What You Need to Know About Google’s Helpful Content Update

Google updates are nothing new, they come around frequently and occasionally stir things up in the world of SEO.

Google does an update every few months. The last one was in July, making changes to the way that product reviews were treated, with reviews that share in-depth research being classed as more important than others. Prior to that in May there was a core update that helped make search results more relevant for users.

When the updates focus heavily on content, then the SEO world really steps up to keep tabs on the changes. And that’s what is happening in the midst of this most recent announcement.

What is the Helpful Content Update?

The Helpful Content Update promises to rank content based on its usefulness. Google is set to penalise websites if they offer unhelpful content that doesn’t answer the search terms that people use, or that adds too much content that isn’t relevant to the topic.

In other words, this update is designed to help websites that have direct and concise content relating to their topic so that the user can get their answers as fast as possible. It aims to reward content that provides more original information and is dedicated to delivering results people want, not content that has been created for the search engine.

When did the Helpful Content Update roll out?

The Helpful Content Update began on August 25th 2022 and like most algorithm updates, it is expected to take around 2 weeks to complete.

What will happen to my website?

If you have taken any notice of what Google have been pushing as a requirement from websites for over 11 years now, since the Panda update of 2011, then you should be ok. Panda was introduced by Google to penalise sites that had poor quality content, excluding them from ranking.

Content written for people has been the key aim from Google since that update, so if you have been delivering that consistently your rankings may not drop at all. In fact, with clear, concise content that answers your users questions and keeps close to your niche you may find your rankings improve.

However, if you have been writing too much for search engines, keyword stuffing and hiding information in amongst too much irrelevant content, you may see your website rankings, traffic and revenue decline. Our recommendations are to check your rankings frequently or hire a dedicated SEO Agency to monitor your sites performance.

Desk with notes about SEO and glasses on it

What are the key takeaways from the Helpful Content Update?

As mentioned, people first content is the key to allow your pages to rank following this update. You need to ensure that your websites content solves the search intent of the user conducting the search, and solves it quickly.

The update affects whole sites, not just specific pages, and Google will be putting more emphasis on delivering results from highly relevant websites. Therefore, keep your entire site close to your main topic. What this means is; if you have a site dedicated to shoes, and suddenly create content about the most popular interior décor trends this season, Google may penalise the site for unhelpful content.

Your website should contain information about one topic. Sometimes this can be quite broad, for example fashion sites will cover a whole host of content about clothing and accessories. But try not to put categories that aren’t very well linked together. Instead break these into two sites; for example, if you have a site that sells baby items and smart home accessories, that really should be split into two websites to maintain relevancy for both topics.

You should also provide content that takes from personal experience and delivers an in-depth knowledge of what is being talked about. If you write about your own products, having used them and seen first hand how they help others’ then you’ll be fine. Ways Google will recognise this is if you are using original imagery, and talking about features of the product that can’t be found elsewhere.

Examples of “unhelpful” content include:

  • Anything that summarises what other sites say
  • Content designed to appease search engines
  • Automated content
  • Information about “trends” not related to your website
  • Information that means users have to navigate through other pages to understand the answer to their query
  • Content that answers a question when there isn’t a confirmed answer – for example posts and articles promising the reveal the release date of a new product or show which hasn’t been confirmed yet.

What can you do to help your website?

If your website is affected by these changes and you start to see drops in rankings, traffic and revenue, it’s a good idea to undertake a content audit. Ensure that each page on your site is linked to its main topic, that the content is informative and understandable, and that your user’s journey won’t be blocked or slowed by the content on each page.

You should remove any content that isn’t necessary for your topic, or re-write the content so it is more relevant and understandable. Also, moving forward you should invest in quality content marketing specialists, who will create informative content for you and your website users, not automated content from across the internet.

If you need any help with your SEO or content marketing strategy, get in touch with the BFI team today on 015395 64580 or email [email protected]. We’d be happy t