Best Practices From Google’s Etan Horowitz and Tina Xiao
The RebelMouse CMS is built for creators. As content creators ourselves, we know the importance of optimizing for search. That’s why a recent webinar led by Google’s Etan Horowitz and Tina Xiao about growing your audience on Google Search and Discover was so illuminating and resonated so well with us.
Among the points they made is that search is constantly evolving; 15% of all searches are new. News and information changes every day, and there are many different ways to search for the same things. They emphasized that specific searches are on the rise, up 400%, (for example: best camera for underwater, best headphones for the subway) so the ways people are searching is evolving.
Along those lines, they emphasized it’s best practice to establish search authority on a topic by publishing “early and regularly.” That means being on top of a trend at its origin or starting to publish ahead of time when an event is coming up. Then staying on top of the topic with regular updates is essential.
At RebelMouse, we encourage our clients to do these same things, whether it’s staying up to date on something with a live blog, adding relevant updates to existing posts, or making sure related articles are internally linked properly. We have a product called SmartLinks to improve internal linking, adding links on key phrases across your site, which also helps to increase time on site.
Horowitz and Xiao also emphasized the importance of structured data. We have out-of-the-box solutions for Google’s structured data integration, including paywall data, FAQs, videos, author structured data, and so on.
How Google Search Works
Horowitz and Xiao encouraged publishers to take a step back and think about how search works:
- Google finds and downloads pages on the internet (Googlebot crawler)
- Google analyzes the text, images, and videos (indexing)
- RebelMouse’s CMS covers each of these elements:
- For text, our Entry Editor has formatting options to emphasize the right words and phrases to tell your story in a way that makes sense.
- For images, we put an emphasis on SEO-friendly images and Google’s best practices for images.
- For videos, we have structured data and a sitemap specifically for videos.
- RebelMouse’s CMS covers each of these elements:
- Google returns information from the index when you search
They talked about thinking about keywords that people might search for to find your content, and to include language geared toward your targeted audiences. Determining the right keywords is essential to online success, and we have solutions for that, too.
For new content, we help clients discover the right keyword phrases based on Semrush’s keyword data. For older content, we have an integration with Google Search Console’s application programming interfaces (APIs), so you can explore what keywords users are searching for. Editors can update the URL, meta description, and so on to optimize around those keywords.
They recommended Google Trends as another keyword-generating tool. Google Trends is useful for:
- Adjusting the time frame for relevant topics.
- Seeing user interest in a topic over time.
- Drilling down into interest by subregion, and finding related topics and queries.
Google Search and Discover
Horowitz and Xiao talked about the ways in which news appears on Google. If you really think about it, there are so many ways.
- Rich results
- Top stories
- Perspectives (insights from journalists, experts, etc.)
- Visible in Google’s app and the mobile version of Google Search
- Surfaces articles and videos based on what the algorithm believes matches up with a user’s interests
- Less predictable than Search with algorithmic recommendations
- Visible in the Google News app and at news.google.com
- Customized news across various topics
Creating Discoverable Content
To make the most of each of these distribution channels, they emphasized providing content that is compelling and unique, as well as high quality.
For Discover, they recommended page titles that are succinct but informative, meaning they are short and to the point while still providing good context on what the article is about. At RebelMouse, we have a field in our publishing interface called Social Headline (og:headline) that is used on Google Discover, so we emphasize its importance to our clients and how it’s so easy to update.
High-quality images should be at least 1200 pixels wide and the article should also have plenty of relevant information or context to understand it's about.
The best way to measure how well your site performs for Google Search traffic and Discover is through Google Search Console. Search trends, site health, analytics, and everything else is right there, and it’s easy to filter into different queries, devices, types of content, and dates. Any URL can be tested with Search Console’s URL Inspection tool to make sure it’s indexed and being read properly.
How Content Is Ranked in Search
If you’re creating “helpful, reliable, people-first content,” then you’re on the right track. Your content should answer someone’s question. You should be a go-to source on a topic that you cover regularly. And your content should be geared toward humans, always.
Many of us know these things already, but it’s also helpful to think about how Google is ranking content. Lately, it’s all about E-E-A-T, and we’re aware of that at RebelMouse, too, as we offer advanced structured data to support that. E-E-A-T is simply:
- Demonstrate first-hand experience or knowledge about the subject
- Establish you are an expert on the topic you’re writing about
- Show you are an authority on the content
- Clear sourcing, research, original content, or analysis
It’s best practice to update author bios on your site with contact information, coverage, and credentials, all of which line up with E-E-A-T. We work with our clients to get their author structured data right in this regard.
But there are so many other ways in which content is ranked. Horowitz and Xiao recommended Search Central’s30 questions to self-assess your own website based on key metrics and concepts that factor into rank.
From our perspective, one of the best things you can do is add value like:
- Creating original content and linking to related sources from research.
- Internal linking to content related to the primary topic connecting similar stories.
- Adding analysis and perspectives to put a unique spin on what you’re writing about.
- Adding related media like images with proper alt text or related videos with context.
Take all of this into account, and you’re ready to grow your audience on Google Search and Discover, especially with the best CMS for SEO. Our emphasis on Core Web Vitals best optimizes your site, so you can worry less about technicalities and more about providing valuable and related content to users.