The first two weekends of January have been full of buzz in the SEO community. Some of the biggest names in publishing – like The Economist, The New Yorker, and Time – have experienced a recent drop in page-rank, and they aren’t the only high-profile sites seeing drastic changes in SERPs.
According to Google, updates were made to their core algorithm. The changes are continuing to roll out, but it seems to be a continuation of Google’s focus on quality content from 2015. Both July’s Panda 4.2 and May’s Quality Update both had the same intent: how to determine the best possible result for each query.
The July Panda update focused on penalizing low quality sites, while the May Quality Update rewarded high-quality sites. While both updates have the same goal, rewarding quality content, the algorithm approaches each from a different perspective.
As of writing this, there are confirmed reports that Panda has now become a component of the core algorithm. Which means that Google will continue to penalize sites that provide little to no quality content.
Creating a Quality-Focused Strategy in 2016
The key to creating a successful digital marketing strategy for 2016 is to focus on creating high-quality content. One of the most comprehensive definitions of quality content comes from Heidi Cohen:
“Quality content is customer-centric and speaks in a human voice to provide your audience with the information they need and seek. It’s presentation and grammar facilitate consumption. Quality content supports search optimization, makes your content stand out from a flood of other messages, and provides the basis for increased resources.“
In order to understand quality content, it is important to look at it first from Google’s perspective. So, what is Google’s goal when you do a search?
“Our goal is to get you to the answer you’re looking for faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between you and the knowledge you seek.”
By understanding that Google’s focus is a great user experience every time a user does a search, you can begin to form an effective strategy for creating high-quality content. One thing that can be hard to grasp is the amount of time and cost that goes into creating high-quality content.
In highly competitive verticals, it is not uncommon for individuals or companies to spend anywhere from 15-40 hours per blog post. While that may seem excessive to many, as marketing guru Neil Patel points out:
“When a designer gives you a bill, what do you see it as? An expense, right? When a designer gives me a bill, I see it as an investment. For me, it is something that appreciates and helps your business grow.”
By starting with high-quality work, it is often possible to get a longer shelf-life out of it and see a better ROI over the long-term instead of spending a couple hours on a piece of content that never gets seen. A secondary benefit of creating quality content is that if done correctly, it is often possible to repurpose it across multiple mediums effectively distributing the total cost across multiple social media posts, downloadable pdfs, or etc.
The final benefit of creating amazing content is that you’ll want to promote it. As social marketer Derek Halpern termed it the 80/20 rule of content promotion:
“It’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more. Or, in other words, create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.”
By pairing high-quality content with a cohesive digital marketing strategy, you will be setting yourself up for success in 2016.
About Kevin O’Brien (Alumni)
Kevin served as a Digital Marketing Strategist at Liquid Interactive. Kevin worked to optimize the content, user experience and technical elements of our clients’ digital marketing efforts with the goal of increasing customer engagement.