Does Google Really Want Good Content? Or is there another way?
Getting to number one on the SERPS
In a world of 7.5 billion people, Google only has ten spots on page one that count if you want traffic for your website or article. Technically, you ideally want to be number one on the page because that gets something like 90% of the traffic. No pressure.
Ever since Google rolled out Panda (the very first one) some years ago, things have not being going as well for writers as they had previously. So how do writers get back on top?
The Dark Side: Making money
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is paid per click advertising. Google posts advertisements but only gets paid by the client is someone clicks on them. Increasingly, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) vied with SEM, and in order to bring in the big bucks promised advertisers lower fees if they selected SEO over SEM.
When the clients of Google begin to moan that they are not getting any business but are paying big bucks for pay-per-click, Google is obliged to do something. That means getting rid of all the black hat SEO operators who use nefarious means to get to number one on the SERPS. In order to do that, Google is trying to get rid of people who write and post simply in order to earn Adsense revenue.
Unfortunately, a lot of good guys have gotten caught in this battle of the giants, and it doesn’t help when we are told that Google wants good content. We try to provide good content but we still don’t draw traffic. So what, exactly, does Google want?
Google wants paying clients
The way Google gets clients is by people clicking on ads because they are interested in what they are reading. Of course, these days, Google doesn’t present ads related to the content. Instead it follows the search patterns of browsers and makes a guess through the logarithm it’s using as to what the client would be interested in buying. Then it presents the ad. The problem is if someone is flipping from one thing to another (bouncing), there isn’t enough time for the reader to notice the ad. So what Google wants is copy that is good enough to keep the reader glued for a minute or two so that there is time to notice the ad.
Google Lies: The Myth of Good Content by Daniel Markham
Sticky content is still a big one
Google doesn’t so much look at what people are writing as at the way readers respond to the writers. Google assume that if readers stick around, then it’s ‘good content.’ Of course, good means different things to different people. I think a lot of people have realized that Google isn’t looking for content where that is beautifully structured with no spelling errors. One can get away with some pretty crappy writing and still have traffic directed to one’s site. We’ve all looked at someone else’s work, spotted a gazillion mistakes and asked, “Why are they getting traffic? My writing is so much better!”
Good writing means interested readers
As a writer, I hear my readers read. That’s because I’m reading along with them. I’m a reader foremost. During my school years, I read between two to four books a day and for the past forty six years, I read between two and four books a week. Despite having spent time as a professional writer where my only income was from writing, I have always read substantially more than I have written. What that means is that I am automatically reading my stuff as I write it. Unless one is able to put oneself in the place of the reader, it’s difficult to determine whether the reader is going to love what you write.
What readers want
There are readers and there are non-readers. Fewer than five percent of the general public read, so you really have to be a reader yourself in order to get into the mind of a reader. However, don’t lose hope. While surfers might not be readers, they are information seekers. They are entertainment grabbers. And they love to grab easy-to-absorb tidbits on the web, so with a touch of technique, you can grab some traffic as well.
Top ranked website do not use content
The strong keyword in the headline and the mindblowing photo
There are two traffic grabbers which hold equal weight. The first is a strong headline which catches the attention in the split second that they’re scanning and the other is the incredible photo or illustration that accompanies it. If you have those two right, you have an eighty percent chance that the surfer or reader is going to click on your article.
Finding the right article to write is difficult for all writers. Some have a knack for knowing what people want to read, and others (like me) get it right through trial and error. Of course, while a lot of people might want to read about Pitt and Jolie, there is already so much competition for those slots that the chances of getting into the top ten are precisely zilch. Unless you have a magic wand, I wouldn’t bother. So there are three steps to getting this first essential right.
- Get a topic that has a reasonable degree of interest and very little written about it.
- Select strong keywords for the title which, simultaneously, draw interest.
- Find a stunning photo that illustrates the story and makes people take a second look. That photo has to be your first photo so that when you post a link, people see the photo.
Let me explain that photo or illustration to you. People are strongly visual, but more than that, people are drawn to what is beautiful, what is interesting, and what is terrible. From experience, a good number of people avoid what is terrible because not everybody is blessed (or cursed) with a morbid curiosity. I would stick with beautiful and interesting. The bottom line is that the closer the photo is to the sort that would go viral, the better.
On Google Plus, I have probably had about two dozen posts that have garnered anything between 500,000 to 1,500,000 unique hits. My experience is that it’s not only the photo but the words that accompany the photo. That means your headline and your photo are your most powerful tool in getting someone to click on a link you posted.
The magical sticky potion of good content
All this is pointless if someone clicks on your page, espies that there is nothing much to keep them there and bounces right off to their next exciting web adventure. You have to provide the goods.
So here’s what makes a ‘good’ article, i.e. a sticky article.
- Provide an interesting video that is related to the topic that will keep the reader there for a minute. Every second counts! I generally try to put two videos per hub but if I can’t find the right ones, I don’t put on something that will cause people to bounce. If people lose interest even for one moment, they won’t stay.
- There are, at least, three to five photos that have captions (possibly with a link elsewhere). Choose your photos or illustrations with great care. Tell a story in the caption area that echoes or provides new and different information to your article. I’ve noticed on hubpages that the caption in the photo adds to your word count. I try to make every photo count. Remember the more interesting those photos, the more likely your reader is to stay.
- Your content needs to be interesting, and, sorry to say, your life story doesn’t cut it. You either appeal to a strong niche market or you appeal to the masses, but you do have to have content that people like to know about.
- Currently, due to poor education standards these last three decades, people are semi-literate and couldn’t write a grammatical sentence if they tried. So if someone semi-literate is reading your piece, it doesn’t matter so much if you don’t have a good command of language. Beware, however, that it is the reader (one of those five percent) who will recognize immediately if you have made a spelling mistake, phrased something incorrectly, or not structured your content in a way that makes it easy to read. If there’s one thing that a reader (those five percent, again) are good at, it’s picking up when someone can write, and when they can’t. So it’s worth your while to polish your writing.
- Add a poll. Make the poll relevant to the topic you’re writing about. Why? Because people who are interested in the topic are also interested in what other people who are interested in the topic think. And remember you’re trying to get three more seconds or one more minute to keep your reader on your page.
Marketing on Social networking sites and pinterest
I’ve been on the web for 21 years and been actively involved in writing and posting since day one. Despite having somewhere around 30,000 views per day on my social networking site, only a handful view my articles. Most of my traffic comes from google. It has always been that way. Yes, I do believe if you have a good following, it definitely contributes,
In fact, I have a theory about this, but you’re welcome to shoot me down. I suspect that if you post an article on a social networking site and it has an initial jump in traffic, it makes the spider robot logarithm pay some extra attention to your piece…
How do you define good content
An improvement in traffic
No, it’s not going to bring traffic to every article. Even newspapers and magazines have articles that readers just blur over. However, if you continue to apply these rules, you will sooner or later find yourself with a group of articles which draw traffic, and these will provide an additional opportunity for the rest of your portfolio to be seen.
© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger