Last week Google clamped down on companies that use questionable methods to manipulate search results. According to Search Engine Land, these methods include paid links (sites that pay for links from other sites), and content farms (sites that have “shallow or low quality content“) to use Google’s words.
For months now, SEOers and content marketers have been complaining about Google’s search results. Top results for searches often include crap content from sites like Ezine Articles (a site that got penalized by Google in its crackdown — and about time, too), scraper sites and spam blogs.
The problem with all this crap content is that it’s hard for legitimate sites that practice ethical SEO and provide high quality content to rank well for competitive search phrases. The crappy stuff clogs up the search results, making it difficult for people (searchers) to find relevant and insightful information.
So what exactly is “shallow and low quality content” as it applies to B2B? Basically, it’s content you create to help your site rank better versus helping prospects make purchasing decisions. Shallow and low quality content is based on:
Keywords — Content is created based on keyword searches; these keywords are then used in the Title / meta tags and through out the article or blog post.
Quantity — The more content that’s created around a specific grouping of keywords, the better.
Lack of depth — Shallow content is usually a blog post or article that doesn’t give much in the way of insightful analysis or is filled with information you probably already know. It’s usually written by non-experts who write dozens of articles at slave wages.
High quality, in-depth B2B content, on the other hand, takes time (and yes, money) to create. Generally it’s created by companies who genuinely want to help prospects and customers do their jobs better.
If you’re Ardath Albee (@Ardath421), you’re creating original blog posts filled with insightful information on how to create content that moves prospects along a complex sales cycle (or, how to create better Tweets — love this post, Ardath!)
If you’re Exact Target (@ExactTarget), it’s offering your followers and fans reports, posts and Webinars about social media — and how you can do it better. (Be sure to sign up for their Webinar, The Social Breakup.)
The point is, developing this high-value content takes time. You have to:
- Determine why you’re creating it in the first place (to help people decide to do business with you, to generate leads, to show your thought-leadership and expertise, to get people to work at your company).
- Map out a strategy for creating it and then publicizing it.
- Create the content (the hard part).
- Get it formatted, designed, etc.
- Publicize it.
- Publicize it some more.
- Rinse. Repeat.
This stuff is not easy — and yes, it is much easier to write 15 crap blog posts and pay someone $25 for doing so.
As Google continues its crackdown, creating consistently great, high value content will only become more important — and given that its vaunted search results have taken a real hit of late, we’ll continue to see more sites get downgraded due to poor content and questionable SEO tactics.
I like to tell my small B2B clients that while having top rankings is important, it’s not the end all be all. What really counts are results: are you getting the calls and emails (inquiries / leads) that become sales? To get these results, you need content — content that’s been written for people, not search engines.
What’s your opinion of Google’s crack down?