Google SEO: Rise of the First Person Narrative
If you haven’t heard, Google’s made yet one more change to its ranking algorithm.
Yes, one more signal to the 200+ individual cues or signals that their ranking system takes into account when ranking your web pages for search results.
Most copywriters, bloggers, marketing managers and even SEO’s are mystified at how they should create and present content that responds to Google’s ranking system. It gets more difficult each day, particularly because Google’s AI system can build in very subtle views and complex groupings of signals. And how they interpret your topics, copywriting, linking and the value of your content is cloaked in their secret sauce.
This latest phase in their algorithm development digs deeper into how writers write and whether they are truly immersed in or are experts in their field of business. The advantage to Google is to:
- screen out more small business people and content generators, especially bloggers using ChatGPT
- give more traffic to original content producers
- put an emphasis on credible, real-world experience and expertise of authors
- improve search results
There is a question of whether the first-person narrative really is good for content engagement, or whether we’ll be sliding into a pit of self-absorbed, on-site reporters, fake experts, and real-life misguided opinions.
Change is an Opportunity
This change and any change is an opportunity for SEOs — not just to manipulate the algorithm :)
We can step up to play a more productive role, and we can fill in gaps in credibility and authenticity that our clients lack. Our first-person perspective is becoming very influential, via Google.
I don’t know how many times I could have produced much better work for clients if I had been able to travel to experience and engage with their customers in different markets. So travel is one of those benefits that clients need to insist on for their content creators. Google’s saving us from the daily stagnation of work from home!
Consider the topic of travel. Those travel writers who actually travel to the places they write about are bound to create more compelling, accurate, and useful descriptions of a destination. When they visit for example, Italy, and they attend the many venues there and interact/interview local experts and other tourists, their immersion in it provides the fuel for a very interesting 1st person account.
Google’s AI algorithm is capable of assessing that immersion in many dimensions and within it, your expertise and connection to Italy. The more visits you make to hotels, vineyards, wineries, restaurants, tours, venues, shops, etc., the more unique stories and content you have for numerous articles. Your colorful accounts with photos, videos, and links make readers believe you truly experienced Italy. Their engagement with your articles further proves you are relevant and the content is good.
Google Demoting 3rd Person Narratives
It looks like Google is dismissing some content that is a description of someone else’s research, events, and expertise. And that could mean lower rankings of those sites that were the focus of so many bloggers’ posts which they linked to. The focus then is back on our own content and how we are living our business and our passion for our industry. We must be a part of our content and engaged in important experiences/news/events in our industry.
If you have no experience in the business and are writing for someone else (such as marketing agencies) it will make ranking tougher. Obviously, there are ways to manipulate Google’s algo, which yours truly has been doing for decades. If you can combine that with industry knowledge and real-life experiences then you might be able to compete with industry leaders.
It’s still important to use 3rd person narratives since news involves the market, industry and market leaders and we often report on that. In this case, we add our own real life experience to improve the value of our content to readers.
One more thing is that mentions and links on the web/social media also contribute to the “real life experience” signals Google is looking for. Whether you’re in finance, travel, software, or marketing, you must be the expert and actively getting your brand name out there on the web and socia media sphere. Market your marketing!
What is the First Person Narrative or Point of View?
Rather than the 3rd person narrative which discusses what others are saying, doing or have said, first person zooms in the real-world experience of the writer. Your content is written from your point of view to reflect your real world experience and knowledge of the topic and sector, and your authenticity. In this way, it’s important for a company to engage their writers more deeply in core industry events, product technology, customer research and relations, and business value propositions. This leads to authenticity and trustworthiness for Google.
It will include I, my, we, us, our, mine, and other words which indicate we are referencing our own relevant experience.
Yes, your word choice, topic angle, context, experiences presented, and phraseology combined can be evaluated by an AI system in many different ways. It’s getting close to talking to a human where they can tell if you’re bluffing, exaggerating and really don’t know what you’re talking about.
You can ask ChatGPT to take that perspective, but it will take post-editing to get the robot sound out of it.
Not Crafting our Content this Way Could Lead to Low Rankings and Diminished Traffic
As professional SEO’s and engaging content creators, we have to adjust our style/strategy to make our content more authentic and credible. In fact, if we don’t, Google will demote our content. Those who master these advanced SEO techniques will take more market share away from less motivated competitors.
This latest update is an improvement on the last change in the E.A.T formula for quality content. When they added experience to the Engagement/Authority/Trust element, it became E.E.A.T. The fact that it sounds ridiculous means it might encourage more SEOs to give up on trying to understand.
Discouraging SEO is part of the plan for Google’s search quality team. By emphasizing deep complexity, more will give up trying to understand and the algorithm will be kept secret.
Tips for Writing Well in the First Person Narrative
- Authenticity: Be genuine and authentic in your writing. Share personal experiences, insights, and emotions to connect with your audience. Readers appreciate honesty and authenticity.
- Empathize with your Target Audience: Understand your target audience and write in a way that resonates with them. Use language and experiences that your readers can relate to, making your content more engaging and relevant.
- Use Storytelling Techniques: A narrative is a storyline so incorporate storytelling elements into your writing. Develop a narrative structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Create a compelling story arc that keeps readers interested from start to finish.
- Use Unique Descriptive Language: Paint a vivid picture with your words. Use descriptive language to help readers visualize and experience the events or emotions you’re conveying. This makes your narrative more immersive.
- Show, Don’t Just Tell: Instead of simply stating facts, show them through specific examples and anecdotes. Allow readers to draw their conclusions from the details you provide, making the narrative more impactful.
- Incorporate Dialogue: Include dialogue involving yourself to make you more significant as part of events, stories or results.
- Emotional Appeal: Appeal to the emotions of your audience. Whether it’s joy, sadness, surprise, or inspiration, emotions can make your narrative more memorable and shareable.
- Deliver Value: More than being helpful, include lessons learned, advice, and insights from you that they can utilize themselves.
- Build Relevance and Significance: Keep your 1st-person narrative relevant to your overall content and ensure that your accounts, memories and stores align to build the image of you being the most significant provider.
- Engage with Your Audience: Encourage readers to share their own experiences or thoughts in the comments. Respond to comments, and encourage their responses as Google sees this as validation of your narrative and authenticity.
- Link to other Relevant Content that Supports your Narrative: Key parts of the story might be enhanced by linking to other content that resonates or makes you more credible.
Remember that the key to success in content creation is a balance between catering to your audience’s interests and staying true to your authentic voice. Keep an eye on any updates from Google and adapt your writing strategy accordingly.
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