Google's changing algorithm means your business digital marketing … – North Bay Business Journal

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at, @sharayray on Instagram or at
Read Shana’s past columns.
Marketers, I have a question for you: Do you feel like content marketing and SEO are at odds?
If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common misconception that SEO and content marketing are two completely separate entities that can’t coexist.
But the truth is that they are two sides of the same coin. Both SEO and content marketing are important pieces of the puzzle regarding driving traffic to your website and growing your business.
With 92.47% of the market share, Google is still the top search engine to pay attention to.
To keep its search results relevant and useful, Google is constantly updating its algorithm. As a marketer, it can feel difficult to keep up with all of the changes and understand how they will affect your North Bay business. Sometimes it feels like we hear different best practices for content marketing versus SEO.
Google’s “helpful content update,“ which happened at the end of August, is one of the latest algorithm changes. This update was designed to promote websites with truly helpful content (i.e., blog posts, FAQs, and general pages on your website) to consumers instead of favoring keyword-heavy content with no real substance.
Here’s what you need to know about the update and how you can ensure your website’s content is still helpful and optimized for search engine results.
Google wants to ensure that when users are searching for something, they can find content that will help them. This means that if your website’s content is not “helpful,” it is likely that you will see a decline in traffic from Google searches.
This change may impact how websites are ranked, so it’s important to understand how to optimize your website for it.
I talked to Stormy Knight, owner of and the North Bay SEO agency
“Google is always ‘cracking down’ on people who generate poor content for the goal of ranking high,” Knight says. “Google’s product is a great search experience, and when people receive a disappointing answer to a search query, Google has failed.”
So this update really is about bettering search results for users.
Google’s helpful content update is yet another reminder that quality content is key to a successful SEO strategy. If you want your website to rank well on Google, you need to create helpful, informative, and relevant content for your target audience.
“We’ve all experienced asking a very specific question on Google and having to dig through links within general category websites to find the answer,” says Knight. “If you search ‘Did Triceratops eat meat?’, the first results will probably be sites for dinosaurs with a sub-page for triceratops.
“With this update, if someone who is a specialist on dinosaurs writes an article that specifically answers that question, then that webpage will show up higher on Google because it is more ‘helpful’ than a popular website about dinosaurs with general information about dinosaurs, including the Triceratops.”
If the content your business already produces is aimed at educating, answering questions and engaging people, then you likely will not see any negative effects from this update.
But if you have been forcing keywords and producing content for the “sake of getting something on your website,” you may see your rank fall.
Here are some tips for what you can do to help make sure your current content is helpful to your audience.
Assess your audience. Do you know who you are talking to? Do you understand the audience’s customer journey to get them from the point of learning about your product/service to the point of the sale?
Assess your current content. How helpful is it? Is it truly addressing the needs of your audience at each stage of their journey?
Make a plan. Google’s update is just another reminder that we must create content for people first, not for search engines. Make a plan for how you can create more helpful, people-first content moving forward.
Stop writing to hit points for SEO. Knight suggests that businesses write content that addresses “the specific questions that your audience may have about your subject. Be willing to go deeper on content.”
Google’s latest algorithm update, the helpful content update, is about rewarding content written for people over search engines. So, how can you make sure your upcoming content is up to Google’s standards?
Here are a few tips:
Write for your target audience, not for Google. This means writing content that is interesting and informative, not keyword-stuffed and dull. Answer questions that your audience has about your product or service. (Start here to get ideas for what you should be creating.)
Make your content simple to read. Google likes content that is easily readable for their audience. Use short paragraphs and sentences. This makes your content easier to read and helps Google understand your content better.
Have titles and headlines ask the questions your target audience is asking. This way, your content can provide answers to these questions. The more specific you get, the more likely it will be that your target audience finds your content useful.
Questions serving as headlines for your blog posts also create intrigue. Your headlines should make people want to click, but you don’t want to give too much away. A question can do both of these things.
Include multimedia. Google loves content that includes images, videos, and infographics. Not only do these tools make your content more engaging, but they also help Google understand what your content is about. Use the ALT tags on all your images, and include video and infographic transcripts in your text.
Think about the UX design of your website. If your content is easy to read, your audience will stay longer and find your content more valuable. In fact, 75% of site visitors will decide if a site is credible based on its overall aesthetics, according to Pop Web Design.
Promote your content. Google loves fresh, popular content, so make sure to promote your new blog post or video on social media and other channels. Because does a blog post even matter if it’s never read?
Google’s latest update is about rewarding websites with truly helpful content. These tips will help you ensure that your website’s content is helpful for those searching for it, which can boost your search ranking for the keywords you are going after.

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at, @sharayray on Instagram or at
Read Shana’s past columns.


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