This year has been one of major upheaval after another for content marketers. We’ve had our tried-and-true algorithms and techniques busted by Google, we’ve had new algorithms and measurements introduced, which actually sent some search engine optimization professionals out of business.
Here are three things that every content marketer should have learned from the past 12 months.
1. You Need to be a Good Writer
Google isn’t letting us get away with putting out schlocky content and cramming it full of keywords to trick the search engine spiders. They’re looking at three important factors — click-through rate, time on site, and bounce rate — to determine whether your sites are rank-worthy. If the rates are high, your rank is high. That is, if people click through to your content, read it for a little while, and visits some other pages or posts on your site, you’ll do well in the search rankings.
But, and this is a big but, you’re not going to get and keep readers if you can’t write, or if you continue to put out low-quality crap.
2. Who You Are is as Important as What You Say
Now that Google has rolled out AuthorRank, and is starting to place a “trust score” (my term, not an official one) on bloggers and writers, you’re going to start having your content boosted or dinged based on your AuthorRank. Write a lot of interesting, shareable content, and your AuthorRank will go up. Write a lot of spammy, low-value crap, and your AuthorRank will go down. And as your AuthorRank goes up or down, so too will the search rankings for your content.
In short, the better you behave in Google’s eyes, the better your content will perform. So if you want to trick Google, be the best, most trustworthy author you can be. That’ll show ’em!
3. Google is Getting Smarter
Co-citation is a new feature from Google that should be rolling out soon. It will replace anchor text (putting keywords inside hyperlinks), and instead, they’re associating important terms — keywords you’re using in your titles PLUS important terms they recognize from other searches — and combining them with other terms.
For example, the big co-citation link here is my use of “content marketing” in the headline, plus my name. Google will see my name, see that I’m the author, and see that “content marketing” is an important keyword in the title.
However, they will also pick up on other keywords like “AuthorRank,” “co-citation,” and “writer.”
Boom, boom, boom, co-cited.
In other words, you don’t have to keyword stuff, you just have to write about the important topics that you want Google to know you for.
But, thanks to Google, you have to do it a lot, you have to do it well, and you have to let Google know you did it.
Photo credit: JanneM (Flickr, Creative Commons)