Only quality content is king. The rest are court jesters, distracting the public but failing miserably to entertain or inform them. The internet has a proliferation of content, but not everything is relevant to those who find it. Sophisticated readers have become aware of both irrelevant content and how to deal with it.
We live in a world where people are looking for instant gratification. Readers are told how many minutes it will likely take them to consume an article online, and when that amount can be too intimidating, they are awarded a TL; DR. And that’s just for the content they’re already interested in! When it doesn’t, readers, including me, have found ways to filter out irrelevant material. Here are four.
1. They have become contradictory researchers
Most internet users these days are reluctant to scroll through search results pages to find the most relevant links. This is why the first page of a Google search captures 71% to 92% of clicks and page two only 6%.
Still, irrelevant content creates a bit of a Catch-22. Readers who have adjusted to not finding what they are looking for on the first page may start to increase page count. As they do, businesses feel they have an opportunity to create even more content, relevant or not, hoping it will be found if readers start to dig deeper.
Businesses can do better. Search engines change algorithms hundreds of times a year to help quality content rise to the top. Businesses need to keep up with algorithm adjustments and focus on creating high-quality content that will end up on the first page.
Lower expectations lead to an increase in conflicting research behaviors. When readers approach research anticipating irrelevant content, businesses shouldn’t be surprised by this response. If they make a concerted effort to raise the bar on their content, they might raise the expectations of their readers as well.
2. They learned to navigate
If irrelevant content creates a Catch-22, the keywords create a chicken or egg dilemma. Are you using keywords relevant to your product in your content? Or do you build your content based on keywords found using Google’s Keyword Tool? Your target audience should drive this decision.
Readers understand how keywords affect their search results. One recent keyword analysis used on Google found that almost 92% of search terms are long tail keywords. However, these searches accounted for just over 3% of the search volume.
When that long tail search yields a multitude of irrelevant results, readers shorten it by trying to get more focused ones. Some will use this autocomplete prediction list that appears below the Google search box. The tool uses reader-specific information, such as the history of previous searches and the language and location of the query.
Businesses should use simpler, more targeted keywords and avoid a broad match keyword strategy. Of course, the volume of searches using general terms is greater, but that just means that more readers are frustrated with the irrelevant content they find. Businesses need to create better quality content that prompts readers to find them on the first page of their query results.
3. They take shortcuts
The vast majority of the time, humans will take a shortcut if it is available. We want what we want, and we want it now. Readers who are looking for relevant content and can’t find it are even more likely to use hacks that shorten the process.
When the search results appear, readers can press “Command (or Control) + F” to highlight their keyword without having to read each result as they scroll down. If they use a site-specific shortcut, such as “site: website name + search term”, only results from that site will appear first. Readers can also use quotes around specific words, which means the search first finds those specific words in that order.
Obviously, your content will likely be buried in search results when readers use these shortcuts. You can’t blame them for taking them, but there is something you can do.
An intuitive digital marketing strategy should keep the content of a priority business. In turn, readers will find the relevant business content high in a search, increasing readership and number of potential customers. It might help them avoid shortcuts and enjoy a fruitful trip instead.
4. They go incognito
To avoid the distraction of getting search results based on predictors, readers go incognito on Google. This provides an easy way to prevent the algorithm from offering results based on the previous search history. It’s a bit like getting a new identity with every request.
A simple “Ctrl + Shift + N” in Windows is all it takes to prevent the browser from storing a reader’s browsing history, cookies, and information entered on forms, such as an email address. or a phone number. So why do people looking for relevant content feel like they have to go into the dark to do so?
The more relevant content readers find on the first page of their search results, the more likely they are to search openly. It’s up to businesses to create the relevant content that keeps them out in the open by repeatedly giving them what they want.
To make their content relevant, businesses need to develop content that addresses readers’ concerns, answers their questions, solves their problems, and engages them in an authentic way. They also need content strategies that evolve as these concerns, questions, and issues evolve. If your content says, “I see you,” your readers may come out of the shadows.
Search results related to nothing that readers are looking for has motivated them to adapt in a desperate effort to find what they are looking for. Those of us who create content have only ourselves to blame. As a result, only we can fix it by giving readers what they want, when they want it. And they want it now.