Should You Write For Humans Or For Google?
Pieces of high-quality writing are often expected to be incredibly well-written and to offer their readers useful, relevant, and thought-provoking content. However, it’s very easy to get caught up in writing content that is search engine optimized, without considering the people that are meant to be reading your content.
Worrying about the length of the content, the variations and density of keywords used, and the competition from other creators may take away from the actual substance of your writing. These features very rarely help to improve user experience; on the contrary, they make the content more suited for algorithms than people, which may make it less accessible.
Furthermore, search engines are simply tools used to find content. Yes, having a high ranking in search results will boost traffic to your content, but it won’t retain an audience if the content isn’t easy to digest and understand.
As writers, we need to be able to find a balance between creating content that is easily accessible and can rank very well in search results.
Google Has A Super Smart Algorithm
Google’s search algorithm is incredibly sophisticated and constantly evolving. It improves little by little each day and sees huge developments yearly, that make the search engine easier to access and use.
This is the main reason why Google is the world’s most-visited website, and why the company name has become synonymous with searching something up online. Sure, there’s a huge number of other search engines available, but very few can compare to the high quality of Google’s search results.
The 3.5 billion daily searches performed through Google create a perfect environment for accurate results – the algorithm has more than enough data to learn about what makes people click on content.
For the above reasons, and many more that haven’t been mentioned, Google definitely does not need writers to specifically design their content to suit the search engine. It’s actually the complete opposite – creating organic content that isn’t overly saturated with keywords will be more beneficial in the long run as it will help the algorithm learn to reward high-quality, factual, and evidence-based content.
What Content Does Google Favor?
It’s all well and good that Google’s algorithms know what good content is, but writers need to be aware of it too so that they can be rewarded for their efforts. So, what exactly makes a piece of writing good, what makes it bad, and what exactly influences search result rankings?
A great place to start learning about writing high-quality content is Google’s own ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines’. They are the guidelines used by people that Google hired to rate search results, and they outline practically everything that factors into the quality of a content piece and the ranking it is most likely to achieve in search results.
However, the document is over 160 pages long, so here’s a quick summary of the things that rankers are asked to look for when ranking content:
- Purpose: Rankers are asked to see how quickly they’re able to identify what the purpose of your content is. If it’s not immediately obvious, your content will rank lower.
- E-A-T: This stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Rankers need to be able to easily find out your credentials and your reputation since those two affect how much readers will be willing to believe and trust your content.
- Quality of the content: This rating is based solely on the first page that loads when your URL is clicked. There’s no point in having a link to a mediocre article near the top of the ranking, as readers will get bored almost immediately.
- Creator and website information: This information helps rankers further determine how credible you and your content are. Knowing who wrote the article they’re reading will remove suspicions of plagiarism and content theft.
As you can see, none of these factors have anything to do with what keywords you use and how often you use them.
So, How Do I Write Good Content?
Now that you know what influences the rankings in search engines, you can focus on honing your writing skills and creating the best possible content you can. Below are just some of the basics that, if followed correctly, will ensure your writing is for the people, rather than the search engines.
- Purpose: just like we mentioned previously, your content needs to have a purpose. Decide on the topics you will cover, what audience you are trying to target, and how that audience is meant to react to your content.
- Research: Creating content requires a lot of research, especially if you’re planning to cover topics that have a lot of depth. The last thing you want is to provide inaccurate statements or statistics in your work, as this could negatively impact your reputation in the future.
- Plan: Even a simple plan outlining what you will write at the start, in the middle, and at the end of your content will help you to stay on track and avoid forgetting something important.
- Edit: Your work doesn’t need to be an incredible literary achievement. It does, however, need to be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. It also shouldn’t contain too much filler language as that just uses up precious words. Don’t be afraid to completely re-write sections, and make sure to proofread everything thoroughly!
- Include a by-line: Both the Google algorithm and any potential readers will want to know where this content is coming from. Make sure to include any credentials you may have, as giving yourself more authority will improve your reputation as a writer.
- Educate and explain: Don’t just state facts and move on. Make sure your readers understand exactly what you’re saying and why you’re saying it, otherwise your content will have little to no influence and you won’t retain your audience.
- Cite your sources: This is vital. Never forget to cite your sources, as any data you use will become meaningless if it seems to have appeared out of thin air. Also, getting accused of plagiarism because you forgot to credit someone really sucks.