Google Helpful Content Update – People-First Content to Dominate SERPs
September 2, 2022
On the eve of 18th August 2022, Google announced the launch of the helpful content update.
Google’s Helpful Content Update will weed out content written only for the purpose of ranking high in the search results. The update aims to remove low-quality content unhelpful to the readers and ensure that it does not rank highly in search results.
Rolled out on 25th August 2022, this update is to bring profound changes in how businesses devise content strategies and write content. It is analogous to Panda and Penguin updates that profoundly impacted SEO content, link-building strategies, etc.
This blog will help you with everything related to the update, including the best practices, steps to undertake, experts’ opinions, and much more.
Quick Overview of the Google Helpful Content Update:
The update deals with the content written for the purpose of ranking well over helping readers.
The update is limited to Google search only, but it will eventually include Google Discover and other domains.
So far, it is limited to content published in the English language, but it will expand to include other languages.
It is a sitewide update that will impact all the pages and blogs, not just one category or section.
Since there’s a timeout and validation period, it can take a few months to recover if you are hit by this update.
Google has created a feedback forum for helpful content update, where you can raise your queries.
What Our SEO Experts Have to Say About the New Google Helpful Content Update:
This is a necessary update for the industry players creating content primarily to serve SEO and not for readers. Rehashed and AI-generated content will also take a hit. Now, we need content that adds value to the users by focusing on quality rather than quantity. Since this update is only a small part of a larger effort by Google to prioritize people-first content, I believe EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) factor will play an important role in moving forward.
Prashant Shukla – Senior General Manager – Search Marketing
I believe Topical Authority will play a pivotal role in this update. Google has said before that producing a lot of content on various topics with the aim of some of it ranking highly on search engines is not an ideal activity. Instead, we ought to focus on a few set of topics and blogs written with expertise and authority.
Archana Gupta – Assistant General Manager – Content Marketing
Who Will be Impacted by The Helpful Content Update?
Irrespective of the industry or the type of business, if you do not have useful and helpful content on your website, it will get affected. Here’s a list of websites that may get affected:
- Websites Not Having a Purpose
- Businesses With no First-hand Expertise
- Enterprises That Don’t Provide Sufficient Information
- Websites Not Focusing on the Reading Experience
- Platforms That Focus on Clickbait Content
- Websites Participating in Unscrupulous Activities
Furthermore, industries dealing with large volumes of content using strategies like Enterprise SEO will have to be thoughtful. In the world of Enterprise SEO, content’s value will be highly crucial.
Another thing to be thoughtful of is Pogosticking.
Pogosticking occurs when a user clicks on a search result but does not find anything on the page and has to go back to the search results to satisfy their query.
If you successfully satisfy a user’s needs by demonstrating topical authority and intelligently answering their queries, you do not have to worry about this update. More importantly, creating content to help readers will help you adhere to Google’s overall efforts of improving the user experience.
But why does the Google content update seem quiet?
We have outlined the content type and websites that will be affected by this new algorithm update, and the general consensus is that it is still quiet. Firstly, the update is not done yet; it is still rolling out and is part of Google’s overall efforts to improve the search experience.
Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search – Google, explained in a series of tweets that this new Google algorithm update is a part of a continuing effort to improve the search experience. This new Google update seems quiet because Google will continue to refine and improve it.
He also mentioned that SEO experts and marketers often panic, but updates do not always mean a giant shift in the paradigm. He stated that if your content is of good quality, you will be fine.
How to Monitor the Impact on Your Website Results During the Helpful Update Roll-out?
The first rule of any Google algorithm update is to not panic. Panicking will result in taking steps that are not conducive. The update is straightforward: promote people-first content that delivers value to the reader. You need to deliberate and respond correctly.
You need to monitor if your pages have suddenly dropped in rankings. However, the same approach applies here as well; you need to collect enough data to make deliberate changes. For instance, if a majority of your top-performing pages see a sudden drop in rankings, you need to take steps to see what went wrong.
Check for Changes in Traffic:
You can encounter sudden changes in traffic, whether it is due to Google SEO updates or bottlenecks in technical SEO. After the update, you need to collect enough data to ensure the changes in the traffic or drop are temporary or sticking.
Does The Helpful Content Algorithm Update Have Any Penalty?
Google did not outright mention the penalties website owners may have to face. Since this Google update aims to promote helpful content, it is crucial to take into account the repercussions. However, this is not a Google core update. Still, these repercussions could be wide because of the nature of the update.
It is an ML-based sitewide algorithm. If a high quantity of content is unhelpful, your entire website may get flagged and demoted. More importantly, Google will not convey which URLs and pages are considered unhelpful, which will leave you a little clueless regarding the steps you can take to recover.
Google Helpful Content Update Guidelines – Invest in the Future
As mentioned above, the first step is to avoid panicking and make deliberate decisions. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your content production, SEO, and digital marketing efforts are in line with the new helpful content update:
Focus on Content Helpfulness and Originality:
Instead of writing for search engines, you should write for your target audience and readers. You need to focus on content helpfulness that delivers a satisfying experience to the reader. You should adhere to the best practices and showcase your expertise, write for the target audience, and validate statements from authoritative sources.
Improve Content Quality and Credibility:
Target the content pieces from the standpoint of thought leadership. You need to add your unique thoughts and highlight your expertise in the content. In addition, avoid paraphrasing or rewriting content from other sources on the internet. Also, it is best to validate vague information as per data and authoritative studies.
Ensure Proper Content Presentation and Accessibility:
You need to have a proper structure for your content by ensuring no disruptive ideas are introduced without any context. Building a train of thought is important to establish a flow in the content. Also, try integrating tools like Grammarly to minimize grammatical errors and launch an analysis for evaluating the tone of voice, intent, and emotion behind the content.
Improve the Reading Experience:
It is advisable to minimize the number of display ads in the content, as it might give an impression that the website is only designed for earning revenues from paid ads and affiliates. From the accessibility standpoint, ensure that the web design is responsive on mobile devices and desktops.
These guidelines will serve you well even after you have dealt with any possible impact on your website due to the update. The guidelines are crucial to help your target readers, which is only a minimal part of Google’s overall efforts to improve the overall search experience.
This is definitely a helpful update for improving the user search experience. We will be observing how this update impacts enterprises, SEO strategies, and content creation.
Since the update’s rollout is underway, we will be reporting the developments to provide you with further insights and guidelines.
Nevertheless, this update is bound to create much confusion. If you need experts’ intervention to learn about how to deal with Google’s helpful content algorithm update, please consult with our SEO experts.