Content and Google: Creating Helpful, Reliable, People-First Content
Google’s automated ranking systems are designed to promote content that genuinely benefits people, rather than content created solely for search engine ranking purposes. This summary provides an overview of how to assess if your content aligns with these principles. Creating people-first content that is genuinely helpful to your audience is key to success in Google Search. Avoid content primarily designed for search engine rankings, and prioritise transparency about “who, how, and why” regarding your content. Aligning with EEAT principles and Google’s core ranking systems is the path to a strong digital presence.
Self-Assess Your Content
- Evaluate your content using a set of questions to determine its helpfulness and reliability.
- Consider seeking honest assessments from trusted individuals unaffiliated with your site.
- Analyze any drops in your content’s performance and how they align with the provided questions.
Content and Quality Questions:
- Check if your content provides original information, comprehensive descriptions, and insightful analysis.
- Ensure that content drawing from other sources adds substantial value and originality.
- Assess if your content’s title accurately represents its content and avoids exaggeration.
- Determine if your content is bookmark-worthy, shareable, and would be expected in reputable publications.
- Compare your content’s value to other search results.
- Address any spelling or stylistic issues and ensure professional production.
Expertise / EEAT Questions:
- Confirm that your content demonstrates trustworthiness through clear sourcing and author background.
- Determine if your content is created or reviewed by experts or enthusiasts.
- Identify and correct any easily-verifiable factual errors.
Provide a Great Page Experience:
- Understand that Google rewards content offering a positive overall page experience.
- Focus on multiple aspects of page experience for success.
- Strive for people-first content that is genuinely helpful.
Focus on People-First Content:
- Ensure your content has a clear audience and offers in-depth expertise.
- Develop content with a primary focus and the goal of satisfying readers.
- Avoid creating search engine-first content primarily for ranking purposes.
Avoid Creating Search Engine-First Content:
- Reevaluate content creation if it is primarily intended to attract search engine traffic.
- Avoid producing excessive content on numerous topics with the hope of ranking well.
- Minimize extensive automation and prioritize adding value.
- Write about topics based on your expertise and audience’s interests.
- Do not create content that leaves readers searching for better information elsewhere.
SEO for People-First Content:
- Understand that SEO (search engine optimization) can enhance the discoverability of people-first content, not search engine-first content.
Get to Know EEAT and Quality Rater Guidelines:
- Recognize that Google’s automated systems assess content using various factors, including EEAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
- Trust is a crucial component, but other aspects like expertise and experience also contribute to content quality (EEAT).
- Familiarize yourself with quality rater guidelines, which guide human evaluators in assessing EEAT.
Ask “Who, How, and Why” About Your Content
- Clarify who created the content through bylines and author background.
- Explain how the content was produced, especially for automated or AI-generated content.
- Articulate why the content was created, with the primary focus on helping people.
Here is a list of the questions Google suggests as part of your self assessment:
Content and quality questions
- Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources, and instead provide substantial additional value and originality?
- Does the main heading or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?
- Does the main heading or page title avoid exaggerating or being shocking in nature?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?
- Is the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?
- If someone researched the site producing the content, would they come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic?
- Is this content written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
- Does the content have any easily-verified factual errors?
Focus on people-first content
- 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?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Avoid creating search engine-first content
- Is the content primarily made to attract visits from search engines?
- Are you producing lots of content on many different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count?
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search 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?
- Are you changing the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed?
- Are you adding a lot of new content or removing a lot of older content primarily because you believe it will help your search rankings overall by somehow making your site seem “fresh?” (No, it won’t)
When creating content, here are some who-related questions to ask yourself:
- Is it self-evident to your visitors who authored your content?
- Do pages carry a byline, where one might be expected?
- Do bylines lead to further information about the author or authors involved, giving background about them and the areas they write about?
How (the content was created)
- Is the use of automation, including AI-generation, self-evident to visitors through disclosures or in other ways?
- Are you providing background about how automation or AI-generation was used to create content?
- Are you explaining why automation or AI was seen as useful to produce content?
Why is it being created in the first place?
The “why” should be that you’re creating content primarily to help people, content that is useful to visitors if they come to your site directly. If you’re doing this, you’re aligning with EEAT generally and what the core ranking systems seek to reward.