Google Helpful Content Update: A complete guide
The Google Helpful Content Update finished rolling out on September 9th, 2022. So how does it impact your website? Here are the changes you need to make immediately to prevent your site from being penalized or negatively affected, and the opportunities to gain an edge over your competitors.
Google has been rolling out major updates over the past year in response to criticism of organic search results. There has been the Page Experience Update that finished rolling out in March 2022, the Product Review Update, the September 2022 core update, and the Helpful Content Update which just finished rolling out.
What is Google’s “Helpful Content Update” about?
This update is aiming to reduce the amount of AI and spammy content that is created to game the algorithm and look good to search engines instead of humans. This update ties in with the Page Experience update, and the Product Review Update.
People have been complaining for years now that search results are filled with inauthentic reviews and spammy content that doesn’t contain what it claims to. This is part of Google’s attempt to provide more useful results to people who use their search engine.
Google has done algorithm updates like this in the past by punishing black hat behavior like keyword stuffing, and instead, promoting higher-quality websites and content that follow E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trust). With the recent rise of AI copywriting tools, Google is concerned that people are generating content designed specifically to rank in search engines, despite providing low value to actual human readers.
How to make sure your website is complying with the Helpful Content Update
Figuring out what counts as “helpful content” can be difficult, but Google has provided questions to ask yourself about your content to see if it qualifies as “helpful.” These questions give some guidance on what specific things Google is looking for:
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 (for example, 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?
Make sure your site focuses on a specific niche (EAT Method)
While you may think having a general site with many topics means more opportunities, what you should really aim for is to gain Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T Method) in a specific niche.
You would need a massive amount of high-quality content to show real authority on a very broad topic like “fitness”. A more niche website focused on a topic like “calisthenics” or “home gym equipment” will be much easier to gain authority and true expertise in over time.
Write content with the human reader in mind, not just SEO or search engine ranking
If you simply mash together AI-generated blog content without any editing or original ideas of your own, you’ll wind up with a blog post that may not correctly or concisely answer your reader’s question.
You should instead use these tools as a way to generate ideas and inspiration for original, useful content, rather than planning to simply copy/paste whatever it spits out.
Follow the rules from the Product Review Update
Once again Google is emphasizing first-hand experience with whatever you’re talking about. You can read about everything included in the Product Review Update here.
Create content with a purpose, not just to fulfill a specific word count
While John Mueller of Google has said that it’s “Hard to call a site authoritative after 30 articles”, it’s important to not sacrifice quality for quantity.
You need to make sure your content is actually answering questions concisely, and something people would want to read or enjoy. You can’t just restate what other people have said without adding anything original of value. Also, contrary to the SEO “experts” recommending you need to write 2,000+ word articles at minimum, Google doesn’t believe in a specific word count.
How much is the Helpful Content Update affecting websites?
Some people have cautioned that this update is more of a PR move by Google in response to growing disaffection with organic results. And because more and more people are using social media platforms like Reddit to find more “honest” and candid reviews.
The Helpful Content Update was finished on September 9th, 2022, and while there hasn’t been a huge shake-up in rankings like with past algorithm updates, there are some important things to keep in mind.
This update is more of a sign of the direction Google is heading. Having the algorithm accurately measure what is “helpful” is going to take a lot of work and time. But every update henceforth will be working to go in that direction.
You might not see a drop in your rankings right away, but over time, you will start to lose out to content that is already adapting to Google’s suggestions.
It’s also much easier to proactively start ensuring your site is in compliance than waiting for the algorithm to punish your site. It can take months for changes you make today to be taken into account by Google.
How to use the Helpful Content Update to help you
Anytime there are new requirements, it means that people willing to put in the work can gain an advantage over content farms that put little effort into their content.
Taking the time now to create over 30 pieces of well-researched helpful content will allow your site to grow faster with every Google Update.
As more and more requirements are added by Google, you should look for ways to automate things like web design and development so you can focus on creating this valuable “helpful content” instead of technical SEO problems with your website.
Using a website builder platform like JetPage will let you have an easy-to-use beautiful website that helps you pass all of Google’s Page Experience Update factors, all without lifting a finger.
No maintenance or updates required, all you have to do is write!
You can learn more about all the ways we optimize for SEO here, or you can try it out for free for 14 days here!
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