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google algorithm changesGoogle search rankings and website traffic are among the key metrics for PR and marketing analytics. That’s one reason to stay abreast of the latest Google algorithm updates.

Google constantly tweaks its algorithm. It made 3,200 changes last year alone. Staying attuned to Google’s algorithm changes helps secure better positioning in search results for the corporate and brand websites – and for other content created by PR and marketing.

Google releases significant changes to its algorithm – what it calls core updates — several times a year. Some websites suffer substantial drops in rankings, much to the dismay of SEO pros and website managers. Some think Google has penalized them and desperately seek a quick fix.

No, they likely haven’t done anything wrong and there might not be anything to fix, writes Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison of search. The websites only dropped relative to other sites that produced superior content.

Key Content Questions to Ponder

Sullivan offers a list of questions for website managers and content creators to consider. Here’s some of the most important:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

Consider asking others you trust but who are unaffiliated with your site to provide an honest assessment, Sullivan suggests. In addition, an audit can reveal what pages were most impacted by an update and for what types of searches. Examine those changes to understand how the Google algorithm has assessed them.

SEO experts have listed 200 ranking factors, some more technical than others, but Google continues to emphasize the significance of superior content. Over time, Google’s search engine algorithm has become far more sophisticated in its ability to rate expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

Google’s continued effort to rate content means PR may have a greater role in managing websites, creating story content and improving page rankings. For page one ranking, the Google algorithm prefers in-depth information and analysis. It wants definitive content that offers a thorough and preferably complete account of the subject. That’s why Wikipedia articles rank high for many business topics. It’s worth emulating the Wikipedia content approach.

Some Practical SEO Advice

Analyzing Google’s recommendations, digital marketing consultant Neil Patel provides more in-depth, practical SEO advice. Some of his main points include:

  • Provide additional analysis or draw your own conclusions using original data rather than simply regurgitating already-published information.
  • Craft headlines that are appealing but also accurately summarize the content. Avoid clickbait and focus on user expectations.
  • To enhance credibility, include your byline (or other writer’s bio) and a link to a bio.
  • Write about what you know. If you don’t know it, learn it well before writing about it. Cite recognized experts in your writing.
  • Check all content for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Write for humans first, not the search engine. “Even in the short run if this means you won’t rank as high, that’s fine,” Patel asserts. “Eventually, Google will figure it out and your content will rank higher over time as long as you are focusing on the end-user.”

Superb content will naturally create links to the article from other websites and social media. Such backlinks are another key attribute that the Google search algorithm wants to see. What others think about the value of the content cues the Google algorithm. Backlinks say it’s good stuff.

Bottom Line: Marketing and PR pros who manage corporate and brand websites can benefit from Google’s advice on how to manage the constant updates to its search engine algorithm. Superb content and writing for readers, not search engines, offers the best path to page one placement in search results.