning anyway. Today’s customer doesn’t want to be sold to. He or she wants to be helped — with a decision, with a pain point, with an educational journey. The difference going forward is that Google looks set to make helpful content all but mandatory.
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About The Author
Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.
He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.
Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.