What Google’s Helpful Content Update Means for Your Website

By Nicholas Day

      Aug 26, 2022     Solutions    

If you use Google search to attract customers, there is news you need to know. Google has announced a new update, and it’s going to change the way they read and rank websites. Here’s what you need to know about Google’s “helpful content update” and how it will impact your business.

What Are Google Updates?

Google is always working to improve its algorithm so searchers find the best, most high-quality, and useful content available.  

Sometimes these updates are small and don’t create meaningful change in search rankings. But on occasion, Google releases a major update that can have a significant impact in how websites and webpages rank. Google’s helpful content update is expected to be one of these major updates.

What Is Google's Helpful Content Update?

Google’s helpful content update is an algorithm change designed to target and devalue “unhelpful content.” Google says the update is a “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.” It is an attempt to de-rank copy and content that has been written for search engines instead of humans.  

As part of the helpful content update:  

  • Google will identify content that has little value and classify it as unhelpful content.
  • Content on sites with relatively high amounts of unhelpful content will be less likely to perform well in search.
  • The signal will be site-wide, meaning both individual webpages and websites as a whole may lose ranking value if the site includes unhelpful content. (If you have helpful pages on your website but also have a relatively high amount of unhelpful content, even the helpful content or sections of your site may be hit by this update.)
  • The factors that determine if content is helpful will include new classifiers, a machine learning model, and factors already existing in Google ranking factors and Google general guidelines.

Google describes the update like this: “If you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously encountered articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere on the web. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.”

Related: Local SEO: How to Get Your Business To Show Up In Local Searches

When Will The Update Take Effect?

Google released the helpful content update on August 25, 2022. The update will roll out in phases and could take up to two weeks to be fully implemented across the internet.  

The update will only impact English searches at this time. It will begin to roll out to other languages in the future.

Related: My New Website Doesn't Show Up in Search. Why?

Why Does the Update Matter to Your Business?

While some Google updates don’t create meaningful change in search rankings, expert SEOs believe this change may create major shifts in rankings.  

This update may impact many websites and cause them to lose search rankings.   

If your website relies on organic search or is following a strategic website content marketing plan, you may need to shift your approach and make changes to match new Google guidelines.

What Should You Do About the Update?

Here are a few steps to take as Google rolls out the helpful content update.  

Keep an eye on your search rankings. Monitor your search rankings during the update and look for changes in your placement. Don’t be surprised if you see a shift in your search rankings.  

Identify unhelpful content on your website. Conduct an audit on your website, and identify what could be deemed unhelpful content. Google says the more you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, the more likely it is that you have produced unhelpful content:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you'd write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you've heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don't).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you'd get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there's a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn't confirmed?

Remove or update unhelpful content. If you determine that a page of content is unhelpful, decide if you should remove it or update it.  

  • If you remove it, set up a 301 redirect to point the old URL to a new, relevant page.
  • If you update it, improve the content to meet Google’s qualifications for helpful content.

Create more helpful content. To continue to show up in search, begin a content marketing plan to create more helpful content for your website. Google says the more you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, the more likely it is that you have produced helpful content:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they've learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they've had a satisfying experience?

To meet these standards, follow a plan for creating better, higher-quality content. Work with real experts, share unique knowledge, and write about relevant topics on your website. Prioritize creating valuable content for readers -- not just search engines.

Related: Everything Your Local Business Needs to Know About Keyword Research

Keep Up with Google Search Updates

This won’t be the last time Google makes changes to its search algorithm. If you want to rank on search engine results pages, you must make SEO a part of your ongoing strategy.

If you need help understanding this update or getting your website up to Google’s standards, MyArea Network is here to help. Talk to our team of search experts to find out how you can optimize your website to connect with more customers through search. Schedule your call with our team today.