Any digital marketing or comms professional may feel a sense of dread when Google announces its next BIG algorithm update. The majority of the time, the search engine optimisation (SEO) updates are nothing to worry about, but they can often create an uneasy feeling.
Why the uneasy feeling you may ask? The simple answer is Google has historically kept its cards close to its chest. But the updates in 2022’s autumn drop herald the search engine giant being more open and transparent about its latest algorithm changes, which could impact a site’s SEO, more than ever before. And that is where it gets super interesting for us charity marketing and comms professionals.
There have been seven Google algorithm updates so far in 2022, with the ‘helpful content’ update on August 25th being the largest this year. It’s only now in October, that digital teams are starting to see whether their website’s position has stayed the same, significantly dropped or jumped up the search engine results (SERPs) because of the changes.
If you’ve seen a drop in your charity’s website traffic and search engine rankings over the past few months, it could be due to Google’s helpful content update. Here’s a number of questions to answer when next reviewing your website’s SEO and content strategy:
Four main takeaways to ensure your web content abides to Google’s helpful content update
1. Are you using large amounts of keywords in your copy?
People-first content is the key ranking factor in this update. I know – it sounds bizarre to ask whether you’re writing content for humans, but if you have historically been encouraged to try and stuff a large amount of keywords into your copy – it could be flagged by Google as unsatisfying content.
2. Are you over producing articles (quantity over quality) in an attempt to climb the organic search rankings?
If your answer is yes, take a step away from writing and review your current content strategy. Assess how many of your web pages add value to your donor’s user journey. If you realise some of your content isn’t hitting the mark, spend some time adding high-quality content to historic articles in an effort to improve that specific page’s SEO.
3. Are you offering an expert level of knowledge in your blog content?
If you feel like your answer is no – ask your charity experts and contacts to input and write content for your website. ‘How-to’ guides, expert opinions on niche topics and answers to commonly asked questions in your charity sector are a good place to start.
4. Do your entry landing pages have high bounce rates? This could imply web visitors are not finding the answer they’re looking for.
Do an audit of your current website’s content, looking at web page views, bounce rates and average time spent on landing pages. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and the Google Search Console are two great tools for this – plus, they’re completely free! If you have high bounce rates (over 75%) and low average time spent on specific pages, you’ll need to take a look at refreshing that specific page’s content.
So what does following Google’s best practices look like in practice?
One of the best ways to find out what content Google loves is by doing a simple web search. This will help you discover which web pages appear on the first page for your keyword or keyphrase. Luckily, you don’t need expensive SEO tools for this task!
To put the theory into action, I typed in “How to spot the signs of Cancer” – an extremely competitive key phrase, and up came Blood Cancer UK on page one of my search. (And no it was not an ad.)
By assessing what web pages appear on the first page of Google, you can gain an understanding of the type of content, keyword variations and structure layouts that tick the right boxes. A majority of these websites will no doubt be following Google’s helpful content update to stay on the first page so it’s always good to keep an eye on what they are doing and try similar things yourself.
The Blood Cancer UK’s ‘blood cancer symptoms and signs’ web page works in many ways. It highlights blood cancer symptoms at the top of the page in a clear format, as a bullet pointed list. Then it progresses to breaking down content into lists which creates a satisfying experience for the reader, as it’s easier on the eye and more accessible to all reading abilities.
In addition, Blood Cancer UK states how other experts like the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust provided expertise and input for the page. Clearly demonstrating the first-hand expertise and in-depth knowledge that the content update states is important.
The charity also provides thorough answers to commonly asked questions but breaks down the content into headings and subheadings. After reading through the page, I exited the website feeling my question had been adequately answered and I didn’t need to search again for another answer.
By following these steps and encouraging conversations about the importance of regular content audits, you’re ensuring SEO success for your charity’s website.
Always remember that SEO is an ongoing process and you can keep up-to-date with the latest algorithm updates by keeping an eye on the Google Search Central Blog.
Want to learn more about digital trends and algorithm changes? Join us for the CharityComms Digital Conference.
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