When Google announces a change to the internet's best kept secret, the Google search algorithm (the mechanism that decides who gets onto the first page of your search request), B2B marketers around the world quickly sit upright and listen!
Many who make their living from "spammy" search engine optimisation services quake in fear!
Google continues to play cat-and-mouse with search spammers and are always looking for ways to improve the quality of search results.
During the recent SXSW show in Austin, Texas Matt Cutts, head of Google's search spam team, announced that Google has been working on a new tweak to its algorithm that will punish sites that are too optimized for SEO - what he called "over-optimized" or "overly SEO'd," according to the recording of the announcement posted on Search Engine Land.
Here's what you need to know about the new Google algorithm update, which has not been released yet but will go live in the next few weeks, according to Cutts' announcement.
What Cutts Revealed About the New Algorithm Update
This algorithm update is working to level the playing field for sites without as many resources to dedicate to SEO. Matt explained the changes as "trying to make the algorithm more adaptive," or being more understanding of sites that have good content even if it isn't search engine optimized like many marketers have learned to do. The sites that will be penalized are those that "throw too many keywords on the page, exchange way too many links, whatever they're doing to go beyond what a normal person would expect."
What Google's Algorithm Update Means Practically for Marketers
If your content is driven by topics, you shouldn't expect to be penalized when the new algorithm update rolls out, even if you do take the time to search engine optimize that content with keywords and relevant links. If your writing is driven by keywords it's more likely you'll suffer some search ranking slips.
What's the difference between a keyword-driven content strategy and a topic-driven content strategy? A content strategy driven by what readers want, not what search engines want, is the direction that Google has been actively working toward. So if you're selecting topics based on what your audience would find helpful, you're doing content strategy right. If you're choosing what to write about based on the keywords you want to be found for, you don't have the reader top of mind; and Google is doing everything they can in its algorithm not to reward such sites.
We work on content strategy with our clients continually and our mantra is always to remember that B2B buyer's have problems they need to solve; and when problems become sufficiently acute, buyers act. So your content needs to honour this journey and always strive to address and be relevant to your buyers' problems. Buyers act increasingly by reaching for the mouse and going to their preferred search engine and start researching. Host valuable content on your site in resource centres or libraries.
Said Cutts on the panel, "Make a compelling site. Make a site that's useful. Make a site that's interesting. Make a site that's relevant to people's interests...We're always trying to best approximate if a user lands on a page if they are going to be annoyed...All of the changes we make are designed to approximate, if a user lands on your page, just how happy they are going to be with what they're going to get.
Cutts clarified by saying, "SEO can often be very helpful. It can make a site more crawl-able; it can make a site more accessible; it can think about the words users are going to type whenever they come to a search engine to make sure those words are on a page. ...but there are some people who take it too far. If you're white hat or doing very little SEO, you're not going to be affected by this change."
So B2B marketers, the same rules still apply. Create great content with readers in mind first, search engines in mind second. Then make sure your site is easily crawl-able so bots can actually read it.
For more advice on how to build a comprehensive Content Marketing Strategy please feel free to download our eBook:
How do you marry your content and keyword strategies? What changes are you going to have to make to this new announcement from Google?