On August 18th, 2022, Google announced they would add a helpful content update to their algorithm. Well, it started rolling out on August 25th, 2022.
In this Blog, we’re going to be talking about what this update means, what we need to do right now as it’s rolling out because it’s still in the rollout process, some things to be looking out for, and some ways we can set ourselves up for long-term success regarding SEO.
Let’s talk about Google’s helpful content update.
The Google Helpful Content Update 2022
The helpful content update is a site-wide alert, and the goal is to target websites that have a large amount of relatively high amount of unsatisfying or unhelpful content. People wrote this content for ranking and attracting search engines rather than serving the end user.
There’s been many YouTube videos and articles on the Helpful Content Update. Articles like:
- How to recover
- What to do when this happens
- How to rebound your site
The problem is that most of these videos came out before Google released this update. So we have yet to determine what the impact of this is going to be.
Yes, if we follow SEO best practices and think about our end users and the intent of our end users, we should have good content.
But to say that we know the exact strategies to avoid getting hit or recover from this is premature. So go ahead and take all the stuff you may have seen out there with a grain of salt.
I’m not going to tell you anything about overcoming this because we have yet to learn. We have to wait and see, so don’t run after trends or clickbait.
Let’s spend some time on this Blog learning about what this update is and what google is saying about this update.
What Does Google Say About the Helpful Content Update
First off, it’s a site-wide update, and right now, it’s only targeting English languages, so it’s not going to be impacting other languages for now, but google does expect to do that down the road.
What Is The Helpful Content Update Targeting?
They’re targeting any content, not just unhelpful content, but on sites that they determine have much unhelpful content. You could have some good pieces but a large amount of content that could be more helpful that’s not good, and Google can still trigger you within this update.
The Helpful Content Update Rollout
They’re using machine learning ml classifiers to determine how helpful
the content is.
So this is going to be a tool that’s going out. It’s scraping. It’s
looking at your content. It matches it with all the other ranking factors and determines whether or not this content meets the end user’s intent.
What TO DO If Impacted
What google says right now is that removing your unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.
One thing to note is that they’re taking your site in a complete picture. So they’re looking at your entire website.
Site-wide we mean your whole website, not just individual pieces of content. Unhelpful content in other areas could impact your helpful content and how it performs.
If Google sees that your site is not helpful and is being used specifically for manipulating search rankings, it could impact your ranking. So we have to think holistically about the processes of our site, how we’re building out our content, and whether this will meet the end needs of our users.
It is a new signal, one of many signals that Google uses to evaluate and rank content. However, it is not the end-all-be-all. It’s just another signal within the algorithm itself.
Is this similar to Panda?
If you’ve been SEO for any time, you might know about the Panda update in 2011. and barry Schwartz from sc roundtable says
Does this sound like Panda to you? It does to me, but Google told me that this update is in addition to Panda. So it is not Panda. So it’s in addition to Panda.
Panda’s already baked into the core algorithm, which has been so long, so Panda is still running, but this update is new. It might feel a bit like Panda did when it launched, but it is different, and that’s coming from barry Schwartz over at sc roundtable.
What You Should Do With The Helpful Content
From the mouth of Google themselves, They say you should be able to answer yes to all of these questions to ensure that your content focuses on people first.
Now, this is something that we approach a lot. You have two audiences.
With the search engine, we talk about semantic SEO. You have machines, and you have people.
You have to meet the needs of both you have to meet the needs of people first, and then you need to make it machine readable so that the machines understand your context, and that’s more important than ever now when they are using machine learning to determine what your content is about and doesn’t meet the needs of the end user, so you need to look and say,
- Is my content intended for my audience?
- Would they find it useful if it came directly from you?
- Does the content demonstrate first-hand experience or depth of knowledge?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus after reading your content?
- Does someone feel thinking oh, I just learned something; I just grew, “it met the needs of what I was looking for”
- Will somebody read my content and leave feeling like they’ve had a good experience on my website?
- Are we following their updates? Of course, Google wants to ensure that we follow their guidelines for these different updates. So they’re putting out core updates, product reviews, or anything else.
Tip # 2: Avoid creating content for search engines first.
Now they’ve been saying this for years. I know many people still
create content for search engines first, and there are many reasons for that. Because a lot of that content has performed well. And still performs well, and it will even after this update to some degree. Still, Google is continually working on ways to snuff that out.
- What is the primary purpose of this content?
- Are we producing content on many different topics hoping that something will work for us?
- Are we using automation to produce the content? So this is where you can get it with AI writers now. Ai writers are extremely helpful. They can help us scale writing, but if you’re relying on them to do all the work, you need to add that human influence.
- Are we summarizing what other people have said?
- Are we writing about things simply because they’re trending, not because they will provide value?
- Does it leave the readers feeling like they need the search again to get more information?
- Are you writing to match a particular word count because you think that google has to have a specific word count?
- Did you decide to enter some niche without any real expertise but did it because you want traffic?
- Does your content promise to answer a question that has no answer?
There’s a lot of content out there right now ranking well about the helpful Content Update when they didn’t have an answer because the content had yet to be released.
The algorithm had yet to be released. We’re seeing it released now, and so far, we do not see too many waves, but I expect that to tick up as this rollout continues. So it’s funny that they did that in the last one. And then all the people in the SEO world created answers for a question that had yet to be.