Google’s Helpful Update – What do you need to know?
Andrew – Head of Digital at TWI – is here to help
Have you heard about Google’s latest major algorithm update? The new ‘helpful content update’ will aim to make it easier and faster for users of Google’s search engine to find the valuable information they are searching for. It will do this by rewarding sites with only ‘helpful’ content on its search rankings.
According to the Google Search Central Blog – What creators should know about Google’s helpful content update – the update is “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
Click here to skip straight to our Key Action Points
Quality, People-First Content is still King
The good news is that informative and quality content written for people is not under threat. In fact, it is once again being prioritised by Google, “the helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.” A win for the good guys who enhance our time online!
We have long been advocates of people-first web copy – for a multitude of reasons, the most important being that your content represents your business online! Your website delivers information, builds trust and, ultimately, sells what you do best to your customers.
We love to utilise SEO strategy and processes to maximise your traffic and audience, but never to the detriment of the final quality of your copy – why lead a horse to a river run dry?
Should I be worried?
One potential cause for concern is that the helpful content update will introduce a site-wide signal (rather than on-page). To website owners, this could mean that if Google deems your site to host any ‘unhelpful’ content, the rankings of your site’s ‘helpful’ content could also be affected in the future.
At TWI, we believe that a good website is organic – an ever-changing representation of what is great about your business. If your content is relevant and valuable throughout, your site shouldn’t be affected by the helpful content update.
However, it is worth doing some investigative work around your site to ensure that your content and user journey are delivering as well as they can be.
This is a worthwhile practice regardless of the ranking update, as you may well spot some potential improvements to your site’s user experience to help your users navigate to where they want to be – which should coincide with where you want them to be!
What is ‘helpful content’?
To answer this question, we will look at two factors.
Firstly, what is helpful content? How can you create more of it? The best place to start is Google itself. Google defines helpful content as:
- Content that is valuable to the existing or intended audience of your site’s primary focus
- Content that clearly demonstrates first-hand expertise and in-depth knowledge of your subject matter
- Content that leaves readers feeling like they have learned enough about a topic to be able to achieve their goal
- Content that leaves readers feeling like they have enjoyed a satisfying experience
Secondly, what is unhelpful content? How can you avoid it? Should you remove it? How can you update it to become helpful? Again, we look to Google for our answer:
- Content primarily created to attract people from search engines
- Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Content on a wide variety of topics on which you have no real authority or knowledge – sometimes created using extensive automation
- Content that fails to add value to the subject matter
- Content created to piggyback on trends unrelated to your website’s primary focus or not of interest to your existing or intended audience
- Content that fails to answer the question the reader initially typed into Google to find it
- Stretching or reducing content to a particular Google-preferred word count (Google says this does not exist).
- Content containing factually incorrect information
In review, Google is directing copywriters and content creators further and further towards the publishing of quality, valuable content which delivers the information it promises to its audience – the kind of content you would want your customers to read!
When will it take effect?
In its 18th August article, Google stated that “the update will start rolling out next week” so it could be going live any minute now – for rollout dates and further information head over to Google’s useful ranking updates page, which details its ranking updates.
Key Action Points in response to Google’s helpful content algorithm update
Monitor your ranking performance
Even if you think you will be unaffected, make sure you’re not losing out!
If you are hoping to receive search engine traffic to your website, it is important to always keep more than one eye on your ranking performance in order to spot gains, drops and trends to tweak or add content accordingly to maximise your organic impact.
Review your sitewide content – and prune where necessary!
Look around your website and update or remove old, defunct content which is no longer correct. For example, have you taken down landing pages for out-of-date campaigns which are no longer relevant?
Write and publish ‘Helpful Content’!
Keep publishing quality, informative content which delivers the answers to the questions that users are searching for. Not only will you likely remain unaffected by the helpful content update, but you will deliver value to your potential customers.
If you’d like to talk to one of our digital team about how we can help maximise search engine traffic to your website, give us a call on 01473 326907, click here to book a video call, or get in touch via our contact form.
https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/08/helpful-content-update – What creators should know about Google’s helpful content update (Google Search Central Blog)
https://developers.google.com/search/updates/ranking – Google’s Ranking Updates Page