Hey it’s Chris here, how’s it going today. A quick one about google’s helpful content update, I have got some important information that i need to get to you as quickly as possible so this will be like a no-frills very low edit post, simply because i want to get this to you right away.
Last Thursday Google put out an announcement we’ve been hearing a little bit about this lately but on Thursday they officially announced that they’re pushing out an update this week.
Now when Google pre-announces that they’re going to put out an update, there’s really one thing that we can be absolutely sure of, which is that Google is signaling to us what they want us to do with our content, whether or not the algorithm is going to do a great job of actually measuring it.
They’re at least signaling to us the direction that they’re going so we should pay attention, we saw the same thing with the core web vitals update.
They told us for months that this was coming and exactly what they were going to be measuring because they wanted us to start improving those things in advance even if the algorithm wasn’t going to strongly penalize websites that didn’t pass core web vitals and that’s why we see a lot of people putting a lot of effort into passing corporate vitals.
Well, here they gave us just a little bit of a heads up for this update.
the update is one that they’re dubbing, they’ve actually given it a name and it’s the “helpful content update”.
The objective here is to promote content that is helpful while deprioritizing content that is unhelpful, so we’re going to talk a Little bit today about how Google says that they’re going to be defining these two different types of content so that you know what to watch for.
One thing that i want to tell you is, whenever there’s a Google algorithm update it’s easy to see a change start happening and we may want to start making changes to our content right away, we don’t want to dramatically change the content all at once especially until we see things start to settle so that we know where our content and our site lands.
We can draw some really early conclusions that can lead us in the wrong direction, also making too many changes too quickly can lead to re-indexing of our content kind or re-testing of our content and so you can have content that actually like the algorithm’s still settling down and it’s going to do just fine, but maybe it sees a dip one day and because of that you go and dramatically change the content and all of a sudden you have to wait for it to be retested.
The more established your site is the more quickly your content gets re-indexed or retested, so if you have a more established site then it’s probably more okay to jump in and start making changes.
However with this update there’s one thing that i would say, if you know you have a lot of content that specifically falls into this unhelpful Category which is what they’re calling the “search engine first focused content”. Those type of content, they’re saying remove it from your site.
Although i don’t usually advocate for deleting content i don’t like to completely lose work if there’s any value in it, but you can revert back to a draft and it’ll essentially unpublish that content from your site
i’m going to tell you why that’s important here in just few minutes. So let me tell you what i do know about this update:
Things to know about the update
1. first, we know the timing:
the update is this week, last Thursday they said it’s going to be rolling out this week and that the rollout is going to last for about two weeks before it’ll be completely done so it could start anytime right now.
2. the next thing we know google says they have a new ranking signal
so this is like a completely new metric a new test, a new automated process for checking your content For “helpfulness”, this isn’t a manual penalty where they’re going to say “this website doesn’t look very helpful we’ll penalize it” but it’s an automated part of the algorithm that is going to apply across the web.
3. the next thing that we know is the goal, which is promoting “people first content”, which is content that is written for humans to help them while they’re de-prioritizing the “search focused or the search engine first content”.
4. the other thing that we know is the impact.
so if you have a lot of unhelpful content on your website, a lot of search engine focused content but you also have some really good helpful content, that helpful content is going to suffer because of the really unhelpful content on the website.
Google is saying essentially, get rid of unhelpful content, so you can do that by battleshipping the Content, figure out what you think is unhelpful and then making improvements to it.
the other thing we can do is if we really think it’s going to hurt us, is to temporarily revert it back to a draft and then republish the article later once we’ve had a chance to make it really helpful.
Google guideline for helpful content update
Google has given us specific guidelines on what makes up “people first content” and what makes up the “unhelpful search engine first content”.
i. So if we want to Make people oriented content, one of the first things they say is to create content that’s on a focused topic for your website.
they say that having a kind of a general website with content on a whole bunch of different topics is less helpful and i think part of the reason for that is that When we do that oftentimes it looks like what we’re doing is searching for the highest traffic topics across all topics of information and it shows a low level of expertise in any particular topic. basically you build no topical authority on any of the topics that you write content on.
That kind of content is already not doing as well but according to this update, it’s going to be de-prioritized.
Furthermore the next thing we need, is to write articles that cater to specific search queries and then make sure that the article fully addresses that search query.
what Google says is that when users leave your content they should feel satisfied and they shouldn’t have to go continue searching to get more information to answer the original search query,
if they need to go get more information, that means your article failed for that Particular search query and so your content isn’t going to rank well for that search query, so make sure your content is catered to specific questions and then make sure that you fully cover those topics answer those questions.
Make the content as helpful as possible and again the point being that they want users to be satisfied not only to have the question answered but to have had a good experience and satisfied with the experience They had.
ii. The next one here is do original research.
Honestly, i had to laugh when i read this straight from Google’s announcement, because that is what i’ve been saying here at search-pilot.
Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge, for example expertise that Comes from having actually used a product or service or visiting a place.
Writing an article about a location you’ve never been to is not advocated, writing a product review about a product you’ve never touched is also not advocated.
This kind of content when we’re just gathering other information that people have shared maybe in their product reviews maybe even in specific customer reviews on amazon and just aggregating that into a Blog post, adds minimal value and so Google is saying that it is unhelpful.
What does unhelpful content look like?
- this is the kind of content you might want to consider on publishing if you have a lot of it on a website, mass-produced content that adds little or no value beyond what others have already said,
if you’re outsourcing content to writers and they’re doing all of their research simply by reading other people’s blog posts or amazon reviews and then write your blog post, that’s not going to be good enough.
If we’re going to outsource to other writers or if we’re going to write our own content, we have to do original research,we have to add value beyond what other people have already said.
2. Writing to hit a particular word count rather than to help a user.
So filling an Article with fluff, for example if you write recipes and you just fill it with stories that aren’t very relevant, they don’t help me cook the dish very well, well that’s not helpful content that’s just information or just stories, it’s fluff .
I know most SEOs out there may say you shouldn’t listen to what Google says, but the thing is Google knows their product better than we do and yes their public announcements are Going to focus on information that they want us to have but i also don’t think that they have a tendency to overly lie on it.
Alright, back to the other things that we need to know about unhelpful content
3. if you choose a niche because you think there’s a lot of search volume or you think it’s really valuable but you actually don’t have any experience and you’re not gaining any experience in the niche, chances are that your content isn’t going to be very helpful.
i’ve read a lot of content written by people who based On my experience in their niche i can tell they have basically no experience.
4. the next one, if you promise to answer a question in the headline of your article but you then don’t actually answer that question
or when you promise to answer a question that there is no answer to, example a headline that promises to talk about The release date of another season of a show or of a movie but that release date hasn’t actually been announced and all it does is say “well it hasn’t been announced yet so we speculate that it’s probably three months away”.
that’s actually not helpful because it doesn’t answer the question that people asked it doesn’t fulfill the promise the headline gave or we talked about this in the people first Content but if you write on lots of topics based on interest, what people’s interest is and not having a common theme across your website not having a particular niche or industry or topic that ties all of the content on your website together so look here,
this is the update it’s happening basically now and i want to help, i want to help you be successful going forward, this is the update that basically i have been waiting for, for a long time now,
this is the direction we’ve been going and the direction we’ve been trying to teach for a while now, we know that trying to beat the algorithm was doable in the past and it becomes less and less and less doable over time because the algorithm and google their engineers their experience and all that is getting smarter it’s getting better at recognizing real content and helpful content rather than just having to rely on particular specific little tricks and things to try to measure what the content is about.
I am actually excited for this update but here’s the thing;
we don’t know how well the algorithm is actually going to work.
we don’t know how well it’s going to be able to differentiate helpful content from search engine focused content and so we don’t know how well all of our content or your content is going to do because google doesn’t say how they measure the “helpfulness”.
They just say that it’s a new ranking signal, there’s a new automated process for doing this and so we need to see what actually happens.
So as this rolls out for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be watching the impacts across my sites, i’m going to be definitely involved in the search-pilot community that we always have threads about algorithm updates.
I’m looking forward to getting to talk to you about sort of what happened here in a few weeks, until then good luck with your websites.
keep creating awesome helpful content, if you’re doing that already i don’t think you have anything to worry about but if we do see a decrease, increase or flat I would love to know about it because I will love to be able to figure out why, and maybe what niches and industries are going to be impacted the most but also if you’re willing to share your website that’s going to make the biggest difference because we’ll be able to look for commonalities among sites that decreased and sites that increased.