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April 23, 2013

What Does Google Really Want from Content Marketers?

These days, just about everyone is going on and on about how important content marketing is, but what exactly does that mean? How can you please your human readers and the search engine spiders all at the same time?
Part of it involves some good ol’ fashioned common sense — like publishing content that offers more facts than fluff and staying away from keyword stuffing. Beyond that, here’s what Google really wants from content marketers:

1. Guest posting done the right way
According to a video posted in October 2012, Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Web spam team) says that submitting guest posts to different websites is a great idea. However, it’s only worthwhile if you’re “someone who writes really well and has something to say.” That means you’ve got to bring your A-game every time and look at guest posting as a way to connect with readers — not just a way to gain links.

And, of course, if you’re thinking about spinning your guest posts or publishing posts on any ol’ site, don’t bother. Those tactics haven’t worked in a long time. Instead, look for authority sites in your niche that are going to surround your posts with other high-quality content. In fact, Cutts says if you’re a good writer, the good blogs should be happy to have you.

2. Web content that people are inspired to share
Really want to know how Google judges content? Here’s a hint — it has at least a little bit to do with social networking. After all, if Google didn’t think that social networking was a big deal, it never would have bothered to create Google+. Luckily, by publishing great content on your own site (or on someone else’s site like we talked about above), you’ll have plenty of people “liking” it, tweeting it, pinning it, and +1ing it.
However, this means that you’ve got to actually build relationships with your readers. If you write content that treats people like nothing more than a money tree, don’t expect them to share it.

3. Websites that are a treasure trove of knowledge
These days, Google’s definition of “Web spam” is sites with low-quality content or those that are simply too thin on content altogether. Remember, it’s up to Google to provide results that offer legitimate answers and solutions for its searchers. So, if your Web content doesn’t do that, don’t expect to find yourself at the top of the search results.

4. A continuing focus on “the animals”
If you think that algorithm changes like Panda and Penguin are sooo 2012, you’re going to be awfully unhappy in 2013 and beyond.

Panda is still rolling along, getting tweaked and updated every couple of months. As for Penguin, a major update is coming sometime this year. In fact, Cutts said during his panel discussion at SMX West that it will be one of the most talked-about algorithm changes of the year.

Its goal? Cutts has talked about making advancements in Penguin that could enable it to penalize sites that have 50 percent spam. Considering that the older versions of Penguin have only been able to penalize sites that have 80 percent spam, this would be a huge step – and one that would leave lots of site owners scrambling. If you don’t want to be one of them, it’s time to give some serious thought to your content marketing efforts.

Nicole Beckett is neither a penguin nor a panda — but she knows how to create great Web content. In fact, the entire team at Premier Content Source prides itself on taking clients’ content marketing efforts to new levels.