If you do not know about the recent announcement made by Google regarding its recent algorithm update, then you are probably in a nutshell. This update has created a frenzy in the SEO industry.
On August 18, 2022, Google announced a new update to its algorithm to the creators online called the ‘Helpful Content’ update. It is expected to be one of the biggest updates after Panda in 2011
Although some website owners say that they can see the effects of the new update, this particular update is expected to be fully rolled out by the end of Aug ’22.
Many SEO experts believe this update looks similar to the Panda algorithm released in 2011, as both are intended to create and provide quality content for the people by the people in Google search results.
So keep an eye out for your site traffic for the next few weeks.
If you struggling with keeping up with your SEO performance this update, then professional SEO content writing services help you to analyze and improve the content on website.
What is the ‘helpful content’ update about?
The helpful content update encourages creators to produce authentic and valuable content that’s written for people, not search engines.
Google reminds creators to provide a pleasant experience for readers visiting their sites, as the user signal is one of the top-ranking factors.
This update is a sitewide one, which means if your website has a maximum number of low-quality content pages or has not been performing well, your website might be at the risk of getting penalized.
The intriguing part is that this update will also affect top-ranking websites.
Website owners already ranking well on search results must also keep an eye out. If a strong SEO strategy is the only reason for ranking high on SERPs, that will not cut it.
But it also doesn’t mean updating your content or removing ‘unhelpful content’ would immediately impact your ranking score.
Google’s classification process is based on a machine learning automated model. This classifier will monitor new and existing websites to ensure the content is helpful in the long term.
Google will take its sweet time as what it calls a ‘validation period’ to ensure that your content will be helpful for a long time.
If your content does prove to be written in this way, then the classification signal is removed on your site, signaling Google to evaluate and rank your content.
Google has added that this update is for English-language sites only worldwide for now and is likely to expand to other languages in the future.
The reason behind the ‘Helpful Content’ update
The reason behind the ‘Helpful Content’ update is similar to the reason behind the ‘Panda algorithm update’ as well. In the past, Google received bad press for spammy results on SERPs.
In 2011, Business Insider wrote that quality content appeared only on SERPs’ 2nd or 3rd page and that “the first page was a smoking hulk of algo-optimized awfulness.”
Many such instances have influenced Google to work and come up with the ‘Panda’ update and eventually affected many companies massively, not just rankings and traffic; some even had to shut down business altogether.
The SEO industry experts believe that the ‘Helpful Content’ update will also bring the same impact.
In early 2022, articles like ‘Google Search is dying‘ emerged all over the internet. Some online discussion forums like Quora were filled with complaints that the first page had fewer satisfying results.
Online shoppers looking for product reviews complained that product information provided on the websites in the first few pages was not genuine.
These websites were looking for clicks on their affiliate links and Ads rather than providing an authentic analysis report and expert opinion to help with the reader’s buying decisions apart from what the manufacturer says.
Users found themselves looking for other options like ‘Reddit’ to get genuine reviews from people ready to engage. People started using Reddit to make informed buying decisions based on Reddit’s ‘upvote’ and ‘downvote’ systems.
These factors influenced Google on the recent ‘Product Review’ update.
With this ‘Helpful Content’ update, Google has targeted websites that provide content on ‘online education materials,’ ‘entertainment,’ ‘shopping,’ and tech-related content.
Danny Sullivan from Google said the testing for this update has improved search results for the industries mentioned above. He further added once the update becomes effective, readers who enjoy learning new information would start reading unique content online, something they haven’t seen before.
With this update, Google is trying to rectify its past mistakes by refining its algorithm, as the success of Google search comes from providing high-quality, unique, and relevant search results for every user.
How does the ‘Helpful Content’ update affect you?
Website owners who have low-quality content with high rankings will have a massive impact by this update. The primary purpose seems to be to remove content written for search engines and not provide readers with knowledge.
With this update affecting sitewide, Even if your site generates traffic for a few articles, the other low-ranking articles won’t allow you to position high. So it’s better to either update or remove it altogether.
Google urges creators to focus on people-first content.
What is People-First Content?
It’s not something new. If your content serves the purpose of your target audience’s search intent, has a structured site format for easy navigation, and provides a satisfactory user experience, then you are good to go. It also includes SEO best practices.
Additionally, Google has asked you to answer a few questions about helpful content to ensure this update won’t affect you.
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find valuable content if it came directly to you?
- Does your content demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise 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 reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping Google’s guidance in mind for core updates and product reviews?
If your answer to the above questions is ‘yes,’ then you are certainly doing a good job. If not, then clearly, you have some work to do.
Reference: Google Helpful Content Update Questions
Following a People-first approach also means avoiding writing for search engines.
AI tools designed to write for search engines have been ranking high. But from next week, these sites will surely see a decline in their traffic
How to avoid writing for Search Engines?
Online businesses are looking to attract search engines to thrive fast in this competitive world. But with this update, Google has ensured they should be drawing their potential customers and not search engines.
Although SEO can help them reach their clients to some extent, at the end of the day, users are the ones who decide if your content is rank-worthy.
Suppose visitors leave your page after reading just a few lines and find it unhelpful. In that case, your site will have low traffic, automatically indicating to Google that your content is unsatisfying.
To avoid writing for search engines, Google has provided a list of questions to answer and reevaluate the content on your site:
- Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines rather than made for humans?
- Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem to trend and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without real expertise, but mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
- Does your content promise to answer a question that has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
Let’s say you said ‘Yes’ to some of the above questions; the natural thing to do is to repair the unhelpful content.
The classifier, which runs continuously on ‘unhelpful content’ sites, will identify the changes you made, check if the updated content adheres to the current update, and remove the classifier signal on your site, signaling Google to rank your site.
It’s safe to say that Google focuses on users and their online experience with its recent algorithm updates. It allows the creators to work on traditional in-depth research, adding a fresh new take on existing content and not wholly relying on AI tools.
Google will continue to re-equip its algorithms and monitor how the helpful content update plays out after the complete roll-out.