Google works hard to make finding information easier for users. And occasionally, the search engine updates its tools as a way to improve the search engine results page (SERP). The updates to the search engine are meant to help users—however, creators often find the Google updates frustrating, as they have to change their methods to fit the changes.
The latest SERP changes included the recent “Helpful Content” and the May 2022 core update. Both of these updates should improve the relevancy of results on the SERP page with helpful and useful listings.
As the web changes, so do the needs of the search engines crawling those pages. And as a result, creators might notice changes in site performance, but the difference is not due to algorithm adjustments.
Google’s core update did not violate their webmaster guidelines or change the algorithm, so websites that fall in the SERP might have been over-ranked before the updates, and those that rise might have been under-ranked. Ultimately, the new fixes help users find better content when they're searching on Google.
Questions To Ask About the Quality of Your Content
Before making significant changes to your website to weather the SERP volatility, you need to take a look at what already exists. Your content affects your SERP rankings. The better the originality of your research, information, and analysis, the more you'll improve your rankings.
As Google works hard to remove redundant information from its SERPs, it ranks sites higher if they have insightful information that is unique and impactful.
Consider these questions about the quality of your website’s content:
- Have you thoroughly described the content on your pages?
- Does your website provide unique content that is not rewritten or copied?
- Is your original content valuable?
- Will a user find your headline or title helpful and descriptive?
- Is your headline factual and informative, rather than shocking - like clickbait?
- Is your content worthy of sharing with friends or colleagues?
- Could a useful resource reference your content?
Questions About Experience and Expertise
Beyond content, Google is also looking closely at the voice and experience of your content. The site looks at the sources and evidence that make the content factual. Web admins need to consider authority when crafting content, as the SERP volatility is changing ratings based on expertise and background.
- Does your content or website have an author page that showcases the authority of content creators?
- Is your content well-trusted and recognized by experts in the field?
- Are experts writing your site’s content?
- Does your content have verifiable factual errors?
- Would you trust your money or life to the information in the content?
SERP ratings also depend on the content’s presentation. For example, websites with significant spelling and grammar errors rank below sites with immaculate mechanics.
Websites with well-researched and thoughtfully-produced content will rank higher than made-up content hastily added to platforms. In addition, content should translate into mobile and desktop devices.
If you notice your website ratings have dropped after the latest updates, look closely at your content. First, evaluate the positives of the content with high ratings, then look at content with lower ratings. Google prefers content with expertise, authority, and trustworthiness—so where is your content falling short?
What Is People-First Content?
With the newest “Helpful Content” updates, content that provides a satisfying experience will rank higher than disappointing content. Search engine results must provide value to users, possibly bringing additional value beyond their original search tag. If your content meets the needs of people first, then your content will succeed in the SERP volatility.
People-first content fits on a site with an audience for similar content. For example, if you have a car dealership, your content should be about cars and car care. Therefore, the content should show a depth of knowledge from using the product or service.
Sites that rank higher primarily focus on content that helps their customers. The content should offer a satisfying experience that makes customers feel like they have learned something about the topic.
How People-First Content Differs from Search-Engine-First Content
Businesses and organizations often craft their content to rank high on the SERP. However, you can help your website by adjusting the purpose of your content.
Your content shouldn’t just focus on SEO, but the SEO center on the customers you want to attract. Consumers don’t want to read content loaded with SEO terms. Following Google’s SEO guide explains how developers can craft content with SEO without going overboard and turning away customers.
Content creators develop search-engine-first content to impress the Google algorithm, so the content does not provide interest or satisfy humans who are looking for knowledge or answers. Sites that focus on ranking rather than people craft various content on unrelated subjects, hoping something will “hit” and go viral.
When bots or automated apps write your content, the content will inevitably have an inauthentic voice that lowers its ranking. People write people-first content. Search-engine-first content tends to follow trends rather than focus on actual questions your customers might have.
Your content might also rank lower because it provides an inaccurate answer to a real question, like when a new movie hits theaters.
How To Make Your Website Update-Proof
At the end of the day, Google updates its tools to assist those who use its search engine. Organizations can help themselves (and avoid SERP volatility) by being thoughtful and intentional about the content on their websites. Google wants users to find accurate information from trustworthy sites. If you have disconnected or Search-Engine-First content written by a bot, your site could drop in the rankings.
As Google relies on artificial intelligence to learn about helpful and useless content, Google and its tools will only become more efficient in ranking people-friendly content versus search-engine-friendly content.
Helpful content will withstand SERP volatility over content for content’s sake. You could help your site by removing the useless content and improving the helpful words and videos.
Focusing your content on your product and service to assist your customers will help your site rank higher in the search engine. Edit your content and hire writers who can attract readers. Keep in mind that websites don’t have to release content daily to rank high. They should have regular releases, but you should focus on quality rather than quantity.