What is Google Helpful Content Update?
In September 2022, Google released its Helpful Content Update to help people discover original, helpful content written by humans instead of AI. So, Google will reward content that gives visitors satisfying experiences and decrease performance on content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations.
In their Helpful Content Update post, Google clarified that “satisfying content” would show first-hand expertise, in-depth knowledge, and a primary focus. If someone visits your website to find specific information, will they discover all the information they need to achieve their goal? Or would a visitor exit your website and search for better information?
The most helpful relevant content demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, or E-A-T. In addition, this type of content features unique insights from field experts, like original research and data.
Content can gain authority when visitors share the link and post it onto other pieces of web content (called backlinks), proving the content’s usefulness and relevance. Lastly, trustworthy content features credible sources, answers common questions, and may include testimonials from clients or customers.
On the flip side, unsatisfactory content has very little value, low-added value, or simply isn’t helpful to people searching for information.
What does Google Helpful Content Update Mean for My Website?
Why should businesses care about SEO for their website? Depending on how Google views the type of content you publish on your website, the update could either hurt or help your business.
Websites that optimize for Google’s HCU can see an increase in traffic, which can lead to more sales. However, websites that don’t optimize for the new update can see a decrease in search traffic, which can lead to fewer sales.
Small businesses should optimize their website to increase search traffic since SEO is a small business marketing trend that boosts visibility beyond word-of-mouth.
For your business to capitalize on Google’s HCU, re-evaluate your content strategy and look for opportunities to improve.
If you rely heavily on AI to generate content, which is not recommended, think of ways to add more of a human aspect to your website content. Plus, make sure your content gives your audience a satisfying experience.
The Google Helpful Content Update should push you to rethink your content marketing strategy for new content. However, you can also dive into your old content and search for opportunities to optimize.
How to Update Content to Help SEO
To perform well in search and generate more traffic, take a look at your published content. See what could use a refresh.
If the thought of looking through everything overwhelms you, simply pick the content that leads readers directly to your services. Think of these as your “money-making pages.”
In your content, look for opportunities to:
- Cater directly to your intended audience
- Dial in on a primary purpose or focus
- Answer common questions in a tone that’s clear and easy to understand
- Give new or unique insight on a common topic or problem
After combing through your content, you may find posts that are unhelpful with no opportunities to improve. Google encourages everyone to remove unhelpful content in order to improve search rankings.
What Creators Should Know about Google’s Helpful Content Update
Once old content is optimized, content creators will need to know how to create new content going forward to rank higher on Google. Most importantly, creators should remember to write content for humans, not search engines.
Let me repeat that again, write for humans and not search engines!
Utilize Your Experts
To do so, tap into the minds of your audience to figure out what they crave to know. Find out what questions to answer by collaborating with knowledge experts in your field. They will likely have the insight you need to generate multiple content ideas that AI or a third-party copywriter can’t create. Experts can also fact-check articles, which will increase your content’s trustworthiness.
Your Money or Your Life
Another suggestion is to create content around “Your Money or Your Life” topics or YMYL. Google defines YMYL as “topics that could significantly impact the health, financial stability, or safety of people, or the welfare or well-being of society.” That is, Google prioritizes content that helps humans be better humans.
See What People Are Asking
Content creators can also use Google to help them create content that ranks higher. How? Type in your target keywords into the search bar and scroll down to “people also ask.” There, you can find a handful of new content ideas, like common questions to answer or content gaps to tackle.
Additionally, the Google featured snippets tool provides content ideas. If your keyword search generates a featured snippet, take note of its format. Is it a bulleted or numbered list, a clear definition, or a table? Whatever shows up, be sure your content includes the right code to show up for that type of featured snippet.
Utilizing your own Google Search Console data is another great way to do this, as well. GSC can give you a look behind the scenes at the queries that brought your content up in search, even if there was no click. You can identify many missed opportunities this way.
For content to rank for Google Helpful Content Update, creators should:
- Reach out to knowledge experts in your field and invite them to collaborate with you and give their advice
- Demonstrate EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
- Tackle “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) topics
- Format for featured snippets
Is Google Helpful Content Update Actually Helpful?
However, Google’s update has its skeptics. Some claim very little difference in search engine rankings for multiple sites since the update. Though, it may take years for the algorithm to noticeably take effect.
For example, Google’s HTTPS update in 2014 marginally changed search rankings at first. MozCast only saw 8% of page-one organic results for their HTTPS URLs. After Chrome began to give warnings to users about the privacy risk of HTTP sites, MozCast HTTPS sites shot up to 50% of page-one organic results by 2017. Now in late 2022, 99% of those pages show up on page one.
While the Google Helpful Content Update hasn’t changed search results overnight, we will likely see steady changes over time.
How can I Improve My Content Marketing Strategy?
Unless you’re a full-time content creator, combing through old content and coming up with a new content marketing strategy can seem overwhelming. Small business owners and employees especially may need help to carve out time in their day to implement a strategy that capitalizes on Google’s HCU. However, ignoring content optimization can hurt your business.
Those who want a team versed in SEO and content marketing on their side can reach out to a boutique, full-service marketing agency like Aroluxe. We are eager to help businesses maximize their online visibility and marketing efforts. So reach out to us today, and we can help you with a fully customized content strategy and take the writing off your plate.
Bottom Line – Dos and Don’ts for search rankings:
- Do focus on a primary purpose throughout your website
- Don’t produce content on a wide variety of topics vaguely related to your website
- Do focus on quality over quantity
- Don’t rely on AI tools to generate all your content
- Do add unique insight and additional information
- Don’t rephrase existing content without adding more value
- Do look for pain points to address for your audience
- Don’t write on trending topics unrelated to your focus
- Do have a trusted team to keep content fresh
- Don’t ignore Google’s updates