The Google Quality Rater Guidelines received a new update in late July. For SEO experts and writers, things suddenly got a bit clearer.
That’s because Google shed some light on their process, as well as on what makes low quality content.
Let’s dig in!
What are the Google Quality Rater Guidelines?I know you’ve heard all about bots and AI. But, lo and behold, Google also has manual raters. Yes, the human kind.
Their main responsibility is to evaluate the Google algorithms. They do so by testing them against different web pages.
When they check to see whether a page has low or high quality content, they always refer back to this document – the Quality Rater Guidelines.
However, you don’t have to think about these raters as IRS inspectors. They don’t make any decision on their own. They simply report all their findings back to Google.
They do, however, play an important part in algorithm creation and updating.
Let’s see what the update is this time!
The definition of low quality pages In a nutshell, the update defines low quality pages as pages that “miss their mark”. In other words, they do not achieve what they set out to achieve.
The two main reasons why this happens are:
Make sure that they know their stuff and that they won’t be stuffing the copy with keywords. Also, link to reputable websites to show you’ve done your research and your content can be trusted.
Other factors that raters are looking at:
Creating a brand in saturated markets is an increasingly difficult task. While adtech is making it easier to target potential customers, producing unique, human-centered content that differentiates the brand remains a challenge for most companies. I deal with this on a daily basis, and constantly work to improve my own brand through updating my website, making sure my content aligns with my audience and connecting through social channels with my followers and customers.
The branding challenge is compounded by the fact that the number of places a brand can be criticized has risen as well. Every person a brand interacts with represents not only a potential customer but also a potential detractor.
Why is it so difficult to connect with customers these days? The following are some of the top reasons.
1. Creating Authentic Content Takes Time
People can spot advertising jargon from a mile away, and the average consumer is practically allergic to inauthentic ads. That means marketers are expected to create unique and timely content to help to connect with real customers.
2. Increased Importance of Visual Branding
Design thinking is becoming a major driver of competitive advantage in today’s digital marketing environment. Research shows that 81 percent of consumers research online before engaging with a brand, which means more and more people experience a brand for the first time online. As a result, the way that brand appears visually matters more than ever.
3. Social Media is Shortening Consumer Attention Spans
Most consumers look at an ad for only two seconds, hardly long enough to process any words. That’s why it’s incredibly important that companies create visually engaging content that makes a connection quickly.
4. Millennials Expect Authentic Branding
Millennials are the largest consumer group ever, everyone knows it. As the first demographic group populated by digital natives, Millennials are driving higher expectations when it comes to authentic brands, and are highly engaged with those that successfully gain their trust.
Marketers that tackle these challenges head-on have a better chance of connecting with their customers in order to build lasting and profitable relationships. Companies that make products that are both beautiful and authentic stand a better chance of cutting through the noise and reaching more customers.
While authenticity is a frequently mentioned priority, the newer, better-defined trend of human-centered design is becoming a popular approach to making a brand more appealing to new customers while retaining existing ones. There are even several free courses that aim to help advance human-centered design in more industries.
In the past, all a company had to worry about was its product or service, but today’s brands have to consider the experience they are creating for consumers, and whether that experience is different enough from their competition.
1. Create More Engaging Visual Content
“Photos are the primary driver of people’s initial experience with a brand. Brands that recognize this can leverage visual storytelling as a powerful tool to help them create enduring relationships with their audience.” In doing so, companies will be able to create stronger buy-in and affinity for the brand.
2. Focus on the Customer at Every Stage of the Design Process
Tim Brown, CEO of human-centered design firm Ideo, shared in a recent blog, “This is a moment of rich opportunity for design thinkers, and we now have evidence that the world at large is taking notice.” As you implement design thinking in your company, keep the customer at the center of every decision.
3. Close the Loop with Engaging Content to Create Customer Buy-In
Don’t just settle for traditional advertising content, focus on generating authentic, meaningful copy to incorporate in all your communications to help your customers feel like they are engaging with an authentic company.
Brands that effectively leverage these tactics will create visually appealing experiences at a fraction of previous costs, avoid costly customer churn and turn customers into more vocal brand ambassadors that will drive continued business.
When you say SEO, you automatically think of keywords. Almost every client that contacts my agency, Idunn, to help them with SEO content writing has a huge list of keywords that they want to rank for.
But there are two big problems with such lists: they are usually both useless and nearly impossible to rank for.
Allow me to explain.
I strongly believe that organic traffic is not a goal in itself. It’s a vanity metric. The actual goal is to generate sales. Organic traffic may boost your ego, but it won’t pay the bills.
However, when you choose the right keywords, you can generate sales through SEO.
Let’s say that you have a bakery. You bake the most amazing chocolate cake. Of course, you want as many people to learn about it, to visit your website and to buy it.
What should you optimize your content for? If you said “chocolate cake”, read on.
User intent – the cornerstone of any successful SEO endeavor
Ask yourself this: what does a user who searches for “chocolate cake” really need? Do they want a recipe? Do they want to buy one? Do they want to simply look at what their diet doesn’t allow them to eat?
And there is your problem with broad, generic keywords.
They are not rooted in user intent.
The rise of mobile search and voice-assisted search has taught users that specific queries bring specific results. So, if they want to bake a chocolate cake, they will search for “how to make a chocolate cake from scratch” or “chocolate cake recipe”.
Those who want to buy a cake will search for “best bakery near me” or “best chocolate cake in Tampa Bay”.
Simple queries may bring traffic. However, in competitive industries, this traffic will cost you an arm and a leg.
But more importantly, they will not bring business in through the door. If users in Minnesota see the website of a bakery in Tampa Bay among the top results, will they buy? Of course not! Irrespective of how delicious their products are and how well they are marketed.
When you start your keyword research, always consider user intent.
This is the first step of every successful marketing tactic, SEO included. Learn how your users search and what they search for. Don’t be tricked into optimizing for short keywords that bring you nothing but brand awareness and that cost a fortune.
Optimize for what really matters for your business.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools that can help you do that.
Top tools to refine your keyword research
I cannot stress this enough: tools are there to support you, not to do the thinking for you. In fact, I have noticed that marketers seem to forget that they need to optimize their content for humans, not for Google bots.
Use the tools below, but filter all their results to match what you know about your buyer persona. This is where marketing expertise comes into play. And this is why, at Idunn, we prefer to hire SEO copywriters with marketing background. Anyone can learn how to insert and look for keywords. But only writers who understand marketing know how to make them work for a business.
These are some of the tools we use at Idunn, both for our in-house SEO content and for our clients’ content:
1. Good old Google search
Yes, a plain Google search can make a world of difference. It’s free and it’s very relevant (as long as you do it in a private/incognito window).
Take a look at the first results that pop up when you type in your keyword. Can you write better content than what currently ranks in the top results?
If so, you’re on the right path. If not, you need to find another keyword.
Next, take a look at the “related searches” section at the bottom of the results page. This will show you a few similar searches to your own. You can use those queries as additional keywords in your content.
SEMrush is a paid tool, but even a free account can give you some useful information. Type in your keyword to find related keywords, create a free blog template or check the progress of your website or a certain page.
SEMrush is a very complex tool, so it will take some time to learn how to use it to its full potential. But it’s worth it.
3. LSI Graph
A free tool, LSI Graph helps you find LSI keywords that boost your content’s optimization. Simply input your keyword in the search bar and you will receive a list of more LSI keywords than you can use.
A word of caution: you don’t have to use them all. As I said before, think about your user’s intent. Not all those keywords match your goals and your buyer persona’s needs, so filter them wisely.
4. Google Suite
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are excellent (and free!) tools to monitor your progress.
Here’s a pro tip: go to Google Search Console and find those pages that don’t rank high enough yet. Then use the tools above to come up with additional keywords and information to update those pages or blog posts.
It can take you less than a day to change the ranking of a page.
No tools can substitute a good marketing strategy. At best, you will find yourself with hundreds of thousands of views per day, but no purchases or no leads. And this should never be the goal of SEO. Every marketing tactic should always be aligned with your business goals.
Are you considering building a multilingual website or are you thinking about expanding your existing site into additional languages? I don’t blame you! After all, a lot fewer people speak English than we might think. Only 1.5 billion people speak English. That’s about 20% of the world. If we just look at native speakers, in the meantime, it’s only 360 million, which is less than five percent.
And as most of us prefer to listen, read and search in our native language, that means if you only stick with an English website, you’re only going to be able to access a small slice of the world’s population.
But before you embrace a multilingual website you need to weigh up the pros and the cons. So let’s weigh up the big ones.
Con: It’s a lot more work
On the flipside, translating is a big job. Everything that you do suddenly becomes double. And though translating is perhaps not as much work as thinking it all up to begin with, it still means sitting there and going over every text twice if you’re using two languages (And obviously more if you’re going to use even more).
It isn’t just that you need to create every new text twice over, either. Whenever you’re going to edit or change anything on your website, then you’re going to do that change in all the languages that you’re site is in.
Pro: You’ll expand into new markets
Making your content available in another language means that you get to access that other 80% of the pie that all those English websites leave lying. That’s very enticing – particularly as many of these other languages haven’t yet been as saturated by websites as the English speaking world has. It’s a big difference too, with Wikipedia stating that 51% of the internet is English.
That means that if you offer your website in other languages as well, you’re going to find it easier to get the traffic of that language, as the competition is almost by definition less fierce.
Con: You have to speak the additional language
And you can’t just speak it a little bit. You have to speak it well. Otherwise you’re going to find it very difficult to translate your material over. Even if you don’t want to do the translation service yourself – and that’s a real option today, as there are a lot of localization services to help you out – you should still speak the language.
After all, translators might make mistakes (accidentally or otherwise) and if you can’t read what they’re putting up, then you’re going to be in a situation where you look ridiculous for the longest time while being none the wiser.
Pro: You’ll be able to compete for a wider range of keywords
As you probably know, if you want to do well on Google, then you need to rank well for certain keywords. That’s the basis of SEO. The advantage of having a site in multiple languages is that you can try to rank versions of the same page for keywords in different languages.
That can be a huge advantage – particularly as the competition in these other languages will often be far less fierce than it is in English. In that way, you can draw a lot of extra traffic to your site. Even better, it is possible that your success at drawing traffic in one language will actually contribute to you climbing the rankings in English as well.
This is down to the fact that Google most certainly looks at the success of other pages you’ve got to determine if the new page should have a shot. Therefore, the better your pages are doing in one language, the more of a boost they’re going to get elsewhere.
Con: Keywords aren’t direct translations
Of course, that does bring a problem with it and that is that you can’t just translate a search term across from one language to another and hope for the best. People don’t search for the same things in the same ways. They use idiosyncrasies of their language, euphemisms and ways of speaking that mean that if you don’t do your research, you might well not get any traffic from Google for your newly translated page.
And that is obviously not the point.
So, if you want to use a multilingual website, you’ll have to do twice the keyword research and then apply what you’ve learned to the different pages in order to get them to actually draw in traffic. Note that applying these different keyword phrases will also make things more complicated for building up pages, as it means that you can’t just translate directly across and will instead have to doctor each headline and page to fit the keyword strategy you’re trying to apply.
Pro: You’ll be part of the shift
The world’s economic center is shifting. It’s moving away from the west and more towards the east. That means it’s moving away from the English speaking world and towards a range of other languages, including Chinese as well as Spanish as these economies catch up and possibly even surpass the west.
Now, that might make some people uncomfortable, but that doesn’t change that it will happen. That again has to do with the fact that most people don’t speak English and aren’t westerners. And so, as they get a more equal share of the economic pie, the balance will shift in their favor.
By making your website multilingual, you’re preparing for that. You’re making sure that you’re there to catch the spending of these growing economies, so that as the economic center keeps shifting your situation doesn’t worsen.
And sure, you might say, I’ve got time. The thing is, that translating your website across isn’t something you can do one two three. You’ll have growing pains. You’ll have unforeseen problems to overcome. So, wouldn’t it be better to do that gradually? Then, when the east is the place to be, you’ll already be in place.
Today’s marketers (especially the social media kind) have to be data geeks.
With the amount of information we have to filter, categorize and organize every day, there’s no way to have any kind of success without tools that turn big data into relevant bits of knowledge. So we rely on automation, analytics, listening tools and more.
At the digital marketing agency I run, we use at least three research and SEO tools for every blog post we write and at least five tools to help us create, implement and monitor social media strategies.
I have personally tested dozens if not hundreds of said tools and I keep on doing that. I know that every day new tools are being developed and new features appear in older tools. So I need to make sure that we use the best tools available in order to generate the best results for our clients.
This is what our social media marketing tool deck looks like. In other words, these are the tools that help us make sure we keep our clients ahead of their competitors:
7 social media marketing tools we use on a daily basis
You’ll notice that some of these tools are completely free. Others have free trials or limited options in their free mode.
I’ll be honest: some are definitely worth paying for. For others, the free version is enough if you have a single brand to manage or if you’re up against moderate competition.
Since we offer professional social media marketing and management services, we use (and pay for) the vast majority of these tools.
1. Sendible Along with Buffer, Agora Pulse, HootSuite and others, Sendible is one of the top social media management platforms out there. It may be less known than its competitors, but I personally believe that’s not fair.
We’ve been using Sendible for more than two years in house. For some of our clients, we use other tools, so I have done my fair share of comparing between them.
What I like about Sendible is its user-friendliness, the in-depth reports you can generate with it and the stellar customer service. I chose it and passed on others because at that time it was the only one to support Pinterest. Now, there are, of course, other tools that do that, but Sendible is still among the first to introduce new features and new platforms.
Pro tip: If you have a single set of social media channels to manage (for a single brand), Buffer is a free option, while Sendible is not.
2. SEMrushSEMrush is our go-to competitor analyzer. We use it for both social media (for instance, to check our growth compared to that of our competitors) and for copywriting (mainly for keyword research).
You can get quite a lot from SEMrush’s free version, but if you’re serious about in-depth analytics, I strongly recommend the paid version.
3. Social QuantI have used Social Quant on more than a dozen Twitter accounts to boost their growth. Here’s how it works: you link your Twitter account to Social Quant, add a few hashtags that are relevant to you and SQ will follow those accounts on your behalf. Briefly put, it’s a great way to automate Twitter growth.
What you can expect: the free trial lasts 14 days. Depending on your industry, you can get 100-700 new followers during that time. For the paid version, you can expect 1,000+ followers every month.
4. BuzzSumoThis is a great tool for both copywriting and social media. Search for a topic on BuzzSumo and you’ll learn which articles covering it were the most shared on social media. You can also search for social mentions and monitor your profiles.
For us, it’s a good place to start our research and get a sense of what we’re up against. The paid version gives you access to more in-depth reports and more results on a query.
5. TweetReachThis is one of the tools that can give you a lot of insight even in its free version. Simply search for a hashtag, a username or a keyword and you’ll get a thorough report on it.
We use this to see how well our Twitter accounts perform over a given period of time. Along with other similar tools and reports, it helps us make more sense of data and transform vanity metrics into actionable items.
6. Google AlertsThis one is pretty simple and completely free to use. Add a brand or a name and receive e-mail alerts whenever it’s mentioned anywhere on the Web.
You can use it to monitor your own brand, your competitors, certain keywords or even yourself.
7. CanvaThis is a tool that will turn even the most graphics-challenged person (I do believe I am reigning queen here) into a superb designer. It’s easy to use, mostly free and perfect for social media images, especially the motivational ones.
What about you? What are your favorite social media tools? What have I left out?
What is Google Cache? Google Cache is all of the pages that have been stored and remembered by Google and, thus, show in the search engine rank positions. Google will take a snapshot of every page it crawls and then cache it.
How will this help you?
By looking through Google Cache, you can easily find out all the pages that Google remembers from your site, by simply typing:
Example – site:yourwebsite.com
Once you do this, Google will bring up every page that has been cached from this domain and you can find out everything it remembers from your site. This will include all of the pages that you expect to be there, and also some that you may not expect.
This means that you can go through the whole list of cached pages, and there may be pages that you do not want to be cached in Google’s rankings. If you have a WordPress site, it is often the case that pages will be indexed in Google’s cache that have automatically been created (like singular team pages) that you may not want to show in search engine rank positions.
Another reason for you needing to clean your website may be because there has been a large change on your site, which involved the removal of pages, and now Google has cached pages that are out-dated or irrelevant.
How do I solve this?
After studying what Google has cached from your website, you may be keen to clean it up and ensure that Google is only finding things that are relevant and beneficial to your site. There are a number of ways you may choose to get rid of the pages that you do not want to be cached by Google.
If you have a page that you cannot remove from your website, but it is appearing on the Google Cache unnecessarily, then you may want to make this a no-index page. This means Google will no longer cache the page and it will not appear in search engine rank positions.
To make a page no-index you will need to apply the following line of code in the <head> section of your page: <meta name="robots" content="noindex">
This is showing the robots that are crawling your site to cache your pages that you do not want indexed, and the robots will ignore them. The pages will then no longer appear on search engines.
Submit to Google to remove
If you come across dead pages (404 pages) when you are searching the Google Cache, then you must act to get rid of them from the search engine rankings. This may happen for two reasons:
When you are searching through Google Cache, it is likely that you may come across pages that you do not want to be on your website at all. They may be outdated or maybe you were unaware of them. In this case, you should delete the unwanted pages from your site.
Google may have cached pages that you no longer have on your website. These will appear as 404 errors and, of course, this means you do not want them to appear in the search engine results because you would not want users being directed to a dead page.
If either of these two issues become apparent when you are looking through your Google Cache, then you need to make Google aware that these pages are no longer in use, so they will not be cached anymore. To do this you must;
After you have done this for all the desired pages, you should ‘fetch as Google’ in Webmaster Tools, and this will crawl your site again. Once finished, all the pages that you wished to be removed, should no longer show in Google’s cache.
What do I gain from this?
You may actually gain direct SEO benefits from carrying out this exercise, because it may lead to you removing pages that are lower quality which, may lead to Google to better view your high quality pages.
Roland G. Cardoza