The Google BERT update, released late last year, was a major update that Google referred to as one of the most important in the last five years.
The BERT algorithm centres around language:
“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.”
In other words, Google can now better understand search queries, particularly the intent behind them. Users can search in a natural way, with prepositions like ‘for,’ ‘in’ and ‘to,’ and Google will be able to understand the context.
What does this mean for SEO in 2020? While SEO basics are still important (UX, site speed, mobile optimization, site maps, title tags and meta descriptions to name a few), content matters more than ever and must be written with user intent in mind rather than solely focussing on set keywords.
Understand Your Audience
The only way you can write engaging content that your users will find useful is to know what they want.
And this involves research.
User-focused optimization is about knowing how your customers are searching and why. You need to know what they thought of your site and understand what factors are making them leave or continue through to purchase or enquire.
Only then can you align your content to match your audience’s intent.
Write Useful Content People Are Looking For
Forget optimising for specific keywords. Writing relevant and valuable content will win you the rankings race every time.
You need to know what answers your users need and craft content that delivers comprehensive answers.
Look at your website as a whole and work out how you can deliver solutions and answers in the format/s your users prefer.
Some ideas include:
- Audit your content for overlapping topics. Look at which pages rank best and repurpose them. Add video, update images or convert to a blog post.
- Remove or improve pages with thin or low quality content.
- Ensure consistent brand messaging across your site.
- Make sure content is localized.
- Incorporate more unique images and video content in a structured way.
- Know what the latest trends and/or topical subjects are for your industry and organise your website to deliver that information first.
Remember, the goal is to optimise for users, not for search engines so regular content reviews will be an essential part of SEO success.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
E-A-T is a huge deal, and if you haven’t already started paying attention to it, you need to.
Google wants to deliver the most relevant and accurate information, so it uses the three E-A-T factors to determine which pages are the highest quality and ranks these above others.
Whenever you are working on content for your website, use the E-A-T framework to guide you.
- Expertise – you may be an expert on a topic but that alone isn’t enough to drive traffic to your website. You have to find a way to communicate your knowledge in a way that engages users and answers their queries. Ideally, you want the user to feel informed but not overwhelmed by too much information.
- Authority – Authoritativeness isn’t something you can fake. It takes time for your name (or your brand) to become widely associated with your area/s of expertise. When other experts or influencers are citing you as a source, whether this is in the form of links or sharing your content, you know you are on your way. A Wikipedia page is a sign that you’ve made it!
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to E-A-T.
“Long gone are the days where you can pop-up overnight and take over Google’s results pages. The E-A-T criteria, by definition, means incrementally growing a brand and a positive online presence in a natural way.”
However, if you consistently follow the E-A-T principles and write content that is relevant and valuable, you will achieve long-term SEO success.
Don’t know where to start? No time? Contact your local SEO agency Wollongong Web Design for a free strategy building session. We can help you understand your audience and how to better engage them.