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Author: Gary Stevens

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Over the past year, Google has been rolling out a series of significant updates to improve the quality of search results and provide a better user experience. Google’s goal is to reward high-quality, trustworthy content that provides substantive value to readers while demoting low-quality, spammy, or unhelpful content.

As a result of these developments — especially the March 2024 Core update — content marketers and website owners have had to adapt their strategies to align with Google’s evolving standards. This includes a stronger focus on creating original, well-researched, and engaging content that provides users with a satisfying experience while establishing credibility and authority within their respective niches.

This article will discuss the latest Google algorithm updates and their specific impact on content marketing efforts. We’ll also share practical strategies for creating content that ranks well and delivers genuine value to your target audience.

How Google’s algorithm updates impact your SEO

The March 2024 Core Update, along with the helpful content update, has been integrated into Google’s core ranking systems, marking a pivotal shift in how content is evaluated and ranked. These updates are aimed at improving the quality of search results. The key focus is on: 

  • Reducing low-quality content. Google aimed to reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%.
  • Enhanced ranking systems. The update refined core ranking systems to better identify helpful content and improve user experience.
  • Spam policies. New spam policies were introduced to combat manipulative SEO practices, such as scaled content abuse, site reputation abuse, and expired domain abuse.
Hedgehog reviewing website performance

Assessing your website’s current content after the updates 

To ensure your website remains competitive and aligns with Google’s new standards, it’s crucial to assess your current content thoroughly.  Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this process.

Step 1: Conduct a comprehensive content audit

A content audit is the first step in assessing your website’s current content. This involves evaluating all your content to determine its performance, relevance, and quality.

  • Set clear goals. Define what you want to achieve with your content audit. Are you looking to improve SEO, increase user engagement, or update outdated information? Clear goals will guide your audit process.
  • Take inventory. Collect all URLs of your content. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and content audit tools can help automate this process.
  • Analyze performance. Use metrics such as page views, bounce rates, average time on page, and current rankings to assess each piece of content. Identify which content is performing well and which is underperforming.

Step 2: Identify outdated and low-quality content

The March 2024 update targets low-quality, unoriginal, and AI-generated content. It’s crucial to identify and address such content. You should pay special attention to:

  • Outdated information. Look for content with outdated statistics, references, or data. Update these to ensure accuracy and relevance.
  • Low-quality content. Identify content that lacks depth, is poorly written, or doesn’t meet current SEO best practices. This includes content with broken links, poor readability, and irrelevant information.
  • AI-generated content. If you have content generated by AI, ensure it is thoroughly reviewed and enhanced with human insights to meet quality standards.
  • Website structure. Another key mistake website owners make is not considering the page’s place in the inbound marketing funnel. A top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) blog has different requirements and structural needs than a middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) one, and it just might be the obstacle preventing you from ranking. 

Step 3: Enhance content quality and relevance

Improving the quality and relevance of your content is essential to align with Google’s updated criteria, which means you must: 

  • Update and revise. Refresh outdated content with new information, add multimedia elements, and improve readability by using clear language, headings, and bullet points.
  • Optimize for SEO. Use SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Clearscope to optimize your content for relevant keywords, improve meta tags, and ensure on-page SEO best practices are followed.
  • Focus on E-E-A-T. Enhance your content’s Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). This is particularly important for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content, such as health, finance, and legal topics.

Step 4: Improve the user experience

User experience is a critical factor in content performance. Ensure your website provides a seamless and engaging experience for visitors. This means focusing on: 

  • Mobile optimization. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as mobile usability is a significant ranking factor.
  • Page speed. Optimize your website’s loading speed to reduce bounce rates and improve user satisfaction.
  • Navigation. Simplify your website’s navigation to help users find information quickly and easily. Clear menus, logical structure, and intuitive design are key

Step 5: Regularly update and maintain content

Maintaining content recency is vital for ongoing SEO success. Regular updates signal to Google that your site is active and valuable.

  • Content calendar. Create a content calendar to schedule regular updates and new content creation. This helps keep your content fresh and relevant.
  • Monitor performance. Continuously monitor your content’s performance using analytics tools. Adjust your strategy based on data insights to ensure ongoing improvement
Hedgehog inspecting his website's SEO with a flashlight

Key signs of outdated content

Keeping your website content and SEO up-to-date is crucial for maintaining relevance, user engagement, and SEO performance. Outdated content can harm your credibility, reduce traffic, and negatively impact user experience. 

Here are the key signs that your content may be outdated:

  1. Outdated information. Content that contains information that is no longer accurate or relevant is a clear sign of outdated material. This includes old statistics, facts, or references to events that have changed or evolved.
  2. Broken links. Broken links within your content indicate that the information is outdated or obsolete. These links lead to error pages or non-existent websites, frustrating users and signaling poor maintenance to search engines.
  3. Obsolete references. References to technologies, trends, or tools that are no longer in use or have been replaced suggest that your content is outdated. This can make your content appear irrelevant and out of touch with current industry standards. Likewise, you should reconsider what tech stack you are using. If it’s a custom-coded website, then you should reconsider using Angular, React, or any other JS script library (or plugin, if you’re using WordPress), especially if your SEO issues are more on the technical side. 
  4. Old design and formatting. An outdated design or formatting style can make your content appear old-fashioned. Consider updating the layout, fonts, and styling to align with current design trends.
  5. Unresponsive or poorly performing content. Content that is not optimized for mobile devices or has slow loading times can be seen as outdated. Users expect a seamless experience, so ensure your content is responsive and performs well across various devices.

Stay ahead of Google’s algorithms

While the recent Google algorithm updates may have initially caused disruptions and challenges, they ultimately aim to improve the overall user experience and provide more relevant, helpful, and trustworthy search results.

Moving forward, it’s clear that businesses and marketers who adapt to these evolving standards and prioritize delivering value to their target audience will be better positioned for long-term success. Focusing on factors such as content quality, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, user engagement, and search satisfaction will be crucial in navigating the ever-changing world of SEO and content marketing.

While the path to content marketing success may have become more challenging, the rewards of creating genuinely helpful and engaging content are worth the effort.

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