The “helpful content update” –– Google’s recent update has caused many SEO experts to panic. But the real question is, should you worry, and what can you do today and after the update to ensure your website isn’t affected?
Of course, Google is nothing if not discreet, but they’ve made numerous hints about the most recent algorithm upgrade’s goal of suppressing AI-generated material. This means that if you want your website to rank well in search engines, your content needs to be of the highest quality. Content that is clear and helpful will be more likely to satisfy users’ needs, which is what Google aims for with this update. In this article, we will outline everything your content needs to achieve to rank well and please Google’s algorithm!
Haven’t got time to go over your content with a fine tooth comb? Consider hiring a specialist SEO company to do the grunt work for you.
What is Google trying to combat?
Simply put, unhelpful content. Most likely, Google will target low-quality content like auto-generated or badly edited content, basically, any content that’s just not good quality. In fact, we have a sneaking suspicion that Google has even gone as far as developing its own software to decipher and find this type of content.
There is a catch though; we think it won’t be as efficient in finding AI-generated content that has gone through a process of enhancing and making the material relevant and helpful (something we always suggest you do). While we don’t think this material will be targeted, we do believe it will target AI-generated content from a lazy user. What exactly do we mean when we say this? Some people employ these tools in the least efficient way possible — the type of user who sees something and thinks, “This can make my job so much easier; If I use it, I don’t have to work hard.”
This sort of user basically cuts and pastes straight from AI technologies and forces Google to reconsider its processes to keep delivering its users with the most relevant sites for their search inquiries.
What does it mean for content to be “helpful”
When we talk about helpful content, what we mean is that the material should be able to satisfy the user’s intent. If someone searches for something and you effectively solve their problem, or your page gives them what they need, leaving them satisfied at the end of their experience on your page, you’re meeting Google requirements. However, it to be more than just this –– more on this later.
Inversely if a user lands on a page and they leave saying this didn’t help me at all and then needs to revert back to the search results to find another answer, this is not helpful at all, even if you’ve done your job correctly by ranking, to get them there in the first place technically speaking. Users should feel satisfied after visiting your page; they shouldn’t feel like they wasted their time or could have found a better article elsewhere.
How do you make your content helpful?
We just mentioned that it’s not enough to satisfy the user’s intent- you need to be different. Your pages must, must, must be the most helpful result for any keyword you’re targeting and need to be better than anything currently ranking. Simply put, your content needs to be the most valuable asset for that keyword to make it stand out and be remembered by users.
To us, this is something that Google is doing right because it should improve the quality of who is ranking at the top of search engines – and that’s a good thing for everyone. Look at your content and judge for yourself how helpful you think it is based upon your targetted keywords. If it’s lacklustre, now is an excellent time to fix it.
Helpful content can be short and to the point.
A common misconception we always hear is that longer content is more valuable. Value doesn’t stem from the ammount of words but how well it solves a problem. You don’t need to write a 7000-word essay to be helpful; in fact, sometimes short content can be more helpful as it gets straight to the point. You need to understand that not everything is about the search engine; while it’s important to optimise for search engines, the main purpose of your content is still to help the user. This is not to say that all your content should be short and sweet; it’s one of those case-by-case scenarios. Just remember that everything you write should cater more toward the needs of the user.
How will Google determine whether someone finds your content helpful?
This is the big question on everyone’s minds; unfortunately, we don’t have a definite answer. What we do know is that Google will be looking at user signals to see whether people are spending time on your site after they’ve clicked through from the SERP, they also look at things like organic CTR and engagement metrics. If it looks like people are bouncing off your site quickly, or not engaging with your content, this will be a sign to Google that perhaps your content wasn’t as helpful as it could have been.
Of course, there are other factors at play here too, and it’s important to keep in mind that this is just one small part of Google’s algorithm. We suggest that you focus on making great content and the rest will follow – if you’re helping people AND satisfying intent; they’ll stay on your site and Google will see this too!
So there you have it! Google’s helpful content update basically means that to rank or to continue to do so, you must ensure that your content is top-notch. It’s not scary, and there’s nothing to worry about as long as you aren’t generating loads of AI-written, unhelpful or incoherent content.
Contact us today if you want help with making your content the best it can be or don’t think you can keep up with Google’s ever-changing ecosystem. We are an SEO Agency that specialise in content strategies that can help rank your site higher than ever – even when Google decides to attack!