Targeting content that has been written for search engines rather than humans, Google has stated in their Google Search Central Blog, published Thursday August 18 2022, the Helpful Content update is:
...part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results
Google’s Helpful Content Update Explained
The purpose of this new algorithm is to further improve the search engine result pages with valuable, unique and quality content that puts the user first. Google knows all too well people are frustrated when they click on a high ranking page that does not fulfil their intent.
Pages that have been designed and written to please (dare I say fool) Google into high ranking will be hit the worst. Best practice has not changed with this update. We have known for a long time content that helps a real person is rewarded over content full of key phrases for the sake of it.
It’s important to note, the update is being rolled out in the English-language only for now, but does plan to expand in the future.
How long do you have to improve your pages?
Pages that offer a poor user experience, typically full of content that is unhelpful to a real person, will, hopefully, disappear from the top pages of Google over the next couple of weeks, with the algorithm rolling out as soon as this week. Not long to prepare I hear you say? Sorry, but not much empathy here. If your web pages have been written for real people with useful content, you should not have to do anything but sit back and see your rankings rise. If you’ve been gloating that you are an SEO whizz that can rank pages with certain dodgy tactics, your time has come, and you better start re-writing sharpish.
How do you make sure your content is written for people?
If you are an expert in your field and write naturally with your audience in mind, it should be enough. Google shared what you should be doing. Ask yourself:
- 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?
- 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)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they've learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they've had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
What shouldn’t you do?
Quite simply, don’t write for search engines. That’s not to say you should not consider phases you want to rank for or follow on-page SEO best practice, but if your primary objective is to rank rather than please your audience, the chances are your website is not doing much other than getting people to the site and making them bounce before you know it. Google shared what not to do, found in the above article.
In short, do not:
- Write for bots (if I haven’t made that clear already)
- Use automation tools to create content
- Summarise other opinions without expressing your own
- Base your content strategy on trending phrases if not appropriate for your audience
- Leave your readers like they need to go back to Google and search again
- Write to a particular word count
- Use click-bait i.e., don’t tell someone they’ll find a release date of a TV show if it doesn’t exist
What else is there to know?
Many SEO experts are comparing this update to something like the size of Panda back in 2012. Basically, take it seriously.
This is a site-wide update, with a weighted signal, meaning some sites will be impacted more than others.
The Helpful Content algorithm is automated, using a machine learning, model.
Whilst the Helpful Content algorithm update is in its infancy and impact is yet to be seen, we are totally onboard with what Google is trying to achieve. We have a team of content creators who obsess over quality content that has real purpose and we look forward to keeping a close eye on all of our customer’s rankings.