In August 2022, Google rolled out its Helpful Content Update. This algorithm update is designed to value website content based on its relevance and helpfulness to users.
The update is sitewide, affecting all domain sections, not just individual pages or pieces of content. As a result, brands and businesses are highly encouraged to optimize their content development strategies to ensure their pages continue to rank highly on SERPs.
What Is the Helpful Content Update?
According to Ahref, less than 10% of published content receives significant traffic from search engines, while the rest receives little to none at all. According to this case study, one of the major reasons for this disproportion is the mismatch between search intent and search results—in other words, there are few site owners creating helpful content.
Before the update, Google was flooded with “Search Engine-first” content, that is purposefully written for search engines rather than provide useful, easy-to-read, and relevant content that visitors would actually benefit from. Such SEO tactics diminish the viewer’s experience and defeat the purpose of SEO.
In response to this growing concern, Google revamped its algorithm to favor “People-first” content. This game-changing update aims to incentivize brands and creators that put effort into their web content where visitors can gain actual value from them rather than being unoriginal and redundant.
Conversely, the Helpful Content Update will penalize websites with large volumes of poorly written, unhelpful content that will add little to no value to users. These websites will have a hard time ranking at the top if their content strategy is left neglected.
How Will Search Engines Detect Low-Quality Content?
Since the update is fully automated using a machine-learning model. Some people-first content on sites with thin or unhelpful content may still rank, assuming there are indicators that the content is genuinely beneficial.
The ranking signal is weighted, so sites with considerable unhelpful content may feel a stronger effect lasting several months. The signal will also run continuously, so Google advises brands and businesses to remove all unhelpful content and put effort into their web content development.
How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Helpful Content Update
In order to achieve your content digital marketing goals with this new update, your site must produce informative and accurate content that provides value to users. Here are some tips on how to create quality content:
1. Streamline your content
Focus on a topic or theme and produce content that falls within that. For example, if your website is about travel, all your material should be travel-related. It doesn’t serve your users to fuse travel with politics or fashion.
When you stick to one theme, reaching your intended audience will be effortless; they want what you offer, so they will likely engage with what you produce. It will also be easier for users to discover your website and find what they need from your pages.
Consistent content allows Google’s algorithm to understand your website’s purpose quickly. When your focus is razor-sharp, the algorithms will match it with relevant queries, helping you achieve higher SERP rankings.
2. Display in-depth knowledge through first-hand experience
Unfortunately, many businesses create content or articles about products or services they haven’t tried themselves.
While this strategy can generate leads or even meet short-term sales goals, the content won’t be as helpful in the long run.
To make your content valuable, try to provide original insights from your experience. Showcase a high-level amount of expertise and be authentic about it. Such material becomes even more valuable if businesses complement their content with original visuals and data.
3. Adequately answer user queries
To provide genuine help, you must understand what users are looking for. Involve keyword research to find out terms and phrases people use to search for information related to your niche. Once you have a better sense of what your target readers are looking for, you can write material that satisfies their searches.
Always keep your users in mind and think about how they will benefit from your site in the first place. Your goal is for them to leave your page feeling fulfilled and trusting your brand authority.
4. Stay in your lane
SEO sometimes encourages content creators to veer off into new territory to attract new readers or target different keywords. However, this isn’t valuable for users looking for specific information from a trusted source.
The Helpful Content Update reminds you to stick to your niche or area of expertise. Release only content that’s useful to your target audience. Concentrate on providing in-depth information your users won’t easily find anywhere else.
Doing this will help build trust and credibility with your audience and show Google that your content is relevant and authoritative, leading to better SERP rankings.
5. Steer clear of non-factual claims
Only put out materials that are accurate and factual. Always supplement your content with evidence and reliable data and avoid click-bait.
Producing content with unverified details will not only hurt your SEO and content marketing goals but also your branding as a whole. Do not run the risk of losing credibility with your audience in exchange for short-term gains.
6. Update your content regularly
Keeping your content fresh means users get relevant and up-to-date information. Make time to revise outdated content on your site. Remove anything that’s no longer relevant and add new material regularly to show that your site is active.
Post at least weekly if you have a blog or news section on your site to help improve user engagement and satisfaction and your SERP ranking.
7. Consider information gain scores
Google’s information gain scores are based on the additional data a site provides versus other sites from a similar industry or niche. In short, these differentiate your content development strategy from your competitors.
Gain scores increase when you present new and unique information users can’t find easily elsewhere. The higher your score, the better you rank on SERPs since you’re deemed more helpful to users.
Think of this metric when generating content for your site and focus on creating pieces that offer your readers something new and valuable each time.
One way to do this is to be the first to cover an industry update or market trend. You could also offer in-depth analyses or expert reviews and tips about products or services related to your niche. Or include original data like statistics, surveys, or case studies based on observations and experiences.
8. Produce “transparent” content
Avoid clickbaity content or anything that can mislead users. Catchy headlines are great for getting users to click on your page. It helps your material stand out from your competition and encourages reader engagement. But ensure your content consistently delivers on the promise of your headlines. If it’s unhelpful to users, it can affect your ranking.
9. Cultivate comprehensive posts
When ranking sites on SERPs, Google examines how long users spend browsing web pages or reading your content. If people spend more time on your site, it must be because they find your material helpful and informative.
Ensure your content covers everything related to your topic to encourage users to stick around. Your posts must be precisely what your target audience wants to read. Your material must satisfy users instead of making them feel they must turn to other sites for additional information.
10. Nurture an enjoyable browsing experience
Users should have a positive experience reading or scanning through your site. Your content should be easy to read, well-organized, and attractive. Consider enhancing your material with images and improving your web design to make your site ergonomic and pleasing to the eyes.
If you want people to keep coming back, make visiting your site a habit. Produce pleasant and easily consumable content, and make sure it stands out content and design-wise.
Creating High Quality Content Helps Not Only Your Audience But Also Your Brand
Google’s latest Helpful Content Update is all about improving the user experience by encouraging creators to produce high quality content
Ensure your content meets these standards by improving your content strategy that puts your audience first. Optimizing your blog post with relevant links and valuable content will help your build brand authority and increase your organic search traffic over time.
Search Leads can help you develop helpful, keyword-rich content aligned with the latest Google updates. We provide holistic SEO content strategies that have content quality and user experience in mind.