Googles helpful content update

Google announces helpful content updates.

Google is constantly reviewing its algorithm and finding new ways to serve users with the best information possible. However, the most frustrating thing is when you type in a keyword or a search query, and there’s no specific answer to your question, or all the content is the same.  

To resolve this frustration, Google has announced a new content update and released guidance for content. This update will ensure that when users are looking for answers to their problems, Google serves helpful content which is engaging and written for people rather than search engines. 

You might ask the question, what is writing for search engines? This style of writing is content written purely to manipulate search engines and to gain rankings through optimising for your focused keywords rather than helping users resolve issues.   

Read on to find out more about the update and how you can utilise content to ensure you are focusing on delivering the best answer possible for a user’s pain point or problem.   

What is the Google Helpful content update?  

Providing helpful information for readers has always been a signal that Google has considered for many years. However, this update will focus on ‘people-first’ content – content written to address people’s pain points and problems and is satisfying enough for the user.  

Google has provided specific guidelines stating, “The helpful content update aims to reward better content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.” 

This update is a sitewide signal, and Google will consider any content on the website which is only optimised for search engines and not for people. This evolution means targeting sites with a high amount of unsatisfying or unhelpful content. The update’s main aim is to serve users with high-quality content.  

Google has also said this is an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.” 

What are the new content guidelines?  

There are so many factors to take into consideration when creating content. To make content more impactful, Google has provided the following guidelines:  

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find valuable content if they came directly to you? 
  • Does your content demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, from having 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 read your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience? 
  • Are you keeping our guidance for core updates and product reviews in mind? 

What do the guidelines mean? 

It’s so important to determine and ask yourself what these guidelines mean. What do I need to do to ensure my content is helpful and engaging?  

We have broken these guidelines into bitesize chunks of what these guidelines mean: 

  • Automation – Google is becoming wise and can identify AI-generated content. Relying heavily on automation and AI-generated content to attract people from Search Engines will no longer be as effective as it is usually dissatisfying for users. 
  • Unrelated content – Producing content on many different topics and writing topics that aren’t within your expertise just because they are trending or you think you might attract traffic. This content will also consider how you integrate your topics to inform/help users. It’s essential that the reader feels like they have learnt enough about a specific topic or gained enough information to achieve their goal. 
  • Content with no added value – Summarising what others have to say without adding value to the topic. Again, producing content because it’s trending with no real thought leader value applied means you don’t show your expertise within the niche. 
  • Content written for search engines – Writing content which does not cater/inform your target audience. Think about writing content which fits your target audience, answers their problems, and fits seamlessly within your niche. Are you only writing to optimise your site so it will rank in Google, or are your goals broader than that?  
  • Word counts – Writing content with a particular word count/limit is another factor contributing to the quality of content. Google has no preferred word count because high word count limits can lead to repetitiveness (low quality), whilst lower word count limits can lead to missed opportunities.  

Whom will the update affect most? 

Usually, with algorithm updates, there’s no way of determining whom it would impact the most. However, Google has suggested the most significant impact would be on the following:  

  • Online educational materials such as guides and blogs  
  • Arts and entertainment such as movie reviews 
  • Shopping such as product descriptions and reviews  
  • Tech-related  

This is because, historically, content in those areas is written more for search engines than people.  

So what does this mean for you? 

This update is a great chance to start reviewing your old content and having a spring clean on your website. Identify and remove content which is low quality and doesn’t have a purpose. 

Here are some tips on how to change your content approach moving forward:  

  1. Educate your teams – educating clients and internal stakeholders about this rollout is essential. 
  2. Target audiences – Understand the target audience and where they are in their journey and provide as much value as possible.  
  3. Knowledge of existing content – you need to know about the current content/topics on the site to avoid duplication of content. 
  4. Demonstrate a depth of knowledge – you are the expert in your industry. Incorporate ways in which you can voice your opinions and show your users that you have excellent knowledge of the industry in which you operate.
  5. Stray away from word counts – Less emphasis on word counts and focus on creating content with high value  
  6. Create content in bite-sized chunks – this is a straightforward way to digest content and ensure the reader has gained a satisfying experience. 

At the PHA group, we have strategies to ensure that you write high-value content. We have a highly experienced and skilled SEO and content team who create tailored content strategies. Get in touch today for a content audit.