What the New Google Search Essentials Tells Us About SEO7 min read
Are you familiar with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?
It has been around for years (until now), and it broke the dos and don’ts of SEO.
But it was outdated. So, Google replaced it with Search Essentials which gives you a whole new set of requirements if you want to do well with SEO.
They go much more in-depth with what they like and don’t approve of. A lot of it is vague, similar to the old Webmaster Guidelines but they do provide some specifics that will help you out when it comes to SEO.
Here’s what you need to know:
They spend a lot of time covering automated content. And it makes sense because there are a lot of tools that provide AI-generated copy.
Heck, we even offer AI content as part of our Ubersuggest tool, and to give you an idea over 20,000 people use it daily.
But I’ve been one of the biggest critics of AI content because no matter what tool you decide to use none of them are good enough to replace a human.
Instead, you can use them to give you a head start, but you need a human to help modify the content to help make it better as well as to add creativity to the piece.
Here’s what Google shared what they don’t like when it comes to AI written content (keep in mind Google also put this in the spam section of Google Essentials):
- Text that makes no sense to the reader but contains search keywords
- Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing
- Text generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience
- Text generated using automated synonymizing, paraphrasing, or obfuscation techniques
- Text generated from scraping feeds or search results
- Stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value
The big takeaway for you here is that Google isn’t saying that you can’t use AI-created content. They have an issue with the quality of AI content.
Just think of it this way if you create AI-written content on a mass scale and don’t have humans editing it, people won’t find it valuable, they will bounce away, and the user metrics won’t be great… which all just means it won’t rank well.
With your content marketing efforts if you want to rank well you really only have a few good options:
- Write content yourself
- Pay someone to create your content
- Use an AI tool to create content, and then use a human to HEAVILY modify it.
If you choose option 3 and still want to rank well, when I say you need someone to “heavily” modify it you’ll have to do a few things:
- Expand upon the length – most AI-based content is too short and barely covers the topic. Adding more words will provide more value to the reader.
- Add in personal experiences – people love storytelling and reading about personal experiences. It’s how we learn. It’s too hard for an AI writer to add in “personal experiences”. So you will want a human to add that part in.
- Make your content fresh – what’s old is old and has probably already been read before. AI writers are pulling from the web and using what’s been written on before to create something that is “new”. But in all honesty, it really isn’t new, it is just regurgitated content. So, you’ll need someone to add in new stats, data, information… anything that makes it stand out from the competition.
- Add a dash of personality – in the future AI writers should be able to add personality to the content they create, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve literally paid for most if not all the AI writers and tested them out. I’ve yet to see one that adds personality. People connect with humans, not robots, so show your personality through your content.
To even place more emphasis on quality content, Google also recently released the helpful content update, which pretty much breaks downs that you should focus on writing content for users and not Google.
Reading is becoming less and less popular, especially among the younger generation. According to the American Phycological Association, less than 20% of teens read a book, magazine or newspaper daily. Yet more than 80% say they use social media daily.
And can you guess what type of content social media prefers?
To make things a bit more scary for Google, Gen Z is now starting to use TikTok for search over Google.
Google senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan told Fortune:
Something like almost 40% of young people when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search, they go to TikTok or Instagram.
So how is Google adapting? They of course index all forms of content… from videos to podcasts. Plus they released shorts on YouTube which now has over 1.5 billion viewers.
On top of that have been testing making these short-form videos part of their search results.
When you are creating different types of content on your website you need to make sure Google can easily classify and index it.
Within Search Essentials, they break down how you can help Google understand the type of content you are creating. This is nothing new, but for them to emphasize this it shows that they understand that the future of SEO isn’t just text-based content and they of course need websites to help them out by using things like schema markup.
Depending on the content type you are using, follow these code guidelines for images and these for videos.
This will help ensure that you get the SEO traffic you deserve no matter how Google adjusts its results in the future.
Google mentions a few things that also affect local SEO.
They didn’t really specify that it is for local SEO, but partly is. They don’t want you to keyword stuff and here are some examples of what they don’t want:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text that list cities and regions that a web page is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.
A lot of companies have multiple locations. Or if they just have one physical location they tend to create pages for each city/region that is close to their location. That way they can get more SEO traffic.
And what happens is they tend to use similar blocks of text with the same keywords on each of those pages, but they just adjust it slightly by adding a new city or region-based content.
Those pages don’t really add value. They are just for search engines so you can capture traffic from a user searching for local results.
I bet you will see Google cracking down more on that in the future.
If you want to create multiple pages for each city that your company serves you need to add more value.
For example, if I were a solar panel installation and service company that serviced Los Angeles, CA I would want to create city-based pages. Because within Los Angeles you have sub-sections such as Hollywood or Beverly Hills.
I would customize each city page and make it very specific. For example, in Beverly Hills, you can’t place solar panels on the roof that are visible to people on the street or your neighbors. And you can’t place Tesla solar roof tiles that just look like normal “roof tiles” as the Beverly Hills design board won’t approve it.
I would even go as far as showing an image of the Tesla solar roof, like the one below so people know what won’t be approved.
Or I could discuss how long it takes to get city approval and what the process is for Beverly Hills as it is different than Hollywood.
There are many more ways to customize your local city pages, but the above are just two simple ways I would make them valuable to both users and Google.
If you want to create multiple city pages think about what value you can provide. Sure you want the traffic and rankings, but to get that put the user first and make sure they are getting more value from you than the competition.
There are a lot of things Google covers in Search Essentials, but most of it is old or nothing that you already didn’t know.
The bigger things are:
- They want humans to adjust AI-written content and not just publish it as is because it doesn’t provide much value.
- Make sure you help Google understand the content types that you are using. SEO is mainly about text-based content today, but that is going to change as many users (especially the younger audience) prefer image and video-based content.
- Google wants to crack down on local SEO spam of users just creating duplicate pages that don’t change much other than they are targeting specific cities or regions.
So what do you think about the Google Search Essentials?
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