Google Content Guidelines: Different Per Vertical?

google content guidelines

Search engine optimization and digital content guidelines have expanded to include vertical-specific rules, helping to return relevant content to searchers. Relying solely on general content rules and usual SEO tactics may not get your content where you want it, and you could be missing out on valuable page views.

Google’s various verticals use varying guidelines to rank highly on results pages, whether you are trying to have your content appear in a retail search, a news search, or another specific vertical.

While this information is not clearly laid out by Google itself, analyses of high-ranking pages within popular industries and their affiliated verticals show us what content seems to do best.

Having this information can help your digital marketing, content creation, and optimization. It will help your company find clients, and it will help your potential clients to find you.

Google’s Vertical-Specific Search Rules

The classic vertical search engine is one that is specific to a theme, topic, or industry — think sites like Amazon for retail, Etsy for handcrafts, or Yelp for reviews.

Google, however, works differently. Each of Google’s separate verticals, from news to local search, is incorporated into a universal search engine. Every vertical is put together to create the main search engine. Users can branch out into specific topics if they desire.

Sometimes the search engine is able to return specific vertical results based on semantics (for instance, if you search for “restaurant near me”), but in other cases users will have to click into each vertical section as needed.

How Does This Work?

Searchmetrics says that general ranking factors are dead, as individual industries and individual search queries have different, constantly changing ranking factors. Marketers now need to create relevant content, targeted to the intended user, covering the most important aspects of the search query.

Their studies delve into ecommerce ranking factors, finance ranking factors, travel ranking factors, media ranking factors, and health ranking factors, showing just how individual these verticals are. Each one has its own elements that are the most important for drawing in clients and pageviews.

Google’s RankBrain understands how searchers interact with different vertical results, so it learns what pages are the most contextual and useful.

A Searchmetrics study shows, for instance, that in the travel vertical, easy browsing through internal links, longer bullet lists, and larger images rank higher.

“Google now more accurately determines searchers’ intentions by analyzing the keywords and phrases they enter in the search box,” explains Daniel Furch, Head of Content, Searchmetrics. “It knows the context of individual searches – including whether they relate to travel, retail, finance or other verticals and ensures that results reflect the characteristics that meet the needs of searchers. For travel marketers, as for marketers in other verticals, this means they can no longer focus solely on generalized, universally applicable rules to drive the best search performance. They also have to take account of specific factors that are important in their specific vertical.”

Financial services results involve fewer navigational and interactive elements, favoring simple and straightforward information. In the retail vertical, quick loading, fewer ads, and fewer videos are popular features.

Media and publishers require content that easily translates to Pinterest, overall content relevance, a higher word count than average, and strong ties to social media in order to rank. Factors like HTTPS over HTTP, interactive elements, and video integration are less important than in other verticals.

The Searchmetrics study came to these conclusions after analyzing the top 20 Google search results based on common keywords and phrases, compared to a general ranking of searches across all industries.

Why Are Vertical Rankings Important?

Vertical searches offer more precision to searchers. This is good news if you can make it work for you.

In Google, we can see specialized sections where users will go to find the information they need, including businesses like yours. If you can ensure you rank highly, in the right place, you’ll have an advantage over less-savvy businesses.

How to Make Vertical Search Work for You

For SEO marketing to be effective in vertical search results, you may have to do some research on what types of sites are ranking high in your industry.

Beyond keyword and phrase choices, linking, and authoritative and trustworthy content, you will have to think like someone who is searching. What type of content is appealing, and what is it that is making pages rank?

Vertical search engine optimization is a different type of marketing than general SEO. It may require some experimentation and different tactics until you find what works for your site, your business, and your industry.

For more information about vertical-specific searches and how they can be used to your advantage, get in touch today.

Author: Kelly Campbell
Kelly Campbell is an Agency Growth Consultant based in New York. A former digital agency owner for 14 years, she helps creative and tech agencies and their leaders transform—focusing on purpose, people, positioning, pipeline and profitability. Kelly is also an IA/SEO consultant to Facebook and NASA. She writes for Website Magazine, speaks at digital marketing and agency growth conferences across the U.S., and has been featured in The New York Times, Woman Entrepreneur and Forbes. She is the host of THRIVE: Your Agency Resource, a bi-weekly video podcast sponsored by Workamajig that helps agency owners navigate growth.

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