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Google Puts an End to The "What Time Is" SEO Content

Google Puts an End to The “What Time Is” SEO Content

Google now possesses a “strong confidence” in addressing queries independently.
Google directly responds to time-related questions.

Google seems to have halted an SEO strategy that once brought countless questionable clicks for publishers: the “what time is” article.

A decade ago, articles like “What time is Eastenders on tonight” significantly boosted website traffic for publishers like the Daily Mirror and the Telegraph.

Designed for Google, these articles take a popular search term and create a news story by answering it. They often invert the traditional structure of a news article, placing crucial information near the bottom to prolong reader engagement before providing a simple answer.
The most infamous variant of this article claims to answer a question but ultimately fails to do so. For example, a headline might read “When will Film X be released on Netflix,” only to disclose in the last paragraph that the release date remains unknown.

Google's Evolution: Navigating the Shift from SEO Articles to Direct Answers

In August of last year, Google attempted to suppress such articles in search results with its “helpful content” algorithm update.

It seems that Google has continued to demote such articles through subsequent updates.
Hence, a Google search on Saturday asking “What time is the grand national” did not redirect users to a publisher-written SEO article, as it would have in the past, but instead provided a direct answer.

Comparable results are now available for other routine searches, such as “When is the Coronation” or “What time is the Chelsea game tonight?”

The Google algorithm change may cause a decline in traffic for news publishers, but journalists who once had to write 400 words of filler content before addressing the trending question will likely notice it.

Barry Adams, an SEO expert from Polemic Digital, said: “This change has been happening for a few years. It means that Google has strong confidence in providing the answer to a specific question.”

Google’s direct answer engine powers these results. Adams stated: “It’s not new, but it has become better and smarter.”

The challenge for publishers arises when Google directly answers more complex questions without referencing the source. This technology powers the generative artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT, which has alarmed publishers because it utilizes their copyrighted content without any value exchange in the form of links or traffic. There are also concerns that search engines answering questions without citing a source will lead to increased misinformation due to a lack of transparency about sourcing.

Adams advised publishers to avoid content that responds to simple questions if they want to future-proof their SEO strategies and instead concentrate on search terms that suggest a more complex story to which they can add value.

“Chatbots are going to become adept at answering simple questions. Publishers often write 400 words of soft copy before providing the answer. That’s not beneficial for users, and Google doesn’t see its role as directing users to low-quality content.

“Publishers should focus on offering more comprehensive information on topics with news value rather than just an easy answer.” As a result, publishers need to adapt their strategies in response to Google’s increasing ability to answer simple questions directly. The focus should shift towards producing more in-depth, high-quality content that adds value for readers and cannot be easily replicated by artificial intelligence platforms or chatbots.

 

Adapting to Change: Strategies for Publishers to Thrive in a Digital-First World

To remain competitive in this changing landscape, publishers must invest in research and analysis to create unique, well-structured articles that delve deeper into subjects and provide comprehensive information. This approach will improve user experience and ensure that their content remains relevant in search engine results.

See also: How to Avoid These Five SEO Mistakes That Can Impact Your Google Ranking.

Additionally, publishers should consider exploring multimedia content such as videos, podcasts, and interactive graphics to engage readers and deliver information in new, appealing formats. These formats can create a more immersive experience for users and provide a competitive edge over other content providers.

Collaborating with industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders can also help publishers generate content with added credibility and authority. This collaboration can lead to more in-depth analysis and insights, attracting a wider audience and increasing user engagement.

Furthermore, publishers must stay up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices, ensuring their content remains visible and accessible to users. This includes optimizing their websites for mobile devices, improving website loading speed, and regularly updating their content to keep it fresh and relevant.

Conclusion

In summary, as search engines like Google become more sophisticated in answering simple questions, publishers must adapt their strategies to focus on producing high-quality, in-depth content that adds value for users.

By doing so, they can maintain their relevance in search results and continue to attract and engage readers in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Read Next: Is Local SEO Still Dependent On Directory Submissions?

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