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A Closer Look at Website Content


“Websites should cater to people, not bots.”

We can’t count how many times we’ve said those words or stated similar sentiments over the years — even back when search engine optimization required a delicate balancing act between appeasing web crawlers and helping human beings.

Fortunately, Google’s recent algorithm update firmly puts people first. In fact, some of the old strategies, such as saturating webpages with copious keywords, might end up doing more harm than good to your website’s search engine rankings.

Google has given their newest approach to evaluating the value of a website an appropriate name: “Helpful Content.” The algorithm not only penalizes sites that put bots before people, but also discourages the use of AI tools, such as ChatGPT. So the new formula can be summarized with an evolved version of our old motto:

“Websites should feature real people helping real people.”

Here are some tips for optimizing your bank website for human beings:

Blogs and Bylines

Our belief that blogs are a boon to bank websites is nothing new. Twelve years ago, we published a blog post called “Quick tips for reaching your blog’s full potential.” In 2017, we followed up with “Does your bank website need a blog?”

While the online landscape has changed in many ways in the meantime, some things remain true to this day.

What We Said Then

Make it interesting, engaging and, whenever possible, fun. Keep the tone conversational. Don’t talk at people; talk with them.

What We Know Now

Tone and voice play an important part in communicating to Google that the post was written by an actual person. While we still believe “engaging” and “fun” to be worthy goals, “interesting” trumps all: informative blog posts should strive to answer a limited number of questions, solve specific problems and so forth.

The more granular you get, the more likely your content will appear in the “People also ask” section of Google’s search results pages (SERPs).

What We Said Then

Give readers the tools to spread the word. A Facebook “Like” button is a good start, but there are many other plug-ins that connect to countless other websites.

What We Know Now

The more places that link back to your blog post, the better — not only because it drives additional traffic to your website, but also because it establishes your site as a legitimate source. After all, to prove you are a trusted brand, people actually have to visit your site and talk about you on others.

Share buttons, like those to the left of this very post, are only the beginning.

What We Said Then

Whatever your cadence for adding new content to your blog, be predictable with the timing. Can you handle publishing one post a month? Once a week? Don’t overcommit because there are few things as sad as a blog that hasn’t been updated in many, many months.

What We Know Now

An unused blog is a wasted resource. Blogs have always been the best place for individual employees to share their expertise with readers. Add new helpful content as often as you can. Leverage your staff and use bylines — authors’ names — to prove to both Google and your prospects that your team is qualified to assist.

The good news is that your staff already knows the problems that most often impact your audience. The questions they are asked every day, the obstacles they help your customers surmount again and again — every one of these is a possible blog post topic.

What We Said Then

Marketers are often tempted to write every post about their bank or credit union: new products, better rates, other big news. While all those things are blog-worthy, you’ll quickly bore your audience with sales pitch after sales pitch. Address topics that directly impact your customers’ lives. Be a thought leader. Better to educate than indoctrinate.

What We Know Now

All of the above is absolutely true; moreover, these tips are essential for success in the Helpful Content era of Google. Blog posts must leverage the expertise of your staff. In essence, your employees, what they know, and how they can make your customers’ lives easier are what these blog posts are selling.

It’s no longer about what the bank offers, but rather how each individual staff member is uniquely equipped to alleviate a pain point.

What We Said Then

Blog posts don’t have to be very long. In fact, shorter, snappier pieces tend to engage more readers than novel-length pieces. Use subheads and bullets to break up large blocks of text, making your posts scannable.

What We Know Now

When keyword-stuffing strategies win out over a conversational approach to writing, blog posts can become bloated and boring. Shorter, snappier articles keep people’s attention. They also allow for a series of related posts to be published. Again, the goal is to focus on a single topic, tackling an individual angle, to increase your chances of appearing in the “also asked” section of the SERPs.

A good rule of thumb is to answer a question and then let readers connect to the expert or, barring that, the bank for any follow-ups — a win-win for lead generation and customer service!

Beyond Blogs

Blog posts might be the most obvious avenue for adding valuable content to your website, but even standard webpages can (and should) satisfy the algorithm’s expectations. Like blog posts, pages should allow visitors to dig deeper into topics.

For example, instead of relying on a single page that talks about all your checking account options, a site should devote a page to each type. Then consider creating additional pages that address individual features. Frequently-asked-question elements can also fill gaps — even better if they link to a page or post that provides more details.

We’re still in the early days of Google’s Helpful Content initiative. As time passes, we’ll be able to draw further conclusions about its impact on website architecture…

…and write future blog posts to share our expertise.

Want to tap into our expertise? We’d love to help you!

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