“To be successful in SEO, you need to identify and work with the company’s own experts”
A recognized observer of Google’s algorithm, New York-based Amsive Digital’s SEO Operations Director shares her recommendations for seducing the search engine today and in the future.
JDN. In your speech at SMX Paris 2022, you came back to Google’s algorithm updates in 2021. In general, what do you think are Google’s short-, medium- and long-term goals?
Lily Ray. One of the things that Google pays most attention to, and will continue to do in the future, is fighting spam. Also, it’s an issue they work on every day and it won’t stop! In general, Google’s primary goal is to continue providing content that is informative, relevant and useful to users.
In recent years it has become evident that it is not just about text, but about formats of any kind. Nowadays there are so many different configurations in terms of display and means to provide the Internet user with the information he is looking for. Google’s mission remains the same: to index and document all content published on the web, regardless of format, and find what is most useful to the user. We can also add to this their focus on the EAT (Expertise, authority and trust, editor’s note) which is inevitable today when trying to understand their concerns about content quality.
Exactly how is the EAT an essential element to consider in SEO and where does it come from?
The term EAT became very important around the time of the 2016 US election campaign, when fake news became an issue. Since then, Google’s attention and developments have focused heavily on the EAT aspect and the importance of reporting trusted information. Nowadays, Google uses this term almost as a synonym for quality content and it is very important to prove that you have enough expertise.
“Google’s focus on EAT is a constant and will remain so for a long time to come”
The other Gafa haven’t put as much emphasis on the EAT in recent years. It’s a constant for Google and will remain so for a long time. EAT will be a major challenge for SEOs in the future, as there are no clear rules for optimization. But in my opinion, the only right approach is to focus on quality content, regardless of the topic, and the expertise that comes from your content.
What do you recommend or have you been able to implement in terms of EAT optimization?
First of all, you must first analyze and evaluate the sectors in which your website demonstrates authority, always taking into account the opinion of Google. For example, you need to carefully analyze your data from Search Console and look at what the topics are, on which pages of your website they appear. When Google ranks you, it means they think you’re relevant and legitimate.
The second point, you need to link your content to an expert vision as much as possible. Google is very clear on this. He wants author biographies, evidence of their expertise, and see what they’ve already written. You can emphasize this aspect of your EAT by building a group of experts who work in your company and have things to share. These people need to be involved in your content creation process!
So you recommend that website editors use their experts as much as possible?
Yes, identifying and collaborating with in-house experts is a new strategy that my agency and I have been implementing lately. This is an idea that I would have liked to have had much earlier because it is very effective. Focus on your expertise and let your experts speak on topics they are legitimate on.
In 2021 the Product Review Update took place. You watched her closely. Tell us a bit more and what does it tell us about what’s going to happen to product reviews in terms of content?
The Product Review Update is an update for websites and pages that review and compare products. However, this seems to have affected many more sites than expected, such as service comparators or even schools and training.
What I can say is that Google is obviously looking for content creators who can spend a lot of time comparing. It’s not just “top 10 products in this category and that and I’m linking to” pages anymore. On the one hand, Google looks for sites that truly specialize in specific products rather than generalists, and on the other hand, sites that are capable of spending hundreds of hours studying products and producing value-added content.
“Faced with the product reviews update, you need to be transparent about the site’s business model.”
You must provide real proof that you have spent time on the content and be transparent about the site’s business model. In a way, it’s EAT that’s applied to comparison sites. Overall, general sites that mix genres have suffered a loss of visibility, while specialized sites with serious comparisons, on the contrary, have been able to continue to improve their visibility and will continue to do so in the future. Of course there are counterexamples. For example, The Wirecutter from The New York Times is a general product comparison site, but it works very well because it has many experienced writers who are knowledgeable enough to make the site authoritative.
You also mentioned the Discover service, which you see as a clear trend of SEO. Can you tell us more?
Discover acts as a social media site. When you go to your Google app or your Chrome app, you will be presented with 100% personalized articles. Such personalization does not exist in the search. It is content selected for the user based on their interests, location and search history. With Discover, Google looks for engagement and content that resonates with users.
“It’s possible to consider a two-way content strategy: one for the serp, the other for discover”
What works well on Discover is the fun and emotional content. For some of my clients, content that didn’t work in search worked very well in Discover. This is great because there is a lot of organic traffic on Discover and you can focus on SEO-centric articles for search and other topics for Discover. Ultimately, you can think of a kind of two-way content strategy. One for Serp and the other for Discover.
We just discussed some SEO points with you. What advice would you give to an SEO looking to perform in 2022?
First, identify the topics on which you demonstrate expertise and stay within your “corridor”. Point two: Don’t try to write content unless it’s on a topic that Google sees as a legitimate and trusted source. Entering new markets is always possible, but it takes time.
Analyze your website data well. This isn’t to tell you not to try, but if you find yourself struggling to position yourself in certain sectors it would certainly be a better use of your time than focusing on the points where you are be considered legitimate.
Analyze the Google Discover data carefully. Few people include Discover in their SEO reports. Granted, this is content intended for a different audience, but it’s still organic traffic. So pay attention to your appearance on this channel!
Last point: improve your skills and mastery of Search Console as it makes life of SEO easier when it comes to manipulating and analyzing data. For example, the new regex filter feature is amazing! Overall, there is a need to identify when and how it is used. We must not lose sight of our ultimate goal, which is to make sense of all this data. Search Console really helps us and provides very rich information for SEO.
Lily Ray is Director of SEO Operations and Organic Research Studies at New York digital agency Amsive Digital. She has made analyzing Google’s algorithm updates and their impact on organic traffic and SERP visibility one of her favorite topics.
She was a guest at the opening conference of the SEO event SMX Paris 2022, which took place on March 14th and 15th. The topic of his speech: “An overview of the recent Google algorithm updates: what has changed and how to react to them”. A chance to meet him and talk about algorithmic updates, Google and of course SEO.