Google’s helpful content update: What should we expect?

On 18th August 2022, Google announced their new update, which could shake up content and SEO much like the Penguin update back in 2012. Let’s take a look at what Google’s helpful content update is and how it could affect your site. 

What does Google’s helpful content update mean?

Google’s content update will favour original and helpful content. The aim of the update is to give Google users a better search experience by providing content that provides searchers with what they are looking for.

Focus on people-first content

Google’s content update rewards content that meets the searcher’s expectations, as a result, content that doesn’t meet expectations will be ranked lower. But how do you know if you focus on people-first content? According to Google, if you answer yes to the following questions, you’re probably already taking a people-first approach:

Avoid creating content for search engines first

Very often, content creators will create content solely focused on search engine optimisation (SEO). Whilst SEO best practices are still extremely important, Google‘s helpful content update is mitigating sites that are too focused on creating content for search engines first. 

How do you know if your site focuses on creating content for search engines first? According to Google, if these questions apply to your content, you might want to re-evaluate your content strategy:

How Google’s helpful content update works

Any content that appears on sites that have been deemed overall to have large quantities of unhelpful content will not perform well in the search engine results page (SERPs). However, this is only the case if there is more helpful content elsewhere to display instead.

Now you may be asking yourself; if unhelpful content is removed from my site, how long will it take to rank well again? In short – this could take a couple of months. Google’s classifier for this update is continuously running, monitoring newly-launched and existing sites. If it is determined that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.

Note: Google’s classifier process uses a machine learning model, making it entirely automated.

It’s important to remember that due to the update using automated ranking signals, some people-first content on sites classified as having unhelpful content could still rank well. This is because there could be other signals that deem your people-first content as being relevant to the searcher’s query.

The ranking signals used by Google are also weighted. As a result, if a site has a lot of unhelpful content, they may notice a stronger effect of the update. 

In upcoming months, Google will refine and improve how the classifier determines unhelpful content, further rewarding the efforts of people-first content.

What should I do if Google’s helpful content update impacts me?

If the update impacts you, we recommend that you take a look at our content audit strategy – we will help to identify any pages with unhelpful content on your site and rectify it as soon as possible. 

Remember: If your content is primarily built for search engines, it’s likely that you will see a drastic decline in search traffic.

If you want to ensure that your future content is people-first, make sure that you focus on keyword research. Take a look at related searches and people also ask in the SERPs in relation to the keyword to understand what content searchers want to see.

Get in touch

We are content marketing experts – if you are concerned about what this update means for your site, get in touch! Content marketing can help to:

→ Educate your potential customers and prospects about the products and services you offer

→ Convert more one-off purchasers into loyal customers

→ Connect with your audience to show them how your products and services solve their challenges

→ Create a sense of brand community

→ Increase conversions

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