Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Google’s Helpful Content Update
Every year, Google makes thousands of updates to its algorithm.
Literally, thousands of updates. Far more than your cell phone or laptop operating system.
They say the changes aim to provide a better level of service to the search engine’s users. Most of these are smaller tweaks, but these tweaks can impact how well a website ranks.
Google doesn’t often publish much about those changes, so it can be unnerving for your business to depend on great visibility and suddenly seeing drops in your site’s rankings.
Recently, Google posted about their Helpful Content Update. This isn’t one of those small updates but rather a significant change that you should take seriously. Why should you care? In short, it’s because Google announced this one. They usually don’t do that unless it’s a big honking change.
What Is The Helpful Content Update?
Google’s Helpful Content Update is a part of the company’s plan to help people see original, very useful content written “by people, for people, in search results.” You can read the full update from August 2022 here. Let’s break down the key components of this that matter to any digital marketing company, marketing team, or business owner looking to use their website for lead generation.
First, Know There’s a Rollout
Google’s Helpful Content Update (the latest such major update since Panda) is likely to make waves for many website owners, though it may take more time to notice those changes than originally thought. The company began the rollout on August 25, 2022 and ended it on September 9th. The rollout specifically targeted websites that had:
· High levels of unsatisfying content
· Lots of unhelpful or not valuable content otherwise
· Content that’s written primarily for search engine ranking
If you are already noticing damage to your ranking because of this, it’s time to make the effort to update and modernize your content. We highly encourage you to act quickly because it may take several months after the hit to hurt you.
What We Know Google Wants from Content
Even if you have not seen a significant hit from this update (that’s a good thing for now!), it still means you may need to make updates to your content development strategy to improve the overall quality. There are several key things to do to achieve that.
Ensure your content is people-first
Remember, “by people, for people.” Google wants to reward websites where visitors get what they need and want and ultimately have a satisfying experience there. Google provides some specific steps to take to ensure this. Here’s how to do it:
· Your content should focus on what your audience and website traffic expect, need, and want from your business or website in general.
· Ensure that when your website visitor lands on your site, you’re giving them the very specific, detailed, and even exhaustive content they need. Make it plain to them what to do and give them the information necessary to become more educated on your topic.
· The site overall should have a focus and purpose. That’s easy for websites for businesses, as long as they focus heavily on what they do.
· Ensure your content shows you’re an expert in this topic. Ensure it provides advice and guidance that’s accurate and usable.
Search engine-first content is going to hurt you
This is actually nothing new. Good digital marketing companies and website development teams are going to consistently tell you this (if they are following SEO best practices). It’s not about keyword stuffing or writing content designed for rankings.
The focus of SEO shifted years ago from “gaming the system” to giving Google exactly what it needs to find your site “first page worthy”.
So, here are some things NOT to do:
· Don’t write content that your readers won’t benefit from just for the sake of writing content for the search engines.
· Don’t use automation to produce content.
· Don’t publish content on dozens of topics that are not related to your main focus just in the hopes of drawing people in.
· Don’t target a specific word count, but rather flesh out ideas to provide quality content.
· Don’t choose topics to write about because you think they’ll rank. Choose topics your readers need and want.
· Always, always add value – don’t just include content that’s already produced online, but go one step further and add some type of value to it.
Know your searcher
In order to achieve many of the goals set out in the Google Helpful Content Update, you really need to know who you are targeting and what they need and want from you. It sounds hard, but defining your target personas and creating content they actually want to read is going to help you with search engine rankings.
Your digital marketing company can help you with this. The short description is to determine who your customers or target website visitors are, where they are coming from, their biggest problems, and what solutions you can offer. Then, you can create content on your site that really hits home with them and, as a result of the update, helps your site rank better.
Skip the clickbait
This is hard for some companies, but it is plain and simple. Google wants you to provide people with real content that answers their questions. In fact, the more directly you can answer search queries, the better.
A popular and, quite often, unsuccessful strategy is to post some type of question that you know people want the answer to, but you also know there’s no answer for. A simple example is creating a blog post that has a headline that promises a release date for a new TV show when that information really is not available.
If you are going to answer one of the many questions people ask when searching the internet, be sure you can actually answer it and provide an accurate answer for them. That’s not just good for ranking well, but it also helps to build trust in your brand, so people come back to you.
Don’t Skip the SEO
One of the most important things to get from this update is that all the other updates Google has made in the past still apply. That is, Google doesn’t want you to stop using SEO best practices, but they want you to create more valuable content using those guidelines. It’s not a trick, though it can feel like a challenge.
For example, Google’s SEO best practices include the following:
· Research and use keywords based on what your target audience is searching for. Just don’t include them excessively on the page for the search engine.
· Be sure your site is operating efficiently. Load speed is a big deal for ranking well. If that’s not happening, turn to your website designer for updates.
· Use internal linking throughout your site to help visitors navigate it.
· Create unique titles, descriptions, title tags, and content. You have to make sure it is unique.
· Use Google Analytics to help you to improve your site by optimizing searches and content overall.
What’s Going to Happen to Your Website Now?
If you’ve been hit and are hurting as a result of the Helpful Content Update, take a step back and work with an SEO specialist and digital marketing company to make some changes. You will need to revamp content to ensure it’s valuable to your readers.
Google does say that it’s using machine learning software to automate the process of evaluating websites and that it is constantly in motion. That means if you make the necessary changes now, within a few months, your site could be ranking well again and probably even better than it ever was. Don’t put off making those updates.
As always, we’re happy to help. Just give us a call and talk to one of our SEO nerds today.