When it comes to SEO, writing content is king. Content encourages users to stay on your website longer, boosting your search rankings. It helps encourage users to become customers or conversions for your service. Articles that answer questions are often boosted as a featured snippet, ensuring your website is the first seen by Google searchers. People who especially like what you’ve written may link it on their website, boosting your rankings even more.
But anyone can write, the internet is full of blog posts, articles, pillar pages, and FAQs. How do you write material that gets you seen?
In the wake of Google’s recent December 2022 Helpful Content update, blog posts, and articles are being scrutinised more than ever before. If you’re going to write articles in 2023, there are a lot of new factors to keep in mind.
What is Google’s Helpful Content system?
The Helpful Content system is a machine learning algorithm that rates your writing and ranks it on the search engine accordingly. The aim of the system is to ensure original, useful articles get seen higher on Google search pages. It does this by demoting useless writing and posts made for the sake of ranking keywords.
As it is controlled by an ever-changing algorithm, there is no definitive way to go around writing materials it will 100% like. Besides, there are always oversights and exceptions. The December update has had a significant impact, with many internet publishers noticing a dramatic dip in their rankings.
You’ll find this often happens with algorithms because people game the system to ensure they get on top. If you have ever searched a question and only found unrelated answers, that’s a symptom of the algorithms being gamed.
But it’s also why gaming the algorithm isn’t ideal. Did you ever click on those unrelated links, or did you feel frustrated and go back to the search bar to refine your question? Most target audiences will do the latter.
Essentially this is why the Helpful Content system is being implemented for. Google wants to improve the user’s experience when they search, so they get what they search for. Thus to game it, you have to write using its rules.
At InSynch, we can help you plan a tailored content strategy, focussed around Google’s new guidelines. You can chat with us anytime for a free consultation. Below, we’ve summarised the best practices for writing to generally help you.
How to Write Helpful Content That Gets Seen
When we were recruiting earlier in 2022, we wrote a blog on what it was like working in InSynch, leading to many job application conversions. Readers stayed on the page for an above-average time compared to our other blogs and we received a 36% increase in traffic on the InSynch website. This helped boost our SEO rankings as a result.
That blog page is a prime example of what good content looks like. It takes all the following points into consideration:
Write for the people, not the search engine – This is a mindset you need to have when planning your content strategy. A reader of your website has to be able to take useful information and outcomes from it. You are making the article for them, not for Google to notice.
Answer the questions your audience has – Ideally when a user comes to you with a question, you answer it or lead them toward a conversion. Google can see if users have left your website and then checked another one answering the same question. Furthermore, answer real questions your audience has about your service or product, not just ones that have a high search volume.
Don’t repeat yourself – Because lengthy articles are preferred by Google, many writers have “waffled on” in the past. Repeating points or phrases with different wording, or just copying paragraphs used on other web pages and pasting them into their article. The Helpful Content update is now putting a stop to this. From now on, your writing has to have a journey, and it can’t just copy-paste sections of text elsewhere on the internet.
Structure your writing – This is an old rule but still as useful as ever. Use heading formats, bullet points, and other clever formatting to guide your reader through your writing. This allows skim-readers and people with reading difficulties to find the information they need most without leaving in frustration. More importantly, this helps retain your reader’s attention, helping them stay longer on the article.
Firsthand experience is preferable – Bringing original and experienced information to your reader is what Google wants to see. This pointer works twofold. First, by ensuring that your material is original compared to others posted on the internet. Second, it encourages you to write what you know, which is important when you must:
Avoid misinformation – This rule is especially important when you are writing on topics like health or legal information. You should always research what you are writing and use credible sources. If you say something that isn’t true or something that is not backed up by data or studies, Google will try to penalise you.
Focus on your genre – Say that you are a roofing company with a blog. Google would expect you to write about roofs and roof-related topics, such as home improvement. Topics such as finances or travel would be far outside your scope and would be considered attempts to game the algorithms.
DON’T Use AI-Generated Content
Many webmasters are asking about quick and cheap AI-generated articles, the answer is absolutely not. You should not rely on AI-generated writing for your business or service. Google’s Helpful Content system is designed to penalise this and it is evidenced by how AI is unable to fulfil the system’s ruleset.
AI learns from text that already exists, it is unable to be original or break out into new forms of writing. It has no firsthand experience of what it is talking about and can easily create misinformation. Generated text often repeats itself, writing similar points and phrases repeatedly and producing no meaningful paragraphs. As a result, it can produce articles with poor structure. AI can ensure keywords are present in its writing, but what those keywords say and convey to the user is a completely different matter.
It doesn’t save time either. In our firsthand experience proofreading AI-generated writing, it took roughly the same amount of time to edit it into useful information as it would take to write it from scratch
How InSynch Can Help
Here at InSynch we have many members on our team who are experienced with content writing, as well as SEO and marketing strategies. If you need coaching on best writing practices, need help planning articles or blog posts, or want to optimise your website for future Google updates; we can help. Chat with us today for a free consultation with no obligations to see how you could improve your business’ standing on the internet.