How to Write a Blog Post that Both Google and Readers will Love

In March 2024, Google made two updates to its search engine algorithm that have significantly impacted search results. One was the March 2024 core update meant to target what Google deems low-quality content, including AI-generated content. The other was the March 2024 spam update to detect content with “little to no value created at scale.” The updates have led to the deindexing of hundreds of websites, completely removing them from Google search results.

Google updates its search algorithm frequently, so what makes these changes so noteworthy? With the proliferation of generative AI tools, many organizations use software to create blogs and other website content to gain efficiency. With the March updates, Google effectively states that content generated by these tools is unoriginal, not informative, and violates Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, which emphasize the need for content to display Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

In light of these updates let’s explore how to create an effective blog post. Here, you’ll learn:

  • What is E-E-A-T and how Google uses it to determine content quality
  • How to structure and write a blog post
  • How long should a blog be
  • How to use FAQs in a blog
  • How to know if your content is unique, thoughtful, and valuable

What is E-E-A-T and how is it used to determine content quality

Google app

Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines are a comprehensive set of principles that Google uses to evaluate whether the content on a website is of high quality and valuable. E-E-A-T is fundamental to this evaluation. It calls for unique content from expert, authoritative sources with thoughtful perspectives on a particular topic. 

Here’s how Google defines the different parts of E-E-A-T:

  • Experience is determined by the author’s first-hand experience with the topic they are writing about. For example, a doctor writing about their most recent surgery, or an attorney writing about what happened with a past case.
  • Expertise is determined by the author’s comprehensive or authoritative knowledge about a particular topic or industry. The doctor might also write about the latest advances in surgical technology, or the attorney might write about trends within the legal profession.
  • Authoritativeness is determined by how much information is provided on a particular topic and how valuable the information is. Having the doctor or attorney write in depth about their topics while providing their credentials is an excellent way to show authority.
  • Trustworthiness is determined by the legitimacy and accuracy of the blog content and its creators. Google deems content written by a reputable source and is true, factual, and correct to be trustworthy.

AI-generated copy violates each of these principles in different ways:

  • A machine might have a wealth of publicly available data to pull from, but it doesn’t have the personal experience or expertise that Google looks for. 
  • An AI tool may mimic some form of authority on a particular topic, but the information it uses may or may not be legitimate or accurate. 
  • AI doesn’t have first-hand experience, personal credentials, or other factors that Google uses to determine a blog’s authenticity or trustworthiness.

In short, Google wants informative, personalized, and engaging content written by people with unique perspectives and voices. Organizations that do not provide this type of content risk being penalized.

Of course, that’s not to say there’s no place for AI in content generation. Generative AI can be a fantastic tool for ideation and research you can use to inform your content. Just don’t rely on it to produce your blogs. Leave that to the human experts.

How to structure and write a blog post

person writing on a laptop

How do you structure and write a blog post that is interesting to readers and meets Google’s criteria? Here are several strategies and tactics to help you accomplish both goals.

Research keywords

After determining the topic of your blog, research keyword terms and phrases that will help your content stand apart from the crowded search field. Identify keywords your ideal reader might search with and judiciously incorporate those into your content. Things to look for include:

  • Popularity of keyword terms 
  • Relevance to your content
  • Specific, rather than general, terms (i.e., “cross-domain cybersecurity” vs. “cybersecurity”). Specific terms tend to have less “competition” and offer you the chance for better search rankings.

Hubspot has a great list of keyword research tools to help you get started. 

Write compelling and original content

The most important thing is to give leaders high-quality, compelling, informative, and original content they cannot find anywhere else. 

Start with an engaging headline that includes your top keyword term. Use the rest of your blog to expand on the concept teased in the headline and give readers a deep dive into your subject matter. Make it as thoughtful as possible and challenge readers’ assumptions with new insights they may not have otherwise considered. 

Avoid duplicating content that appears elsewhere on your website or other sites. Using other sites’ content runs the risk of plagiarism and makes it difficult for Google to know which page to index, which can cancel your page out.

In addition to satisfying Google’s E-E-A-T criteria, providing informative, thoughtful, and original content:

  • Establishes your company and subject matter experts as thought leaders
  • Increases audience engagement
  • Promotes shareability between readers and across social media channels

Remember, you don’t have to rely on just words to communicate your messages. When relevant, you can include other types of content in your blog posts, including videos, infographics, charts, and images. Aim for at least one image for every 250 words of text to make your content more visually appealing and create a better user experience.

Make content easily readable and scannable

Good blog posts aren’t just informative, they’re also easy to read on any device. Breaking up your text into sections marked by headings, subheadings, numbered lists, and bullet points, helps improve scannability and readability.

Likewise, keeping paragraphs short–around 3 - 4 sentences–helps improve readability, especially for longer blogs. Avoid writing overly long paragraphs and sentences that might be difficult for readers to comprehend. 

Use keywords appropriately

Keywords are important to search engine rankings but should be used sparingly and appropriately. Avoid overusing keyword terms in copy, as keyword-heavy text can make for awkward reading and could be perceived by Google as a spammy practice known as “keyword stuffing.” 

Instead, populate different terms throughout your copy where relevant. Good places to include keywords include:

  • The main blog headline
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Title tags and meta descriptions
  • Throughout the blog copy (again, without overdoing it)

You can also use keywords as anchor text in internal and external links, as long as the keyword is relevant to the content you’re linking to. Be careful, though. Too many links or unnatural-sounding text could lead to search engine penalties.

How long should a blog be

another person writing on a laptop

The answer to “How long should a blog be?” depends on many factors, including the audience and topic. For example, certain audience segments might be more likely to read shorter blogs, while others may be okay with longer posts. Likewise, some topics may lend themselves to greater detail. The keys are to know your audience and subject matter and write appropriately for each.

As far as Google is concerned, content should be just long enough to satisfy a user’s search query. A search for “how to write a white paper,” for example, may require a blog post the length of an actual white paper! For instance, this blog from REQ client Acuity is nearly 3000 words and does very well when ranking for the keyword “construction scheduling techniques.”

Conversely, a blog on “dog grooming tips” might be shorter, with just a few bullet points to get the message across.

Don’t make a piece of content longer just to try to hit a specific word count. Length is less important than relevancy, usefulness, and readability. 

How to use FAQs in a blog

FAQs can be powerful tools for achieving great search engine rankings. Including an FAQ with your blog helps establish credibility and authority while providing readers with useful information that answers their search queries.

When creating an FAQ, start with the questions your audience is asking on Google. Type a question relevant to your planned topic into the search bar and refer to the “People Also Ask” questions that Google returns. Build your FAQ around those queries. 

If your blog and FAQ are truly well-optimized, you may even achieve the desired rank of Position Zero in Google search listings. Position Zero, or “featured snippet,” is a highlighted search feature that appears at the top of the search results. It signifies a page that Google finds to be the most authoritative and informative response to a user’s query.

google search page

FAQs are also effective for attracting people searching through a voice assistant. There are now more than 1 billion voice-enabled search queries per month. Placing an FAQ in your blog or elsewhere on your site can help you capture the portion of your audience relying on Siri, Alexa, or similar voice search solutions.

How to know if your content is unique, thoughtful, and valuable

Google’s recent updates are only the beginning. As AI evolves, Google will undoubtedly continue to adjust its ranking algorithm to ensure that sites are pushing out unique, thoughtful, and valuable content. 

To help, Google has issued a series of questions you can ask to ensure you’re producing the best possible content. Sample questions include:

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
  • Is the content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?
  • Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or life?

At REQ, we think of these every time we create blogs for our clients. We also incorporate all the other elements that make for thought-provoking, well-optimized content so that you can attract the right audiences to your site and position your organization and executives as respected, trustworthy, and influential thought leaders. 

Learn how REQ can help with search engine optimizationpublic relations, and content development. Then, let’s go forward together and create blogs and other content that keep you top of mind with your customers while maintaining top-tier search results.

Let’s talk.