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Google has recently announced their latest update, and it’s a big one. This update solely focuses on the content that we write for our websites, and its purpose is to better connect people to the information they’re looking for. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the new content update, how it will affect your website, and how you can prepare for it.

What is The Google Helpful Content Update?

We’ve all been there; you’re looking for some information and come across one of the Google search results that looks like a solid choice for getting all the information you could need. But after clicking on the page and reading through the content, it doesn’t have the insights you wanted at all. That’s why Google has started rolling out their Helpful Content Update.

The Helpful Content Update is a big search ranking algorithm update that will look to weed out any unhelpful content that is written solely to be found on Google rather than to solve a reader’s problem. It also helps to make sure unoriginal and low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search, making room for content that is relevant, helpful, and valuable.

How Does the Update Work?

Google states that “this classifier process is entirely automated, using a machine-learning model”. It’s a new signal that ranks content along with the many other signals used to evaluate the ranking of your site. If the signals find high amounts of unhelpful content on a website, the site is less likely to perform well in search.

Sites with lots of unhelpful content will notice a stronger effect than those with a few, for the best success during this update, removing unhelpful content and following Google’s guidelines will give you the best shot at ranking well.

How Will it Affect Your Website?

The update aims to better reward content that gives users a satisfying experience. This means it clearly demonstrates expertise and knowledge on the subject, provides the information it states on the search results and helps the reader achieve their search goal.

Just like any other update, your website and ranking will probably be affected. The Helpful Content Update is likely to penalise websites that are unhelpful, spammy or are generally written to appease Google rather than people. Organic content written for the benefit of the reader is what will win the rankings following this update! If Google crawls your website and finds you’re producing a lot of unhelpful content, then your site may end up ranking lower in the search results.

Google’s Advice

Google stated “our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google's own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it's applied to people-first content”. It’s therefore important that you still follow SEO best practices when writing content, however, simply take a people-first approach. Google gave a list of advice and questions to ensure you’re avoiding creating content for search engines. If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time to revisit your content:

  • Is your content made to attract people from search engines rather than made specifically to help humans?
  • Are you producing your content on a range of different topics in the hope that some of it might perform well?
  • Are you using automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you summarising what others have to say without adding much value rather than creating original, helpful content?
  • Are you writing about topics simply because they are trending and not because you’d write about them for your audience otherwise?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to do more research to get better information?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count just because you’ve heard Google has a preferred word count? (they don’t)
  • Are you choosing niche topics even though you have no expertise just because you think you will get more search traffic?
  • Are you making sure you answer a question with an actual answer? For example, suggesting there is a release date for a product when there isn’t one

How to Prepare for the Update

The Helpful Content Update will be sitewide rather than focusing on individual pages. Therefore, if your site has multiple pages of content that are written for the benefit of search engines rather than humans, or doesn’t answer a specific question, your site may be penalised. The advice for sites is to check each piece of content using the questions above. If you answer to one or more, you may need to rewrite, no index or remove the content from your site altogether to get on Google’s good side

Although most sites will be hit by this update, don’t worry. You can improve the quality of the content that you produce to be helpful to your users. Keep Google’s advice in mind when creating content and update your existing content to be people-first.

If you need help in improving the quality of your content and ensuring it is written for people, not search engines, get in touch with us now.

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