Google Helpful Content Update
Has your search traffic taken a hit in September, and you are still recovering?
That is probably due to the latest development from Google: the “Helpful Content Update.” This update is aimed to encourage the creation of top-notch content on websites.
The release of this update has stirred a mix of confusion and conjecture among SEO experts.
This article aims to demystify this update, delving into its essence and implications for SEO strategies.
Read on to better understand the Helpful Content Update and how it can influence your approach to SEO.
Helpful Content Update
Google’s Helpful Content System is designed to enhance the visibility of high-quality content while diminishing the prominence of less helpful material in search results.
If we take a close look at the helpful content update documentation:
- Google Loosens Restrictions on AI-Generated Content
- Google Permits External Source Content on Subdomains or Main Domain
- Google updated the Helpful Content Self-Assessment Guide
Google Loosens Restrictions on AI-Generated Content
Google’s earlier recommendations highlighted the Helpful Content system’s preference for human-created content.
However, this guidance about the ‘human touch’ in content creation has been omitted, indicating a shift in Google’s stance on AI-generated content.
This is controversial if we look at Google’s previous policy on AI-generated content.
“Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”
“Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.”
Google Permits External Source Content on Subdomains or Main Domain
The practice of incorporating third-party content into a website’s main area or its subdomains is not new.
For instance, many news media sites often feature affiliate content related to credit cards on their subdomains. This approach is typically adopted with the expectation that the primary website’s search engine standing will enhance the visibility of the subdomain content.
However, Google’s September 2023 Helpful Content update introduces a significant shift that could impact sites hosting third-party content.
The update includes new advice, highlighting that third-party content, whether on the main site or subdomains, will contribute to overall site evaluations, such as content helpfulness.
Therefore, we recommend double-checking if your external content still aligns closely with the main site’s focus to ensure it isn’t hurting your helpfulness score of the domain.
Google updated the Helpful Content Self-Assessment Guide.
They add these three suggestions to the guide to help SEO marketers create people-first, helpful, and reliable content.
- Expert Credibility Matters
Is this content written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast with proven knowledge in the subject area?
- Updating Page Dates to look ‘Fresh’
Are you altering the dates on your pages to give an impression of recent updates when the content has largely remained the same?
For example, changing the dates in a how-to article to 2024 without updating the content, is no longer tolerated.
- Boosting your SEO by going wide or removing old content to appear ‘Relevant’
“Are you adding significant new content or deleting a substantial amount of old content mainly because you think it will enhance your search rankings by making your site appear more ‘contemporary?’
Needless to say, approach three is also no longer effective.
People First Approach – How To Get Started
Do you need guidance on how to edit your current blog?
We’ve got you covered.
Here are our 5 actionable content-creation tips to optimize your content for Google’s latest ranking update.
Write For Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience is crucial when crafting content, especially if you aim to enhance your search engine rankings and genuinely connect with your audience.
Your target audience should encompass the specific characteristics and behaviors of those most likely to benefit from your content. Identifying these details helps tailor your material to address their needs, desires, and challenges effectively.
For those with an established website or blog, leveraging Google Analytics data is an insightful way to get a clearer picture of your ideal customer. Analytics can reveal your audience’s age, location, language, and browsing behaviors (like mobile vs. desktop usage). This information is invaluable in refining your understanding of who is most engaged with your content and why.
For those just starting out, researching similar businesses or products can offer a window into your potential audience. Observing who they target can serve as a benchmark for defining your own ideal customer profile. This groundwork is vital in shaping content that resonates with the right audience, ultimately driving more meaningful traffic to your site.
High -Value Content?
To determine if you made high-value content, consider whether it leaves your audience satisfied after reading. Achieving complete satisfaction for every reader with each piece of content is challenging, as it’s hard to please everyone constantly.
Yet, if the majority of your readers come away feeling satisfied, you’re likely on the right path.
Take a cooking blog as an example. An article that guides readers through preparing a popular dish, like lasagna, may not thrill everyone, but if it’s informative and introduces something novel, most readers will find it fulfilling.
Conversely, an article that offers no new insights or is poorly written won’t meet your readers’ expectations. Such low-quality content won’t resonate with your audience, nor will it align with Google’s Helpful Content algorithm.
Creating relevant content hinges on leveraging your expertise and unique insights rather than merely repeating information found elsewhere.
Sharing your personal experiences and knowledge lends authenticity to your work. It’s essential to be transparent with your audience about your level of expertise.
If you’re not a subject matter expert, it’s perfectly acceptable; thorough research and a keen understanding can still lead to informative content.
However, misrepresenting yourself as an expert can erode trust and diminish your content’s value in the eyes of your audience and search engines like Google.
Our tip, include a brief author biography in each article to further enhance your credibility and optimize your content for search engines.
Source: Search Engine Journal
Have a Clear Domain Goal
Gone are the days of cheap content.
In our times, AI can generate abundant content, often with low added value.
Google’s improved classifier algorithm will nudge copywriters to ditch unhelpful content.
Consider a culinary blog; a great goal is to teach your subscribers cooking skills to save time in the kitchen. Or take a wanderlust blog, which aims to inspire the audience with the most affordable locations in South East Asia.
If you write with a definitive goal, you can create helpful articles for your target audience.
If your blog or website lacks a clear objective, dedicate time to identify it.
With a well-defined purpose, you can produce content that resonates with your audience and give site-wide signals that gain recognition from Google’s quality filters.
Google’s Guidelines on Product Reviews
To produce valuable content, staying informed about Google’s updates and guidelines regarding product reviews is crucial. Product reviews significantly influence consumer decisions in the e-commerce sector and can be featured across various pages of your site.
This involves a clear grasp of Google’s regulations concerning affiliate links, endorsements, and sponsored content. By comprehending these guidelines, you can ensure your content aligns with Google’s expectations.
Moreover, this knowledge helps you steer clear of any possible penalties that arise if your content fails to adhere to Google’s standards.
Consider, for instance, you manage a baking blog. You plan to write an informative article about the top pastry equipment for beginners.
In this article, you suggest three different pastry sets, incorporating affiliate links for each.
You might not know that Google has specific rules for incorporating affiliate links in product reviews.
- To comply, your website must offer valuable, unique content beyond just links.
- Transparency is key; you must declare affiliate links to users and search engines clearly, and it’s crucial to be aware of local regulations about affiliate links.
- You should mark affiliate links with the rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” attributes for search engines.
Being unaware of these requirements could lead to penalties for your article. But you can avoid these pitfalls by staying informed about Google’s guidelines.
Regularly updating your knowledge about Google’s latest updates and recommendations helps you create content that aligns with their standards and genuinely benefits your readers.
Stay Up To Date With SEO Developments
We recommend reading these sources once in a while to stay updated with the latest developments in SEO.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Google Helpful Content Update?
Google’s Helpful Content System collaborates with various other ranking mechanisms to position websites according to the relevance and value of their content.
When did the Google Helpful Content Update drop?
The implementation began on September 14, and by September 19, numerous websites hosting extensive older content experienced a decline in their SEO performance.
What can I do to rank better after the Google Helpful Content Update?
We recommend following the guidelines of Google’s documentation on Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content, which revolves around expertise, quality and reader satisfaction, and tips to avoid engine first content.