Google's Helpful Content Update is a game-changer for SEO and existing websites. This update encourages content that is helpful and relevant to the user rather than keyword-stuffed articles crammed with ads. As a result, Google will now reward sites that provide useful, high-quality content with better search rankings and visibility. And you guessed it; this is a HUGE shift that will help propel the future of SEO and ranking relations forward.
Here we go again, another Google algorithm change we need to navigate! But this time, Google's Helpful Content Update is actually going to pave the way forward for a future of quality content creation. Finally, an update that wipes away all those black hat SEO strategy techniques – and us here at VanNoppen Marketing could not be more excited for that particular trajectory holds!
In short, it is no secret that this is a wonderful 3 steps forward (hopefully no steps back) development that will help to improve the quality of the web. But like most digital trotters, knowing the motive is one thing, but what does Google’s Helpful Content Update actually entail? Even more, how will it impact search engine marketing, and what should you do to optimize your own SEO strategy to make sure you maintain your position in the organic search results?
…Luckily, the answer is not nearly as intimidating or backbone-breaking as you may think.
Coming into effect in late August 2022, and with an initial 2-week rollout period covering English sites, the Google Helpful Content Update will use a new site-wide signal that works alongside the other Google ranking algorithms. It will continuously evaluate content using an automated machine-learning model to identify and rank the site’s content in relation to its relevance and helpfulness connected to the search terms being used.
In the wise words of Google: “The update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they've had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn't meet a visitor's expectations won't perform as well.”
In layman's terms, think of it as Google's attempt to control sites that are playing the SEO strategy system by focusing solely on creating content that drives traffic to the site to improve rankings regardless of whether that content is useful and original. Just keep in mind that though Google has avoided framing the update as a tool to penalize heavily SEO’d sites with little original content, any site that is identified by this update and finds the signal applied to it may certainly feel it to be a penalty; Especially as the signal will be applied over a period of months. However, the good news for these sites is that if the content is removed or improved, the automated signaling system will be continuously evaluating content enabling it to be re-ranked.
Google’s Helpful Content Update will automatically identify blog posts and website content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches. In its official guide to the update, Google says, "people-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value." So we can finally say good riddance to the dark days of black hat SEO and welcome in a new era of high-quality SEO-friendly content that focuses on helping and adding value rather than manipulating the algorithm.
Tip: Google also provides a set of questions in the guide for creators to answer when reviewing their content in relation to this update too!
First of all, don’t panic or make any dramatic changes to your site or SEO strategy. As there's no definitive definition of what is 'helpful,' it's difficult to predict just how the update will impact the rankings. But as the update is site-wide, by nature, it has the potential to have adverse effects on traffic, site rankings, and revenue, which is why so many people are paying attention to what’s going on.
For the first month or two, site owners should regularly review the impacts of the update on their SEO rankings and bear in mind that the rollout could take up to 2 weeks, and it could take months to change the website ranking from unhelpful to helpful, according to Google. That said, if you are still feeling uneasy about this whole thing, have some peace of mind knowing that we're always here to help if you need it.
"This is perfect for the clients we work with and the work we love to do. Real people showcasing the authenticity and uniqueness of their brand. The update rewards our sites like our clients' for their effort and discourages those trying to game the system." - Jean VanNoppen, Operations Director, VanNoppen Marketing.
The digital times are changing, and brands are back on the Google battlefield fighting for the first-page rank, but this time with much more integrity. All in all, we are finally entering into a well overdue era where branders, marketers, and everyone with a functioning website should optimize their SEO strategy to now focus more on creating keyword-rich, high-quality, person-first content. Meaning, everything you produce and publish online should not only tie in with your SEO strategy but should be beneficial and valuable to your target audience.
That said, think of it as implementing long-form blog posts that entertain, educate, and inform. Consider developing an FAQ section that helps move users further along the sales funnel. Create a knowledge hub that helps to break down barriers to sales online by providing users with information and guides about your products and services. You can also take content creation a step further by creating content that provides that little bit extra compared to other sites, such as offering more in-depth insights and reporting that are directly sourced.
In the end, it might seem like an added chore to your already to-do list, but you best bet that it is one that will pay off in the long run. A little people-first tweak here and SEO updates there, you can be confident you are heading in the same direction as the algorithm wave rather than crashing against it. Remember, the digital world was initially made to connect people, and after decades of redefining, we are finally on the precipice of attaining that fruitful goal.
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