A recognized observer of Google’s algorithm, the director of SEO operations at Amsive Digital in New York, shares his recommendations for seducing search engines today and in the future.
JDN. During your speech at SMX Paris 2022, you went back to the Google algorithm updates in 2021. In general, what do you think Google’s short-term, medium-term and long-term goals are?
Lily Ray. One of the points that Google is currently paying the most attention to and will continue to do so in the future is the fight against spam. Plus, it’s a topic they work on every day and it won’t stop! Overall, Google’s main goal is to continue to provide content that is informative, relevant, and useful to users.
In recent years, it has become clear that this is not just a text, but any type of format. Today, there are so many different configurations in terms of display and how to provide the Internet user with the information they are looking for. Google’s mission remains the same: to index and document all the completeness of content published on the web, regardless of format, and to find what is most useful to the user. To this we can add their focus on EAT (Expertise, authority and trust, editor’s note) which is inevitable today when trying to understand their concerns about content quality.
Specifically, to what extent is EAT an essential element to consider in SEO and where does it come from?
The notion of EAT became very important during the 2016 U.S. election campaign when fake news became a problem. Since then, Google’s attention and development has largely focused on the EAT aspect and the importance of reporting reliable information. Today, 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 constant and will be for a long time to come”
The second Gafa has not placed as much emphasis on the EAT in recent years. For Google, this is a constant and will be so for a long time to come. For SEOs, EAT will be a big challenge in the future because there are no clear rules in terms of optimization. But in my opinion, the only real approach is to focus on quality content and expertise that comes from your content regardless of the topic.
What do you recommend or have been able to set up in terms of EAT optimization?
First, you must first analyze and evaluate the sectors in which your site shows authority, always taking into account the opinion of Google. To do this, you need to analyze your data from the Search Console for example and look at what the items are, which pages of your site you are performing on. If Google positions you, it means that it considers you relevant and legitimate.
Another thing, you need to connect your content as much as possible with the professional vision. Google is very clear about this. He wants biographies of the authors, proof of their expertise and to see what they have already written. You can emphasize this aspect of your EAT by building a group of professionals who work in your company and who have things to convey. These people need to be involved in your content creation process!
So, do you recommend that site editors use their experts as much as possible?
Yes, identifying and working with our own company experts is a new strategy that my agency and I have been implementing lately. This is an idea I would love to have much earlier because it is very effective. Focus on your expertise and get your experts to talk about topics where they are legitimate.
In 2021, an update of the product overview was held. You watched her closely. Tell us more and what does that tell us about what will happen in terms of content with product reviews?
A product overview update is an update for sites and pages that rate and compare products. But this seems to have affected many more locations than expected, such as service comparators or even schools and training, for example.
What I can say is that it is clear that Google is looking for content creators who can spend a lot of time making comparisons. These are no longer just “Top 10 products in this and that category and to which I link”. On the one hand, Google is looking for sites that really specialize in specific products, not general ones, and on the other hand, for sites that can spend hundreds of hours studying products and producing value-added content.
“Faced with updating product reviews, you need to be transparent about the business model of the site”
You need to show real proof that you have spent time on the content and be transparent about the business model of the site. In a way, EAT applies to comparison pages. Overall, general sites that mix genres have suffered a loss of visibility, while, on the contrary, specialized sites with serious comparisons have seen and will see that their visibility will further improve in the future. Of course, there are counterexamples. For example, The New York Times Wirecutter is a general product comparison site, but it works very well because they have many professional authors who are so educated that the site is authoritative.
You also mentioned the Discover service which for you is a clear trend of Seo coming. Can you tell us more?
Discover features like a social media page. If you go to your Google app or Chrome app, 100% personalized articles will be presented to you. Such personalization does not exist in Search. It is the content selected for the user based on his interests, location and search history. With Discover, Google seeks engagement and content that appeals to users.
“It is possible to consider a two-way content strategy: one for 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 on Search worked well on Discover. This is great because there is a lot of organic traffic to collect on Discover and it allows you to focus on articles that focus on SEO search and other Discover topics. After all, it is possible to imagine some kind of two-way content strategy. One for Serp and the other for Discover.
We just talked to you about certain SEO points. What advice would you give to an SEO that wants to succeed in 2022?
First, determine the subjects on which you show expertise and stay in your “hallway”. Second, don’t try to write content to write content unless it’s a topic where Google sees you as a legitimate and reliable source. It is always possible to enter new markets, but it takes time.
Analyze your site data well. This doesn’t mean I’m telling you “don’t try,” but if you find you have difficulty positioning yourself in certain sectors, it would certainly be better to use your time than to focus on the points you are in. You think that’s legitimate.
Carefully analyze your Google Discovery data. Few people take Discover into account in their SEO reporting. Admittedly, this is content intended for other audiences, but it is still organic traffic. So pay attention to your performance on this channel!
Lastly, improve your skills and your mastery of the Search Console as this makes life easier for SEO when it comes to data manipulation and analysis. For example, the new feature of the regular expression filter is amazing! All in all, it is necessary to determine when and how to use it. We must not lose sight of our real goal, which is to give meaning to all this information. The Search Console really helps us and provides very rich information for SEO.
Lily Ray is the director of SEO operations and organic research studies at the digital agency Amsive Digital based in New York. Analyzing Google’s algorithm updates and their impact on organic traffic, as well as the visibility of SERP, has made it one of her favorite topics.
She was a guest of the inaugural conference of SEO events, SMX Paris 2022, which was held on March 14 and 15. The topic of his speech: “An overview of recent Google algorithm updates: what has changed and how to respond”. Opportunity to meet him and talk about algorithmic updates, Google and of course SEO.