New Google Content Requirements:
As with previous updates, the purpose of Google Phantom 2 is to force webmasters to create and curate content that is valuable to website visitors. Websites that do not conform to these new guidelines could be penalized with lower search engine rankings, or worse, de-listed altogether. The purpose of this is to enhance the user experience by rewarding websites that provide original and value added content to their visitors. These are all good things. The only drawback is that unlike previous Google algorithm changes, this upgrade received almost no press whatsoever. In fact, even the owners of some of the most well known websites in existence were caught off guard.
Rethinking Your Metrics:
The bottom line is this. Google wants you to provide quality content. So, how do you measure something like that? Many of the metrics you have been using up until now are simply no longer relevant. Not only that, the people who have been telling you what was good content in the past may longer be qualified to make that judgment for you. Marketing gurus, executives, and promotions staff are no longer the shot callers. Instead, if you want to ensure that your social content meets Google standards, you’ll need to rely on customer input.
Learning From Your Customers:
It is now time to look at metrics that measure visitor satisfaction. If visitors are satisfied, this will become apparent through metrics that include the following:
- Total Time Spent on a Page
- Scrolling Measurement
- Time Spent Viewing Video Content
- Bounce Rate
Each of these metrics is important because they measure the amount of engagement. This is something that page view counts and other metrics could never do. You can obtain further insights by determining which demographic groups of visitors are more attracted to some of your content and which groups are attracted to your other content offerings. For example, by studying when visitors are most engaged in certain types of content, you can determine a bit about who those visitors are. If you determine that pages with video based content receive a lot of engagement, late at night, from mobile devices, you can reasonably determine that this content appeals to a younger audience. If you find that you are getting visitors clicking in from organic links posted on websites such as Tumblr and Reddit, you can be sure that’s who your audience is.
Once you know the personas of your audience members, you can tailor your content accordingly. Ideally, this will result in more visitor satisfaction with your content and will satisfy Google’s new algorithms.
Increasing Content Quality Without Metrics:
It takes time to collect metrics, analyze them, and come up with a plan of action based on those numbers. In the meantime, you have no idea what the impact of the Phantom 2 update is having on your site. Fortunately, there are actions you can take now to improve the quality of your content. However, you can and should bring metrics into your strategy as soon as possible.
Curating Content And Adding Value:
There are four types of content. There is original content that you write or produce, which Google loves. There is content that you curate, but significantly alter in order to make valuable for your audience. There is content that you curate, that is relevant to your audience, but that you do not alter in any significant way. Then, there is content that has no relevance to your audience or relationship to the purpose of your website. This is content that you add to your site for no other purpose than to drive traffic to your website. Here is what happens under the new guidelines depending on which kind of curated content that you use:
- Curated Content That is Altered to Improve User Experience: This is the curated content that Google is most likely to reward with good search engine ranking position. You have taken relevant content and then made it even more valuable to your users by customizing it according to their needs. However, you aren’t just doing this to appease some formula created by Google’s search team. You are doing this to provide quality content to your visitors.
- Curated Content That is Relevant But Has no Added Value: Content that you pluck from other sources without making any changes to incite engagement really does nothing to add value to the user experience. It is simply content that they could get somewhere else. Google’s altered algorithms will not only penalize your website for this, they may also penalize the owner of the website where the original content resides.
- Irrelevant Curated Content: This is content that you copy into your website to drive traffic through your doors with no concern for whether or not it is relevant to them (you would never actually do this of course). In many cases, the content is something that has gone viral, or that is rich with popular keywords. Most websites that receive traffic using these methods are doorway sites that push users to click into low quality, spam sites. This is the content that is most likely to be penalized. In fact, engaging in these tactics comes with a high likelihood of having your website de-listed.
Creating Content That Increases Engagement:
- Write posts that are engaging, original, full of valuable information, that provide users with your insights.
- Reduce the ratio of advertisements and affiliate links to actual content.
- Aim for fewer click bait, ‘listicles’, and how to posts and provide more meaty content.
- Accomplish the above goals by adding e-books, white papers, and other long form content offerings to your website.
- Provide content that has readability stats that are appropriate for your audience
- Proofread and editing existing and new content
- Rely heavily on user feedback to drive your content writing decisions
- Begin collecting data that measures visitor satisfaction
- Write original content or put your own spin on the content that you curate
- Clean up web pages with duplicate content and/or too much advertising
- Know who your customers are and provide them content that is useful
- Understand how Google will interpret your content