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Writing for Google in 2022

By Deborah Kurfiss, Umbrella Content Marketing Director on Oct 28, 2022

Every marketing agency wants a client’s website pages right at the top of the first page of Google search results. You want your client’s customers to find them. You want to drive traffic to their site. Unfortunately, many businesses are doing everything wrong to try to get there. Writing for Google in 2022 required a lot more than it did years ago.

A big reason that many businesses are missing the SEO boat with their content is they have not kept up with the times. Time was that if you paid attention to keyword density and included the occasional good backlink, you were good to go. This is because that although Google’s goal has always wanted to deliver quality search engine results, their technology didn’t used to be nearly as sophisticated as it is today. Technology has to start somewhere, and a lot of junk was pushed to the top of Google search in the beginning. Ranked search results may have had relevant keywords, but did not always include valuable information.

The problem was that in the beginning, Google recognized words but wasn’t that good at context or recognizing normal human speech patterns. Some marketers took advantage of this by deploying content that paid attention to keywords in acceptable density but didn’t have much value to real human beings trying to find information.

But Google search has evolved, and it is constantly evolving.

Now, Google makes thousands of tweaks and changes to its algorithm every year.  It is determined to reward content that is written for human beings rather than search engines. Google wants their users to get valuable information when they search.

Every year, Google announces major updates to its algorithm. Some are specific and some are “core updates” that make significant and sweeping changes across its algorithm.

Major Google Updates for 2022

Here are the major updates to date for 2022:

·      October 2022 Spam Update, Oct. 19

·      September 2022 Product Reviews Update, Sept. 20

·      September 2022 Core Update, Sept. 12

·      Helpful Content Update, August 25

·      July 2022 Product Reviews Update, July 27

·      May 2022 Core Update, May 25

·      March 2022 Product Reviews Update, March 23

·      Page Experience Update for Desktop, Feb. 22

So. I Can Just Follow Exactly What Google Says and I’m Good, Right?

If only it were that simple.

Google is notorious for not telling us exactly what they are changing in their algorithm. If you have ever noticed a sudden dive – or a sudden increase – in your search rankings, it’s likely that a Google algorithm update was the cause. Sometimes it takes a lot of analysis and detective work to figure out why a page suddenly shoots up in Google rankings or it loses ranking right after an update.

So where to begin writing for Google in 2022? Well, one thing Google is clear about is that we should be writing for human beings rather than search engines. If Google detects you are writing for search engine ranking without delivering value to the humans performing the searches, Google will penalize you.

Even though Google may not tell us all the nuts and bolts of their ranking measurements, they have been very upfront and vocal about their intent to deliver valuable information that people want and need. Google says, “We know people don’t find content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers.”

Have you ever landed on a website that you have expected to answer a lot of your questions, but upon reading it found it to be uninformative or even incomprehensible? The problem is that in a misguided effort to attract clicks, the writer wrote what they thought the search engine wanted rather than what would help the human reader.

Google Helpful Content Update Guidance

But Google doesn’t leave us completely on our own. For example, Google gave us some extremely helpful direction for writing for Google in 2022 when it released its Google Helpful Content Update at the end of August.

Of course, this is not the only update aimed at improving the value of search results. Google says it is part of a “broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

When it released its Helpful Content Update, Google suggested some questions that writers should ask themselves.

Write for People First: Can You Say “Yes” to These Questions Google Poses?

If you can answer “Yes” to the following questions, you are on the right track in writing for Google in 2022.

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
    • Our comment: In other words, are you just creating content for the clicks, or are you really providing helpful information?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge?
    • Our comment: Are you just regurgitating information all over the web, or are you bringing first-hand knowledge to your audience? Have you tried the product? Have you used the service? Have you visited the location you are telling people about?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
    • Our comment: Google is looking for content from those who know something about it. If your site is all over the place, don’t expect to rank high in Google search results.
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
    • Our comment: Does your content provide helpful guidance?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
    • Our comment: Google wants people to find what they are looking for. They reward good content but will penalize bait and switch content that appears to provide relevant information at a glance, but in reality does not.
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
    • Our comment: Click through to these links and also keep up on other guidance Google provides on an ongoing basis. See the Google resources at the end of this post as a start.

Stop Writing for Search Engines Over People: Can You Say “No” to These Additional Questions Google Poses?

When Google says to write for people not search engines, it is not telling you to throw SEO best practices out the window. You absolutely want to practice good SEO, but apply it to content written for your actual audience. If you are writing primarily for search engines over people, your audience is not going to have a satisfying experience.

In this section, you will want to be able to answer “No” the some or most of the following questions posed by Google. If you are answering “Yes” to a lot of them, it’s time to reevaluate.

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
    • Our comment: This is the same thing we have been saying. Stop trying to outguess the algorithm and write to people. Google is trying its hardest to deliver results that humans will find valuable.
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
    • Our comment: Don’t publish content outside your company’s niche in the hopes of bringing more traffic to your site. Focus your content on what you do. That way you can offer content that is of value to your audience and also bring traffic to your site that is more likely to convert.
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
    • Our comment: In other words, if you are using artificial intelligence (AI) programs to create your content, Google is going to know. And Google is not going to like it. These bots just lift articles on the internet and rework them without any creativity or value add.
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
    • Our comment: Don’t just repeat what others have already said. Add something new, something of value to the conversation.
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
    • Our comment: Write about what your audience wants and needs to know. And avoid automated content that just grabs at anything that is going viral at the moment.
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
    • Our comment: The reason people perform Google searches is to find answers to their questions. If you are not sincerely trying to give your audience the information they seek, and instead are writing to search engines, Google is going to penalize your content.
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
    • Our comment: Contrary to popular belief, Google has never indicated a word count preference. Yet articles abound suggesting very specific word counts for various types of content. The most important thing to keep in mind is to use enough words to give value but don’t keep repeating yourself to fill up more space.
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
    • Our comment: This point has been made. Don’t flail wildly into content that is irrelevant to your niche in an attempt to rank and drive traffic.
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
    • Our comment: Don’t publish click bait.

More Resources for Writing for Google in 2022

In addition to the resources already linked in this article, here are more resources from Google to help you write content that both gives your audience helpful information and helps you rank in Google search results:

Umbrella White Label SEO Services Can Help

If your clients need help with SEO or writing for Google in 2022, don’t hesitate to contact Umbrella for a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

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