The Helpful Content Update was a pivotal change introduced by Google that is poised to redefine what ranks and what tanks in terms of online content. It wasn’t just another tweak in Google’s complex algorithm, but instead a call for authenticity and user-centric content. But what does this all mean for your business, and why should you pay attention?
We know that Google likes to keep us on our toes and second-guessing what comes next, but for now, the Helpful Content Update provides some clear guidelines on what not to do and what you should do when creating content for your site.
As we’ve talked about previously in how to recover and thrive from the update, below we’ll focus on the main parts you need to know and what to do next. Of course, as an award-winning digital marketing agency, we are always ready to help businesses make the most of their marketing efforts, and creating helpful content is just one of the many aspects you’ll need to focus on to be successful.
Originally unveiled by Google in August 2022, the Helpful Content Update represents a significant shift in how Google evaluates and ranks web content. At its core, this update is an effort by Google to prioritise content that provides a satisfying experience for its users, essentially rewarding content that is helpful, informative, and provides a clear purpose for readers.
The update aims to reduce the visibility of content that seems to have been primarily created just for ranking well in search engines rather than to inform or help users. Since its first introduction, there have been 2 further updates with the most recent in September 2023, and it’s sure not to be the last as it is continuously fine-tuned.
This algorithmic change is not a standalone update but part of a broader push towards enhancing user experience. It’s designed to identify content that has a high degree of ‘people-first’ quality, which means content that adds unique value, demonstrates expertise, and directly addresses the needs and queries of users.
As well as that, it penalises ‘search-engine-first’ content – articles and pages that are overly optimised for search engines with excessive use of keywords, clickbait headlines, or content that provides little to no original information or insight. In Google’s eyes, anything that is trying to manipulate its way up the SERPs will be noticed much more than ever, ensuring the best content rises to the top. This has always been their aim, but now the technology is much more sophisticated than years ago, making identifying truly helpful content much easier.
The Helpful Content Update is significant because it reinforces Google’s longstanding emphasis on the quality of content. It sends a clear message to website owners and content creators that the key to ranking well in search results is to focus on producing content that genuinely serves the interests and needs of your audience.
Quite simply, the Helpful Content Update has far-reaching implications for business owners and digital marketers who ignore the guidance and carry on as before. As it underscores a fundamental shift in Google’s approach to ranking content, it places a premium on genuinely useful and engaging content, meaning if you don’t offer this and adapt, it can impact your success overall.
Here’s why this is crucial for businesses:
The way your content is crafted now plays a more significant role than ever in determining your website’s visibility in search results. With Google’s heightened focus on user-centric, people-first content, it means that those who are offering genuinely helpful information are more likely to rank higher. With higher ranking in the SERPS comes increased organic traffic, better engagement rates, and ultimately, higher conversion rates – but you’ll need helpful content to get there first, not spammy, unhelpful ones.
We all know that consumers are bombarded with information these days, so it’s no surprise that trust is a valuable currency in the digital world. By aligning with Google’s emphasis on high-quality, helpful content, your business can build a stronger reputation as a trustworthy source of information and even be a thought-leader. This not only assists in your SEO efforts but also fosters customer loyalty and brand credibility which is only a good thing.
The update encourages businesses to adopt a long-term perspective on their SEO strategies. Instead of chasing quick wins through keyword stuffing or manipulative tactics, there’s a clear incentive to invest in creating valuable content that the audience generally wants to see and read. This approach is more sustainable and can yield benefits well beyond SEO.
You can look at the Google Helpful Content Update as a call to action for businesses to re-evaluate and refine their content strategies. In the same way you would implement CTAs to encourage your customers to make certain decisions, Google provides clear guidance and tips on what to do next.
It’s about embracing a quality-over-quantity mindset and focusing on creating content that genuinely addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. In doing so, businesses can align themselves with Google’s vision of a more user-friendly internet, and benefit from doing so.
Adapting to Google’s Helpful Content Update requires a strategic shift in how you approach content creation. Here are some key steps to ensure your content aligns with this update:
Develop content that genuinely addresses your audience’s needs. Make sure your content provides value and answers the specific queries of your users. What are their questions, pain points, and interests? Does your current content provide this? If not, look to provide in-depth, valuable insights based on first-hand knowledge or experience.
Shift your emphasis from search engine algorithms to user experience. While SEO is important, the primary goal of your content should be to engage and inform your readers.
Showcase your knowledge and credibility in your field. Utilise data, expert opinions, and thorough explanations to establish authority in your content.
Quality should be at the forefront of your content strategy. This means well-researched, well-written, and original content that offers a unique perspective or information not readily available elsewhere.
Regularly review and update your content to ensure it remains relevant and high-quality, aligning with the latest best practices and Google’s evolving guidelines.
By adopting these practices, you’re not just aligning with Google’s Helpful Content Update, but also investing in a content strategy that is sustainable, audience-focused, and primed for long-term success.
If it wasn’t already clear, businesses must refine their approach to digital content creation. Here are some best practices that can help ensure your content not only complies with the updated helpful content guidelines but thrives:
Embrace a User-Centric Approach – Shift your focus to creating content that genuinely benefits your audience. Think about what your users want to know, how they seek information, and how your content can solve their problems or answer their questions.
Enhance Readability and Engagement – Make your content easy to read and engaging. User experience (UX) is important, so use clear headings, short paragraphs, and a conversational tone where possible. Including relevant images, infographics, and videos can also enhance UX.
Integrate E-E-A-T Principles – Google values content that demonstrates experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Highlight your credentials, cite reputable sources, and ensure your content is factually accurate and up-to-date.
Regularly Update Your Content – Regularly review and update your content to keep it relevant and accurate, which Google favours. Is there more to add to a subject you’ve covered before? See how you can add value to an older piece of content rather than remove it.
Diversify Content Formats – Don’t limit yourself to text-based content. Explore various formats like videos, podcasts, webinars, and interactive content to cater to different preferences and enhance engagement.
Monitor Performance and Gather Insights – Use analytics tools to monitor how your content is performing. Look at metrics like page views, time on page, and bounce rate to understand what resonates with your audience and what needs improvement.
Embracing the ethos of Google’s Helpful Content Update is pivotal if you want to thrive on the search engine giant’s platform. If your business can prioritise user-centric, valuable, and trustworthy content, you’ll not only align with Google’s guidelines but also forge a deeper connection with your audience, fostering long-term digital success and credibility.
If you are looking for further help and guidance and a strategy moving forward that will help improve your content output, reach out and speak to the team at Absolute today. We can discuss your current concerns and business goals and develop an approach that will help you thrive even in the face of continuous updates from Google.
For more insights, please visit our blog, where you can discover what customers really want from brands, as well as 4 key factors that influence your website’s conversion rate.