I’ve read that Google changes its search algorithm hundreds of times a year, as incredible as that sounds.
As of late, they’ve made the search engine “fussier” about the content it ranks highly.
Specifically, Google is rejecting crappy articles stuffed with keywords and written by content mills.
So how do you write content that both Google and your readers will value?
There are 4 levels of writing how-to material, and the key is to write at the higher levels.
Level 1 is to merely write information or facts, not ideas or actionable strategies.
For instance, if you are writing a report on how to build websites, and you begin by telling the reader there are a billion pages on the web, that’s interesting but it’s not really that helpful.
Level 2 is “what to do” writing. It tells the reader what to do, but not how to do it.
An example is a real estate article that told landlords to evict problem tenants, but didn’t tell how to go about it.
Level 3 is where most good content writing should be: “how to” writing.
You not only tell the reader what to do, but also how to do it.
In the real estate example, the article might tell the reader the 5 points that must be included in an eviction letter.
Level 4 is what content writers call “done for you”.
The writing not only tells the reader what and how to do something, but actually does it for them.
Again in the real estate example, the article could include a sample eviction letter that the reader can just copy and send to his tenant.
Readers and Google like solid level 3 writing, and if you can provide level 4 content, so much the better.
Google may also rank level 1 and level 2 articles high if they are accurate and well written…but these are less valuable to your human readers.
Tip: when writing instructional material, ask yourself about every paragraph, “Am I telling the reader how to do something? Or am I just telling them what to do?” Make sure both objectives, not just the latter, are accomplished by your copy.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.