Marketing

Google’s Helpful Content Update Rolls Out: 8 Things To Know


Today, Google begins rolling out the helpful content algorithm update, which rewards people-first content and devalues content written for search engines.

On its official search rankings update page, Google confirms the release of the helpful content update on August 25

Last week, Google announced the update was on its way and suggested many ways to determine if your content qualifies as “people-first.”

In the spirit of today’s update, I will attempt to make Google’s advice even more helpful by providing additional context.

Here are seven things you need to know to ensure you’re creating people-first content based on guidance provided by Google.

1. Don’t Stray Too Far From Your Main Topic

“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?”

With this advice, Google may be trying to tell people to stick to their area of expertise.

Creating content for search engines can sometimes mean publishing articles outside your niche.

Let’s say you have a recipe website and see an opportunity to capitalize on a high-volume keyword related to skin care.

While the article may be helpful, an existing audience that comes to the site expecting recipes is unlikely to find it helpful.

In addition, Google suggests asking yourself the following related questions:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?

2. Do Demonstrate First-Hand Experience

“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)?”

With this advice, Google tells people not to write about something they haven’t personally experienced.

Creating content for search engines first can involve writing about products and services you haven’t used first-hand. These types of articles are usually accompanied by affiliate links that earn the author a commission.

Since the author has no experience with what they’re writing about, the content isn’t as helpful as it could be.

If you have experience with the product, service, or place you’re writing about, make it sufficiently clear with original photos or insights.

In addition, Google suggests asking yourself the following related question: Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?

3. Don’t Combine Multiple Topics Into One Site

“Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?”

With this line, Google is implying that websites should have a niche.

A website can’t be all things to all people.

Not only is that unhelpful to visitors, but it’s also confusing for search engines trying to understand the site.

Build your site around one subject area. You can always build multiple websites if you desire to create content about different topics.

In addition, Google suggests asking yourself the following related question: Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?

4. Do Provide Sufficient Answers To Searchers’ Questions

“After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?”

With this advice, Google says content is helpful when it teaches people something or helps them accomplish a task.

Creating content for search engines can often involve writing a lot without saying anything of value.

When writing content for people, you should help them answer a question or resolve a concern that led them to find your website in the first place.

In addition, Google suggests asking yourself the following related questions:

  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, it doesn’t)

5. Don’t Neglect The Overall Reader Experience

“Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?”

With this advice, Google reminds people to think about the overall experience of reading a piece of content.

It’s possible to meet all the above criteria and still not provide a satisfying experience.

Consider, for example, reading a product review with first-hand expertise that doesn’t include photos or videos.

While searchers may appreciate the textual content, a visual demonstration of the product would complete the experience.

Satisfy searchers’ wants and needs, don’t leave them looking for more.

6. Don’t Answer A Question That Has No Confirmed Answer

“Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?”

With this advice, Google is cautioning websites against making claims that aren’t factual.

Make it clear to the reader if you’re writing about something that’s rumored or inconclusive.

In addition to complying with the helpful content update, this is good advice for establishing and maintaining trust with your readers.

7. Do Follow Google’s Guidelines For Other Major Updates

“Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?”

With this advice, Google reminds you that guidance regarding core updates and the product review update also applies to the helpful content update.

If you’re already following Google’s advice for core updates and product review pages, chances are you’re well positioned to benefit from the helpful content update.

Final Notes

Google’s helpful content update is rolling out over the next two weeks. It’s best to wait until the update is complete to assess the impact.

The update affects English searches worldwide and will expand to other languages in the future.

This will not be the only helpful content update Google releases. Google explicitly states in its original announcement that it will continually refine its efforts to detect unhelpful content:

“Over the coming months, we will also continue refining how the classifier detects unhelpful content and launch further efforts to better reward people-first content.”

For more details, see the explainer we published with all known information about Google’s helpful content update.


Source: Google (1, 2)

Featured Image: Stefano Garau/Shutterstock



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