The increasing sophistication of search engines, successive algorithm updates and the high expectations of online audiences challenge marketing specialists to develop and implement truly customer driven SEO and content strategies.
Within this increasing focus on the user, it’s vital to structure content around relevancy, creativity and trustworthiness.
Google’s MUM update, launched in June 2021 with its multimodal and multilingual qualities, can scrutinise complex information and display comprehensive results for the end-user.
The need for an intuitive and most importantly holistic content strategy became even more relevant for SEO practitioners with the new update – particularly in highly regulated and highly scrutinised industries such as health.
In this short blog post we discuss SEO, Google updates and the role of content with Veronika Höller, Global Senior SEO Manager at CompuGroup Medical.
1. How do you feel the role of content is changing in SEO, if at all? Any reasons for your answer?
Content has played a very large role in SEO for years. Users have increasingly complex questions and want to get the right answer straight away without having to ask further search queries. And this is exactly where good content comes in - in my opinion, we don't write content for the search engine but for the user.
Correct and structured presentation of the content is important for high-quality content. Good content presents information in a comprehensible and logical way, so that it can be easily understood by every reader. Correct grammar and spelling are of course an absolute must, as is a meaningful structure of the text.
Good content does not consist exclusively of long blocks of text. If possible, content should be broken up with images, videos, graphics and other elements. This makes the text more varied and therefore more interesting for the reader. The images and videos used must of course always be relevant to the topic and contribute to conveying information. You tell the user a suitable story with your landing page.
A good text should convey seriousness and instil trust in the reader in the information presented to it. Content should therefore always be based on expert knowledge, be it through the expertise of the author himself, the use of high-quality sources (and corresponding quotations) or through an interview with a connoisseur.
The seriousness of the text and the information it contains should not only be reflected in the correctness of the facts mentioned, but also in the overall design of the text, the choice of words and the vocabulary used.
And last but not least, in the structure and layout of the page itself on which the content is to appear.
2. For companies with many products and services, what are the essential elements of an effective content strategy in SEO terms?
Unique content is important for every service and every product. If you have a large range of products or services, I would advise you to prioritize. Which services are the most important? Which products sell best?
For these products or services, I would start writing good unique content. If services and products are similar or even the same, canonicals tags can be used very well. At this point, a technical SEO tip: For products, services, offers, etc. you should work with schema mark-ups, so you get more attention in the search and help the search engines to better understand the content on the pages.
3. Do larger companies have an easier time when it comes to taking advantage of SEO opportunities, or are there areas where challenger brands have the upper hand?
In my opinion, larger companies are often not flexible enough. Lengthy processes and multiple decision-making rounds make it more difficult to act in an agile and dynamic manner.
Small companies or start-ups have a real chance of being more successful on a digital level than some large companies.
4. Do you welcome or worry about new Google updates? Why?
I think every update from Google has its charm. In the end, it's about making the search more attractive - I'm a thoroughbred SEO but honestly, when I surf privately I hate it when I have to make a thousand search queries before I find the right one or when a website loads slowly - and I'm always happy to optimize my website so that my customers have a better UX - like to visit my website and above all find what they are looking for, products, information or sometimes just exciting articles. With the many updates we are forced to rethink our website again and again and to optimize the customer journey.
5. With Google raising plans to dynamically rewrite title tags and the like, do you feel SEO and content experts should push back?
No, because Google clearly say that they will only overwrite the titles and meta descriptions if they do not match the content of the landing pages.
Google has been preaching for years that the title, meta description and content on the website must be consistent. Most don´t optimize this any more, they leave out the meta description - because Google already finds something suitable.
If you want to have control over your meta data: title, meta description, then the content on the website should also match. There has been a lot of discussion for years about how important meta data still is - in my opinion the importance has never changed - and that's exactly what Google is now showing.
The H1 is now used very often as a title - with this knowledge I adapt my H1 even more. For the meta description, Google is happy to take the first introductory text, so I'll adapt it as well.
So, I stay in control and don't leave anything to Google's AI. That is exactly our job as SEO and content creator.
6. What are the best tools for marketers to measure the performance or reach of their content?
I use heatmaps on my website so I see exactly where they audience leave but I also use several tools like SEMrush, Sistrix, Ryte and Searchmetrics.
7. Is there such a thing as intrinsically 'linkable' content? Are some brands better positioned than others to organically earn links?
Of course, you can write content in such a way that it is suitable for further links - especially on pillar pages you can set internally link very well and strive for very good link partnerships. This helps to push the content of the site and it is of course faster than getting natural links. Strong brands have it easier than others to build good links.
8. What do you feel will be the major content trends for brands in competitive niches in 2022? Will any specific industries be doing things differently?
Yes, Google's MUM will really clean up the search again. We have to adapt our content on our websites. Solution-oriented, informative, appealing and, above all, adapted to the user. No company, large or small, with a strong brand or not well known will be able to avoid this. If we now start to revise the content in a much more focused manner and choose words wisely, then 2022 could be the chance to overtake the competition and give the user real added value. Content can really make a difference in search - if it is really good E-A-T.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to a young person looking for a career in content or SEO, what would it be?
Always stay focused, always be ready to learn, never lose your creativity. SEO is a big puzzle - it consists of many small pieces that together make a beautiful picture. This includes technical SEO, editorial SEO and other content, for example on social media channels, learn to work hand in hand with the entire team of developers, SEOs, designers, content creators - then nothing stands in the way of the organic growth of your website.
As Veronika outlines, the new MUM update will have a massive impact on search results. Consumers of offline have become much more demanding, and Google recognises the need to continually improve the search experience both to provide high quality experiences and safeguard potentially valuable audiences.
The continued efforts by Google to filter out content that’s over optimised or doesn’t follow good E-A-T practices will only gather pace.
As identified by Veronika, writing content for the end-user, anticipating updates and responding in a measured way in a key role of an SEO expert in 2021.
This process can be time-consuming especially if the marketing team must create unique content for each product or service to keep up to the right standards of experience, authority and trustworthiness.
Furthermore, the way users consume online content is changing and marketers do not base their content purely on long blocks of text but diversify into more creative ways of content production such as videos, images, and motion graphics – and these too must be optimised in the right way to maximise results.
Google already announced that with the new MUM update their search engine has the potential to evolve its scanning capabilities into videos and podcasts so the tole of SEO professionals will only get bigger, not smaller – and buy-in from across businesses will be needed to compete.
As Veronica concludes any new starter who is looking for a career in SEO or content marketing needs the ambition to manage, develop and implement intuitive and most importantly holistic content strategies in partnership with web developers, content creators and other SEO and marketing experts.
At ICS-digital we specialise in integrated content marketing and international SEO, covering all aspects of technical strategy, onsite optimisation and effective link acquisition through digital PR.
To find out more about our approach – and how we help in-house SEO experts achieve more even in the most competitive sectors, get in touch.
Read more about Google’s MUM update!