Focus on the big picture, not individual signals


The key to your SEO success is to post original content and to think about rankings in terms of concepts, rather than individual mentions.

That’s according to Googlers Martin Splitt, John Mueller, and Danny Sullivan in their latest Off the Record episode. The group discussed updates to rating systems, content, the importance of user centricity, and more.

Why do we care. The Google algorithm is a recipe and we want to know all the ingredients (signals) that will help us rank better and drive more traffic and conversions, no matter what Google says we need to do. However, in the quest for SEO success, it remains crucial to always provide high-quality content to your target audience (users, clients, customers, or readers) and make sure they are satisfied first.

The Big Picture. Many SEOs have become obsessed with knowing all the individual search ranking factors. As SEOs try to break it all down, Mueller said there’s a better way:

  • “For a lot of the guidance we have, it’s now very much about the bigger picture, because it seems like from a technical standpoint things often make a lot of sense. And now you really need to get that bigger picture right, so that when users come in, Mueller says: Oh, this is a really useful site.

And since Google’s algorithm is made up of multiple systems, Sullivan advised staying focused on the big picture:

  • “Know that we’re just going to try to share more information, so you can understand more about the systems out there, you know, and hopefully we can work with it.”

Authentic content. The term “authentic” came up several times during the discussion, with Mueller specifically noting how authentic content can be a differentiator when competing against AI content:

  • “But I believe now more than ever, you have this authentic content that you create because you have it
    “If you have a real audience in mind and you know it’s going to reach them directly, that’s your way forward as you try to navigate that world of how ranking systems evolve with Google,” Mueller said.
  • “And I also think in general, as we get into the realm of AI content and so forth, it’s going to have places
    And that would be helpful, but I think the key would be to keep directing people to reliable information. “There is a great desire for it, and this will be your key to success,” Mueller said.

Focus on the user. “You have to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is accessing this content and what they are going to think,” Sullivan said, adding some helpful context from personal travel experience:

  • “It’s like I just wanted to know where to park? How do I get there? How long do I need to be there? And that you’ve been there already,” Sullivan said.
  • “…I think more about just sitting back and thinking, ‘If I were someone who would get into this, would I actually be satisfied?
  • “And if you’re doing that, you really feel like the way you’re doing it is going and you’re getting feedback from your audience that everything is great. Do it. Do it. Keep it going that way, right?”

The goal of SEO is not to decorate pages in hopes of ranking first in Google, Split added:

  • “…Are you trying to offer something to your users and make it better, so that even a search engine, which is hopefully a less intelligent being than the people using the website, can understand the quality of the page?”

Listen to the episode. Search outside history: Let’s talk about rating updates


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