In this article, we will explore the concept of the Google Helpful Content Update and provide valuable insights to ensure your website thrives after each update. Discover how it works, how it affects your website’s SEO, and most importantly, how to ensure your content continually meets Google’s evolving standards.
What is Google Helpful Content Update and What is its Purpose
Google Helpful Content Update is a system developed by Google to ensure users get the best possible website experience by providing them with more relevant and helpful search results. The system was first launched in 2022 and we’ve witnessed three updates since, the latest one (at the time of writing) in September 2023.
The primary reason Google rolls out these updates is to enhance the user experience by filtering out low-quality and irrelevant content, making it easier for users to find useful information. The update also encourages webmasters to focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that addresses the needs of their audience.
Ultimately, this system helps promote a healthier online ecosystem where users can trust the information they find on Google. With each new update, Google aids in organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful for all internet users.
How Google Helpful Content Works
As the developers at Google explain:
“The system generates a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for use in Google Search. The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value, or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people.”
Relying on a machine-learning model, the entirely automated process analyzes and classifies websites based on the helpfulness of the content. Sites with tons of unhelpful content won’t perform well in the SERPs, although specific articles from the same site that do provide value can still rank.
How Does Helpful Content Update Affect Websites’ SEO
Google Helpful Content Update is designed to work in the favor of the average internet user and it emphasizes the importance of people-first content. In essence, the system underscores the importance of focusing on your audience’s needs.
With this update, websites that do not adhere to Google’s guidelines might see a noticeable drop in their rankings. Conversely, those who prioritize helpful, high-quality content are likely to observe improved visibility in search results.
There are a few key principles the Helpful Content Update prioritizes:
- Quality Over Quantity: The update emphasizes the value of content, not its volume
- User Intent: The update is designed to better understand user queries and match them with the most appropriate content. Instead of focusing solely on keywords, the update considers the intent behind the search.
- E-E-A-T: An essential aspect of this update is E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). Websites that demonstrate these qualities tend to rank higher in search results.
- Originality: The update rewards original, unique content. This includes reports, research, analysis, and insights that are not available elsewhere.
- User Experience: The update takes into account how user-friendly a website is. Factors such as page loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and ease of navigation can impact rankings.
How the Google Helpful Content Update will affect your website’s SEO mostly depends on your ability to stick to these principles.
How to Make Sure Your Website Thrives After Each Helpful Content Update
To ensure your website not only survives but thrives after each Helpful Content Update, follow these key strategies:
Create Well-Researched Content That is Relevant For Your Audience
To keep up with the Google Helpful Content Update, you must provide thoughtful, well-researched material that caters to the needs of your target audience. In a recent report, Google confirmed that the more reliable and accurate your information, the better your ranking will be.
This means that the content on your site should go beyond superficial information and dig deep into the topics that matter most to your visitors.
To create relevant content:
- Understand your audience. Know who they are so you can create content that appeals to them. This would require studying demographics, buyer behaviors, and user feedback, among other things.
- Pick the right topics that will align with your website’s goals and the interests of your audience. Using keyword research tools could be immensely helpful here.
- Perform thorough research. Provide ample evidence to back your claims and ensure you stay updated with the latest information in your field.
- Engage your readers using an appealing style, format, or layout. Employing storytelling techniques, infographics, and videos can help make your content pop.
Use and Prominently Display Links to Authoritative Research Sites
Google’s algorithm favors content that references reliable and reputable sources, providing the reader with factual and evidence-based information. This not only increases the credibility and readability of your content but also demonstrates to Google that you are providing something genuinely valuable and reliable to your audience.
To do this:
- Reference only well-established, respected sources such as universities, research institutions, or acclaimed publications.
- Make sure your references are contextually relevant and support the claims or information you’re providing.
- Indicate clearly in your content that you’re linking to external websites (by including a bibliography/reference list, bracketing your relevant text with the linked source, or creating anchors).
Demonstrate First-Hand Expertise and Experience
Operating in a space where content is king, you must bring your ‘A’ game to get optimal results. For your website to thrive, create content that not only resonates with your audience but demonstrates your expertise and experience in the field. Speaking with authority in your writing implies that you have practical knowledge of what you are discussing, and Google appreciates this.
Here’s how to demonstrate experience through your content:
- Provide real-world examples. Practical examples bring theory to life and validate your advice. Don’t hesitate to speak from experience, draw case studies, or use anecdotes to illustrate your points.
- Embed original research. Conducting original research or surveys gives your content a strong and unique angle. It boosts credibility as it shows you’ve done your homework beyond just secondary research.
- Invite guest experts. Collaboration with acknowledged professionals in your field can add weight to your content. Sharing their knowledge and experiences with your audience can help boost confidence in your brand.
- Share your credentials. Don’t be shy about sharing your expertise—if you have relevant qualifications, awards, or recognitions in your field, let your audience know.
Have a Clear Content Strategy and Goal for Every Page
To align with Google’s Helpful Content Update, your website must have a clear content strategy.
The pages on your website should have a distinct purpose aligned with this strategy—a news page may aim to inform users about industry trends, while a product page would aim to persuade users to purchase a product or service.
To develop a comprehensive content strategy, you should:
- Define your goals. What do you hope to achieve with your content? This could be enhancing brand visibility, driving lead generation, or improving website traffic.
- Understand your audience. Leverage market research and analytics to gain insights into their preferences, behaviors, and needs. This will help you create content that resonates with them and fulfills their search intent.
- Conduct a competitive analysis to identify gaps in your competitors’ strategies that you could fill. What unique value can you provide?
- Consider SEO from the start. Identify the keywords your audience uses to search for your services and incorporate them into your content.
- Maintain a content calendar to keep track of what’s been published and what is upcoming to ensure consistency.
Audit and Refresh Old Content
That slightly out-of-date page you haven’t looked at in months—it can be reinvigorated with just a few minor tweaks. You may be sitting on a gold mine and not even realize it.
Google’s Helpful Content updates often reward those who make the effort to maintain and improve their existing content.
So, how can you audit and refresh your old content effectively? Let’s check the five key steps:
- Identify underperforming content. Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to find pages that aren’t getting as much traffic or engagement as they used to. These are prime candidates for a refresh.
- Review and analyze. Now, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Read the content critically, as if you’re encountering it for the first time. Is it still relevant? Is it comprehensive and up-to-date? If not, pinpoint what needs to change.
- Update for relevance. You’ll likely find some information that’s outdated or no longer relevant. Remove these sections and replace them with current, accurate content.
- Improve for SEO. As search engine algorithms evolve, your content must keep up. Update your SEO strategy by conducting new keyword research and incorporating it into the content. Remember to optimize your meta tags and headings too.
- Engage visually. If your old content is a wall of text, consider breaking it up with relevant images, infographics, or videos, which can increase engagement and accessibility.
Google Helpful Content Update Takeaways
What the Google Helpful Content Update teaches us is that by creating high-quality and helpful content, websites can improve their search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic. Continuously evaluating and adjusting content strategies to align with this update and meet the evolving needs of users is an absolute must.
With dedication and effort, businesses can leverage the Helpful Content Update to establish themselves as authoritative sources of information and ultimately drive growth and success.
Google Helpful Content FAQs
How often should I publish new content?
The frequency of publishing new content depends on your business type, audience demands, resources, and your capacity to produce high-quality content. Consistency is key, so aim for a schedule that you can sustain without compromising quality to maintain your website’s freshness and relevancy.
How often should I update my content?
Depending on your content’s nature, review and update your content at least once every six months, or as needed. This will ensure your information remains accurate, relevant, and trustworthy for the users.
When does Google roll out Helpful Content Update?
Google does not have a fixed schedule for rolling out its updates. However, they usually announce these changes well in advance to help webmasters prepare. Keeping an eye on Google’s official channels for any such announcement can help you stay ahead in the game.