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

Google is rolling out a new algorithm update and it’s all about content. Google is now heavily vetting content to see if it’s genuinely helpful for humans. Read on to learn more!

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Here’s everything we know so far about latest Google’s Helpful Content update:

  • The update’s goal is to reward authentically helpful content and discourage content that seems to be written with the sole intention of triggering the search engine’s algorithms.
  • Industries that will be under the most scrutiny for their content will be shopping, entertainment, tech, and education since they’ve historically housed content that’s written for algorithms first and not humans.
  • Overall, the helpful content update is meant to incentivize writers to create content for people before search engine algorithms.

Google offers these tips on how content writers can write compelling posts amidst the changes this update will bring to the internet.

1. Write Consistently About Your Niche and Keep Your Site to One Topic 

This isn’t as limiting as it sounds. Think about writing on topics within your industry instead of piggybacking on any trending topic.

If your niche is health and wellness, but “new fall decorating styles” content seems to be trending, it’s best to leave it be and put your energies into topics that are truly your niche, even though you could put a wellness spin on it. 

Staying within your niche benefits you and your content in several ways, especially in light of the Helpful Content update.

  • You’ll be able to write genuinely useful content since it’s what you know and it’s what your expertise is in
  • Users will trust your brand as an authority in the space
  • Google will be more likely to categorize your site as “helpful” under the new update since it consistently sees similar content being published

This might seem like basic marketing advice, however, under the Helpful Content update, it’s even more important to brand yourself and your content “niche-specifically.”

2. Demonstrate Firsthand Experience With the Topic

The key here is to not summarize what others have already said. Publishing a summary on what other businesses and writers have already said about a topic makes your content less helpful than firsthand accounts and signals to the search engine that it may not be written with a  “people first” mindset.  

The age-old writing advice to “write what you know” stands true even in Google algorithm updates. When you write what you know and what you have firsthand experience with, you can add extra value that others can’t.

You don’t have to be an expert, but if you’ve been to a restaurant, tried a product or booked through a certain airline, these all count as firsthand experiences.

3. Give Specific Advice for Searcher’s Specific Queries

Everyone writing content ultimately wants to use it as a tool to earn more brand loyalty, more website traffic, and more sales for their business. When you offer real value through your content, your business will hit these goals more effectively.  

The point is to not neglect the user’s overall experience. When they’re searching online, if your content gives them the clearest, most direct answer to their query, you’ve just built trust with a user who could become a potential customer.

Google’s Helpful Content update will be on the lookout for watery answers and flag that content as “unhelpful.” Dedicating time to researching real user’s search queries and writing content around them is more important than ever.

4. Don’t Try to Answer a Question That Has No Confirmed Answer

If certain topics are trending that are still speculative, under the Helpful Content update, adding your company’s two cents might do more harm than good. This goes back to writing content that answers specific queries and staying with your business’s niche. If there’s no firm, universal answer, it’s best to stay out of it.

An exception here would be if the speculation is going on in your field and you personally have experience or expertise with the topic. In scientific and tech fields for instance, the meaning of new findings and inventions is often unclear, however, users still want educational and news pieces worth the read.

Remember, keep your content as firsthand as possible; that will prevent summarizing of unhelpful content that’s already out there.

5. Continue to Use Best Practices and Keep In Mind Past Updates

To win in this algorithm change, get back to the basics of knowing your audience, drilling down into your niche, writing what you know and aiming to offer something genuinely helpful.  

Continue to optimize for search engines, but don’t over optimize. Sites can get flagged for over optimizing if it seems they are going for quantity instead of quality. Stay away from redundant, keyword stuffed sentences, writing about trending topics outside of your business’s niche, and writing from second-hand experience. Balanced optimization follows keyword and other SEO best practices but still offers true value to human readers.

Here are a few more things to know as you begin to navigate Google’s Helpful Content update:

  • If your site gets flagged as unhelpful, it may take several months to get back in Google’s good graces and prove its helpfulness.
  • Google won’t reward content that seems to go against a business’s values or mission Google is doing some serious researching here, so make sure you and your content writers are all on the same page.
  • This update doesn’t just cover individual blog posts and pages on a site, it takes everything into consideration and then makes a judgment on your whole site. So, if you have a mix of helpful and unhelpful content, the algorithm will most likely mark your site unhelpful.
  • While you might think AI content writing is taking a hit with this update, experts suspect the change will help improve AI content as it learns from higher and higher quality content across the internet.

Final Thoughts

The Helpful Content update is one of the most significant search engine updates we’ve seen in a while. As we all adapt, we can be excited that the internet is moving towards providing a better experience for all.

Having a compelling digital marketing presence is key to building credibility with Google! In light of the Helpful Content update, it’s important that your business’s landing pages, ads, social media posts and any other marketing assets are doing their job.

To learn more about what it’s like to have RevLocal handle your business’s digital marketing, check out our resources or contact us for a free demo! 

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