Google has recently released the “Helpful Content Update,” which could be as impactful as the Panda update in 2011. This update could be a complete game-changer for content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
This update has sent businesses scrambling to ensure their content meets these new guidelines and best practices. The new sitewide ranking signal targets websites with a large amount of unhelpful content and is Google’s latest push to ensure content isn’t being written for search engines and is focused on user experience for the intended search query.
Google has confirmed that the “helpful content update” has now finished rolling out. The update took about two weeks to finish, starting on August 25, 2022, and ending on September 9, 2022.
The various components that Google has looked at in the past include content length, topical relevance, the authority of the person or organization writing the content, type and number of images, inbound and outbound links to that content, SEO optimizations for that page, and many other factors. This update appears to add additional elements to be determined by the machine learning algorithm.
Google has suggested that these content types would be on the list for their initial focus in this new update.
- Online educational materials
- Arts and Entertainment
Unlike many Google algorithms that get applied page-by-page, this new helpful content update will be sitewide. This algorithm will most likely target aggregator sites that take information from other sites and recycle it on their site.
We anticipate that sites that cover a broad range of topics without focusing on specific areas of expertise will get targeted to lose their previous Google search ranking. We encourage educated business leaders to critically analyze their website copy for necessary improvements.
Here at V Digital Services, we work closely with our clients through necessary updates and changes. If you already work with us, then you are in good hands. Most of our clients focus on the industry they are within, and the content we produce for those websites is targeted to that industry, so we don’t expect any significant issues.
This update should be an extension of the EAT update (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). E-A-T is one of many guidelines Google uses to determine whether the content is valuable to readers and whether it should rank well.
Over the past two years, user satisfaction with results delivered for a Google search has diminished. This update could address some of the following issues to varying degrees.
- Many articles are just reworked versions of a better article previously created by someone else.
- Google search pages that are filled with “clickbait” content.
- Way too many content pieces trying to sell you something.
- Results for a search query have the answer buried behind a wall of text halfway down the page.
- Listicles (lists) that make a reader click “Next” after every sentence or slide.
- Old articles appear on top because the owner changes the date to make them look like fresh content.
- Content creators and SEOs are gaming the system to rank higher in the SERPs even though the content is inferior.
Only 20% of industry professionals have seen any impact from this update since September 4, 2022.
The Content Google Wants to See is Labeled as “Human-First Content.”
Google provided these questions for you to review your content selections.
- Does your content address the needs of your existing clients or potential customers?
- Does your content demonstrate a high level of expertise and knowledge on the subject?
- Is this content consistent with the theme of your website?
- After reading your content, will someone feel they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Does the content keep in mind Google’s core updates and product reviews?
Questions Google Has to See if Your Content is Directed to Search Engines Rather Than People.
- Is the content designed to rank on Google rather than made for human use?
- Are you creating a lot of content on different topics in the hope of ranking some of them on Google?
- Is your content being generated through automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you just rewording what other content has already said without adding much value?
- Is your motivation to write about a particular topic simply because it’s trending or is it intended for your existing audience?
- Does your content answer the query of the search or does the reader have to try again to get the answer they seek.
- Are you trying to hit a particular word count rather than just covering the topic thoroughly?
- Did you decide to write about a niche topic area without real expertise?
- Does your content promise to answer a question that has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
Google is Using Machine Learning to Identify Unhelpful Content
The new machine learning algorithm should improve over time between the automated machine learning improvements of the engineers tweaking it. Google said the helpful content update looks at various signals on the page and site to determine a page’s ranking. The exact components Google will look at will have to be evaluated by SEOs over time.
Our current content process ensures that we do competitive research on other websites across the internet to develop an understanding of what content is ranking well and if it is of the highest quality. We also complete research to see what users are searching for, which goes along with this content update because the content we are producing is helping to answer their (the user’s) questions.
We also ensure that our team produces content for our clients that engages, informs, and is genuine. We have always paid attention to Google’s EAT algorithm (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). Hence, nothing has changed regarding the new “Helpful Content Update” because we have always focused on writing meaningful and descriptive content.
In a nutshell, our content is helpful but at the same time optimized for SEO which is different from writing only SEO-rich content.
Google’s recent algorithm update, Human First Content, is a continuation of many past algorithm updates and won’t be the last. We expect future updates to take place in regard to content. V Digital Services strives to understand all Google updates and react appropriately to all client’s SEO strategies as needed.
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