Google’s new helpful content update specifically targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than help or inform people. The purpose of the update is to help searchers find “high-quality content” and reward better and more useful content that was written for humans and to help actual searchers.
Google has found that searchers are getting frustrated when they land on unhelpful webpages that rank well in search because they were designed to rank well. We’re looking at you, recipe pages that tell your whole life story before getting to the actual recipe.
But what is “helpful content”?
According to Google, helpful content is created for a specific audience, features expertise, is trustworthy and credible, and meets the wants or needs of the searcher.
Google has stated that the types of content that will be affected the most will be online education materials, arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.
According to Google, “If you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously encountered articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere on the web. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.”
Unlike many Google algorithms that get applied on a page-by-page basis, this new helpful content update will be sitewide.
That means that if Google determines your site is producing a relatively high amount of unhelpful content, primarily written for ranking in search, then your whole site will be impacted.
This will not just impact individual pages or sections of your site, but rather, it will impact the whole site.
Google won’t say exactly what percentage of the pages on your site need to be helpful versus unhelpful to trigger this classifier but they did say it is sitewide and will impact the whole site, even if you have many pages that are helpful.
Again, if you have helpful pages but a relatively high amount of your content is unhelpful, even your helpful content or sections of your site will be hit by this update.
Google said “removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”
How to build “helpful content”
Google, like with previous updates, like the Panda update, core updates, and product reviews update, has provided a list of questions you can ask yourself about your content, in order to build content that is rewarded by the helpful content update.
Google shared these questions about building human-first content:
- 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 our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
And when it comes to avoiding search-engine first content, Google laid out these questions:
- 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 to trend 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? (No, we 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?
This update might mean that you need to take a whole new approach when it comes to your content or SEO strategy. If you have any questions about the changes you need to make, feel free to reach out to us and schedule a free consultation.