Google has spent close to 20 years learning how to serve up the best, most relevant content to searchers. It is constantly fine-tuning its technology and algorithm to improve its ability to seek out and display answers to satisfy the 3.5 billion-plus queries it receive every day.
So it makes perfect sense that marketers should try to tap into that wealth of accumulated knowledge to help make their content marketing more effective. Here are five ways that data and insights from Google can enhance a content campaign.
1) Work out the must-have issues and sub themes to include in your content
Numerous studies of Google search results reveal that content that covers topics comprehensively – providing all the information that people want to know given the specific context of their search and intention – rank higher.
The highest ranking content about a subject tends to include certain must-have sub-topics related to the main topic – and incorporating these into your content will help ensure it satisfies your targets by answering more of the things they want to know.
In other words if you’re writing about A in a certain context, Google can help you work out that you need to cover related sub-topics B and C.
You could do your own analysis of sub topics by manually reviewing content for topics you want to cover – or use specialist content marketing tools that do this for you. But an easy starting point is to use the simplified form of insight into sub-topics the Google provides via its list of “related searches” that appears at the bottom of the first results page.
For example, a search about “waffle recipe“ reminds you of related terms such as “American waffle recipe“, “sweet waffle recipe“, “waffle recipe healthy“ and “waffle mixture for a waffle maker“.
2) Learn the best time for distributing and promoting your content
Analysing what people search for, at what volumes and at what time of year can help you identify the perfect time to distribute and promote your content.
When people search on Google there is an intent to navigate, get information or buy, so if you want to sell something online, you can pick out when most people are displaying search intent for whatever you are selling. This gives you powerful insights on when to promote your content.
There are several tools from Google itself that you can use to analyse search volume and seasonality.
For example The AdWords Keyword Planner includes information on the number of monthly searches, the Cost Per Click and seasonal trends. And Google Trends is also a useful source of data for initial research in this area.
3) Identify who your content competitors are
It’s very likely that the people and businesses you compete with for sales are not the only ones you’ll compete with in your content marketing.
businesses you compete with for sales are not the only ones you’ll compete with in your content marketing
If you are a car dealer, for example, a search about “buying a used car“ can reveal content in search results from banks and loan providers, roadside recovery companies (AA, RAC), money saving websites, insurance companies and other car traders.
Studying high ranking competitive content – even if it’s not from your direct competitors – can provide content ideas and also help you spot gaps about areas that are not being covered adequately or can be developed further.
SEOs use tools that analyse the content on a website and throw up a list of its top direct online content competitors on Google. But you can work manually to identify the competitors around your key search phrases.
4) Make decisions on the best media or format to use
Over the years Google’s algorithm has learned the best, most effective content type to address queries that people are looking for information about. Is it a video box-out, a bullet point answer or a series of images?
So, a UK Google search on “tying a bow tie” throws up a Direct Answer box at the top of the page with numbered instructions. Underneath this there are a variety of instructional diagrams that appear in images box-outs, followed by video thumbnail integrations.
You can get an idea of the integrations/box-outs Google selects by simply performing keyword searches related to the topics you want to cover. Use these insights to help you decide what is the best format to deliver the information you want to get across.
5) Assess your content‘s quality
Google’s experience of successfully serving up relevant content day in day out, means it has already developed a way of measuring how effective different content is. So why not use Google to assess the quality of your own online content by tracking how it performs in search?
After all, if Google positions your content highly in searches – then it’s likely doing a good job of satisfying online audiences (which probably explains why content that ranks highly tends to also get more engagement on social media).
content that ranks highly tends to also get more engagement on social media
You could even give each piece of content a monetary value by getting your search marketing team to help you estimate how much you’d have to pay in Google AdWords advertising to generate the same level of search visibility.
The benefit of having a good way of assessing and comparing content quality is that it tells you which content to put most resources behind. What content should you promote on paid media – whether that is social, display or search? Which content should you re-use and recycle and extend to other channels such as email or direct marketing?
The ability to find and display relevant, useful content that satisfies online audiences is hardwired into Google’s algorithm and technology.
This makes the search engine a useful source of knowledge for marketers about the factors that can enhance their content marketing activity. Not to use the insights it offers seems foolish.