What does Google’s helpful content update mean for your website?
Another day, another Google update. But this is a big one. Because for the first time, it looks like Google has decided to consider what’s best for the user rather than what’s best for its algorithm. The ‘helpful content’ update, which released in August and completed its rollout in September, will start to rank website content
Another day, another Google update.
But this is a big one.
Because for the first time, it looks like Google has decided to consider what’s best for the user rather than what’s best for its algorithm.
If you work with an SEO agency and they’re freaking out, it’s because (finally) they’ve been found out for creating useless content based entirely on SERP results and ignoring the customer.
In this blog, we take a closer look at the Google helpful content update and explain what it means for your content marketing strategy in the future.
What is the Google helpful content update?
Google’s helpful content update is a site-wide ranking signal that marks and targets content written to please the search engine rather than help readers.
Now, when Google bots crawl a site, blogs, FAQs, and other content that doesn’t satisfy the user will be marked as red flags.
This will lead to a tumble in the search page rankings for sites that have unknowingly or knowingly focused on content that is purely focused on SERP results.
Why has the update been rolled out?
Just before the helpful content update was released, Google informed creators that the launch would be part of a “broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people”.
In other words, Google wants to emphasise content that tries to help or inform the user rather than tick boxes on an algorithm checklist.
It means Google is doing its job, providing valuable results and content rather than clickbait.
What does Google deem as helpful content?
Content that leaves someone feeling satisfied – does it answer the reader’s query? Is their experience on your page enjoyable? If people are fed-up with an article, they will likely leave the page and won’t return.
A site that has a primary focus – a site needs one primary focus to tell Google that you know what you’re talking about. If a website sells building materials but also talks about car parts and gardening tools, the user will likely be confused about this page’s purpose.
Intended for your target audience – helpful content should only talk to target customers: the people who care about what you offer. Speak to Molly, the MUA, like you’re with her in person if your content is about the best foundation brushes for heavy coverage. In this case, techy, complicated wording wouldn’t sit well with Google.
Demonstrates knowledge and experience – helpful content should tell Google you know precisely what you’re talking about. Original content full of tips and FAQs goes a long way regarding ranking.
What could the results now be for websites with unhelpful content?
This is bad news for businesses or SEO agencies who have done nothing but feed their website with algorithm-chasing content for years.
If you’ve been creating helpful content, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Even the negative results aren’t permanently negative.
If you see a drop in rankings due to this update, you should complete a content audit and either remove or improve the content that falls foul of the Google update.
What to do now to get rankings back on track
Have you noticed that your rankings may have tanked over the last few weeks?
If so, this doesn’t mean you’ve intentionally set out to con google or your customers.
Here are a few reasons which could explain your recent dip on the search engine results pages and how to get back on track;
1. Hiring a black-hat SEO agency
We may stay loyal to Google’s ranking ethics and regulations, but not all agencies do…
You may have unknowingly hired a ‘black-hat’ SEO agency that uses sneaky, underhand tactics to rank and pulls the wool over Google’s eyes.
Tactics like keyword stuffing, duplicate content and paid links are included for search engines, not real people.
They can result in penalties for your site and debunking in results pages after the helpful content update.
2. Producing content on many topics
Google wants you to be the master of your trade, providing the most insightful content backed up with ‘been there, done that’ experiences.
Writing about random subjects outside your expertise or trending topics can upset your rankings as it tells Google that you don’t have a key offering. If you’re a specialist in promoting events, talk about events, not what’s fashionable this Autumn.
This isn’t to say that your content can’t be more adventurous. You can get ideas by visiting competitor sites to see what they’re writing about.
Of course, you want your site to gain traffic, or what would be the point? But teasing answers to questions you don’t end up giving isn’t the way to go. Google’s helpful content update is on the lookout for clickbait, so give your audience what you’re promising.
For example, if you title a blog “cordless vs corded vacuums – which is best?”, you need to answer that question rather than just trying to sell vacuums.
Want a content marketing strategy that satisfies customers and improves SEO?
We are specialists in digital marketing and search engine optimisation. If you need to speak with SEO experts who know precisely how to get your business ranking on Google, then get in touch with Paramount Digital today. To book your FREE assessment, contact us using our online enquiry page.