Google has rocked the SEO and Digital Marketing world yet again with another update. This latest algorithm change will prioritise helpful website content written by people, for people.
This helpful content algorithm update aims to encourage website owners to produce valuable content for their intended audience, penalising sites that take a "search engine first" approach, with content written specifically for crawling bots and ranking purposes.
What is Google's helpful content update?
Google has recently updated its algorithm to target "low quality" websites that seem to be designed mainly to rank high in search results and drive search engine traffic. These sites will produce content with the primary purpose of pushing their pages to the top of Google, looking to drive traffic and clicks without offering anything of real value to the user.
The main reason for this algorithm change was to help people find high-quality content. Google wants to provide its users with the best results they can get from their searches and help them find the information they need quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Essentially, when people make searches on Google, they are often disappointed by the results they get when landing on websites that rank highly as a result of content written for search engines, not the user. This low-quality content is often stuffed with keywords and stretched to meet a particular word count, making it hard to navigate, read and understand.
Google's new algorithm seeks to promote websites that are helpful and user-friendly for humans rather than those written to take advantage of search engines and force high rankings.
Google Helpful content update is a site-wide ranking signal
Many of Google's ranking signals and algorithms operate on a page-by-page basis. However, this helpful content update will operate site wide.
Suppose Google determines your site produces too much low quality, primarily written for search engine rankings over the user. In that case, your entire site could be affected and penalised, severely impacting your site's position in search results.
This is an even more critical focus for content writers because Google hasn't announced what threshold of poor content your site needs to have posted before it is penalised. One low-quality post? Two? Five? Ten? No one knows.
This means it's even more important now than ever to ensure all content on your site is written with the user in mind: homepages, service pages, blogs - the entire site. Avoid anything on your site that could be seen as a black hat content SEO tactic.
Will the new algorithm impact some niches more than others?
In short, no. Google has said that algorithms don't specifically target particular niches. However, this algorithm update could indirectly have a more significant impact on websites operating within niches where high-quality and accurate helpful information is crucial. These could include sites that post educational and news content and online shopping platforms.
Google's recommendations for producing human-friendly content
When researching and writing content for your website, you should always consider how it will be helpful for the user, demonstrating expertise and depth of knowledge. People should leave your site feeling they have learned enough to resolve their search query.
At LoudCrowd, we have been preaching this user-centred approach to content for a while; it's now more important than ever to ensure your website content has value in the eyes of your target audience.
Here are 5 quick tips to writing helpful content written for humans first, before search engines:
1. Tailor content to your target audience
If you are targeting a specific type of customer, you must create the right kind of content for them. For example, if you sell products for children, you will need to create child-friendly posts and pages; if you sell home decor, you'll want to focus on decorating tips and inspiration. Create content based on who your customers are, their wants, needs, and pain points rather than writing about irrelevant, trending topics to rank on Google.
2. Display your first-hand expertise and knowledge
One of the best ways to rank highly with the Google helpful content update is to show your knowledge of the topic you are writing about. Introduce new ideas, anecdotal stories, examples, and other general information to demonstrate first-hand expertise. Google wants its users to learn and find the information they need as quickly as possible - if you demonstrate a high level of understanding regarding a topic, you will win.
3. Relate content to the primary purpose of your site
All content produced on your site should link back to your website's primary purpose or focus. This shows Google that your posts are relevant to your primary services, aims, and objectives online, not just attempts to jump on a trend.
4. Make your content as easy as possible to understand and digest
Too many websites produce long, bloated pieces of content filled with irrelevant information to stretch the word count to what they believe Google likes, often using AI and extensive automation techniques to perform well in search results. FYI - Google has stated that they never have a preferred word count and that long-form content won't always guarantee better ranking web pages. With this, ensure that you write easy-to-understand content that is structured well and easy to navigate.
5. Ensure your readers have a satisfying experience
If you follow these steps, visitors to your website should find the information they need with relative ease and not feel the need to continue browsing other pages in search of their answers. Paying attention to the user experience is more important than ever.
Much of this information may seem self-explanatory, but many people still produce content with the sole objective of ranking on search engines. For example, keyword stuffing, stretching content out to meet a word count, using excessive automation and AI, etc., to push your content to the top of Google.
While having your content rank highly in Google search results sounds excellent, if the information isn't actually valuable to the user and easy to understand once they land on your page, what was the point of the content? The user gets nothing from visiting your site, and you didn't get anything from them other than a click and a quick bounce. This is why Google is pushing for this people-first approach, penalising poor content written with the sole purpose of pushing your website up to the top of the search results.
How is the helpful content update impacting SEO best practice?
At LoudCrowd, we've always advised people to create high-value, original content that appeals to their readers, not Google search engine bots. It's now going to be more important than ever!
Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness (EAT) is an acronym used extensively within the SEO space. It relates to Google's guidelines concerning the production of quality content. It is especially relevant for websites where information needs to be up-to-date, highly relevant, and accurate. For example, sites that give medical advice, tips on finance, or post news on current events.
This new algorithm update could mean that websites focussed on EAT will be prioritised by Google more than ever to push high-quality content to the top of search results. So, how can you demonstrate EAT?
Improve your backlink profile
The most reliable way that Google and other search engines judge the authoritativeness of your site is by assessing your backlink profile. Backlinks are where another website links back to a page of yours in their content, essentially meaning they're talking about you and your work. In a nutshell, this shows Google that your content is relevant, accurate, and high-quality. Why else would another website be discussing you?
However, you must be careful when building your backlink profile. Low-quality or "spammy" backlinks from sites that produce poor content will only hurt you in the future!
Regularly update new and existing content
Referring to our previous example, it's vital that sites that give professional advice ensure their content is kept up to date. A financial advisor will have to regularly add and remove information from their posts as new economic factors come into play. If not, people will be misinformed - a big problem in the eyes of Google.
Ensure content is factual and accurate
Leading on from the last point, all content must be factual and well-informed from reliable sources. If you are writing content that requires a high degree of accuracy, ensure you cite your sources to help add to your trustworthiness.
Flex your expertise
As well as discussing topics you know a lot about, introducing new ideas, and adding value, ensure you state your credentials, qualifications, and awards on the webpage! This will help build your authoritativeness and trust factor.
Give visitors the opportunity to get in touch
By giving visitors to your site the opportunity to contact you, people who land on your page can talk to you, share ideas and ask for support. This is another way that you can build your trustworthiness.
Contact us for help with your content marketing strategy
LoudCrowd is Yorkshire's fastest-growing digital marketing agency, winning many agency awards in the UK. We are experts in building and executing a high-performing content marketing strategy. Get in touch with us today, and we can book a quick call to discuss how you can excel with this new algorithm update and boss your SEO! We'll be happy to chat through what you need and help you plan your next steps.