Fast Facts About the Google Helpful Content Update
Google is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve its user search experience – and the latest effort is a new feature called the ‘helpful content update’. This algorithm update is part of a wider effort to provide searchers with more original and helpful content that is written by people, for people. Here are some fast facts about this new update (which, by the way, is not a broad core algorithm update – it is a gradual update that will be refined in the coming month).
Google Helpful Content Update – Fast Facts
Here are the most important things that we know about this algorithm update:
- Algorithm update name: Google ‘Helpful Content’ Update.
- Launch Date: Rollout started on the 25th of August, 2022.
- Rollout: Ongoing, expected to take place over the next two months.
- Targets: Content that was created to rank highly in Google search results and not to provide value for viewers.
- Penalty: Websites that don’t provide human-first content will experience lower rankings.
- Impact: This update is relevant for all websites, but will be particularly important for entertainment, shopping, educational and tech-related content.
- Next moves for website owners: Perform a site audit and make sure that all of your content is concise, valuable, relevant and informative!
You can find out everything you need to know about this Google update below:
New Content Update by Google – Human-First Content
This content update is intended to give browsers a satisfying search experience, so content that doesn’t meet browser needs will not perform as well as it used to. To create ‘human-first’ content, you need to create content with people – not search engines – in mind.
When it comes to SEO and Google rankings, brands often create content with a search-engine-first approach. They stuff the content with keywords, use AI writing tools, or hire cheap low-quality writers to generate quick content that doesn’t provide much actual human value. In the past, this content might have ranked well on search engines, despite it not providing readers with a meaningful experience. Now that this update is being rolled out, this type of content won’t cut it.
Google is working hard to combat search-engine-first content because it wants its browsers to have access to high-quality content when they perform Google searches. According to a Google spokesperson, “We know people don’t find content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers.”
So, going forward, any content that Google deems unoriginal or low quality will drop down in search engine results.
Who Does the Helpful Content Update Impact?
This update impacts every website owner. Initially, it is being rolled out for English-language websites, particularly those in fields related to technology, shopping, entertainment, online education (tutorials) and reviews. Eventually, it will be worldwide.
The 2022 Google Content Update – Signs That Your Content Is on the Right Track
According to Google, if you can answer yes to the following questions, your content provides a ‘human-first’ approach:
- Would your existing or intended audience find your content useful if they came directly to your website? Does the content meet their needs?
- Does your content demonstrate first-hand expertise and knowledge? Is it clear that you actually know what you are talking about?
- Does your website have a clear purpose/focus?
- Will your content meet the needs of browsers? Once they have read your content, will they leave feeling they’ve learned enough to achieve their search goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind Google’s guidance for core updates and product reviews?
- Is your content well-structured, well-written, and highly visual?
If you have answered yes to these questions, good on you! If you have answered no, it’s time to start going through your content and improving it!
Google New Update 2022 – Don’t Create Content to Please Search Engines First!
Having a human-first approach doesn’t mean that you no longer need to incorporate SEO best practices. Using target keywords and high-quality link-building strategies will still serve your website well. However, publishing content that is solely focused on boosting SEO rankings and not on serving browsers will negatively impact your rankings.
If you answer yes to the following questions, you might be taking a search-engine-first approach:
- Is the content designed to rank highly on search engines, and not to offer readers a useful experience?
- Are you producing content on various random topics, hoping to draw in search traffic?
- Are you using AI or inexperienced writers to produce your content?
- Are you writing about topics simply because they are trending, and not because you have expertise in these areas?
- Will browsers need to look elsewhere to find the answers they’re looking for?
- Are you writing about topics that aren’t your area of expertise?
- Does your content make promises that it doesn’t deliver? For example, indicating that something is certain when it’s not.
Another important thing to note is that, contrary to popular belief, Google does not have a preferred word count. If you are writing a blog post and squeezing out a particular word count because you think it will rank, you are writing search-engine-first content.
How the 2022 Core Update Works
Google has systems that automatically identify low-value and unhelpful content. Any content that is determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content is less likely to perform well in search results. Below, you can read more in-depth information about how this algorithm update works:
This Algorithm Update Uses Machine Learning
Google uses a machine learning algorithm to provide better search results for browsers. These algorithms use a wide range of signals to measure content quality, for example, clicks or social media shares, which suggest high interest and engagement for the content. Google’s machine learning algorithm will track indicators like this, to assess whether your content is helpful and valuable for your intended or existing audience.
This Core Update Uses Quality Rates
Google uses ‘quality rates’ to assess the quality of search results. These quality raters use guidelines that are frequently updated to reflect best-practice web content. The raters then provide Google with feedback that helps its search engineers to assess whether the algorithms are producing high-quality search results. These raters take all sorts of factors into account when assessing content. Just some of these factors include:
- Errors in the content
- Whether the content is relevant to the search query
- How much value the content provides
- Whether the content is easy to read
- Whether the content is logically structured
- Whether the content is unique
- Whether the website that hosts the content is trustworthy
Tips for Reducing the Impact This New Content Update Will Have on Your Website
This update began in late August and is still rolling out. Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a growing consensus that the update hasn’t produced any major changes to search engine results. However, Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan says that the update is part of a continuing effort that will be refined over time.
Basically, the impact of this new update will appear more obvious in the coming months. Here are some things you can do to make sure that this update doesn’t impact your Google search engine rankings:
- Remove or edit any outdated or unhelpful content from your website
- Make the content on your website pages and blogs better than similar content you find online
- Make sure that your web pages and blog posts offer value to readers and take a human-first approach
- Improve your internal links and keywords – this will help search engines to understand the context of your content (make sure to avoid link spam)
Chances are, if your content follows SEO best practices whilst also providing readers with a high-value experience, this update will not negatively impact your ratings. This update is automated, and if your website is impacted you will need to do a complete site audit and improve your content. Once you have made these improvements, it could take up to 3 months for your website to recover.
Tips for Creating Human-First Content
There is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for all content. But by following the tips below, you can create interesting and educational content that will hold the interest of your audience and therefore raise your rankings.
Write for Your Audience
We’ve said this a few times because we really need to drill it in. The most important thing you need to remember is that your content should put your audience first. You need to create unique, interesting, educational, valuable and relevant content that genuinely meets their needs. Once you have a handle on that side of things, you can move on to implementing best-practice SEO tactics like keyword implementation and high-quality link building.
Less is often more when it comes to keywords. In the past, marketers tried to manipulate the system by stuffing their articles with as many relevant keywords as they could. Strategies like this are very out of date, and can negatively impact rankings and even incur Google penalties. Google’s algorithms can now recognise when a keyword is being used in an unnatural way – so you need to focus on incorporating relevant keywords naturally.
Keep it Simple
Making your content easy to read is really important – if you don’t do this, people won’t read it. Make sure that your content has clear headings, bullet points, small paragraphs and concise sentences. People don’t like to read long, dull passages of text.
Make it Visual
Visual content like images, videos and graphics are really important to include in content, because they make it more appealing and help to break up the text. There are plenty of statistics that show that visual content gets more engagement, so making your content visual is one simple way to improve your online performance.
Make Sure Your Content Is Up-to-Date
You should regularly post new and fresh content. Google rewards websites that constantly put out new, high-value and relevant information, so creating a regular content schedule is a great way to boost your website.
Share Your Content
Once you have published your content, you need to share it on social media and through email marketing, so that more people engage with it. Creating great content is the first step – the second step is making sure that people can find it.
Keep Track of Your Results
If you don’t measure and track your results, you can’t continually improve your content. Google Analytics is a free tool that can help you to keep track of how your content is performing in terms of traffic and engagement. When you have these results, you can tweak your content to make sure that it is as appealing as possible.
Our Final Thoughts
Google’s helpful content update will provide searchers with better results – and that can’t be a bad thing. For website owners, this update means a transition away from an SEO-first approach towards a human-first approach, where genuinely informative and valuable content is key. If you are accustomed to publishing low-quality optimised content in order to get high search rankings, you need to start changing your ways.
If you want to stay ahead of this update, make sure that you start implementing human-first content strategies on your website ASAP – it is now more important than ever to write unique, high-quality content.
We should also note that this helpful content update is site-wide, which means that even if you produce high-quality blog posts, the rest of your website could prevent your content from ranking highly on Google search engines! We recommend that you do a site audit and start improving your content as a whole.
Got Questions About This Update & How You Can Stay Ahead of the Curve?
If you have any questions about this update and how you can go about creating human-first content that will engage readers and be rewarded in search index results, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We have first-hand expertise in implementing human-first content strategies and know the ins and outs of the Google helpful content update. Plus, we know all about Google algorithms, core updates, creating content that meets audience needs, the latest Google news, and how you can incorporate best-practice SEO.