The history of SEO can be quickly summed up as:
- Google updates its search algorithm
- SEOs try to work out how to manipulate it
- They have some kind of breakthrough which spreads rapidly through the industry
- The SERPs get flooded with content that is low-quality but well-optimised
- Google updates its search algorithm again to deal with this
- Repeat every few years
The latest instalment of this has to do with a SEO technique called ‘skyscrapering’.
Here’s how it works:
- Find a keyword you want to rank for
- Analyse the top content for that keyword
- Make sure that your page includes all the same topics and subheadings as the existing content in the SERPs
- Add a couple of extra bits (visuals, quotes from thought leaders, original stats, more in-depth advice) so that yours is the most authoritative source on that topic
This has become the formula for most SEO writing these days. And that’s a big problem.
Because it encourages sameness. 😶😶😶
If you check out the SERPs for most B2B keywords with a decent search volume, you’ll see the same ideas and information over and over again.
Most of the content in the SERPs is identical. But things are changing...
Enter… ‘Information Gain’
Google wants to give searchers the best possible results for any search. It doesn’t want to give people the same stuff over and over again.
And so Google has started giving content 'information gain’ scores so it can prioritise content that introduces new information.
It calculates this by comparing the new content with existing content in the SERPs. If it’s more or less the same information, it scores lower. If it’s new information, it scores higher.
What does this mean for SaaS marketers?
It means that Google will take into account how original your content is. You don’t need to copy others or dilute your positioning for the sake of SEO.
In fact, if the SERPs for a competitive search term are full of identical content, one of the best ways to compete with that is to completely buck the trend. Especially if you can meet a need that isn’t being met by what’s already there.
This is awesome news. 🥳
One of the reasons B2B SaaS brands struggle to cut through is that most of them look, feel and act the same. In part, because SEO incentivises them to copy one another.
That’s no longer the case, which gives B2B SaaS brands way more space to be creative and original. And to create content which is focused on genuine thought leadership, instead of dishing out the same lukewarm advice as all your competitors.
How can you create content for information gain?
Here are a few ideas, along with examples.
Write from experience
Most of the content in the SERPs is ‘how to’ content. But people love ‘how we’ content too.
Over the past year I’ve seen a lot more brands opening up and telling stories based on first-hand experience. Something that Jack Butcher calls ‘selling sawdust’.
Mine your own data
If you’re a SaaS platform or digital product, chances are there are stories hidden in your data that your users will be interested in.
Mining this data and finding those trends will give you unique insights and data that you can turn into content.
Do some primary research
If you don’t have a digital product, you can still conduct your own primary research to create a unique story.
You can do this by surveying people, using analytics tools or on a smaller scale by interviewing thought leaders.
The ‘skyscraper method’ encouraged marketers to copy their competitor's ideas. To counteract this, Google is boosting content which introduces original or unique information to their search results.
Writing from personal experience and conducting original research are two great ways to benefit from this.
The week's top SaaS links
- A Quickstart Guide to Positioning from positioning expert and author, April Dunford 👩🔬
- 4 Tips for Generating Leads from Videos 📽️
- Top 10 Pieces of Bad SaaS Advice 👎
- Two landing page optimisation pros go head-to-head 📊
- New to ads? Here’s how to get the most out of each ad platform 👩💻
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