Google recently announced a new “Helpful Content” update to its search engine which will prioritize helpful content. This update went live on August 25th, 2022. It will rank websites based on how helpful their content is according to user feedback. Google has stated that the update is meant to “encourage high-quality content and help surface more of it.”
This announcement comes as a response to the increasing amount of low-quality content online.
In a statement, Google’s vice president of search, Pandu Nayak, said that “the internet has become cluttered with billions of pages of low-quality and untrustworthy content.” He added that the new update will “help users find the information they need faster and easier than ever before.”
So what is the Helpful Content Update? How will it affect your business?
In this article, we will go over all the main takeaways from this update and what it means for you and your business.
Google Helpful Content Update
“Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?”
Google is referring to a trend of companies writing an article for a topic with high search volume and low competition that is outside of their core business product or service.
For example, say you were a dog boarding company and you saw an opportunity to rank for the “best ice cream in Boston.” The article you write may be informative to the people that read it, but the people coming directly to your site to find out about your dog boarding would not find it helpful.
Google wants you to stick to content that would help your current audience.
Also, Google suggests asking yourself the following related questions:
- Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem to be trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
“Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?”
Here Google is letting you know that they want you to show that you have first-hand experience with the content you are writing about.
A growing trend has seen companies write about products or services that they have no experience using. When the writer doesn’t have experience with the product or service, the content won’t be as helpful to the reader.
To show that you have experience with the product or service you are writing about, include photos of the product in use, diagrams of how to use it, and walk your reader through the steps to solve their problem.
“Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?”
Google wants your site to have a primary focus or niche. They don’t want you to write about a variety of topics outside of your core business.
When you try to be all things to all people, you end up helping no one. This is because your content will be too thin and scattered to go deep enough to solve any person’s problem.
Focus on your primary product or service. Get really good at identifying your target customer’s problem. Then become an industry expert by consistently providing answers to those problems.
“After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?”
Google understands for a user to have a good experience with your site, the user should leave with enough info to solve their problem.
When Google sends its users to sites that say a lot in their articles — so that they can rank for a keyword– but offer very little value, the user is going to have a negative experience.
Everything you write should clearly solve a problem for the person coming to you for information.
In addition, Google suggests asking yourself the following related questions:
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, it doesn’t)
“Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?”
Google is reminding you to think about the reader’s experience with each article you release.
You can check all the boxes above and still leave the reader feeling unsatisfied.
Consider a mechanic writing an article about how to change a tire without including any photos or diagrams of the steps needed to complete the job. Yes, the written content was helpful, but the reader might still be confused about how to proceed without the additional visual content.
“Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?”
Google is trying to reduce the amount of clickbait articles they send their users to.
If you make a promise to the reader with a catchy headline, Google wants you to follow through on that promise.
When you write an article about “How to install a Door in Your Home”, you better clearly show the reader a step-by-step guide on how to install the door and include the necessary photos to guide your reader through the process.
“Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?”
Google is advising you to pay attention to its core updates so that you can stay up to date with the best practices. The more you understand about Google’s algorithm, the better the chance you will have to benefit from it.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Google is going to penalize websites that continue to post unhelpful, spamming, click-bait content. If you continue to post this kind of content, you should expect to take a hit in the rankings.
However, if you follow these guidelines your business can push past the companies trying to keyword stuff their way to the top.
To summarize this helpful content update, remember to:
- Stick to writing content that is true to your core business
- Solve a problem with every article you post
- Show your first-hand experience with the product or service you’re writing about
- Leave the reader satisfied by being thorough with every post by including videos, photos, and diagrams when necessary
- Don’t post click-bait content that doesn’t follow through on its promise
Following these guidelines will help you create more helpful content for your customers and ultimately build more trust with them.