Content strategies and best-practices, as circulated through the marketing world, have changed many times over the past few years.

From “write as much as you can” to “long-form content is best,” there’s always been a wealth of opinions and plenty of research.

Perhaps the most overarching content practice of late is “natural content.”

What is natural content, you ask?

Let’s find out.

Explaining Natural Content

Natural content is best described as content that is simply authentic.

It serves a real purpose, it’s communicated in a natural, conversational tone, and it passes Google’s numerous algorithm yardsticks.

Among the many ways that “unnatural” content gets targeted by Google’s algorithm is through the determination of content “thinness” or low-quality information.

This change was rolled out in 2011, and the mechanism has become even more sophisticated at spotting low-quality content in the half-decade since.

In fact, in January of 2016, it was announced that spam-fighting Panda was now integrated as a core part of Google’s ranking algorithm.

This makes it even more important for your brand to produce content that offers real purpose to your audience.

What Does Natural Content Do?

In its shrewdest terms, “natural” content is written to inform a human person, not to satisfy the requirements of an antiquated search bot.

For example, a low-quality web page or blog meant to “provide information” on air conditioning services in Santa Monica might read like this:

Choosing a great air conditioning service in Santa Monica is an important part of ensuring that your air conditioning unit runs well. Your air conditioner is an important part of your home’s comfort, and you can extend the life of your Santa Monica air conditioning unit by choosing a great Santa Monica air conditioning company.”

As you can see, this content is written for the express purpose of ranking for a couple of obvious keywords.

It does not offer usable information for a human being who has a problem or question.

And Google’s algorithm knows this.

With the new anti-spam Panda baked into Google’s algorithm, sites who try to rank by publishing content like this are being (rightly) pushed out the door, in favor of companies who actually create helpful, informative posts and web pages– that actual humans can, and want, to read.

It’s Not Just About the Content

Don’t be fooled: natural content production is about more than writing a hearty, informative blog or building a great web page.

You have to make sure the pieces surrounding the page offer great user experience, too.

This means cleaning up your site to provide a cleaner, more intuitive experience for your users.

There are several things you’ll need to fix before you can expect your well-written, informative, natural content to earn you favors on Google’s results page:

  • Fix 404 pages. Install 301 redirects or update 404 pages. 404s negatively impact Google’s opinion of your site, and they.
  • Weed through spammy comments. If your blogs have tons of spammy comments on them, that dampens your user’s experience and lessens your content’s authority. Take time to read through and delete comments that are obvious spam.
  • Beware of irrelevant ads. The advertising dollars you accept should be from companies who, ostensibly, offer something relevant to the people are reading your content and searching your site. Ads that are completely outside your industry are specious, cumbersome, and won’t do you any favors with Google.
  • Fix poor design/bad user experience. If you have abrasive ads above the fold on your page, or pop-up ads that distract your viewer, get rid of them. Remove clutter on your page, and offer your users an easier, higher-quality reading experience.
  • Carefully monitor user-generated or outsider content. Don’t let just any content be published on your site. You have to be the gatekeeper of quality. Guest posts that link to low-quality sites or web pages will negatively impact your site, too.

For your content to be truly “natural” and useful, it has to be housed in a good package.

After all, if your audience has to wade through pop-ups, irrelevant ads, 404s and terrible design just to get to an informative, well-written blog, they might not even stick around to read it.

Natural content hinges on communicating in an authentic voice.

Remember: your potential customers are human beings.

They aren’t going to connect with or engage with content that isn’t written to help or inform them.

And they aren’t going to waste their time with content or a user experience that doesn’t meet their needs.

As Google continues to fine-tune its search engine standards, you have to fine tune your content style and the places where that content lives.

Your audience, and Google, will notice.

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