Google’s mission has always been to connect people with relevant, informative content. To further this goal, the company is rolling out a “helpful content update” aimed at rewarding original, people-first content in search results. This update, which started rolling out in August 2022, will affect English-language searches worldwide.
If you’re a content creator, it’s important to understand how this update will affect your website and what you can do to ensure that your content performs well. Here are the key takeaways:
Focus on People-First Content Google’s helpful content update rewards content that provides a satisfying experience for visitors. To ensure that your content meets these criteria, focus on creating content for people, not search engines. People-first content creators prioritize creating high-quality content that provides value to their intended audience while also utilizing SEO best practices to make it easier for searchers to find their content.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether your content is people-first:
- Do you have an intended audience for your content, and is the content useful for them?
- Does your content demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge on the topic?
- Does your website have a primary focus or purpose?
- Will someone leave your website feeling like they’ve learned something valuable or had a satisfying experience?
- Are you following Google’s guidelines for core updates and product reviews?
Avoid Creating Content for Search Engines First While SEO is an important activity, content that’s created primarily to attract traffic from search engines won’t perform as well under the helpful content update. If you’re primarily creating content to attract search traffic, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is your content primarily created to attract search traffic?
- Are you producing lots of content on different topics with the hope that some of it will perform well in search results?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding value?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search for better information elsewhere?
- Did you enter a niche topic without real expertise to attract search traffic?
Understand How the Update Works The helpful content update will start rolling out next week and will be fully rolled out within two weeks. Google will post on their Google ranking updates page when the update begins and when it’s fully rolled out.
The update introduces a new site-wide signal that considers many signals for ranking web pages. Sites with little or low-added value content that’s not helpful to searchers will perform less well in search results. However, if there’s people-first content on a site, that content could still rank well if it’s helpful and relevant to a query.
If your site is identified as having unhelpful content, the signal could be applied to your site over a period of months. The signal is weighted, so sites with more unhelpful content may notice a stronger effect. As Google’s classifier determines that unhelpful content has not returned in the long term, the classification will no longer apply.
Continuously Adapt Your Content Strategy Google’s helpful content update is just one of the many signals that the company uses to rank content. As such, you should continuously adapt your content strategy to ensure that your content is meeting the needs of your audience and aligning with Google’s best practices. Keep in mind that removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.
Content creators should prioritize people-first content and ensure that their content aligns with Google’s guidelines. By doing so, creators can improve the performance of their content and connect with their target audience.