Google is rolling out one of their big search algorithm updates over the next two weeks and this one doesn't have a cute and cuddly name like panda or penguin. It is flat out called the Google Helpful Content Update because Google has had it up to here with bad content.
With this update, Google is prioritizing "people-first content" meaning content that is created for people, not search engines. Good helpful content designed to serve your target audience will be seen by more people in their search results. Cheap lame content will drop lower in search results.
Content marketers everywhere:
This is what content marketers advocate for every day. Whether it's a detailed how-to or a meaty B2B case study with solid takeaways, when content answers a question or solves a problem, it's a trust-builder for brands.
Which makes sense when you think about it, since trust is rooted in empathy.
So is good content marketing, a cornerstone of modern PR.
Will The Google Helpful Content Update Impact Your Site?
Google provides these questions to gauge if your site content is likely to end up on the nice list vs the naughty list with this algorithm update:
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge? (Google gives the example of expertise that comes from having actually 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?
Google adds a reminder to follow their guidance for core updates and product reviews.
If the Google search quality raters deem that your website falls short in any of these categories, you may see a drop in website traffic over the next two weeks. Unfortunately, just a few unhelpful pages on your site could impact your entire site,
If you experience a drop in traffic, don't panic. It's not permanent. Avoid a lot of sudden moves, but spend time digging into the data. Here are your action steps:
- Consider the purpose of your site and your audience. Even helpful content can rank poorly if it's not clear to Google (or your audience) what your site is about. Instead of covering a myriad of topics on one site, focus on your desired user. Consider microsites for content that veers from your main purpose and audience.
- Review your website pages with low engagement from organic search traffic. These would be pages that have low time-on-site and high bounce rates. That is a potential indicator that people aren't finding what they expect when they click on search results. It may be that the description people see in search results doesn't match the content or it may be that the content isn't helpful.
- Update or consolidate those pages with new content gleaned from insights using a tool such as Also Asked to see how people search for your topic and what questions they ask.
The good news is that your website can regain organic search traffic visibility by shifting your content strategy. Follow the content quality guidelines from Google and its search quality rater guidelines.
Effective Content Marketing For Prospects and Google
Content marketing is a long game with incredible payoffs over time. There is an upfront investment in quality content. Here's how to mitigate those costs:
- Lean into your subject matter experts while investing in multi-platform executions to bring their expertise to life through articles, video, vertical video, photography, audio.
- Find efficiencies in upfront planning and good project management.
- Be creative about how and where you capture testimonials.
- Test video and messaging solutions that leverage artificial intelligence. Tread cautiously here, as Google is penalizing low-value AI-generated articles. But try tools like Lumen5 that convert articles to video, putting your major investment in the written word and leveraging AI to repurpose it in numerous ways.
Although a big Google update can be stressful, good content marketing is the gift that keeps on giving. Publish once, refresh annually, and you have a high-converting asset for life. Good helpful content always wins.
Especially with Google.