Google is always the first place we go whenever we want to find information about anything. It could be about a local restaurant, a song reference, or some silly fact check. Regardless of what we type into the search bar, Google still manages to give you an accurate address 99% of the time.
Google’s algorithm is so good that sometimes you can’t help but wonder how they do it. Remember how they changed how the eCommerce world worked with the RankBrain algorithm update in the Spring of 2015? It changed every possible Google rule by predicting the likely user intent of a search query. Then there was the Google Core Web Vitals algorithm update. The report, released in May 2020, literally showed us how a page performed based on field data.
What if we told you Google’s search results will get even better now? With Google rolling out its latest Helpful Content Update, the company is ready to enhance the user experience like never before.
But how will the new update affect your online business? Will your website ranking benefit from it or suffer from it? All companies patiently await how Google’s Helpful Content Update will affect their online presence.
This article discusses Google’s Helpful Content Update and everything you need to know about the new update.
What is Google's Helpful Content Update?
Google has always tried to bring you the most relevant results regardless of what you type into its search engine. Unlike other popular search engines that typically provide results based on keywords, Google focuses more on content that’s helpful to its users.
Google’s “Helpful Content Update” is the latest and arguably best effort to provide relevant user results. According to Google, the latest “Helpful Content Update” can give users more original content.
It means Google now focuses on finding helpful people-focused content on their search result page. People-focused content means content created by the people, for the people. In other words, Google will most likely exclude or deprioritize robotic or mundane content with the new update.
What Does Google's Helpful Content Update Mean for Your Website?
As stated above, Google’s Helpful Content Update does what its name suggests. It provides users access to the most “useful” content it can find and ensures they find the answers they need. But what does that mean for your online business or website?
To put it shortly, you must ensure that your content is helpful to the users and does not just involve stuffing in various keywords in the content. Understand that Google’s Helpful Content Update provides what the user wants and needs.
Hence, this is an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your website’s content strategy for better Google rankings. It means optimizing your content and SEO to get noticed after Google’s new Helpful Content Update. But, don’t worry, we won’t leave you high and dry here.
Google will likely keep rolling out its Helpful Content Update. You will eventually learn more about reaching the number one SERP result. But for now, here are some helpful tips for maintaining and growing your SERP rankings.
Minimize Scaled Content Strategies
Admit it, every business organization, including yours is guilty of scaling its content. We are not saying scaling your content is necessarily a bad thing. And we can understand why you may feel the need to do it. After all, more content does help you create more indexable assets.
Most companies continue to scale their content because it boosts organic traffic and drives more conversions. However, on the flip side, scaling content is not the best approach if you want to maintain a high SERP ranking on Google.
You are reading this article right now, looking for ways to deal with the latest Google update. Now, imagine us going on and on about Google’s past updates. What if we never really provide you with a solution or anything helpful to deal with the new update?
In the end, such content can not help the users. Earlier, such content could still reach the top SERP pages because of the website’s authority. Additionally, many domains use indexed internal search pages for higher eCommerce rankings.
But those days may be coming to an end, and you need to prepare yourself for it. More importantly, companies should stop depending on auto or AI-generated content. However, you could use the AI-generated content as a first draft if you manage to add the much-needed ‘human touch’ later.
Align Your Content and Core Value Proposition
The growth of SEO and strategies over the past few years is nothing short of incredible. Every seasoned marketer depends on quality SEO to generate high-quality leads and conversions. As a result, Google never really faced a shortage of content, and the internet kept adding more.
Furthermore, it is common knowledge that the established, more prominent players or websites have it easier regarding SERP ranking. Unsurprisingly these companies started to misuse their influential sites to enter new markets. It helped them diversify their selling capability even when they did not have the proper expertise.
Take the example of CNET, for instance. They were primarily a website for tech news, creating subdomains just for coupon deals. This subdomain does exceptionally well without much effort, at least for now. The new Google Helpful Content Update may take away this privilege.
The new update can affect any website that addresses queries or publishes content vastly different from its expert domain. And this is not something new either. Over the years, several websites have dropped their ranking for not having relevant authority over topics.
In the new Google Helpful Content Update, you can see more topically relevant websites getting higher ranks. Suppose your website is among the ones that branch its content to diverse markets. In that case, you may want to rethink your approach and stick to your core value proposition.
Better Information = Better Scores
With the new Google Helpful Content Update, you should familiarize yourself with the concept of better information for better scores. You may have noticed how all the top-ranking pages offer the same information. However, the basic outline of most content remains the same.
You type in the best eCommerce plugin for WooCommerce, and the result is usually always the same, even if it’s from different websites. With the new update, Google may look for additional helpful content for better ranking the websites and their content.
For instance, let’s take the earlier example of searching for top WooCommerce plugins. Suppose a website lists how a business can determine the compatibility of specific plugins and uses more stats and graphs to drive a point. In that case, Google may find such sites more “helpful” and award them a better SERP ranking.
In other words, your focus should shift to making your content worthwhile rather than scaling it with unnecessary information. Besides that, more helpful content lets you better grasp your content strategy. Hence, it would be best to make it a point to understand the target audience’s perspective and present them with content that can help them.
Weed Out the Existing Unhelpful Content (Content Pruning)
It is highly likely that you already have several unhelpful pieces of content on your website as a result of your marketing efforts in the past. You might think that it is just harmless data sitting there. But in reality, this data could end up doing more harm to you than you might think because of Google’s latest update.
The new Helpful Content Update uses a site-wide signal to determine whether your domain or website hosts excessive “unhelpful” content. If that is the case for your website, you can expect your site’s organic visibility to go down. And the worst part is that even the helpful content on your website could suffer the same fate if you don’t prune the unhelpful content.
But on the bright side, you can prepare for the Google update in advance. Try categorizing the content on your website and identifying the helpful content from the unhelpful ones. You must then remove any unhelpful content to protect your existing SERP rankings.
You can also consider using tools like Screaming Frog SEO spider to help you categorize your pages. You must first connect the software tool to the Google Analytics API. Once you do that, you can classify the content on your website into four categories, as below.
Pro Tip: Instead of deleting content or pages you think are not helpful, consider unpublishing them. That way, you can republish them later when the content becomes relevant.
How Does Google's Helpful Content Update Work?
Simply put, Google’s Helpful Content Update provides only relevant and valuable content to its users. But how do you determine if your content is helpful? Or perhaps the better question is, how do you determine if Google considers your content valuable?
According to Google, the new Helpful Content Update aims to reward content users with a “satisfying experience.” Let’s try putting the new Google update in simple terms. Suppose someone looks up a fruit salad recipe on Google. And let’s say your recipe shows tomato in the recipe because it is technically a fruit. In this case, Google’s new update may flag your content as not helpful.
The basic rule for the new Google Helpful Content Update is to make content for people rather than search engines. Google’s guidelines ask you to create people-first content while using SEO best practices to help you ensure good SERP rankings.
If you still have trouble understanding the new Helpful Content Update concept, look at the following questions. According to Google, if the answer to all the following questions is YES, then your website content is likely helpful to the masses.
Avoid Search Engine First Approach
When you opt for a people-first approach for your content, it will automatically deprioritize the search engine method. Don’t get us wrong. We are not saying you should not care about search engine optimization. We are only saying that it shouldn’t be your primary focus.
Even Google says that the proper people-first approach does not ignore or invalidate the SEO best practices. Hence, we would advise that you stick with Google’s SEO guide as it is still helpful for the Helpful Content Update.
Furthermore, you can observe that content that uses a search engine first approach often fails to satisfy the reader and effectively deliver helpful information. However, the question remains of how you can avoid a search engine-first approach without compromising your SEO ranking.
Google has another set of questions to help you determine whether you are avoiding a search engine first approach. If your answer to most or all of the questions below is yes, it indicates that you need to refocus your efforts on a people-first system.
How Will Google's Helpful Content Update Impact Your Website?
Although Google has already released the initial Helpful Content Update, the complete update will take a few weeks. But practically speaking, it will take a while until the new update can impact your business or website.
Google has already stated that its new update does not interfere with its existing SEO guidelines. Hence, the new Helpful Content Update should have a minimum impact on your content or SEO strategy.
Of course, this assumes that you are not following age-old black hat SEO strategies. In other words, every piece of content you produce must serve a purpose or have a reason to create them. It is not a new concept, and most companies followed this approach way before the current Google update.
The new Helpful Content Update affects your website content more than anything else. And it should come as no surprise to you, considering the name of the update itself gives it away. Therefore, now is the perfect time to review your website content.
As we have stated multiple times in this article, Google’s new Helpful Content Update requires you to produce people-first content. Follow Google’s guidelines when creating new content and ensure that the old ones align with it during the review.
Identify and eliminate any content you produce for SEO’s sole purpose. Or at least you should rework those articles to fit Google’s content guidelines. A better approach would be to ensure that your content is helpful to the reader after Google’s “helpful content” update.
Unfortunately, there is no exact timeline for when Google’s helpful update content will start affecting your site rankings. Therefore, we cannot tell you when your website will benefit from removing the “unhelpful” content.
From the information provided by Google, it can take months for the “helpful” signals to scan and assess your website. It is also worth noting that the classifier continuously monitors new and existing sites to rank them.
Ranking, as you know, is relative, no matter how you look at it. Theoretically, if Google considers your content as NOT helpful, then you will see a drop in your rankings. But this only applies if the competing content is deemed beneficial by Google simultaneously.
And it’s not just specific blog posts or content we are talking about here. The new Helpful Content Update can impact sites as a whole. In other words, if your website publishes a lot of content unrelated to your expertise and niche audience, your website’s rankings may drop.
Why Did Google Launch the New Helpful Content Update?
Google thrives on delivering the most relevant and helpful content to its user for each search request they receive. And this is evident in all their previous updates too. Google’s new Helpful Content Update could be their most significant leap.
Hence, Google often changes or updates algorithms to ensure users have a seamless searching experience. As a result, web admins must create more user-friendly sites, content, and experiences.
It is not just about tweaking SEO practices every day. Furthermore, it is not like Google wants to mess with your SEO strategy for the fun of it. Each update Google makes empowers (spell forces) SEO experts to implement a clean SEO practice eliminating the need for a black-hat SEO approach.
6 Tips for Writing Content Tailored for Google's Helpful Content Update
Produce People-first Content
The first and foremost thing you can do when writing content for Google’s new Helpful Content Update is to produce people-first content.
It enables you to create valuable content for the reader and not focus too much on SEO.
Write From Experience
Another way to ensure that you produce helpful content is to write from your experience. Think about it.
If you faced a real issue and came up with a solution, others likely have had the same problem. More importantly, when you write from experience, you know that the content is beneficial and unique.
Smartly Use AI Content
AI content may seem like a quick and easy way to create quality content for your website. However, the reality may be entirely different.
Google’s Helpful Content Update specifically searches for human-made content. Hence, it is best not to rely entirely on AI for your website content.
Instead, use AI to create the first draft and edit it to add your signature to spice it up.
Don't Exaggerate or Make False Claims
Using catchy and sometimes entirely false headings or metadata may be tempting.
In the past, it was easy to capture the user’s attention. However, the reader often (if not always) feels disappointed with such content.
With Google’s new update hitting the market, it is best to avoid such practices. Why? Because the user won’t notice your catchy headline if you are on the 5th or 500th page in Google search results.
Add Value to Your Content
It would be best if you always try to bring something new and beneficial to your content.
Using the same ideas from the top SERP results is pointless because the latest update might ignore your content as duplicate or similar data.
Stick to Your Niche
Our sixth and final advice for you regarding Google’s Helpful Content Update is to stick to your niche.
Don’t follow every trending topic hoping to boost your website traffic. With the new update, Google intends to minimize the content they show if it does not fit with the website’s niche and expertise.
How Should You Approach Content Writing in the Future?
You should now have a general idea of how Google wants your content to look and feel. However, we still can’t say for sure how Google’s Helpful Content Update will affect your website. Only time will tell the real-life effects of the new update.
On the other hand, we do know the end goal of Google’s constant updates. Google is trying to provide its users with the most relevant and accurate information, as it always has. Over the years, Google is perfecting its capability to scan and find the best information for its users.
Hence, content writing or creation should focus on creating accurate and informative material for the users. We are not asking you to abandon your SEO best practices. However, you should not let factors like SEO trends deviate your focus, which is people-first content.
Knowing Google’s track record, it is only a matter of time till they perfect their algorithm. Therefore, it is up to you to ensure that your website and its content can helpfully serve the users. Of course, you still need to keep an eye out for SEO best practices to provide the best results for your content.
Google is on a mission to provide the most relevant content to its users, and they get a little closer to its goal every day. The latest Helpful Content Update is a significant step for Google and its mission to deliver the most appropriate information to users.
However, with so many updates, it might become more difficult for business organizations to manage their content and ensure the top spot on Google SERP. Not to mention Google keeps on rolling out updates faster than you can think of a way to update your content.
A smart move you can make here is to seek the help of a content optimization expert like Rainmaker.UNO. Working with an expert organization gives you the edge of having a team in your corner that constantly monitors Google updates and best SEO practices and keeps your site parallelly current.
Rainmaker.UNO makes it a point to contemporize itself with the latest information on content optimization standards. We have already prepared an action plan for our clients to help them navigate the latest Google update.
In other words, with a specialist like Rainmaker.UNO by your side, you don’t have to worry about contemporary or future Google updates. We will help you monitor and revise your content to align with the latest updates and ensure the best SERP ranking for your website.