What? Another update? Quick, everyone panic!

Even though Google strains to make its updates sound as cute and friendly as possible, content managers all around the world have begun to hate the innocent Panda and Penguin. Why? Because due to these updates, their SEO teams have gone completely round the bend, taking out their Google idols, burning stacks of 400-word articles as offerings and generally panicking as site after site is penalized and rankings take a tumble into the deep abyss of post-page-10.

But before you take out large, sharp pins and begin jabbing them into Pingu dolls, take a deep breath. This update is actually a positive thing. It emphasizes what good content managers have known all along: that it is of paramount importance to create high-quality content that caters for the reader, not for Google.

It seems counterintuitive, right? How could you possibly find favor with the search giant by ignoring it? What if Google gets, *gulp*, angry? But it’s actually perfectly logical: Google caters for the user and so should websites. There are those – myself included – who can’t believe what garbage you can get ranked these days. It doesn’t seem at all fair that the companies with the biggest SEO budgets should be able to hit the top of the rankings with sites that make absolutely no sense.

Whilst it’s true that the Penguin update has not been without problems, it’s clear that the past few changes to Google’s algorithms are systematically weeding out sites that do not add value for the user, and it’s reasonable to assume that it will keep introducing ways to penalize these sites. So what can your content team do?

In my previous post, I called for not a greater volume of content, but a better quality of content, if only to maintain pride in your product. Now it seems that this is also what Google is rewarding; high-quality, unique content that is well-written and serves to add value for the user. This means repetitive drivel is out, poorly worded, non-proofed content spun by software or bought cheaply from a developing country is out and posting content simply because it’s in English is out. This is about creating content for its original purpose: to be read, understood and impart some form of information designed to educate, inspire, provoke or entertain.

For writers, it’s time to get back to basics. What does your audience want to read? What is it that will help them, inform them, entertain them? Promotions, how-to guides, tips, latest news? Writing this material is worth your time and energy and ultimately companies that take the time to ensure that its content is top-notch will reap the rewards.

Last week I spoke to a web developer – a neutral third party, if you like – who mused that the relationship between Google and SEO was inherently, eternally adversarial. Google caters for the user, assisting the discovery of good sites that provide information and entertainment. SEO’s function is to deconstruct and outsmart that algorithm, thereby bringing the strongest companies with the smartest teams and biggest resources to the top. To a large extent I think that is true, but I also believe that content bridges the gap. If you’re doing it right, you won’t have to worry about updates at all.

About The Author

Hailing from Australia, Kahmen Lai worked as an executive for broadcast network The Seven Media Group. She has been the Director of Content and Social Media at online casino, Big Gains No Pains, since the company’s inception in 2011.


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