Google's Helpful Content Update - What You Need to Know

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | October 2022

Illustration of a giant computer screen with people creating content.

Google's algorithms refer to a set of rules used to rank websites and deliver the most helpful information for each search query.

Google makes 500-600 updates every year to improve search results.
Most updates are minor, but Google also makes updates that can reorder search results. Google's helpful content update, announced in August 2022, affected some site's search visibility. For this reason, it's vital to understand what it is all about. 

What is the Helpful Content Update? 

This update is part of a broader effort by Google to help users find original, helpful content. This, alongside other ranking signals, can detect content that doesn't provide value.
Generally, each algorithm has a set of rules to establish web pages that best answer a search query. After that, programmed ranking signals organize the pages according to their relevance. 
The new update will reward people-first content. In other words, content that doesn't meet searchers' expectations won't perform well. And since it is a site-wide signal, it does not apply to individual web pages but to the whole website.

What is the Impact on Websites?

The new update doesn't target any particular niche; it applies to all websites. Considering past changes, it stands to have a major impact on four types of content; shipping, arts and entertainment, educational material, and tech. Anecdotally, our client's sites haven't been affected
Google further revealed that the update will first affect English-language searches. The search engine will add the update to other languages and products later. 
Google announced that the rollout would begin on August 25th and take up to two weeks to complete. This update comes amid increasing concern over the diversity and quality of search results
If you are a website owner, track whether the rollout hurts your site ranking and visibility. The update will flag any site that does not meet user expectations. Low-value content sends a negative signal, thus affecting your website performance. 

Adapting to the New Update 

If you detect a drop in ranking, there is a high chance the update has affected you. Fortunately, there are ways to increase the chances of your content being visible to your target audience. Google Search Central posted a user guide on how the update works and how to create helpful content. In the guide, creators are urged to focus on people-first content and to avoid creating content for traffic

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With that in mind, below are three ways to optimize your content in line with the helpful content update:

1. Stick to Your Niche—And Demonstrate Expertise

Google seeks to provide users with the highest quality search experience possible. That means interpreting search intent and displaying results that meet user's needs. The new update hammers down on that goal. 
One characteristic of a people-first site is having a primary focus. Then, displaying content that shows first-hand expertise and in-depth knowledge of the topic. So, think about your company's niche and stick to that vertical when planning your content. Further, incline into your expertise and showcase it when writing your content. If you are writing about a topic that strays from your focus, find a creative angle to connect it to your niche. 

2. Have Your Intended Audience in Mind

Despite the new update, we urge you to still follow SEO best practices. Always consider your target audience when approaching your SEO strategy. For instance, focus on the questions users type into Google. This approach helps create in-depth content that leaves visitors with a satisfying experience. 
Additionally, provide trustworthy information so they don't turn to other sources.

3. Create Content with an Edge

Google warns against creating content on varying topics only to aim for some of it do well in search. Also, don't sum up competitor's thoughts without adding value only because they are hot at that moment.
Instead, seek creative ways to give your organization an edge. For example, when there is trending news in your industry, look at your competitors' content, and instead of summarizing it, cover what they left out.

Talk to a Digital Partner Today!

Google's helpful content update emphasizes people-first content. This means that websites whose content falls short of the new guidance will rank low. A lower website ranking means reduced traffic, fewer leads, and fewer clients.

If your brand is looking to grow your traffic, contact us today.

Topics: Digital Marketing