With the big content based changes to the Google algorithm this year, many smaller businesses were caught by surprise, and some are just noticing as the year comes to an end. Organic traffic is down and you aren’t sure why? It is likely content based. The algorithm has gotten much better at picking out “thin” and duplicate content this year, and many businesses don’t even realize they are breaking the rules.
There are three main content issues that could be holding you back and I will explain each below. You should take a look at your site and make sure you aren’t breaking any of them.
“Thin” content was addressed earlier in 2017 and though there is no specific number rule handed down by Google, I recommend site content that is meant to rank should hit 500 words, and always at least 350 words. Yes there are going to be posts and pages that don’t necessarily need that much content, but the vast majority of your pages should have content that has a length over 350 words, and if it doesn’t, that may be the cause of your drop. Another hint is to make sure you look at what Google is indexing on your site. You may have thin pages that you don’t want to be indexed causing your site to have issues.
Just take a look at your core pages and your blog posts and make sure they have significant content. The goal of Google search results is to provide the best answers for a search query. Google has said these are usually thorough answers, so make sure your product or service pages are thoroughly explaining what it is that you are doing for your customers/clients/patients, and why they should choose you. This should get you to the word count you need.
Another big issue I have seen this year is that content that has ranked for years and is not thin suddenly stops “working” and bringing in organic traffic. Upon further review with a duplicate content checking tool like Copyscape, which will give you some checks for free, but is a very low-cost way to check your whole site, or at least the important pages, for duplicate content. I have seen a lot of business owners use duplicate content when they didn’t even know it. Either someone internally had copied the content from another site or they ordered it from a content provider that also sold it to many other sites without them knowing. Another issue is if you repeat large chunks of content such as a list of towns or services over and over on all of your pages. Big chunks of content that are seen over and over on sites around the internet can make your page unrankable. This has always been the case, but we have seen more and more sites finally get caught for it this year, and sometimes not even realizing where their original content came from.
Another big issue that was addressed in a larger way in November is fresh content. Fresh content just means that it is fairly new. This is more of an issue for content providers and news stories, but it can also hurt small businesses that haven’t changed that basic content in years. In general, there are usually changes in your products and services over time, and if you haven’t updated your content in years, you may have seen it drop a bit in the rankings. Even if it is long enough and unique, you may want to take a look at it and tweak it to update it with the latest information. Often, business owners who haven’t looked at that content in a while, are surprised that what they are putting out there is outdated or maybe not even accurate anymore. The good news is if you did a good job refreshing your content to deal with the other issues above, it is already refreshed, so you won’t need to worry about that for a while. However, this is another good reason to have a blog and keep adding information. Google sees page freshness as well as site freshness, and if nothing has changed on your site in years, you are likely going to see your site drop in the rankings. Keep feeding it with new, better, and more informed content.
In general, it is just a good idea to look at your important information you are putting on your website and make sure it is unique, thorough, and up to date. If that is the case, you should be ok from a content perspective, but many, many business owners have work to do in this area in 2018.