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What is the Google Helpful Content Update and How Does it Affect Your Business?

You have probably heard a lot of chatter recently about Google’s new Helpful Content Update, but what is it exactly, and how will it affect your business?

The Helpful Content Update started its roll-out on August 25, 2022, and finished on September 9, 2022, meaning that all the changes that will be outlined are already beginning to take place.

An update, such as the Helpful Content Update, means that Google has made changes to its algorithm. With this algorithm update Google will favour ranking content that benefits people and provides useful information, and steer users away from content that does not meet its quality guidelines.

This is a wakeup call for business owners to update and elevate the current content on their site and to create more useful content if they want to rank on the first page of Google. 

Who Will Be Impacted?

Google’s Helpful Content Update will negatively impact websites that have a relatively high amount of unsatisfying or unhelpful content. Do you have content that is thin, out of date or no longer factual anywhere on your website?

Then Google might begin to exclude you from the search results. Google has said that this update is part of its “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.”

If you have one really thorough piece of content on your site but many other invaluable pieces then you will be a target. You need to view the content on your site as a whole. Everything you add should be meaningful, avoid posting for the sake of posting. 

What Does Google Want to See?

Now that we understand what the update is trying to accomplish, how do we know if the content we are creating will be viewed as valuable. We have boiled down their guidelines to three core practices.

1. Your Website Has A Niche And Stays In It

Having one niche and sticking to it in all the content that your website produces helps to establish you as an authority figure not just in the eyes of your readers, but also in the eyes of the Google algorithm.

On the other hand, if you are putting up content in widely varied niches, the likelihood of you being an actual expert in any of them is very low. In this case, the algorithm will assume that you are creating content to capitalize on keywords and drive traffic, rather than to provide useful information for your readers.

2. Your Content Is Useful And Accurate

Among the questions Google recommends you ask to discover if your content is People-Friendly is this question:

“After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?”

It shouldn’t be any surprise that in order for your content to qualify as People-Friendly, it should actually be useful to people!

Make sure that the content you create comes from a position of authority and knowledge, answers the reader’s question, and provides information that is both actionable and accurate.

3. Your Content Provides A Satisfying Reading Experience

Finally, your readers should feel that they have had a satisfying experience reading your content. The best way to ensure this is to simply “satisfy the search intent.” The reader should leave your website without feeling like they need to do more research in order to find what they were looking for.

Other ways to ensure that your readers have a satisfying experience are to use clear headlines that accurately describe the contents of the article, and to keep the article organized and easy to read. 

Get in touch with our team if you need more information about writing copy that will rank in search engines or if you have questions about whether or not your site has been hit by the update.

What Should You Steer Clear Of?

Now that we know what kind of content Google wants, let’s look at the opposite. These bad practices will get your content de-promoted by the Google search algorithm.

1. Your Content Is Clickbait or Not Helpful to Users

While it can be tempting to create content that is designed with the sole purpose of increasing traffic to your site, neither your readers nor the Google algorithm will appreciate this approach.

Ways in which you could be creating content for traffic and not for people are, using clickbait headlines that lie about the contents of the article, creating content based on attractive keywords rather than your expertise, and writing about trending topics that are outside of your niche.

2. Your Content Does Not Satisfy Your Reader’s Expectations

If your content does not provide the information that your readers were searching for, it cannot be considered useful content.

It can be easy to leave your readers dissatisfied if you trick them into clicking on your website through a clickbait title, fail to provide accurate or enough information about the topic you are writing about, or write your content in a way that is confusing to read.

One example many of us have come across, is when looking for the date of a new season of our favourite television show. We read the article to find out that a date has not been set for the new season despite being led to believe it has throughout the rest of the article. 

3. Your Content Is Not Original

This goes beyond simple plagiarism. As Google puts the question: “Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?” Good content doesn’t simply rehash other articles in a different way, it actually brings something new to the table.

What Does This Mean For SEO?

Here is what Google said in the update’s announcement: “SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.”

Remember, proper SEO is about categorizing useful content properly so that the people who are looking for it can find it as easily as possible.

Perhaps this update will damage the usefulness of black hat SEO “tricks” or “hacks,” but using SEO best practices to bring useful content to the people who are searching for it will never go away. At Harvest Moon Marketing, we only use white-hat SEO techniques that never go out of style to get your content to the first page. 

How Can I Ensure The Helpful Content Update Will Benefit My Website?

Now that you understand the motivations behind the recent update and how it will work, it’s time to think about how it will affect your website.

Google is clear that it will not only judge each piece of content on your website individually, but also look at the focus and usefulness of the information on your website as a whole. This could be bad news if in the past you have published articles that are in multiple niches, or if your site is filled with content that is out of date.

In light of this update, now is the perfect time to perform a Content Audit for your website. During a Content Audit, all your website’s published content will be looked through to ensure that it is still relevant, useful, and focused on your chosen niche.

Some content will need to be updated, some will need to be reviewed, and some will simply need to be deleted. If this sounds like a lot of work, it definitely is! But don’t worry, at Harvest Moon Marketing we are experts in dealing with projects just like this.

We would love the opportunity to ensure that out-of-date or irrelevant content is not damaging your websites ranking in the Google algorithm. To get started, just book a free discovery call!

Have you noticed drops in your rankings since the update went live?

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