Google Helpful Content Update: Will it Affect Me?


In the words of Google itself, “Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. To this end, we're launching what we're calling the “helpful content update” that's part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

Writing for the user first

It has been recommended to write for the user first for years, ever since Google’s Panda update in 2011 which targeted poor quality and thin content sites. So why is Google’s helpful content update any different?

This time around, Google is looking at websites as a whole, not just individual pages. As the search engine gets smarter, companies must understand the importance of creating high-quality content that users want to read, site-wide. This means reducing the number of low-content pages that are included in your site’s navigation that are there simply to target specific keywords, for example, location-based pages.

Websites that simply create blog articles based on keywords that don’t offer any value will also be targeted by this update, despite whether it’s well-written or not. On the other hand, articles that demonstrate first-hand knowledge and experience, relate firmly to your business’s offering as a whole and truly leave the user feeling satisfied that they’ve learned something from your content are likely to perform better this time round.

What does Google mean by site-wide?

When Google says this update is looking at websites as a whole, it means it won’t be isolating helpful and unhelpful content anymore. Basically, if you have a website with lots of unhelpful content, then the really useful report you’ve just spent months working on won’t get the attention it deserves on the results page either.

To avoid this kind of situation, it’s essential you go back and review, amend or even remove some of your site’s content, especially those blogs from 2015 that you’ve probably completely forgotten existed!

Due to this update being a machine-learning process, not a manual job, there are suggestions that if your site is seen as helpful overall, then a single unhelpful piece of content won’t have detrimental affect on your rankings, but it’s always a good idea to do a full review regardless.

Should I still optimise my content from an SEO point-of-view?

Just because Google is promoting well-written, engaging, and high-quality content, it doesn’t mean that all other SEO tactics are being dismissed. Optimising your content is still an essential part of climbing the rankings and there’s plenty of ways to nudge your way to the top. By creating helpful content that’s also optimised with relevant meta information, contains web-friendly images, links cleanly to other pieces of useful content, and targets key phrases that you know a user will be searching for, you’ll just be adding a cherry to the top of the cake.

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