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  • Writer's pictureLucy Jackman

What Google wants from your content


The subject of my very first website back in 1998.

I was in my first year of studying International Business and French at University and we had to choose an ‘elective’ module to study during the first semester. I remember there being a fairly extensive catalogue to choose from. My new friend, Lisa, and I thought learning to build a website would be a good skill to have in our toolkit.

How right we were!

Fast forward 25 years and websites and web content have played a huge part in my career (I’ll come back to the chinchillas later).

I’ve been lucky to have worked on both sides of the website building equation throughout my career. I have:

- Commissioned websites and worked with developers to oversee, build and launch them

- Written and maintained website content within corporate guidelines

- Project managed the build of a huge new intranet site with loads of whizzy functionality

- Trained and managed a team of 100+ authors to write and publish online content (and rejected it when it wasn’t good enough!)

- Researched and written website copy and blogs on subjects ranging from brain injuries to wedding hair, hypnotherapy to electric vehicle chargers!

It’s probably fair to say I know a bit about what makes interesting online content.

Nobody is a Google expert

We all know it’s good to learn. Making sure I’m producing the best quality content for my clients is important to me - and them. To keep my knoweldege tip top and create content that meets the ever-changing demands of online search engines like Google, I decided to do an SEO course.

I’m not an expert in the specifics of what Google wants. Nobody is or can claim to be (unless they work for Google and have actually been involved in building the ever-changing algorithm - I will allow that!). Steer clear of anyone who suggests otherwise.

Relevant and valuable content

I believe that people want relevance and value in website content. When you satisfy both these criteria you find a beautiful sweet spot that leaves everyone happy.

The SEO course told me Google wants to EAT your content. Not literally, of couse! It’s a handy acronym to help you remember.

Google wants:

Expertise - content written by a credible, knowledgeable source.

Authority - posts on similar, complementary themes across your website, demonstrating the breadth of your expertise

Trust - interesting, different takes on a subject, recent posts on topical subjects, and proof that you practise what you preach, e.g. case studies/testimonials

What Google wants doesn’t really change. EAT is relevance and value under a handy acronym.

How to feed Google what it’s hungry for

Stick to your area of expertise

Choose a theme or area of work you want to be known for and write about it from different angles. Don’t chop and change between too many themes or just post once on a subject. That’s not the way to build authority or demonstrate expertise. Google wants you to show it you’re the place to go for content in a specific area.

Create original content

Google wants to surprise and delight its readers by serving them new and interesting content they haven’t seen before. Try to switch off from what your competitors are posting and come up with new and original approaches. Google will thank you for it.

First-hand experiences

Share stories like I did at the start. They hook people in and make them want to read more. So, why chinchillas? Our tutor made us pick a piece of paper out of a hat and pair the random animal with a colour scheme of our choice. Mine was green, naturally!

We had to research our animal and create interesting content about it on our website. The website was fully coded in the back-end. I felt like a proper html geek! There was none of this easy-peasy content editing software we have now, and email was a real novelty. My chinchilla website was published briefly to be assessed and I’m pleased to say I passed my module. It’s probably a good thing it no longer exists as I don’t think it would be relevant or valuable today.

Post consistently because recent content builds trust

Let’s say you visit two websites.

1. The first hasn’t posted any new blogs or articles for a couple of years and their social media feeds show a similar pattern of neglect. You wonder if they are still in business.

2. The second posts monthly blogs and shares useful commentary on a subject you’re interested in.

Which company would you choose to contact?

Recent, consistent content builds trust. This is why Google adores websites that post regular blogs. Your content doesn’t have to be a blog. It could be client case studies, a weekly news roundup or refreshed service information.

If you neglect your website and let it stagnate, Google will not thank you for it. One way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to do a website audit.

Help Google to be helpful

When it comes down to it, search engines like Google just want to give users a great experience. They want to serve up useful content that answers their questions and searches. Because happy customers are returning customers who might click on the adverts that make them money.

When you’re writing your blogs, news articles, web pages or case studies, make it easy for the bots to recognise that it’s trustworthy, credible content from a reliable source.

Use a sprinkling of common sense too.

Nobody enjoys reading content that’s instantly recognisable as being packed with keywords and search terms, written entirely for the robots. Remember, every reader is a person with feelings who wants to be informed and entertained.

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