24 August 2022 |

Yet another Google algorithm update

By Tracey Wallace

SEO is a distribution channel––not a strategy

I know a lot of content newsletters (and content people!) are talking about Google’s helpful content algorithm update this week. And you should be nervous about it if you’ve only been creating content for bots or to rank––and not for the people who land there, to educate them, to help them, etc. 

Algorithm updates like this are why it is so important that you and your content team have a content philosophy. Here’s mine. 

That said, always remember that Google runs a business, and search is their product. They need to make folks who search happy––and they make algorithm updates like this to do that. 

In fact, so many great search signals come from click-through rates, time on page, clicks on page, etc. Things that show Google that your piece of content was helpful to someone––which is why UX is so important in all of this too (most folks scan, not read…so design and write accordingly!)  

Anyway, it is always prudent that you and your team produce great content that includes interviews, examples, how-tos, explanations, and connects the dots for readers so they walk away feeling smarter or more empowered after reading. 

Then, once you’ve done that, you want to optimize your content for search. That’s because search is a distribution channel––not a strategy––in the same way that email marketing is a distribution channel, and social media is a distribution channel. 

A lot of content folks have gotten this basic concept twisted over the last few years, but it’s important to remember that Google can always sweep the rug out from under you (and they did with their Panda update in 2011, which sent multiple public companies spiraling, never to recover, including the one I worked at). 

But now that we are talking about SEO, what can you do to reset you or your team’s expectations about search, and how to create optimized content and websites?

Well, I’ve made a deck for you to help out.

I presented this deck to the Klaviyo marketing a couple weeks ago with good results! A couple things this deck really highlights (I hope!):

  • SEO is both technical and creative––just like baking! Once you get the fundamentals down, you can get insanely creative! 
  • How SEO actually works is pretty complicated––and Google spends a lot of time and effort on their algorithm to serve their customers better, and fend off the competition. 40% of Gen Z search now on TikTok, and 55% of product searches begin on Amazon, for instance. Google isn’t the search monopoly you think it is. 
  • Blog content can’t alone save a company’s SEO. The more integrated your marketing team and your marketing efforts, the better you will do in search. Google cares about how organized your website is, and it is easier to be organized there when you are organized internally. 
  • UX and code cleanliness matter––a lot!! Google optimizes for the people who search (because that’s their customer), but their bots read HTML. Make sure yours is clean, and clear, and organized in a topical hierarchy. Otherwise, Google can’t help you. 
  • These things really do take time! While you can start to see improved search returns within one month of content you’ve updated, you likely won’t see the biggest improvements for six months. This has to do with how Google indexes content…a graphic of which is below:

Dive on into the deck here, and feel free to make a copy to share with your own team. 

If you do, be sure to add in specific company recommendations based on your unique circumstances. I’ve removed all of those for Klaviyo in this deck, but that really helps folks take these concepts from theory to practice.

And that’s important because for a lot of people, SEO feels like a black box. Help show folks the light and what you can do to improve. Context helps us all learn, and be better at our jobs.