Smart brands have known for some time that investing in organic traffic is the best kind of traffic, but when Google keeps changing the rules, how do you keep up?
It shouldn’t matter how or when Google changes the rules.
If you have a solid business, a solid vision and can communicate that clearly to your customers online, you’ll always be ahead of those who focus on SEO strategies and tactics anyway.
Keeping up with Google…
I have to confess. I am a total SEO nerd.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to be part of the masses that hoped that just writing good content would be enough for Google.
This year (if you don’t know already) Google put out another major update to their algorithm. It was an exciting and scary time for many of my clients.
Most of my clients saw huge shifts in their organic traffic just from this one update. There were not too many sites that were completely immune.
Some saw huge shifts upwards, with a sudden spike up in traffic and a few of my clients saw a sudden drop in traffic too.
Either way, it shook things up.
Google’s mission is clear — they want to provide the highest quality, most authoritative search results for its users and remain the leading search engine provider for many decades.
While SEO nerds like me can really get into the nitty-gritty of tactics and strategies to improve SEO, everything from placement of keywords in titles, to the length of meta descriptions, and schema pro, there’s so much more to know about online organic growth than that.
If you can step away from the tactics and strategies for a moment, and look at Google’s bigger mission and even larger goal for their audiences, you can tap into the most powerful way to grow your own business online.
Google’s Major Shift Towards Authority: What You Need to Know
This year Google had a huge update this summer that was geared towards money, lifestyle, and health websites, but in turn, will soon have an effect on many other genres of websites too (so pay attention).
Why YMYL (Your Money Your Life) Sites First?
In Google’s major shift to giving its users the most authoritative, trustworthy content available online, they decided to start with two major areas of websites to target in this latest major update this summer. We make important consumer and health decisions all the time online and Google wants to provide the most relevant, trusted sites to our inquiries.
Any site that could potentially impact your health, finances or safety of users could be under the YMYL umbrella and would have been impacted by Google’s latest major update.
If you have an e-commerce store for example, that sells health supplements, you would have definitely seen a shift in your organic traffic (good or bad).
Many sites saw a big shift upwards in organic traffic with this update, but what made that happen?
In this discussion on a Google forum, nikant25 provides the best answer to what this update means for the YMYL sites. Let’s discuss these updated requirements of EAT and what Google now looks for on your website.
The new requirements of Google search: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT)
Expertise: Gone are the times that anyone can publish a bunch of content and call themselves an ‘expert’, especially if they are asking their audience and viewers to buy something, make a health-related decision, or impact an important part of our lives. Expertise seems to be an earned right according to Google with this update, which means, you must have some ‘outsider’ expertise as well. If your only expertise resides within the confines of your website, good luck — you won’t rank as a true web expert and Google will no longer favor you with more traffic.
Authoritativeness: This is almost one step above expertise. Do people and readers view you as an authority on the subject matter of your site? If not, you are going to lose marks in this category.
Trustworthiness: Reputation is now a quality that every business and website owner must have. If your site isn’t giving users a valuable, authentic experience, Google is going to find a way to penalize you. How do you build trust online? If you are selling a product, you must be transparent and clear that you are selling a product, with honest reviews and write-ups. The main author or editor of the site must also have a trustworthy reputation online.
Here are some other things to consider for Google’s new EAT algorithm to work for your website:
Do you have an authoritative and clear ‘about us’ page that tells the reader who you are, why you are an authority in this space, and what your business mission is?
Do every page, blog post, and image serve a clear purpose?
Can you find out information about who you are, what your company does outside of your website?
Is your content high-quality?
Your titles should be descriptive and clearly define what each page, post, topic, or item is for the reader/buyer.
Can your users easily identify and get to know the owner of the website as well as the contributors?
Can you easily find products, product descriptions, and find information on each product in a clear, logical way?
We’re just scratching the surface here but you get the point — Google is working hard to give its users better, higher quality search results.
The Requirements of EAT — Time to Up Our Authenticity
Whether you have an e-commerce website selling ethical clothing, or an affiliate site selling baby products, Google is not going to give anyone traffic unless you are authentic.
The purpose of your website must be clear for the readers and buyers.
Gone are the days of shady SEO tactics, weak backlinks, or publishing reams of weak keyword-stuffed content. (Those days have been gone for a while.)
You don’t have to be an SEO nerd or expert like me to reap the benefits of Google’s new algorithm either. If your business has a clear purpose, is authentic, and its authors continue to build authority and trust, both on the site and outside the website, you are ahead of the game.
What is the Purpose of a Website?
Google has expanded on its definition of the purpose of a website:
“Most pages are created to be helpful for users, thus having a beneficial purpose.”
This purpose has shifted from the previous definition which included, “to entertain” as one of a website’s mandates. With this one shift in terminology, Google is signaling to anyone who has a website that authority online is key. Websites can no longer just ‘be’, they have to have a clear purpose for your audience.
Some of the strategic ways to improve and show Google that your website has a strong purpose is to guide writers through your site logically. Some websites have a ‘start here’ page, but having clear categories, pages, and user flow is key to showing your audience (and Google) your site has a purpose.
The key here is the purpose. How can your website have a clear purpose if your business doesn’t?
In Google’s shift towards EAT, they are forcing businesses and online companies that do not have a clear value proposition or purpose to reevaluate and re-communicate their offerings online. Without clarity and focus, you don’t have a business, and you certainly don’t have an authoritative website.
Before you evaluate your website, first think about your business.
Is your mission clear?
Can you communicate what you do clearly to your customers?
If not, start with that. Your website should be an extension of the authority and mission of your company.
Building Authority Isn’t a One and Done Solution
So now what?
You’re either completely encouraged by this article or you’re saying, ‘oh shit’ that’s why my traffic has dropped lately.
If you find yourself in either camp, I have some advice for you:
Now is not the time to give up.
Authority is an ongoing project for any business. You can’t just pop up some content, put out a few social media posts and call it a day.
Smart businesses use every opportunity to build brand authority and trust.
They tell great stories. They make their customers the heroes of their brand. And they take care of their clients — you know like any business should do, offline or online.
Today’s modern world cannot give up old-fashioned good business sense.
Build a brand, not just a website and you’ll always be ahead of those who don’t.