Why Authentic Content is Best After March’s Google Algorithm Update

By Nigel Cliffe

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“The Latest Google Update Slams Traditional Publishers”

This is just one of the outcomes that the Google algorithm update resulted in according to D. Eadward Tree, writing for The Publishing Executive.

D. Eadward Tree writes:

“Such venerable publishing brands as The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and Harvard Business Review suffered declines in U.S. Google search traffic of more than 40% during the week after the company updated its core algorithm on March 12, according to Searchmetrics.”

Indeed, in what was their first official broad core algorithm update of 2019, the internet giant’s algorithm changes affected search results in Google indexes worldwide. This was on the back of their August 2018 E-A-T Update.

Why/How Are Traditional Publishers Being Affected?

In terms of the Google algorithm update E-A-T stands for:

  • Expertise – the search engine wanted to reward websites that employed authors who wrote about what they knew about and excelled at rather than sites who hired random freelancers, who may conduct in-depth research into a topic but couldn’t escape the fact that they weren’t ‘natural and experienced’ experts in the subject of their writing.
  • Authoritativeness – online content writers should be able to write with confidence – they should know the topic they are writing about inside out after all!
  • Trustworthiness – websites should make an effort to give ‘faces’ to their writers in the spirit of transparency (more on how to do this below!)

Before the August 2018 E-A-T Google algorithm update, Google used to determine the authoritativeness of online content based almost completely on a website’s reputation. However, the E-A-T update placed more emphasis on the author’s expertise. D. Eadward Tree gives the example of how health-related searches on Google are now more likely to produce content written by physicians and less likely to highlight articles by healthcare journalists since the core algorithm update. The March 2019 core algorithm update continued this trend.

Google works with over 10,000 search Quality Raters across the globe who assess its search results. The Raters are provided with actual searches to carry out on the search engine, inspired by real-life searches that take place on Google. They then give the quality of the pages that appear in the top results a rating.

Quality Raters don’t directly change Google search results. If a Rater scores a particular search listing as low quality, that webpage won’t decline in rankings. Rather, the data produced by the Quality Raters is used to enhance Google’s search algorithms, which are systems that automatically rank pages in search results. Eventually, that Quality Rater data may negatively influence the low-quality rated pages that are ‘marked down’ by Quality Raters but the algorithm will also affect webpages that weren’t evaluated by the Raters.

What does all this have to do with E-A-T and the updates to Google’s algorithm?

Well, Quality Raters base their judgements on a set of in-depth guidelines issued by Google. Around August last year, these guidelines placed more of an emphasis on E-A-T, which influenced the Quality Raters’ judgements, and in turn, eventually impacted Google’s algorithm, prioritising websites that practised Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness in search results.

To Embrace Google’s Support for Trust and to Demonstrate Your Expertise as an Author, It’s a Good Idea to:

  1. Include author bylines, an image of the author and short bios conveying the author’s expertise on all blog posts. Think, what gives them credibility to write this blog post? ‘Editorial staff’ and other generic bylines won’t cut it anymore.
  2. Link each byline to an author webpage dedicated to displaying information about that particular author. This is especially important if you have a team of different authors penning articles for your website.
  3. Make sure each author webpage contains linked social media icons to the author’s Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and other social media accounts. Include a more extensive author bio and links to any other popular work they have produced or awards they have won.
  4. Having an easy to find Contact Us page on your website and an up-to-date ‘About Us’ page is also key to demonstrating to search engines that your business is legitimate and ‘the real deal’.
  5. Include links to external sources you and other writers on your team have used in blog posts as references. This will help increase transparency.
  6. A clear and easily located privacy and data policies also help portray your business as trustworthy online.

Here’s My Take on All This Google Algorithm Update Business:

There has NEVER been a better time to share your authentic content both on your website AND here on LinkedIn. I find that there is a strong correlation between the value and knowledge people share and their success on LinkedIn.

Your content on LinkedIn should aim to do at least ONE of the following:

  • Educate
  • Motivate
  • Inform
  • Engage
  • Share
  • Innovate
  • Inspire
  • Help

LinkedIn and the wider web should be a thriving hub where original insights and ideas are shared. We’re all great at what we do, some of us are experienced experts, others are always hungry to learn. So let’s share that knowledge and make ‘Fake News’ and unreliable content a thing of the past!

For help on how to craft compelling content on LinkedIn check out my blog post. Alternatively, my post on demonstrating ‘depth of knowledge’ on LinkedIn provides food for thought.

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