Explaining the Google Helpful Content Update

January 2, 2023

Google helpful content update

Google announced a change to its search engine algorithm that will affect how websites are ranked. This change, called the “helpful content update,” is designed to reward websites that provide high-quality content to their users. So what does this mean for business owners?

In this blog post, we will discuss the main takeaways from the Google helpful content update and how it affects SEO strategy.

What Does The Helpful Content Update Mean

Google has one main product it relies upon to fund its entire business: the search engine. The company initially revolutionized the search engine and now millions of people use it every day to find solutions to queries about all kinds of topics.

The Helpful Content Update is part of Google’s efforts to improve the quality of results that its users receive. The update is designed to reward websites with high-quality content and penalize those with thin or low-quality content. If your website has a lot of helpful and informative articles, Google will rank it higher than other sites with less detailed information.

The reason the update was created is to thwart the efforts of some SEO specialists in creating content that is search-engine first instead of people-first. Sites focused on the technical aspects of SEO to trick Google’s algorithm will now be met with stiffer penalties and have a harder time ranking.

Details Of the Helpful Content Update

Google officially rolled out the Helpful Content Update on August 25, 2022, and all changes were completed within two weeks of the initial rollout.

What makes this update more powerful is the effect it has on an entire site. Instead of penalizing individual pages, the new algorithm takes into account the overall quality of content on an entire website. The update looks for websites that provide helpful, informative content and rewards them with higher rankings.

Google also analyzes how often a website is updated with new content to determine if it is actively providing up-to-date information. Websites that are regularly updated will rank higher than those that are not.

While Google has not created the update to focus on any particular type of content, historically, there are areas that will be more affected than others.

These include:

  • Shopping websites
  • Tech websites
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Online educational content

If your site falls into any of the above categories, it is especially important to make sure that the content you are providing is up-to-date and satisfying to visitors.

What Your Website Needs To Do

The idea of helpful content is rather vague when accepted at face value. Deciding what is considered helpful content and what is considered unhelpful content often lies with the creator.

Luckily, Google has put out its own set of guidelines and parameters you can use when developing content for your website, and below is a breakdown of the main points.

Canned Content

Canned content is content that is either copied and pasted from another website or distributed to multiple websites. Google will now be able to recognize this type of content and rank it lower than high-quality, original content.

To re-emphasize, Google is trying to rank webpages that are original and unique to satisfy the searcher’s intent. If there is content that can be found on multiple sites, there is no reason for Google to reward it with a higher ranking.

This type of content can also be considered duplicate content and websites found in violation will receive lower rankings and incur a penalty in worst-case scenarios.

Writing People-First Content

The idea of writing content for people instead of search engines isn’t anything new to Google. The company has been promoting this type of content for years in its general guidelines.

Having a people-first approach to creating your content shines the spotlight on the reader. It puts the focus on what people are looking for when they search your site. When writing content, make sure the reader can easily find what they need and the content is presented in an easy-to-understand manner.

Here is a paragraph example about dog leashes that is written specifically for search engines instead of people:

“If you need a dog leash for your pup there are plenty of dog leashes you can find like retractable dog leashes, adjustable dog leashes, chain dog leashes, and harness lead dog leashes.”

The paragraph is stuffed with the keyword “dog leashes” in an attempt to trick the Google algorithm and rank higher. Articles written in this style will suffer penalties under the new update and will be considered low-quality by Google’s standards.

Content Pruning

Sites that use content marketing as a strategy will often accrue hundreds of articles over the period of several years. Although necessary to scale for SEO, this can create a problem of low-quality content.

Content pruning is a process where you audit your existing content and remove any pages with low engagement metrics that are no longer up-to-date. This will help Google understand and decipher which pages have the most helpful content for searchers.

The major downside of content pruning is that if it’s done prematurely, pages that had the potential to rank won’t be able to reach their full potential. Make sure if you use content pruning that the pages you remove have low-quality content and are negatively affecting your overall site.

A Movement For Helpful Content

Helpful content is not just a focus of Google but other companies are starting to prioritize helpful content as well. Competing search engines have started to follow suit and adjust their own algorithms to promote helpful content.

Meta, formerly Facebook, has also released its own version of the helpful content update to reduce misinformation and help users find the information they can use and trust.

This idea of helpful content is quickly becoming a global trend in search engine optimization as well as other social media platforms. It’s clear companies believe that higher quality content can help keep users on their platform longer.

Following Google’s Helpful Content Update

To keep your website ranking high in search engines, you’ll need to follow the guidelines outlined by Google’s Helpful Content Update. High-quality articles that are unique and original will be promoted over those that are written specifically for search engines. As long as you keep a people-first approach when writing content, you should have no problem satisfying visitors and keeping your rankings high.

Amazing SEO is a results-driven digital marketing agency that helps businesses of all sizes generate more business.


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