Things got a bit heated when I spoke my mind on Twitter yesterday.
I’ve been blogging for 12 years and to say that Google hasn’t altered the blogosphere would be disingenuous. Google rewards certain activities of bloggers by sending them more or less traffic.
As bloggers, we’ve learned like Pavlov’s dog which activity brings the rewards.
I was feeling a bit salty yesterday and posted the following on Twitter,
Google is slowly killing blogging.
Blogging used to be about providing off the cuff updates, sharing unique perspectives, and interacting with blog comments!
Now Google has forced bloggers to make everything SEO optimized, long form, and tightly focused around a single keyword.
If you don’t bow to Google’s will, you don’t get traffic!
Now, with the Helpful Content Update, they’ve gone so far as to say that “unhelpful” articles on your site can penalize your ENTIRE site!
This is ludicrous.
If you wrote about a personal update or something just “fun”, does this now make your entire site “unhelpful”?
So, we have moved “blogging” in the traditional sense away from our site and onto social media. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or wherever is now where you get the real “blog” updates.
You no longer get that on blogs, no more true insights, because heaven forbid Google deems a post as unhelpful and penalizes your entire site.
The ironic thing?
Google ranks Reddit extremely well BECAUSE people are providing off the cuff comments and doing what bloggers used to do!
So, Google is killing the individual bloggers, but sending tons of traffic to a major corporation (Reddit) instead, because Reddit users are doing what bloggers used to do. Thanks for crushing traditional blogging, Google.
(PS – what you just read is the type of thing I used to write on my blog, but I can’t do that anymore…).
Spencer Haws, Salty Twitter User
google snaps back, sparks outrage
Google took notice!
The official Google Search Liason Twitter (Danny Sullivan) account stepped in to try and clarify things. However, they poked a hornet’s nest of angry bloggers that just piled on comment after comment.
Here’s what Google said,
Writing about something that’s fun, or a personal update, or whatever anyone wants to write about on their blog is not an issue. We haven’t said don’t do that. Nor do blogs don’t have to somehow only about one particular topic.
Perspectives & experience are welcomed, as we’ve talked about before as to why E-A-T became E-E-A-T: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/12/google-raters-guidelines-e-e-a-t…
Unhelpful content is content that’s generally written *for search engine rankings* and not for a human audience. If your audience wants to know about what fun thing you did today, and that’s why you wrote it — that’s helpful.
Write away! Write about anything that you think human beings coming directly to your blog would like to hear about. That’s all great. But if you wrote “20 fun things you can do today” because your *primary purpose* in doing so that you wanted to *rank well* for “fun things” rather than this being something you’d typically write about, that can be a sign you’re producing unhelpful content.
It wasn’t something you wrote for you. It wasn’t something you wrote for your audience. It was something you wrote for search ranking purposes — and that often can align with unhelpful content.
For more, this is our guide about how to create helpful, people-first content: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/fundamentals/creating-helpful-content
Danny Sullivan, Google Search Liason
Google Says, “Don’t Write for Search Engines”
In essence, Google is saying, “Don’t Write for Search Engines”.
But Twitter did not like this response at all. Several examples were shared where sites that are clearly written for search engines rank extremely well (notably Forbes, CNN, Tom’s Guide, CNET, and Business Insider).
Google tried to respond that if a BBQ site tries to write about BBQ pellets with the intent to “rank for BBQ pellets”, then their content might be deemed unhelpful.
I think Tony Hill summarized some of my thoughts better than I could have in explaining how Google has really “trained” bloggers over the years to do what gets traffic.
write for humans and search engines?
At the end of the day, you should ABSOLUTELY write for humans! As bloggers, we want humans to read our content.
But the difficulty is that we know that most HUMANS go to Google to find stuff that they want.
So, if you don’t write your content in a way that your audience can find it on search engines, then you don’t get the human readers that you wanted in the first place.
So, as bloggers, we are in a bit of a pickle.
Google says, “Don’t write for Search Engines”.
And we don’t! We write for humans!
If the people I want to read my content are interested in “side hustles”, I know that most people go to Google to search for side hustles.
So, if I want people to read my content that is about side hustles, I know my site has to do well on Google.
And so the never-ending push and pull goes between Google and bloggers.
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