Google’s algorithm updates are always mysterious.
You know when they roll out and when they wrap up, but what you don’t know is… what they do.
That wasn’t the case with one of Google’s recent updates: The Helpful Content Update.
In a very unGoogle-like fashion, the company posted an entire page about the update. It explained which factors the update looked at and how creators can write better content for its search engine.
You can read all about it here (or just keep reading this blog post about it, which in our humble opinion, is far more interesting).
Why does this update matter? Because Google controls 90% of the global search engine market. If you have a website, you can bet the vast majority of your customers will find it through Google.
So, we’ve put together this helpful guide to help you understand Google’s helpful content update.
Too much? Okay, we’ll stop.
But here’s the guide:
What Is the Google Helpful Content Update?
As the name suggests, this update is all about serving people-first content. Content that is written by real people to satisfy search intent–not just to rank well in search engines. The focus is on informative, researched, and helpful content.
First and foremost, Google is a search engine. It wants to promote content that best satisfies search intent, and this update is part of those efforts.
Let’s unpack that a bit more:
Imagine you’re searching for the answer to a random question, like, “Should I invest in SEO for my website?”
(We think the answer is yes, but we’re biased.)
You type your query into Google and click on the result.
If the content you find is stuffed full of keywords, clearly written by a robot, and doesn’t even answer your question, it won’t be a satisfying search experience. You’ll walk away with more questions than you have answers.
This is precisely the kind of content that Google wants to demote.
Essentially, this update adds a new ranking signal: Helpful content. Google’s algorithm classifies content based on how relevant and helpful it is to a search query. The new update aims to:
- Identify content that is valuable and helpful in search results, and promote it
- Demote content that’s written solely for search engines
- Create a more satisfying search experience for users
How To Write People-First Content
Google has said it time and time again: Make content for users, not for search engines!
So, how do you write content that meets Google’s guidelines?
Each time you sit down with a blank page, start by asking the following:
- Does this content (or your website) have a primary focus?
- Will this content leave the reader feeling satisfied and like they got the answer they were looking for?
- Who is the intended audience for this content? How can you tailor it to them?
- Does your content include first-hand experience or valuable knowledge about the topic? Have you used the product, tried the service, researched the subject, or visited the location?
Have you answered “no” to any of the above? If so, your content needs some tweaking–it might be best to remove outdated content altogether and start from scratch.
And if your rankings drop, it might not be from a single page. If Google finds unhelpful content throughout your website, your rankings might drop across the board!
Whenever possible, try to offer unique value in your content. Talk about your experiences in the industry you’re writing about. Find information that isn’t already included in the top results for that search query. And/or conduct original research! Send surveys to your customers and record your findings.
There are so many ways to change your content and get ahead of the game. But you have to start with the central question: What kind of content will benefit my readers the most? Put the person reading content first and search engines second.
When Did It Roll Out?
The update was released on August 25, 2022. And on September 9, 2022, Google announced that the helpful content update officially finished rolling out. It wrapped up about two weeks after it launched, which is the typical timeframe for most Google updates.
What Can You Expect?
That depends: How would you describe the quality of the content on your website?
Not sure how to do that? We don’t blame you. It’s a vague concept.
To evaluate your content, you need to know what separates valuable content from something lackluster. Here’s how:
The first thing to do is take a look at the content already posted on your website. You can evaluate how helpful it is by asking the following questions:
- How well does this content satisfy search intent? Would someone read this content and still feel like they don’t have the answer they’re looking for?
- Is the content written solely to rank in search engines? Or was it written with the reader in mind?
- Are you using automated tools to generate content? Or was it written by a real person?
- Are you trying to answer a question that doesn’t really have an answer?
These questions will help you put readers ahead of search engines when you’re writing content.
How We Respond to Updates
At First Rank, we look forward to algorithm updates! Our core values and methods are aligned with Google’s, and updates typically reward websites with high-quality content.
After an update, we monitor website rankings even more closely than usual. If we see any drops, we take a closer look at what might be causing them.
With this update, ranking drops might happen when websites have content that isn’t as valuable as other search results; the content may be outdated and need a refresh.
Have you noticed a drop in rankings since the update? Let us know. We’ll be happy to help you identify what’s causing it and how to fix it.
Interested in SEO?
At First Rank, we offer Canada SEO services that rank your website higher. Need help speeding up your website? Bidding on the best keywords for your Google Ads campaign? Writing high-quality content that satisfies search intent? We’ve got you.
Reach out to us, and we’ll take your website to the top of search results. We’ll write content for you that readers and search engines love. Contact First Rank today!