Google is releasing the ‘helpful content’ update aimed at “better connecting people to helpful information.” The update focuses on rewarding content written for people and devaluing content written mainly for SEO ranking purposes.
As content writers, we create compelling content for readers to engage with, whilst ensuring that it ticks all the boxes from a Google perspective. For content to successfully rank, the aim is always to strike that balance of readability and crawlability – sounds simple but we all know that can be a lot to think about!
So what’s the big deal about this update?
If your website contains a large amount of unhelpful content, where the content has been created to please search engines, rather than to help humans, your website could well be seeing some negative effects in the coming months.
Google often decides to release algorithmic updates without much warning, leaving marketers and businesses scrambling to ensure their websites remain in line with new ranking signals.
This new update is no different. Yet the real impact of this update could be one of the biggest in over a decade. Coincidently the Panda update was released on February 23, 2011, just over ten years ago, an update also heavily focused on content.
Focusing on people first
Have you ever searched for a topic in Google, only to land on a blog post which turns out to be slightly unhelpful to your search query? You then realise the content was set up to rank well in Google, not necessarily created for answering your questions.
The ‘helpful content’ update is designed to counteract this problem and help users find high-quality content and at the same time reward websites that provide useful content written for humans to engage in.
To create people-first content that utilises SEO best practices, Google provided a list of questions that answering “yes” to means your content is in good standing. To summarise, they want to see useful content that demonstrates first-hand expertise that provides in-depth knowledge. Google wants users to visit the website and gain value through learning about your business and products and at the same time, feeling satisfied with what they have read. View the full list of questions here.
Avoid writing content for search engines
Google’s advice on creating people-first content does not mean that SEO best practices should be neglected. As marketers, it’s our job to ensure that SEO remains an extension of the people-first type of content.
Google is saying that creating content to please search engines strongly relates to users finding content “unsatisfactory.”
Again Google has provided a list of questions for you to answer. Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should be reexamining your content strategy to avoid writing content that is search engine-first type content. View the full list here.
Essentially, this update is site-wide that Google will begin to consider as a ranking signal. Google will crawl your pages and automatically detect content that is low quality, offer little value or is generally unhelpful for people searching on the internet. If your website contains low-value content, don’t be surprised to see fluctuations in your rankings.
There’s no timeframe on how long it will take a website to recover from low-quality content, however, the key is to begin implementing the right type of content as soon as possible to avoid further penalisation. The update will initially impact worldwide English-related search results, with plans to push the update out to more languages in the future.
Google intends to roll out the update any time now – you’ll be able to see when the update goes live by checking Google’s updates page. As with many Google updates, expect it to roll out in phases.
Struggling to stay on top of Google’s updates?
Here at Regency Creative our SEO team are on always on top when it comes to Google updates, so you don’t have to worry. Arrange a discovery call with a member of our marketing team or alternatively, drop us a message at email@example.com.