Google recently debuted its new helpful content update on August 18th, and creators have been hard at work figuring out how the change will affect their sites. Since its public release on August 25th, the update’s changes have worked to improve and filter search results in order to display more people-first content.
That means that a user’s search results have a lower likelihood of being fluff or auto-generated text so that users can get a more rewarding experience. Essentially, the algorithm update allows for more valuable search results to come up by more carefully removing content that has little value, low added value, or is simply not beneficial for what a user is searching for.
Let’s take a closer look at what comes with the helpful content update and how your business can benefit from it.
How Google’s Helpful Content Update Works
At its core, Google’s Helpful Content Update (HCU) is a sophisticated ranking indicator. It looks at how closely a particular site page follows Google’s essential search guidelines, such as including substantial descriptions, clear source attributions, and original research and analysis within the content. HCU is designed to detect and devalue content that is overly optimized just to influence search engines so that users get the most authentic results related to their queries.
One of the most important ideas behind Google’s algorithm update was to address how HTML elements in website pages are organized relative to a query. After this content update, Google’s search algorithms can distinguish intent among web page elements with more intelligence. Notably, both SEO techniques and Google’s algorithms have improved how to identify where keywords can be optimally placed and where links can be better-included as a signal of interest.
The update makes it even more important for content creators to be unique and to write top-quality stuff. For some topics, standard E-A-T practices will increasingly have more of a voice in what expertise and trustworthiness means and how results will be viewed by users.
Another crucial detail about the content update is that it is site-wide. That means, even if you have a fantastic feature article for your main topic, worse-quality content on other parts of your site may keep it from ranking as well as it could. This might make it necessary to bolster your site by improving the quality of your content or by removing low-ranking material.
Getting the Most Out of Google’s Content Update
By filtering out unhelpful content, Google actually helps your site’s best content stand out and ensures that the most relevant pages rank. For instance, if you think that your pre-existing content has gotten a lower ranking due to the update, you can take the time to improve it. In the end, it will still be a win for you and your visitors, and it’s a useful change for a wide range of industries.
Essentially, the evergreen rules for creating good content apply even more because of Google’s update. Here are just a few things you can do to improve or keep your content going strong:
- Be Descriptive & Detailed: Try to include as much relevant detail as possible about the topic you’re writing about, without writing fluff or including unnecessary information. Avoid writing just for the sake of reaching a certain word count. Google does not have a preferred word count!
- Offer High-Value Information: Don’t just rephrase other articles and not include any of your own value in your writing. There’s no benefit to the reader unless you take the time to provide your own thoughts and character as a writer.
- Provide the Latest, Accurate Information: It’s easy when you’re in a rush to think you can save yourself some time by not researching and double-checking facts like you normally would. This negatively impacts not only you, but your readers as well, and can lead to problems for your website.
- Make Content Using Expertise & Personal Experience: If you’re writing a phone app review, for example, use the app’s functions and explore the design features, then share your personal opinion based on your experience with it. It’s not helpful for anyone to just type out vague statements that have no relevance, especially if you’ve never experienced the product you are writing about.
- Meet Your Audience’s Demand: Before you begin the writing process, take the time to analyze the SERPs and see what people are looking for. There could be a content gap, or a need for particular information that’s missing (at least for the moment). It’s less useful to write just for the sake of it – it’s much more helpful and convenient to do research and prepare content that readers want to engage with.
- Improve the Structure of Your Content: Essentially, your content should always be easy to both read and skim through. This usually means sticking to short, readable sentences and paragraphs. Another good tip is to structure your headings so they include the most important information along with rich media like images, GIFs, videos, and more.
At Strunk Media, we’re always paying attention to the latest search engine updates in order to understand how to best serve all our customers. With a greater emphasis on optimized and human-written content, Google’s helpful content update should improve the search landscape for everyone and provide you with the customers who most-need your services.