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SEO tips from Google: Authenticity is key in a world of AI content

Dive into the world of Google updates and SEO strategies in this latest Search Off the Record podcast episode. Learn from Googlers Martin Splitt, John Mueller and Danny Sullivan as they discuss how to respond to ranking system changes, make SEO less overt, and prioritise authentic user-centric content creation.

How should you respond to Google updates

The podcast opens on an interesting discussion on how SEOs and creators should respond to Google updates.

Danny Sullivan said, “One of the changes we did last year is we started talking about our ranking systems as opposed to ranking updates… a reset to say, “Look, we have these ranking systems, for example, the helpful content system, and periodically some of these systems get updated.””

Google has created separate pages explaining key systems and providing guidance for content creators. The guidance remains consistent, like creating helpful content for users.

If changes occur after an update, Sullivan suggests it’s because of a misalignment with Google’s intent. Creators should revisit advice to realign with the systems.

The conversation emphasises utilising resources like the Search Status Dashboard and systems pages to understand updates and respond appropriately. The goal for Google is to aid the web community in understanding and adapting to ranking system changes.

Stop making SEO so obvious: “I don’t like all this SEO content that I’m encountering.”

The struggle many SEOs face is the perception of SEO-focused content by ordinary users. When people criticise “seeing the SEO,” they’re not necessarily referring to technical aspects but implying that content appears created solely for search engine ranking, not user value.

Danny Sullivan said, “I think one of the things that’s a real struggle, getting real, getting heart to heart now, talking to all you SEOs out there working in the trenches… is people saying, “I don’t like all this SEO content that I’m encountering.”

“For an ordinary person to say that they see the SEO, I don’t think they are necessarily seeing the SEO as much as they’re using that for a euphemism of, “This content really wasn’t designed for me, it was designed just to rank in a search engine.” And then, and of course, that’s not what we want people to do. “”

“To be successful as an SEO, you want to make sure that, if you’re producing content, that no one’s going to have that reaction”.

Successful SEO involves crafting content that doesn’t evoke this reaction. Sullivan gives an example of how while promoting products through blog posts is acceptable, excessive self-promotion can be off-putting. Instead, the emphasis should be on authentic and helpful content. For instance, instead of showcasing a product as the best in a list, it’s better to provide a comprehensive explanation of the product’s workings, addressing limitations transparently. This approach fosters authenticity and avoids turning users away due to a perception of over-optimised content.

Produce authentic user-centric content instead of long content.

“Authentic” came up a lot in this episode to describe what our mindset should be when creating content. The Google team focused the discussion on understanding the bigger picture of user-centric content creation.

The key is to empathise with users’ needs upon visiting a site and provide content that truly helps them. Danny Sullivan uses a personal travel experience to illustrate how many travel blogs include unnecessary details before offering the practical information users seek.

He says that many of them start off the same way, with the author talking about how excited they are to go on an amazing trip. Sullivan then says that he just wants to know practical information, such as where to park, how to get to the place, and how long he needs to be there. He also says that he doesn’t need to hear about the author’s packing list or the weather forecast.

The focus should be on delivering relevant and concise information, rather than padding content for the sake of word count.

There’s a recognition of the misconception that Google enforces lengthy content, which isn’t the case. Instead, the emphasis is on producing valuable content that genuinely satisfies users. Despite the need to generate revenue from content, the priority is to ensure it meets user needs.

Sullivan concludes by saying that bloggers should always put themselves in the shoes of their audience. He says that bloggers should ask themselves, “If I were a person coming into this, would I actually be satisfied?” If the answer is no, then the blogger needs to rethink their approach.

John Mueller makes a final point about authentic content being a differentiator in a world of AI content.

Mueller said, “But I think now more than ever, having that authentic content that you created because you have an actual audience in mind that you know would come to it directly, that is your way forward as you try to navigate this world of how ranking systems are evolving with Google.  And I think also generally, as we go into this world of AI content and so on, that it will have places and it’d be useful, but I think the bedrock will be to continue to point people towards authentic information. There’s a big craving for that, and that’s going to be your key to success.


Thanks for reading!

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