One of Google’s main goals is to connect people with helpful, relevant information. With this in mind, Google recently announced the ”helpful content update,” which is part of a larger effort on behalf of the company to ensure users are seeing original, quality content written by people for people in their search results. This pivot will have serious implications for businesses and the way they produce content. Keep reading to learn more about Google’s helpful content update and how you may need to adjust your strategy accordingly.
What Does Google’s Helpful Content Update Mean for Your Business?
In August of this year, Google announced the helpful content update. As mentioned, the purpose behind the update is to connect users with better, more helpful information and to improve overall search results. This change will likely have an impact on many businesses. Below is a list of features of the new update that are likely to affect your business:
- Google will begin using a site-wide ranking signal to determine if you’re creating helpful content
- Content designed for ad monetization and clicks won’t be effective anymore
- Google now considers AI-generated content spam and will use its advanced machine learning algorithm to detect it (if it is detected, your ranking will be affected)
- There will be no manual penalties, but your business is likely to lose organic visibility
Why Google’s Helpful Content Update Matters
Google’s helpful content update is going to have an undeniable impact. The company is moving toward authority-based content driven by internal data and away from AI-driven content in an effort to improve the user experience. For businesses, this may mean having to overhaul content marketing strategies, prioritizing the creation of unique, relevant content that cannot be easily replicated over content designed for monetization. Google wants creators, marketers, and businesses far and wide to be aware of the following:
People-first content is the priority
The goal of Google’s helpful content update is to reward content that visitors feel satisfied with and to minimize content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations. In the end, the content that results in a satisfying user experience will perform better than the content that doesn’t. So the question for businesses is: How can I create content that visitors will be satisfied with (and therefore will be successful on Google)? The answer is by following Google’s advice and guidelines on how to create content for people, not for search engines, clicks, or monetization. People-first content is a top priority in the helpful content update. To determine if your business is generating people-first content, ask yourself the following questions (if the answer is “no,” you may need to adjust your strategy):
- Do you have an existing or target audience for your business or website that would find the content on your website useful if they found it?
- Does your content demonstrate first-hand expertise and extensive knowledge (e.g. expertise that comes from having used a product or service first-hand)?
- Does your website have a main purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave your website feeling like they’ve learned enough about a topic?
- Will someone reading your content leave your website feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind Google’s guidance for core updates and product reviews?
Do not create content for search engines, clicks, etc.
Despite Google’s advice to focus on people-first content above all else, the company has made clear that this does not mean doing away with SEO completely. In fact, they still recommend following the SEO best practices outlined in the company’s SEO guide. However, they are warning businesses against creating content solely for search engine traffic and clicks, as there is a high correlation between this type of content and dissatisfied users. To avoid taking a search engine-first approach to content, ask yourself the following questions (if you answer yes to some or all of them, this could be a sign that you need to reassess your content strategy):
- Was the content created to mainly attract people who visit search engines, rather than people generally?
- Are you producing a high volume of content on different topics in the hopes that some of it might perform well in search engine rankings?
- Are you using automation to produce content on a wide range of topics?
- Are you largely summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search elsewhere to find more information from other sources?
- Are you writing content to a specific word count because you think search engineers have a preferred word count?
- Did you write on a niche topic without any expertise, solely because you thought it would generate search traffic?
- Does your content promise to answer a question that in reality, has no answer, such as suggesting a release date for a product that has yet to be confirmed?
Tips for Using Google’s Helpful Content Update
Now that you know a little more about the intention behind Google’s helpful content update, the experts at Rush Ventures are here to provide some tips on how to adapt your content marketing strategy accordingly. Check them out below.
1. Focus on what you know
Google’s helpful content update clearly wants businesses to focus on publishing content relevant to their field. This means that if you don’t have expertise or knowledge of a certain topic, it’s best to avoid writing about it. Though you might be tempted to write on a trending topic for clicks, users may be confused about why a cooking website is publishing content on the latest tech gadget. Therefore, we recommend staying in your lane and writing on topics you know about and that your audience expects from you.
2. Emphasize first-hand experience
To leverage Google’s helpful content update, we also suggest writing on topics that you have first-hand experience with. If you personally travelled to a city or tried a new product or service, write about it. But if not, don’t pretend, as doing so results in content that isn’t very helpful, and will result in lower rankings.
3. Do not provide insufficient answers to questions
If you are creating content that seeks to answer questions commonly typed into search engines, make sure there is an answer for every question. Google considers content to be helpful when it teaches people something or helps them accomplish a task. But as we all know, content can go on for pages and pages without conveying anything of value. So when writing content to address specific questions, make sure there is an answer and that you’ve answered the question clearly and succinctly.