SEO, as you know, now plays a more critical role than ever in the marketing content that you create to engage your customer. And Google, as you also know, plays a critical role in determining how and when that customer engages with it. It’s important, then, to keep an eye on Google and keep abreast of the changes they may be making to how they rank content in user searches.
If you’re a content marketer — and you better be — those changes involve algorithms, which have a profound impact on the type of content you distribute and how it is viewed. Today, we’re going to talk briefly about the content trends driven by the late-last-year algorithm changes at Google: the “Helpful Content Update” and the “Spam Update.”
For years, and Google would be the first to admit it, their content ranking algorithm was less than perfect and, as a result, fairly forgiving. As a result, when it came to optimizing content such as websites and web-based articles, blogs, white papers, infographics, ebooks, etc., marketing content developers could get away with things. They’ve been able, for instance, to get away with optimization tactics such as keyword stuffing and link farming (a set of web pages created with the sole aim of linking to a target page in an attempt to improve that page’s search engine ranking). In short, writing to the search engines instead of the human being. As of this year, however, the ability to get away with “faking” SEO is no longer an option. This is good news for bank marketers who adapt and bad news for those who don’t.
Not surprisingly, Google continues to get smarter over time; artificial intelligence can do that. It’s time for banks to become smarter about creating search engine optimized content that can truly leverage what Google is prioritizing when it comes to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and the recent algorithm updates.
Why bother with algorithm updates, you ask? Well, Google is a business too, and the path to growing their business is to serve their users the best possible content as quickly as possible. The Helpful Content Update (HCU) and the Spam Update will both enable Google to enhance the search engine’s ability to offer users the best content quickly and, in the end, increase their revenue.
Here is what Google’s HCU is intended to do: validate and rank content with a greater emphasis on author authority … and trust. And they’re doing this not only by validating the trustworthiness of sources/authors. So, moving forward as a content marketer developing content for the web, Google suggests that, in order for that content (site page, ebook, whatever) to be recognized as valued content, you should position your author as a subject matter expert, ideally linking the blog to their LinkedIn page where the reader can learn more about the author’s experience and industry credentials.
Google is also concerned about the growing popularity of AI-generated content via providers such as ChatGPT or Longshot. Industry experts theorize that it won’t be long (potentially) before the internet is flooded with AI content, i.e. websites and blogs crafted by writing “bots.” Google’s updates are the company’s way of protecting what it views as legitimate content, making sure that the content it ranks high in SERPs is developed by individuals who are truly qualified to do so — subject matter experts in their field and not “AI writing assistants.”
This is where the Spam Update comes into play. The update is designed to determine whether the content was, in fact, created by a trusted, expert source. If not, the algorithm will identify the content as spam. So, tempting as it may be to use an AI platform such as ChatGPT or Longshot to generate your blogs instead of a trained writer with industry expertise and credibility, you may want to resist that temptation … or face the wrath of Google’s algorithm updates.
In addition to the steps that Google is taking to validate content, the company is also taking a less favorable view of “all text content.” In Google’s opinion, there’s much more to content than text … and it’s true. The manner in which people consume information has been changing for quite some time and Google has been watching very closely. Specifically, they’re watching YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok. And, the fact is all-text content engagement is on the slide while short-format video engagement is on the rise and the numbers prove it. Fun fact: there are roughly 250 million hours of video viewed on YouTube every day and last year; young people globally spent 56 minutes a day on YouTube. According to Forbes, “YouTube Shorts now claims 1.5 billion monthly viewers — more than TikTok has at 1 billion viewers a month — and gets 30 billion views a day.” Instagram Reels has proven to be a powerhouse player as well. “In an October earnings call, Meta reported that Reels gets 140 billion plays a day across Instagram and Facebook.”1 As you look to create engaging content that Google will crawl and rank highly on its SERPs, consider short videos, either standalone or embedded in your text content.
So, as you move forward with content creation — keeping in mind that Search Engine Optimization plays a critical role in the effectiveness of that content — it will pay to also keep in mind that Google has an ever-watchful eye on the web. Remember: how, when, and even IF your content will be viewed online is in Google’s hands, not yours.
Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand.
To view our marketing creative, both print and digital — ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in-branch signage — visit bankmarketingcenter.com. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at email@example.com. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.
Forbes. “In the age of TikTok, YouTube Shorts is a Platform in Limbo.” December 22, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/richardnieva/2022/12/20/youtube-shorts-monetization-multiformat/?sh=6ffc04116f41