The war on unhelpful content rages on at Google. The search engine giant keeps updating its algorithms to help their users find the best, most helpful information they’re looking for. Their latest update’s stated goal is to discourage SEO content, or “search-engine first content.”
According to SearchEngineLand.com, Google is rolling out what they call a “helpful content update.” The update will roll out a content update that “specifically targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.” This strategy isn’t anything new – they began targeting unhelpful pages that were meant to game SEO algorithms rather than be helpful a decade ago when they launched their Panda Algorithm in 2011.
This update is going after content that appears to have been regurgitated from another website or webpage on the same site. Therefore, Google’s new rollout could affect a strategy we use to draw more clicks to your business’s website: targeted landing pages.
Google seems to be ratcheting up their efforts to eliminate any content they see as unhelpful, and that can include landing pages; even though they’re not exactly the same, if your targeted landing pages are too similar, Google’s rollout could bury your pages, keeping your customers in nearby locations from finding you.
Targeted landing pages can be an incredibly helpful way to reach your audience and show them what you have to offer. You create a page for each city you’re trying to target so you can appear on the radar of people searching for you in nearby cities. So … now what? Here’s what you should do if you’re crafting targeted landing pages now to preserve your SEO.
Supplement your content
Google wants to help its customers find trustworthy information that’s fulfilling to them. For instance, if you own a cupcake store and your customers are looking for “Bakeries in Novi,” Google wants to show them all the bakeries in and around Novi. If you’re a bakery in Wixom, your landing page for Novi could show up on the first page, or even on the map.
Not so fast! Here’s the catch. Thanks to the rollout, if you also have a page for Commerce, Walled Lake, Plymouth, and West Bloomfield, Google’s helpful content update could flag it as “unhelpful.” Plus, Google confirmed that they can penalize your entire site thanks to landing pages that aren’t different enough.
One way to beat Google’s new update is to ensure your content is different enough to human eyes to be unique. Although Search Engine Land detailed that the program was being run by machine learning algorithms, you can still supplement the content on your landing pages with different information for each page, possibly including different images or a focus on different towns or products.
How to Change it Up
Most targeted landing pages regurgitate the same information about your business. From some landing pages we’ve seen, the only difference we’ve seen between the landing pages was the name of the town! If you have, say, six targeted landing pages for the cities you serve, there are a lot of ways you can mix it up.
1. Talk about the town
Ask yourself – why would someone in Novi vs. Plymouth vs. Ann Arbor need to use my services? Ann Arbor, for instance, is a college town. If you’re a moving company, targeting your Ann Arbor landing page to students moving in and out of the dorms is a smart move. For more suburban towns like Novi and Plymouth, focusing on moving families is the better strategy.
Bear in mind: just because Novi and Plymouth are targeted to families, they each have unique qualities that can distinguish their landing pages. Plymouth boasts a charming, historic downtown area and Novi is a bustling town near freeways with shopping centers galore.
2. Different towns, different purchases
Are people from Plymouth using more of one of your products or services than, say, people from Birmingham? And how can you tell? Here’s where you, as a business owner, need to do your homework.
You need to find out which customers from where are using which of your products or services the most. The best way to find out is to ask. For instance, you can share a poll on social media that asks your customers 1. What services they use, and 2. Where they’re from. This research will prove crucial when deciding what you should write your landing pages about.
Then, put your findings into action by writing your targeted landing pages about what customers are purchasing in a specific town. Say you own a spa. You discover that more people are coming for facials from Birmingham and more people from Ferndale are coming for massages. Lean into that. Make your landing page for Birmingham more oriented towards facials and Ferndale towards massages.
Rolling out soon
Google detailed that the helpful content algorithm will roll out and be finished for English-speaking sites in about two weeks. Search Engine Journal.com conclude that this update could be as pivotal as the PANDAS algorithm as far as creating a new way people create content online.
Two weeks isn’t a lot of time. If you’re planning on making targeted landing pages after the rollout, that’s a fast turnaround, and not one you can easily fit in a busy schedule. Good news? If you want to create targeted landing pages that are people-focused and won’t bump your site down Google’s search page, there’s a solution.
Smart Link Solutions has been creating targeted landing pages to raise your visibility online, and since we keep on top of Google’s changes, we’re ready to adapt and keep climbing. Contact us today to get those targeted landing pages off your plate, keep customers in different places informed about who you are and what you do, and keep your webpages optimized for success on Google’s platform!