August 22, 2022, Google released the Helpful Content Update. This broad core update aims to reduce its sharing of content that is made for search engines and not with users in mind. Google’s plan is to stop showing pages that pull content from other sources without providing some unique value or insights.
This is a site wide update. If you have a poor score on a few pages, you may see it negatively impact your entire site. It is therefore important that your site offers high value, helpful content.
What does Google consider to be helpful content?
For those who are wondering if their content will be impacted, Google has offered some insights on how it defines “helpful” or “user first content”. According to their site, answering yes to the following questions means that you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:
- 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?
- 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)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind Google’s core principles for content?
Remember that Google values content that helps the reader. They want articles and information that come from people with expertise, from people who are authorities in their industry, and individuals who are trustworthy.
They value content that improves people’s lives. It is important to Google that websites positively impact reader’s health and happiness. They should never cause harm or cost a person financially. If you write content with these things in mind, you should not be impacted by the Helpful Content Update.
What type of content should you avoid if you want your site to continue to be found by Google?
Just as Google is clear about what they want in quality content, they are just as specific about what they won’t tolerate from webpages.
Again, they don’t want content that is written for search engines. They want content that is written with people in mind. This means that answering yes to some or all of the following questions is a warning sign that you should re-evaluate your content:
- Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
- Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- 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? (They state that they don’t).
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
- 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?
How do you avoid being impacted by the latest Google core update?
The best way to avoid seeing a decrease in traffic from the Helpful Content Update is to continue to produce the quality content that your ideal client is looking for.
Do not just cut and paste other people’s content. Citing other websites shows that you have done your research, but make sure that you are sharing your opinion or expertise on what you are sharing.
Do not create content just because it is a topic that everyone is talking about, unless it actually relates to your topic. Google doesn’t want you to jump on a popular keyword that has no relevance to your ideal client just for the sake of attracting traffic. Make sure that your keywords and articles are related to your niche (Google Search Console can be a great help for this).
What do you do if your site is negatively impacted by the Helpful Content Update?
Once again, you should always be providing content that has unique information or a unique perspective that can truly help your reader. If you have a few pages (or your entire site) that were not built with this in mind, Google will score your site poorly and no longer show your pages as highly in search queries.
This is a site wide update, so a poor score will harm all of your pages not just the few that may be guilty of having poor content. The more unhelpful content that you have, the more likely your ranking score will go down.
The best way to fix this is to remove your unhelpful content. It may take you months to recover from this update if you are impacted but remember that SEO is a long game.
How do you avoid losing traffic to Google core updates?
I cannot say this enough, Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process. Google is constantly updating and tweaking their algorithms. You should therefore be constantly adding to and tweaking your content.
Content that was relevant and fabulous five years ago, may no longer have relevance today. It is vital to do a regular content review. It allows you to remove non-performing content, or update content that has become dated.
When you are creating new content, make sure that it is optimized for SEO. Do you have one keyword in mind to rank for? Have you used that keyword properly throughout your page? Are you linking to quality sites? Do you have quality backlinks?
Having a solid search engine optimization strategy will keep your site safe from Google updates and continue to help you to attract your ideal audience.
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