Google consistently updates its algorithm to make the best content easier to find. Recently, Google announced it would be rolling out the “helpful content update” to target sites with high amounts of unhelpful and unsatisfying content written for search engines instead of humans.
Google began rolling out the helpful content update on August 25th and plans to have it completed in the next two weeks.
In addition to launching the update, Google also released some helpful tips to ensure your content is “people first.”
Let’s dig into the helpful content update and how to ensure your content is up to snuff.
What is the Google Helpful Content Update?
According to Google, the update targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.”
The update’s purpose is to make it easier for people to find high-quality content. Google also wants to reward more helpful content written for humans and helps people.
Content written for search engines has begun to frustrate internet searchers, as this content is typically unhelpful and unreadable. Google’s algorithm hopes to downgrade websites that focus on SEO-first content and upgrade websites that concentrate on people-first content.
Google stated that it’s an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.”
Google plans to post on this page when the update is fully rolled out.
What Types of Content Will Be Impacted?
Many marketers are curious about the types of content that the update will impact. While any content could be affected, Google stated that some content might be more impacted than others.
The content most likely to receive the most significant impact includes:
- Arts and entertainment content
- Shopping content
- Online educational materials
- Tech-related content
Google states that content in these niches has been historically written for search engines instead of humans. For example, if you’re looking up information about a movie you want to see, Google may have previously inundated you with content related to aggregated reviews. With the new update, you’ll get more search results with unique information, allowing you to find something you haven’t read before.
Related: What is SEO? A Beginner’s Guide
The Content Update is Sitewide
It’s also crucial to understand that the helpful content update is sitewide. While some Google algorithm updates only affect portions of a website, this update will affect your entire site.
If your site produces a relatively large amount of unhelpful content, your entire site will be impacted, not just an individual page or section.
Google doesn’t state the percentage of helpful vs. unhelpful pages you need, so your best bet is to remove any unhelpful content from your site to ensure it won’t be impacted.
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It May Take Months to Recover
You won’t be able to recover overnight if this update negatively impacts your site. Likely, it’ll take months for your site to recover. Google requires websites to prove themselves over time and consistently demonstrate that they no longer produce search engine-first content.
Likely, websites will need to go through a waiting or validation period before they start to recover.
Tips to Create People-First Content
Creating people-first content is the best way to ensure your website isn’t impacted by the helpful content update. Here’s how to develop people-first content.
1. Stay in Your Wheelhouse
Make sure your content focuses on your specific niche or industry, as Google may penalize sites that wander too far outside their niche.
Let’s say you run a food blog but see an opportunity to rank high for a skincare-related search term. Even if you create a helpful article, people who come to your site expecting recipes or restaurant reviews will find it unhelpful.
Therefore, it’s best to stay in your wheelhouse.
2. Demonstrate First-Hand Experience
Writing about things you’ve experienced first-hand can also be helpful. Often, people write reviews on products or services they haven’t used, overloading them with affiliate links and unhelpful advice.
If you have a service or product you have personal experience with, make it clear by including photos and helpful insights.
3. Avoid Combining Multiple Topics
Google may penalize websites that have content about unrelated topics. For example, it’s bad news if your website is partially about yoga and partially about online marketing.
Websites that contain unrelated topics are unhelpful to visitors and confuse search engines. Consider building multiple sites for each issue you want to focus on. Or eliminate content that doesn’t relate to the site’s main topic.
4. Provide Sufficient Answers to Questions
There’s nothing more frustrating than reading through an entire blog post and not finding the answer to the question you’re looking for.
Google’s update will penalize sites that pose specific questions but don’t answer them. Your content should leave people feeling like they don’t need to seek out alternative sources to have their questions answered.
And don’t make your content longer or take forever to answer a question because you think Google likes sites with higher word counts. This is not the case, so it’s best to get to the point.
5. Don’t Make Inaccurate Claims
Google’s helpful content update will also crack down on inaccuracy. Make it clear to readers if you’re writing about something inconclusive or rumored, and don’t make up answers to questions.
For example, if you’re writing about the release of a new TV season, don’t make up a premiere date. Instead, based on past release schedules, you can include speculative guesses regarding when you think the season will premier.
Time to Prepare for the Helpful Content Update
The above information should prepare your site for the Google helpful content update. It’s time to scour your site and eliminate or improve upon any content that Google may penalize.
Remember, it’s not world-ending if this update negatively impacts your site. You can always recover by continuously adding helpful content.
Contact Content Dog today to learn how we can help you weather the Google helpful content update!