Google Core and Helpful Content Updates: Keys for Ongoing SEO

Oct 10, 2023 3:00 PM4:00 PM EST

Request The Full Recording

Key Discussion Takeaways

Google updates its algorithm periodically to improve the quality of search results. Recent updates enhanced the user experience and promoted websites and pages offering useful content. How have these updates impacted brands, and what should you consider when developing content marketing and SEO strategies?

Google values content displaying experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EEAT). However, with spam updates, brands that have low-quality content or position their pages above high-ranking sites without building authority have experienced decreased traffic and conversions. Reducing the impact from Google’s updates requires focusing on the user experience by minimizing pop-up ads and offering unique value propositions. Additionally, you should develop valuable content that extends beyond product descriptions to include comprehensive guides, FAQs, and customer feedback in the form of blogs or articles.

In this virtual event, Jordan Brannon, the President of Coalition Technologies, is back to join Aaron Conant for a discussion about how Google’s core algorithm updates affect SEO strategies. Jordan shares why you shouldn’t use AI content in your SEO strategy, how to identify high-ranking content, and the key considerations for Google updates.  

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • What is the Google algorithm, and how does it impact SEO?
  • Google’s core algorithm and helpful content updates 
  • SEO considerations for Google spam updates
  • How to develop SEO and content marketing strategies amid Google’s updates 
  • Managing the implications of Google updates
  • The rise of AI content — and why it shouldn’t be utilized in SEO strategies
  • Advice for leveraging generative AI to create unique content
  • How brands can identify quality-ranking content and elevate the user experience
Request The Full Recording

Event Partners

Coalition Technologies

Coalition Technologies is a leading SEO, PPC & web design agency in the United States that does a variety of work across leading eCom platforms including: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Vtex, and others.

Connect with Coalition Technologies

Guest Speaker

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jordan Brannon

Jordan Brannon LinkedIn

President at Coalition Technologies

Jordan Brannon is the President of Coalition Technologies, a company that provides SEO services in digital marketing, design, web development, and PPC advertising. Jordan’s expertise in digital strategies has shaped his career for more than a decade, where he focused on developing solutions that allow for more qualified leads, better traffic conversion, and SEO optimization.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jordan Brannon

Jordan Brannon LinkedIn

President at Coalition Technologies

Jordan Brannon is the President of Coalition Technologies, a company that provides SEO services in digital marketing, design, web development, and PPC advertising. Jordan’s expertise in digital strategies has shaped his career for more than a decade, where he focused on developing solutions that allow for more qualified leads, better traffic conversion, and SEO optimization.

Request the Full Recording

Please enter your information to request a copy of the post-event written summary or recording!

Need help with something else?

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

Schedule a free consultation call

Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18

Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the co founder Managing Director here at BWG Connect two giant networking knowledge sharing group been around for over six years now just connecting the digital community as a whole. I spend most of my time talking to digital experts across the landscape startup fortune 100 up pretty much every vertical to stay on top of trends is the same topic show up over and over again, we host an event like this, I got a longtime friend, partner supporter, the network across the board, educating a ton of brands in the space working with a ton of brands, Jordan, Brannon from Coalition Technologies. And we were just actually moderated a piano piano, moderating a piano, moderating a panel at the the international housewares Association, their CEO event in Chicago last week, and just just incredible one around AI as a whole. So out of this, don't just take away like SEO stuff, but also AI expert as well. But with that, a couple housekeeping items, you have questions along the way, drop them in the chat or the q&a. And we'll get as many of those answered as possible real time that our thing is, you know, we're starting three to four minutes after the hour, we're to try to wrap up with three to four minutes to go on the hour as well. And I think that's it. Let's go ahead and kick it off Jordan do you want to jump in brief intro yourself and Coalition? That'd be awesome. And then we'll start chatting on some Google core stuff. Sounds good, awesome.

Jordan Brannon  1:44

Yeah, for sure. My name is Jordan Brannon, President co founder at Coalition Technologies. We are a full service digital agency focused in the eCommerce space, primarily, we've got almost 300 people. So we can do a lot. But it's not a lot being done by the same person. It's a lot being done by different teams that we have internally, that really worked well together. We work with everybody from well established small businesses up to healthily into the enterprise space. And so one of my favorite things is SEO. It's sort of how I got into eCommerce. And so it's near and dear to my heart. And I was appreciated invite Aaron, on conversations pertaining to SEO.

Aaron Conant  2:30

Awesome. So again, if you have questions, drop them in the chat or traveling to the q&a. And so, you know, as we talk about SEO as a whole, it all goes back to the Google algorithm. And, you know, do you want to just I want to make sure we cover all of our bases here. And I do want to do a deep dive, but like less knowledgeable people in the audience, maybe it's maybe they're just getting in, and this is educational platform as a whole. You know, if you could explain, like Google's algorithm, why it's so significant, that'd be great. And then we can kind of start to peel back the onion here.

Jordan Brannon  3:01

Yeah, I mean, as simply put as possible. It's essentially a system that Google uses to retrieve information out of Google's storage, computer storage, and then provides it provides what that information is to a person in a ranked manner. Based on that person's input and some information Google may have about that person. It's updated frequently to help search users have access to more relevant, more current more quality content. We'll hit that word a lot today. I'm sure. Then for businesses, especially if you're an eCommerce, you know, being up to date with what's happening in algorithm changes, especially today, is really critical to maintaining and improving your online visibility.

Aaron Conant  3:49

Yeah, for those of you who don't know, do close to 100, in person events this year, in Jordan, one of them we were at together, you'd mentioned, you just described it as a recipe. And I love that, and I would butcher it if I tried to do it. But if you could describe it is a recipe. I love that. Well, that'd be great.

Jordan Brannon  4:10

Yeah, yeah, I mean, it's a really good. One of my favorite analogies to use for the algorithm, Google's algorithm. So think about it, like a recipe. It's a mix of ingredients, processes, tools put together and then coordinated in timing to try and achieve a specific desirable outcome. If you are a baker, if you like to do food, prep and cook for others, you sort of understand how the right thing at the right time is really, really critical to sort of getting the desired outcome. And then all of that has to go into the oven and at the right temp and then come out to get the right to right thing. And even then, you sort of run into this situation where not everybody loves what she baked, or cooked. And so I love that recipe analogy, if you're kind of looking at it in a more pointed way for Google's algorithm. If you could look at things like, you know, quality content, maybe as the primary ingredient, backlinks, maybe like the eggs, they kind of help bind everything together. And this would be internal links and External links as well. The user experience, I think I've referred to as the sugar before, it just makes the experience more pleasant and enjoyable for whoever is consuming what it is that you're putting together. Site Speed, maybe the baking powder, helps the website rise quickly. I don't know if that's actually what it does I someone have used that instead of like baking powder instead. Oh, yeah, that's exactly what it's like. I don't know if baking powder actually does that or not. So I apologize if I'm offending somebody who is a real foodie here, a mobile responsiveness. So think about the friendliness of the site for mobile devices and how it adapts there. That's the oil or the butter, make sure that it's really accessible to everybody, nobody dislikes butter. So it's a good ingredient to include. And then you go into sort of these different, you know, ways of working with these ingredients you have mixing and preparation. Just when you start to think about what SEO elements you want to integrate into your site and your site experience. That's really, really crucial to determine how what when where sort of the structure, the code, the way that you're laying out content on your pages, super critical. Think about the taste test. So once you've sort of done something, ostensibly for a search user, really good idea to start gathering some feedback, user feedback, user tracking, doing some heat maps, things like that can be really helpful in sort of understanding what is working and what's not working, look at your bounce rates, look at your conversion rates, that's going to help you sort of understand the flavor and the taste that you're getting from users, which ultimately is what Google's after. And then again, don't sort of live off of one recipe. You know, we've been a successful SEO agency for 14 years now, because we don't keep doing the exact same thing we did the year before. So look for ways that you're going to refine what you're doing in terms of your SEO strategy and your content. So that today's users appreciate it just as much as yesterday's users. And Google's got some some things which are sort of unknown to the public at large in terms of SEO strategies. And so we have our own secret sauce as an agency, I always like to point to that there are some things that we do that we think are unique, and some perspectives we have about common SEO strategies, which we think are unique. And so put those all together in the right way, with the right content and the right strategy, and you get a really awesome cake, or a really awesome SEO outcome that Google will continue to rank giveaway, you think about, like,

Aaron Conant  7:51

you mentioned, hey, there's a bunch of different recipes. And then it seems like things are always changing in that constant refinement. Like do you believe that Google's going for a better outcome as a whole? I mean, that's the whole reason.

Jordan Brannon  8:06

Yeah, I mean, there's, I think, actually kind of twofold. One is Google certainly wants to make more money, wants to not make less money. So I think you'll see if any of you track sort of search engine news, Google's sort of been put on trial here by the DOJ. There's some interesting tidbits coming out about, you know, pay per click and how they're manipulating some of the Pay Per Click pricing, some of the things that go into to their SEO ranking determinations. But yeah, I think Google's primary goal is that they understand that search behaviors and search user preferences change. And so they're continuously refining that recipe to try and adapt to that, that current user and sort of the trends that they're seeing in the market. And so I think that's going to drive a lot of the algorithm updates that we see.

Aaron Conant  8:56

Yeah, why so many this year? Right. I mean, that's me, I'm wrong. And maybe it's the same. I don't live in the SEO space, you know, as deep as you do. I talked to a lot of brands so. And it just seems like, there's a lot more this year than there have been in the past. And again, reminder to you, if you have questions drop in the chat and the q&a. We'll get them answered for sure. But is that true, like ever been?

Jordan Brannon  9:20

So? Yeah, I mean, in terms of just number, I would say, you know, we're probably not too far off of a normal pace. And Google announces, you know, a healthy number of algorithm updates every year. What we look at, and a lot of stos we'll look at is sort of the volatility of those updates. And so a lot of times what we see is Google announces an update. And then you see it really sort of hit one particular category. A lot of times, sort of what we call risky categories. Google has come up with sort of the friendlier phrasing of y m y l, your money, your life, things that relate to your health and well being or your finances. Google sort of treats especially unique, the reading my adverbs altogether here, but Google will treat those sorts of content categories a little more uniquely than it will the rest of the content that it involves. Because it's, you know, again, like someone find some real sketchy recipe for a home health remedy, and everybody has their eyes fall out as a result, you know, you know, Google is going to have some, some heat for that. So Google will sometimes, you know, make an algorithm update, we'll see a certain category get really fixated on, but by and large, the rest of the ranking for many other sites may have the categories doesn't change. But this year, I think, because we're seeing such a rapid change and user expectations expressed that we're starting to see Google's algorithm updates be very aggressive in frequency, but also aggressive and significant, sir, impacting just large cross sections of industries, tons of terms. I think, certainly, you know, going back to the earlier comment, I think a lot of it comes back to sort of the AI tooling we're all seeing introduced and adopted into the search market. And Google has to relearn how people interact with search in a generative AI role as a result of that. And so I think, you know, we're going to see continued frequency and an algorithm updates, and they will continue to see big algorithm updates, until there's some new status quo that Google's frankly happy with, and that may take some time.

Aaron Conant  11:26

So if we tackle specifically, if we want to go to the one in August, that that core update there, we'd love to pull that apart a little bit. Yeah, I would just love to hear more about that.

Jordan Brannon  11:37

Yeah. So August core update was, you know, one of the ones that we saw a little more recently here. I think when we first actually talked about this topic, it was triggered, I think, by the August core update specifically. So you know, we've, we've added to that since then. But the August core update really focused on user experiences, especially on mobile devices. You know, Google has been feeling I think, a little deficient in mobile commerce. So we saw sites that really weren't optimizing their content. Well, for mobile browsing, didn't offer fast load times, maybe had some problems with interactivity that came into play. We also saw Google really beginning to lean heavily on to the I like to call the Eat ratings, the E A T ratings of sites and pages. With the August 2023. Update, we saw a lot of sites were unable to show that they really offered a unique expertise or experience authority or trustworthiness. That's the Eat acronym, they're lost as a result of the algorithm update. The more complete a site was in being able to offer those four things, the more likely they were to see a bump in their rankings as a result. I think, you know, anecdotally, many of you have probably seen this in your search outcomes. Probably one of the biggest winners in that. That update was Reddit, which was well known for its sort of maddening pace of publishing personal opinions, sometimes valuable insights, always good memes, though. And that style of content and volume of content and the mobile accessibility there. across a huge volume of topics really helps Reddit to be a big beneficiary of that August update.

Aaron Conant  13:17

Yeah, before we go into the September one, though, like what are what are the brands do? brightness is changing all the time? It's overwhelming. They're focused on 150 different things. What do they do coming out of that August update? When they do see it start to tank? Like how do you fix it when you don't want to become a Reddit? Right? Yeah, I

Jordan Brannon  13:36

think it comes back to sort of understanding the issue. And so sometimes, what you'll see an algorithm update is you're now viewed with sort of, you know, frankly, Google no longer likes to, in often in an update, an algorithm update, that's going to happen, because you've done something that really is sort of explicitly geared towards manipulation. And that's one outcome. Another outcome is Google has reprioritized its formula or recipe. So maybe that wants less butter, and wants more frosting on that cake. And maybe historically, you've been all about the butter. Going back to the analogy here. I like it, I get now every is gonna really be ready for lunch here or early afternoon lunch. But so maybe your old SEO strategy worked really well, for a long time just was sort of leaning on a particular approach to content link building. Google in the core update could say, we now prefer something different. And so you could lose ground. And it may feel like a penalty, but it may not actually be a penalty, just maybe, hey, what worked for you previously in terms of SEO gave you those high rankings is just not working as well. So if you're seeing that drop, try and figure out am I now disliked? Is there something that I did that was wrong and is really being sort of penalized in some I'm way that tends to show up mostly in spam updates, not necessarily core updates, or do I just need to sort of rebalance, so I need to start looking at, again, more frosting instead of butter? Or do I need to do less butter going forward. And if you do that, you'll often be able to have a good path forward. If you don't want to be Reddit, sort of look at what made Reddit strong. Reddit has very strong category centric content. A lot of it is a personal opinion, personal expression. Some of it is quite authoritative. A lot of long form text content still mixing in photos and video. There's a formula there that you can repeat even if you don't want to become the Forum website for your particular category.

Aaron Conant  15:46

Yes, or do you step in to do like an audit on that, then it's different. Because I'm a brand and it starts to happen. And I know I'm doing everything about board. So and again, like you're saying, it's not a spam update. It's a core update. So I'm probably thinking, Okay, this five different things. I don't know, which are the three that Google Now values. But I mean, you deal with enough brands, you can probably figure it out a lot faster than everybody else. Yeah. Yeah. Like an audit people do. Like, I'd love to hear the slit about that. And then I want to get to the September update as well. But

Jordan Brannon  16:16

yeah, definitely. I mean, we do them all day long. We do them we get a core updates, there's frankly, you know, often friendly for SEOs, we will see people inquire or services, and trying to figure out how to kind of move forward to recover. So we audit on that front. As the the algorithm updates roll out, we're very actively, we have a number of automated alerts and machine learning based alerts that we're triggering for some of our clients. And some of the keywords that we view as being central for them, sort of help us identify like, hey, what's changing, and why. And then again, sort of will internally audit, we're fortunate where most of the time, our SEO strategies are, such that we really don't have to worry about sort of big changes as a result of a core update. Usually, what we can see is if we're working on a brand, and they have three keywords that historically generate 80% of their revenue, a drop in one ranking is significant. And so that's often the level of our focus. We also have clients who may be relatively new to us, and we're inheriting someone else's SEO strategy previously. And they can see that drop out from underneath them. And so we may be working on sort of recovery in that circumstance. But definitely, audits are something we love to do all day long. We do a free sort of preliminary one as part of initial prospect engagement. So that's certainly out there for everybody here. Yeah.

Aaron Conant  17:41

Awesome. Thanks. And, again, if you've joined, do you have questions drop in the chat or the q&a? I do want to jump to the September 2023. helpful content update?

Jordan Brannon  17:53

Yep. Yeah, yeah, it was helpful content update, you're gonna see that term probably persist for quite some time. Just as a heads up sort of, it's good to just kind of understand the theme there. It's pretty plainly named. But it's really all about, you know, whether your not your content really offers meaningful help or value to a search user. The September update was really looking to identify sites and pages on sites that really offered unique depth and unique quality on some of the terms that are being searched, was in some ways a bit of a doubling down of that that portion of the August core update, we did see some corrective behavior. One thing people sometimes lose sight of is, Google doesn't always know what's going to happen as a result of their update. It's a little bit of a coin flip for them. So we sometimes will see, you know, one switch that was pulled in the August update, we'll see it sort of corrected, if they didn't like the result in a falling one. And so we saw a little bit of that. You know, for eCommerce sites, you know, we saw sites that were rewarded, you know, really having comprehensive in depth content, especially around more complex queries. So again, sort of building up a real specific answer for longer, longer tail type search queries is pretty crucial. Again, doubling up on that to eat type of criteria for your product, your key products or key categories, the the expertise, the authoritativeness, the trustworthiness, the experience. We saw brands that got hit really was seemed to be operating, kind of like a generic Mart type sidelights use that to kind of help people understand, you know, if you're offering a lot of brand name products with sort of lack of unique value. If your product catalog is very commonly available elsewhere, and somebody else has sort of a unique content advantage, there's a chance that you're going to lose on some of these types of updates. We saw that happening in September. UGC continues or user generated content continue to be real The a big priority. We're seeing Google favoring a quality UGC over other forms of content right now. And I do think there's a bit of an undercurrent to that which we had chatted about Aaron, where I think some of these updates, do come back to AI content. And so maybe we'll want to touch on that a little bit in the call at some point. But I think, again, maybe a kind of way of trying to succinctly put a fine point and all that I would say Google seems to be trying to find a way to win out sites that rank because of strong SEO tactics without offering underlying value. So Google wants to see you offer the value, and you can then sort of compete and win, if the value is there based on strong SEO.

Aaron Conant  20:47

Yeah, I do want to get to the AI side of things. I think it's top of mind for a lot of people and everything that's happening in the generative AI space. But before we hit that, just one more update, the spam update that started rolling out, you know, just this month, would love to hear any insights you have on that any, like flags that need to go up things, people need to be looking for a reason behind it, any of that stuff would be great. I think people are very interested in that.

Jordan Brannon  21:17

Yeah, the spam updates are always an interesting one, because it's sort of Google saying, I don't like this, I view this as bad. And so seeing something get hit as a result of a spam update specifically, can be really telling in terms of hey, this, there's there's some line being crossed here. That update is still going on. So this is sort of a dynamic thing It started last week, they can run for two to three weeks, typically. So you'll see some of this, they may start regionally and expand, they may start in categories and expand but so this began last week really seems to be a response to a you may have heard of a term called parasite SEO, it's very popular abroad, we were seeing a lot of parasite SEO type tactics. And Google specifically called out a Turkish Vietnamese, Indonesian Hindi and Chinese content is being sort of an area it's really focusing, although we are seeing some English, focused content, English language content that's being hit. For sites that maybe had a bit of a blend of those two. And again, I do see some undertones here of impact for AI created content, beginning to show up. Again, the spam update is not specifically about AI. But we are starting to see some test sites. So we've run some sites we're tracking just because they're really abusing AI content. We're starting to see them being hit by some of these spam updates.

Aaron Conant  22:50

What about what is parasite SEO? So as you said, yeah,

Jordan Brannon  22:53

yeah, so the idea behind parasite SEO is, you may be targeting a keyword like a bad movie, that's what it is. Yeah, it's some point with AI in the future, there will be a face hugger, that will, you know, inject a search query into your brain. So that there, there probably be some real world nightmare fuel there for you to look at. But so parasite SEO basically, is this idea of like, I'm not going to try and build authority, through my own site, my own content, I'm going to try to find a way to insert something into a stronger domain or URL that will help me rank so I'm sort of acting like a parasite on top of a better ranking page. It's not a new tactic, it's just as become more widespread. We're seeing it abused more frequently. Some publishers are frankly, sort of selling parasite SEO strategies. Forbes is probably one of the big ones out there, that's sort of well known in the SEO community, you pay two, three grand to be a Forbes content contributor. And then you can write so many articles per month, those content contributors are either selling that content directly. Or perhaps they're just publishing on behalf of a brand. So that's sort of an example of parasite SEO, the Forbes the domain ranks really well someone is inserting unrelated content, that's a pretty blatant, blatant test to play into that sort of category, sometimes for price or some through sometimes through like a technical gap in how that they allow content publishing to occur. So that's parasite SEO.

Aaron Conant  24:29

Yeah. Awesome. Before we get into the AI piece, like do you see like another update, rolling out? You mentioned all these other like languages, but English focused? Yeah. They're rolling out before the end of the year.

Jordan Brannon  24:45

Yeah, yeah, I would definitely expect to see an English language spam update. By the end of the year. We sometimes see Google work its way backwards. They'll take sort of like Turkish, Vietnamese, you know, type content is is not a big category for Google. And so we often will see Google run some tests in some of these languages that aren't sort of a part of its main money making categories. And so I would sort of view some of the things we're seeing happening with this October spam update as an indicator, what's going to come for English language sites and searches. I think last year, we had a spam update. In October, we had another one, I think that same year 2022, in December, I think was focused on link spam. November, we had a another spam update in 2021. So I think quarter four is sort of Google loves to leave some spam updates in people's stockings. And again, if I was going to try and hazard a guess around that, I would say that we're probably going to see some aggressive responses to low quality, non EA tea or eat content that may not explicitly target AI content, but will likely be aimed at reducing the volume of non eat compliant or consistent AI content. So a lot of you probably have seen this in some of your searches, you're seeing that pretty obvious AI content, it's not great, doesn't really provide benefits to us starting to take over search queries. And it's been happening for some time. So it's not like it's just this year. But it's really, really accelerated with chat GPT.

Aaron Conant  26:27

So, given these updates, you know, what's a brand to do? Right? You want to make sure that you've got the right ingredients. Google likes your cake at the end of the day. Yep. Right?

Jordan Brannon  26:40

Yeah, I would, I would start with user experience, which is, again, maybe the frame the value there. You user experience is one of those things where there is a lot of value in getting to the spot where your user experience is good. And then you have rapidly diminishing returns, at least on the SEO side of things as you try and really incrementally improve towards excellence. Google really seems to care. If you have good mobile experiences, you don't have aggressive pop ups, you don't have too many ads, the content that you can interact with loads quickly. As long as those basics are covered. You're often in a good spot. There may be benefits to you in terms of really incrementally improving to a point of excellence on user experience for things like conversion rates. But again, from an SEO ranking sort of valuation, get to that good level, you know, so watch out for your pop ups watch out for, especially in eCommerce sites, the number of extensions you have Shopify has been trying to help out on this front. But a lot of Shopify stores are still on a Shopify store format 1.0 They have lots of extensions, that leaves a lot of unused code. If you're not paying for the plan. Sometimes you have like an open ended call to another server, which can help kind of hurt your user experience HURT How Google views you. Ada tools are really common when people are trying to plug one hole. And now we're creating another problem. email and SMS, signups all of those things, just make sure you have a really good understanding what's driving your experience there. Beyond that, content is still an probably will always be king. Go beyond your product descriptions. A lot of eCommerce sites really focused on those look at you know, doing things that are a little bit more category or topical comprehensive guides FAQs, glossaries blog posts, roundups of, of your customer opinions around certain things. We're seeing some of our brands, taking customer feedback, and basically turning their customers into sort of an owned influencer pool, where they're getting, you know, five to 10 different points of feedback from in a survey type thing from some different customers turning that into an article. And again, all of that sort of from an SEO standpoint, we're thinking eat, you know, again, experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and often again, that voice of customers is really crucial and being able to provide unique value there. And maybe that's helpful. Actually, I like the phrase unique ly valuable as a way of helping you understand what to aim for in terms of the ete criteria. If your content in a particular area isn't uniquely valuable, you're going to always struggle in terms of your SEO expense versus your SEO return. Mainly because you're always going to be trying to monetize by being the first to sort of interact with that customer. And that's, that's a tough way to win in any market, especially a competitive one. So if you can't figure out a good reason for your page Short your content to exist in a particular market or set of queries, you know, start thinking about how do you enhance your reason for existing? Again, you can great SEO will often help brands rank. And you'll see this in search results when they aren't uniquely valuable. So there's there's value to be said for SEO. But just understand that it's easier for you to monetize and sustain that monetization, if you're uniquely valuable in a particular search term.

Aaron Conant  26:40

So I mean, in that case, again, we chatted just a little bit, but if I'm hit by these updates, I think it's important because if it's not these, it'll be future ones for sure. Yeah. Right. What was what's the recourse immediate? Because it's pretty evident when you get hit right, right away. And then there's tons of repercussions, including explained to executive teams, what's going on?

Jordan Brannon  30:53

Yeah, yep,

Aaron Conant  30:55

I usually need to be a plan in place, like, Hey, this is what happened. Google's crazy, they do this stuff all the time. And here's our game plan to go after it. So

Jordan Brannon  31:05

if you sense that you've been hitting, sometimes it can be subtle, you know, well built SEO campaigns, don't focus only on one type of query. So we have some of our clients, you think about like the funnel, sort of analogy, bottom of funnel, very transactionally, focused mid funnel, in a sort of product research or Service Research top of funnel, I'm sort of in that discovery problem solving mode, you know, and you can be in a position where you see the revenue drop, and traffic looks pretty normal rankings, on average look pretty normal. But it may not be immediately apparent as to what's driving that. And so if you are watching these algorithm updates, which I would encourage you to do, if you value sort of your SEO, and you see some economic change, or some traffic change, that's a good time to start looking into, like, hey, could I have been impacted? Again, you can do your own audits, I mentioned this, but you can do those for free. If you'd like us to jump in for you and help out. You may not necessarily want to do anything, you know, if you're pretty confident that you've been providing good quality content, good user experience, historically, you may not want to go back and sort of tear down everything you've done, it just may not be worth the investment and maybe more about pivoting. And again, I think we use the frosting analogy, add more frosting, do things to highlight more UGC, capture more UGC, perhaps, maybe you have never done anything with Reddit maybe, you know, look at you know, participating in building some some more social profiles and some other places, you know, pivot a bit more rather than just sort of a wholesale change. If it becomes pretty evident that Google really took a dislike, especially after a spam update to your site. That's usually the point when you need to go back and start to redo what you did before, again, to get back to a point of correction, because again, if especially tied to that spam update, where it's sort of explicitly a negative correction that Google is doing, do you see that big drop? Go back then and start to sort of do a tear down, dismantle some of what's been happening and then build up again,

Aaron Conant  33:18

that doesn't sound appealing? Right, like? So those cases? I mean, that's a big undertaking, what would specifically cause you to pull back content? Right, and make that significant of a change? Like, is it that they have to be that bad? Yeah,

Jordan Brannon  33:32

I would we pose this question to our our team internally. And it's a good question for people to resource themselves with. If I'm hit by that algorithm update, I'm going to ask the question of was I doing something wrong? Or was I just not doing something well enough, if I can identify that I was doing something wrong in terms of my SEO strategy, and I've run afoul of Google's webmaster guidelines or other best practices, I would go in for the bigger revamp again, especially if you value your SEO, and you're planning on sticking it out with your current company. Again, as you know, if you're the digital marketing manager, you've inherited about SEO strategy. And it's just been how things have been operating. And you're sort of tasked with fixing it, you know, may not have that much loyalty or commitment. If it's your company, if you know your partner there your stakeholder. You want to see it through, there's some some some commitment on your side, then yeah, I would start looking at revamps corrections, maybe taking some pages off line altogether. You know, just working through. If you really feel like you've done something wrong, you feel like that's sort of evident in your SEO strategy. There's just been some crossing the line and really sort of doing things that Google's not going to be a big fan of.

Aaron Conant  34:50

Awesome. I do want to make sure that we tackle the AI piece as well. So circling around the SEO community A lot of conversation right now, AI content that is, you know, you know, attending is resonating like what it is. We'd love to hear you. I mean, you live in this space. What do you see what's, what's going on. I mean, there's a lot of concerns right now,

Jordan Brannon  35:19

we do not actively recommend and sort of wholesale AI content as part of your SEO strategy. And in most cases, and the reason is already, I think, sort of obvious from the user experience side of things. A lot of times AI content that's not carefully prompted, curated, edited, is not great content, it is drivel, it is fluff, it's sometimes, you know, inaccurate. And it may rank for a time. But again, it just is it goes back to that idea that you're sort of by mass producing this content, not really looking to create unique value, not offering something that can have eat, you are in that black hat to dark grey hat SEO sort of category where you're doing some things that are wrong. And there's it's a lot of it seems to be operating a lot of ignorant tests do seem to be operating on this assumption that Google won't be able to figure that out. And frankly, we've run a bunch of test sites on our own. We have a blog network, which we publish, and we use different SEO strategies and things like that over the course of years that we maintain. And so we can kind of track some nice things. Well, Google does seem to have the ability to catch up to AI content over time. And so we're just cautious about when and how and under what circumstances AI content is used. And again, I think if Google allows it to continue to proliferate the web and proliferate search results, it will hurt Google's business, which is what's going to really motivate Google to do something more significant. I think, today, Google lacks the political capital or the economic capital, to sort of take a negative stance on AI content, because everybody, including Google is trying to monetize some AI product or service. It's the trend, it's what everybody wants as a consumer. So Google came back and said, Google, you know, AI content is bad. I think they feel like they would run afoul a little bit of their own marketing. And so I think there is a tension that Google faces today, which won't always exist in the market. And so I think part of what you'll see is kind of we have already with Google, where they can identify a certain pattern of content creation, in AI content, that content will lose its value, it may not be penalized, per se, but the value drops very quickly. And I think over time, Google will be able to take a more outright negative stance against certain types of AI content unless it's really crafted so that it can meet Google's guidelines. So that it can be something that is uniquely valuable to the search user.

Aaron Conant  38:09

I mean, it's going to change over time, but you don't think that like, I don't know, how a great way to phrase this. Like, why don't you think that most AI content can't meet the quality score, I guess is the is it just a right now thing?

Jordan Brannon  38:23

I think it's the right now and how it's used. You know, if you think about eat, which is sort of the the big kind of the phrase does your to describe what Google is looking for in content, its expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness. Generative AI does not have any of those things, it just simply borrows the next best word in a particular given category. And some of them that are more trained models have some way of refining that. But they, frankly, aren't doing anything that offers anything valuable in any of those four spots. And again, because most of the training happens off of web based content, you're in this situation where that content is not necessarily unique, because it's already being pulled from someplace else repackaging words doesn't necessarily create uniqueness. To us, it may read as being distinct, it may pass a plagiarism checker. But the actual underlying sort of theme and messaging may not be any different at all. And so I think that's a big challenge for AI Generated Content period. And I think humans are easier to be tricked in that space, at least, you know, in terms of surface value, but I think Google and sort of its the size of its index, and the capability of its algorithms is, you know, a lot more stringent than we are as individuals. And so I think at some point, you're going to see, again, Google's algorithm coming up to speed to be able to be trained and identify maybe past forms of AI generated content and wipe out that value. And I think they're gonna continue to be aggressive. I think their ability to identify that in a timely fashion will increase. And so I think there's the Just again going to be some risks there for it. So, you know, I think Google, again, maybe at some point in the future, I think can move towards a broader ban or negative position on AI generated content, when the public gets more accustomed to AI tools, so this sort of business novelty is no longer there. And when frankly, us as consumers get a little more bored and tired of AI produced content, just as an analogy at a guy on LinkedIn, I, you know, respected his opinions. But about two months ago, he just decided to start writing all of his LinkedIn posts with AI, got tons more emojis with thumbs up and fire and all these other things and these nice little LinkedIn prompts, but ultimately had to sort of unfollow him as a consequence of that I think a lot of us are sort of going through that as consumers. And as that opinion becomes more obvious, I think we'll start to see Google take that sort of maybe a ban type of stance on certain types of AI content.

Aaron Conant  40:55

Yeah, seems like, you have to dabble in a little bit. So like, would you say advices? Be cautious? Find unique instances to make it valuable, but also be constantly monitoring for a drop? Yeah, yeah. And

Jordan Brannon  41:14

consider ways that you can, you know, take, again, that unique phrasing, again, you can take your own unique data, and use that to generate AI content. And I think that's sort of an area where it's in line with the sort of white hat mindset of SEO, I'm doing something that is uniquely valuable for, for customers, it's not something they're gonna be able to get elsewhere. So you know, again, pull those unique datasets in that you have access to as a business, and use those to spin up some of your own content.

Aaron Conant  41:40

Yeah, let's walk through that a little bit, if you don't mind. So what does that mean?

Jordan Brannon  41:44

Yeah. Easy. So it's just something we didn't talk

Aaron Conant  41:47

about a year ago, because we didn't have to talk about it. Uh, yeah. And then right about now, a year ago, all this craziness started happening. And,

Jordan Brannon  41:55

yeah, I mean, one of the biggest things that I think people miss out as we and I think intuitively now, as a chat, GPT trained workforce, we sort of recognize on one hand, but I think just mentally there's a mental block to it. Unique datasets really can mean anything. You think about sort of like pictures, you know, you wouldn't necessarily consider a picture a data set. But to some of these generative AI and other forms of AI, it is a data set is something that you have that may be unique to you, your emails. So again, think about like customer service, emails, presale emails that you interact with customers on prospective customers on, you know, internal sales, communications, team meetings, educational content, all of that is less likely to exist anywhere else in sort of a widely available fashion. And that's data. And so thinking about how to take all of that, and convey that to a search, you know, to a search engine, through AI generated content, you get to that point of having some uniqueness in what you're doing. And it can be eat friendly. So customers always have sort of higher standards and expectations than computers do. But that may not be the case for the AI. And so if you are taking casual, somewhat blurry, lifestyle, photos, of product of product being used, that potentially becomes something that an AI can help sort of turn into a uniquely valuable piece of content, either in text or short form video or as an enhanced photograph. And so again, start to think about everything that you have as a brand as being sort of your unique data set and start thinking about how you tie that into your SEO strategy. And you're gonna find that there's some, some eat friendly ways to use AI content.

Aaron Conant  43:49

We talked about content, and just with the helpful content update, what is content that we can jump into, like content quality, what's content that's going to rank? I think that's top of mind for a lot of people? Yeah,

Jordan Brannon  44:03

yeah, I mean, we look at a couple of easy levers to pull. One is, you know, we talked about depth of the content and relevance of the content. Some SEOs are still sort of pushing for, you know, keyword density as a way of establishing relevance or content length. SEMrush, or SEM rush, found that comprehensive content that had over 1200 words, tended to rank in the top 10 results on most categories. So, again, a lot of SEOs put sort of these arbitrary kind of kind of lengths attached to you know how long you can write on something, and that's gonna help your ranking. I think what they miss is that if you can create uniquely valuable content that is a longer form, you're going to find that it has a better opportunity to rank and so don't necessarily just keyword stuff to hit density targets. Don't just spam a ton of extra words just to do it. I'll try and break those things up into, you know, ways, again, you're creating some unique value that's going to help you in terms of of that ranking opportunity. It's going to, again, be friendly towards future helpful content updates from Google. And I think again, it's it has a lasting strategy, especially when you're sort of blending in things that your consumer is going to be interested in seeing, experiencing or reading relating to a particular search term.

Aaron Conant  45:26

In regards to the updates as a whole, the invention the eat a few times now, like I refer, yeah, we'd love to hear, like how this ties into the updates and how people should be thinking about it.

Jordan Brannon  45:42

Yeah, when Google publishes like a framework, it's really useful to pay attention to it. And so sort of the E acronym, you know, experience expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness being the EA T, was originally eat, when one eat not eat, which I love to say, just because people pause for a second when crocs like these. But it really is sort of a cornerstone thing to understand for Google's guidelines. And it's sort of the mix that recipe, any good cake recipe needs to have these four things, any good SEO strategy needs to have these four things, we're seeing that being especially true for that, you know, your money, your life type of, of category, groupings, that and that basically covers most of eCommerce, since there's a transaction and $1 amount that's attached to it. And so you want to showcase genuine experience, genuine expertise, unique indications of authority on a topic, and then demonstrating trustworthiness and an audience of interesting sort of note. In this spam update. We're seeing travel bloggers who wrote about destinations, they've never been to, sort of dropping and ranking. And Google's able to ascertain, through the lack of unique photography, the lack of sort of specific references to an experience and a certain date and time, Google's sort of doubting whether they had that personal experience there. And it's actually seemingly doing pretty well to sort of flag it with some of these content updates, which is pretty amazing when you think about it, and how much work some of these bloggers are putting in to show up, that Google is able to sniff that out pretty automatically is pretty cool.

Aaron Conant  47:20

Yeah. So a couple of things just probably have about five minutes left or so I wanted to get into a couple of things. One is just questions around auditing, how often should people be auditing? You know, given the frequency of Google updates, is it just right in line with them? Is it more often than that, we'd love to hear your thoughts there. And then a couple other things to get to.

Jordan Brannon  47:45

Okay. So I would say just depends on how much you value SEO, if SEO is a big part of what you're doing today, either you or your agency, or whoever you're working with, for your SEO, if it's important to you, it needs to happen more frequently, we essentially are in kind of an always on sort of evaluation, again, through some of the automation that we have, that triggers sort of more proactive audits, if we sort of see something happen, especially with an update rolling out, if SEO is a kind of a backline strategy for you, you're not really depending on it, it's not driving a lot of your revenue today, I would conduct an SEO audit, you know, less frequently, you know, quarterly or annually, you know, maybe more appropriate. So, you know, do those as sort of, I would I would increase the frequency based on the importance of SEO to you as a business.

Aaron Conant  48:38

Yeah, awesome. So a question comes in what are some ways to show eat, you know, without having, you know, a doctor and professional authority, you know, on there like, or how do you establish the writer has experience or

Jordan Brannon  48:51

public LinkedIn profiles, if you're in sort of a b2b category, if you are in a D to C type of category, look at sort of big areas of content consumption, either your brand or someone associated and very closely associated to your brand really needs to be working on a personal profile that has some footprints, I see we have some clients who have shown up for this particular call. So if you have someone who is in in associated your brand, you're not going to leave. That's one of the big criteria because they can take some of that eat with them, and could go to a competitor with it. But if you have certain people that you sort of can use their personal profiles, their personal standings, either on Facebook or on Instagram, tick tock, Reddit, other forums that are of note for your category, get them to write content for you feature them on PDPs landing pages, you know, use their name crosslink back and forth between some of their profiles. So Google sort of knows this person is associated with your book under your product, that's a really good way to sort of build some eat without necessarily having somebody on staff. Another way is just to produce a higher volume of content and have it associated to a person. So strategically at Coalition, almost all of the content that we are publishing, we are attributing to key personnel, a lot of times it's myself simply as a way of again, indicating like, you know, I'm I'm a sticky person for Coalition. And even if it's written by a junior team member, or someone who maybe doesn't have quite the same standing, in terms of affiliation with kosher sort of funneling things back to it, a central person can help sort of build that person's authority in a lot of products, categories, and eCommerce categories, especially there isn't necessarily the expert. And so it's a little bit easier to create some value in those sort of eat criteria that way. So that hope that answers a question.

Aaron Conant  50:57

Yeah. Awesome. So we get to the end, if you can shed some light on, you know, user experience signals. You know, everything you correlate vitals that came up a ton over the past year, like we'd love to hear, you know, how crucial are they after the August update? And then, you know, I'd love to get, you know, final thoughts on this intersection of SEO and user experience as a whole to?

Jordan Brannon  51:22

Yeah, yeah, I mean, again, think about sort of make sure you're crossing sort of the good enough line, and hopefully a little bit better than that, on the user experience side of things, that's going to be good enough to give you a fair bit of momentum. If user experience is one of those things that's holding you back, you can have great content, poor user experience, and a little bit of that UX work is going to really jump you forward. If you already are doing really well, in terms of Corwin vitals, your conversion rates are strong, your time on site is strong, you know, there's there's not sort of glaring issues in terms of popups or advertising or you're not spamming affiliate links to people in those situations, you know, again, increment on the sort of UX elements don't necessarily only depend on them from an SEO perspective, a lot of times with our clients will prioritize, this thing has some bearing on UX, not necessarily going to drive a big jump in rankings, but it may help us with conversions as well. If I can do both of those things together, you know, there's usually a sort of the monetary value we can provide as an agency. So that's how I would probably attack the sort of the UX metrics, I'm takeaways, again, the unique valuable, uniquely valuable phrasing is probably the big thing I would stick with, the more you can develop unique value in particular key pages of your site, as it relates to certain search terms, you're likely to see that benefits you in terms of SEO outcomes. And, frankly, you're going to see that persist in value. I always like these algorithm updates, because, you know, out of 200 clients that we're actively working with another 100 clients who are doing those regular audits or SEO consulting, those who have been with us the longest see sort of the the most negligible change negatively as a part of these and often see some positive incrementation as a result. So that's that.

Aaron Conant  53:19

Yeah. Awesome. I think we're going to wrap up right on time, which means a few minutes early. Get in Jordan, thanks for your time today. Thanks for allowing us to pick your brain here for the past hour again, anybody looking for any help in this space whatsoever across the digital landscape, don't hesitate to reach out to Jordan more than happy to make a connection. Look for a follow up email for me. I'd love to chat with you as well. See what other things are top of mind for you. So in keep putting on events like this. We're gonna do a bunch of dinners to the end of the year. So ping us if you're in a tier one city, we'd love to meet in person. With that. We're going to wrap up. Thanks again. Jordan. Everybody, take care stay safe. Have a fantastic Tuesday evening already.

Read More
Read Less

What is BWG Connect?

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
envelopephone-handsetcrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram