In September 2019, Google released its updated Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG). This public document is used by Google’s human website reviewers. They use the Guidelines to provide feedback to Google about its search results and which websites have high rankings. Google then uses this feedback in its core algorithm updates.
These new updates are interesting, especially when read in light of Google’s definition of “quality content” in its August 1, 2019 Webmaster Central Blog post about core updates.
Google announced several core updates this year: the first rolled out March 12; the second began June 4. Another happened quite recently on September 24.
As explained by Search Engine Journal, a core update is when Google tweaks one or several of the 200 to 500 ranking factors that go into its algorithm. A core update can push down pages that enjoyed high rankings and raise others – it depends on what Google has tweaked.
As such, you the business owner or marketer can’t predict how a core update will affect your website. However, you can control one thing: creating quality content.
Focus on quality content
If you’ve found your pages have dropped in ranking after a core update, Google recommends asking the following questions:
Does the content provide original information that’s helpful and beyond the obvious? Does it draw from other sources without copying or rewriting what’s already been stated?
Most importantly, does the content “present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that published it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?”
With its September 2019 QRG updates, Google has gone even further in defining what is quality content.
In a nutshell, the onus is on website owners to ensure the information presented helps people feel confident that it’s trustworthy and written by people with expertise and authority.
Yes, this means you, the small industrial manufacturer.
For example, let’s say you write an article about the chemical makeup of a material, and how its molecular structure impacts how its manufactured. This information needs to be backed by either an author with noted expertise or by information on your website that shows your authority and expertise, including company history, testimonials, case studies, industry memberships, press, awards, etc.
Your website must communicate E-A-T
In previous versions of the QRG, Google introduced the concept of YMYL pages (“Your Money or Your Life”). YMYL pages provide information that can positively or negatively impact people’s health and well-being, safety, and financial stability.
Thus, YMYL pages are held to a much higher standard with regard to Google’s concept of E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Product pages are examples of YMYL pages, as is content that provides medical or financial information, fitness or health, etc.
In the latest QRG, Google now refers to pages that provide “information about” or “research [about] goods and services,” as YMYL.
For industrial manufacturers, this means that while your website may not offer e-commerce, it does include information about your products and services.
Whether someone contracts with you for a $1,500 “small job” or a $500,000 equipment installation, this transaction impacts them financially. More importantly, it can impact their employees’ safety.
If the “small job” isn’t produced correctly, or the equipment not installed to code, the potential exists for malfunction, bodily harm or even death.
Thus, the onus is on you to ensure your website communicates E-A-T across all pages with information that backs up who you are and who you do business with: Company history, management bios, case studies and testimonials, industry certifications, FAQs, and articles written by engineers and other experts in your company.
All this high quality content needs to be professionally written and free of errors, include high-quality, original imagery and photographs, and feature a clean design that’s easy to navigate and is mobile-friendly.
We can’t stress this enough. Not only does high-quality images, design, and content project authority and expertise, it also builds trust and credibility – and sets you apart from your competition.
Quality content is valuable to buyers
When you’re researching a product or service, you can tell, with a few seconds’ glance at the search results, which listings will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Thus, when creating a piece of content, Google advises that you ask two questions:
1. Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in the search results?
2. Does the content genuinely serve the interests of potential buyers / customers or does it exist solely to rank well in search engines?
To ensure your content provides real value, address the questions and concerns your buyers and customers ask you. Get this information from sales people, engineers, the email inquiries you receive, site searches, and the challenges you deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Then, take this information and turn it into FAQs, tech tips, case studies, and articles, and other information that your buyers and customers can use to determine they should definitely do business with you.
Content Marketing Do’s and Don’ts for Industrial Manufacturers
- DO consider adding a Resources section to your site. Fill this section with information your buyers / customers need to do business with you.
- DO enlist the help of your team to brainstorm content ideas and write content. Work with an outside writer if needed.
- DO allow people on your team to be listed as content authors, and include their bios, to showcase expertise and authority.
- DO consistently add new content. One piece a month, or even every other month, is better than not doing anything at all.
- DON’T let your website go fallow and lose the benefits of a strong brand, lead generation, and SEO.
- DON’T follow consumer marketing trends. Instead, pay attention to the information your customers / buyers need.
- DON’T assume your competitors are doing it right, unless you have access to their real data and business results.
- DON’T try to do all of this yourself. Content marketing is a specialty skill that requires managing dozens of details.
Thank you to Rachel Cunliffe for contributing to this piece.