Google is a search engine that helps people to search and learn about various things that matters to them. There are hundreds of websites on Google that provide the same information to people. Google’s algorithm analyzes more than two-hundred factors to categorize these websites as good and bad.
What is Google’s Helpful Content Update?
Some sites which provide the right and detailed information to their readers but lack SEO optimization a bit is tagged as quality sites. While some sites which are fully optimized as per the SEO guidelines but lack the right and detailed information that users are searching for were also tagged as quality sites until now.
Google’s Helpful Content Update will focus on bringing this practice to an end. More than 11 years ago when Google rolled out its Panda update, website rankings were impacted on a large scale. SEOs from across the globe went through many ups and downs to get their site rankings right following the update. The impacted sites took months to come on the right track once again.
Something similar is going to happen with the advent of Helpful Content Update. There is a popular adage that history repeats itself after a certain period, the same case we will experience while working on Google in some weeks to come. The main headache will be for websites that only focus on search engine optimization and ignore the interests of their online visitors.
Google’s new content update is more likely to penalize the websites that only write content to perk up their SERP rankings. When I first read about the helpful content update, I thought it is the 2022 version of Panda as the main objective of both updates is the same – to help users find the right information on Google.
However, when I read more about the update I realized it has a lot more things under the hood that Panda or even the Penguin update didn’t have. According to Google, the Panda update is already backed into its core algorithm. The possibilities that the helpful content update will be incorporated into the search engine’s core algorithm are very high.
Why Google is Releasing Helpful Content Update?
As we all know that Google keeps its users above anything else in the world. The search engine company keeps a track of everything happening over the platform. According to authority sources, based on feedback through search links, social media, and other external sources the company found that some of its users are not getting what they are searching for.
As usual, Google took this seriously and announced the release of the helpful content update a few days back. The world’s most powerful search engine can’t see its searchers unhappy at any cost. So, now the company further wants to improve the quality of content that lies over its platform.
Along with the announcement about the new update Google also gave some questions that we as website owners need to ask ourselves.
Google said, “How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should re-evaluate how you’re creating content across your site:”
“Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?”
If you will say a yes then I can guarantee you that Google will not like it. The search engine has always tried to provide the best piece of content to their visitors. If your site contains tons of pieces that are just written keeping in mind the SEO, how would you satisfy the humans?
If I visit your site to find something and what I got is only keywords sprinkled all over the page adequately accompanied by low-quality content. I would be forced to open another site to satisfy my need. It is as simple as that!
“Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?”
The search engine company has always asked content creators and businesses to always focus on a particular niche while blogging. But a lot of websites write about everything they could possibly write on. This creates a problem when it comes to building authority online.
Also, it is seen that sites that have developed their authority in a particular niche start writing about irrelevant topics and those articles outrank less authoritative sites that only write on that particular topic. It is believed that Google will also end this unethical practice through its new helpful content update.
“Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?”
What I feel about this question from Google is that sites that depend on AI writing tools will be on the top of its hit list. It is seen that AI-generated content gets ranked on the search engine but again it is just a robot that doesn’t put any additional value on the content. It is copying a well-written piece of content, rephrasing it, and pasting. Do you think Google will like such pieces ranking higher over its platform? No!
So, if you are using AI tools to generate the content you should stop doing that right now. It is always better to brainstorm and write content by your hands using your own brain. The human brain adds emotions and relevancy to the written content. And engines admire this fact!
“Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?”
Many websites just aggregate or summarize things that have been already written on other sites in detail. Sites with such content will be penalized and the ranking of such websites will be impacted severely in the near future. Summarizing is okay but only summarizing and calling it a unique piece of content is not okay!
When I write an article, I myself go through at least 5 pieces about the same topic. After reading all those articles thoroughly I create my own content by adding my opinions and views into it matters to my target audience. If you are putting additional value into the content, then summarizing won’t be an issue. However, while summarizing you should refrain from using the same words or language tone.
“Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?”
If something is trending on Google or social media networking sites that is relevant to your site’s niche, there is nothing wrong with writing on those topics. But if you have a site that covers every trending topic, then there will be a big problem. Your site ranking will go down the drain and you will struggle a lot in the future to keep up your SEO game.
If you run such a site, it is necessary to consider Google’s helpful content update. The engine might shed some more light on this question later, but for the time being, be ready to experience a shift in your site’s rankings.
“Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?”
When you write content with an intention to help people you ensure that the content has everything that the audience is searching for. But content that is only written to drive organic traffic and make some money out of that, your intention might get fulfilled but the readers will be left unsatisfied.
Then, they will hop on to another site to satisfy their needs. Google will come to know that your site doesn’t have the content that the readers were looking for. It will pass on an extremely bad signal to the search engines. Hence, the site’s ranking will be compromised.
“Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).”
This question is very common in the SEO world. People are so obsessed with the word count of a blog or an article that they worry about it more than the quality of the written content. It is important to think about the word count, but its importance shrinks away when it comes to the quality.
Write as much as you can to satisfy the need of your readers. If people will get all the details in an article of 500 words, write it down and hit publish, don’t think much about the word count. On the other hand, if your audience wants to read a well-researched piece of 2000 words, you should write that too.
“Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?”
Lately, there has been a sudden spark in the discussions about starting a niche-based site. You will find many articles and YouTube videos that continuously talk about which niche is more profitable, which can help you make more money. It might fit well for some, but it could be devastating for others.
Suppose you start writing on a trending niche through which you can make lots of dollars in less time, but you lack the expertise about that topic. Will Google trust you? No, because you don’t have the core knowledge about that subject. You will read ten different articles, aggregate all that you just read, and will write in your own words without additional details coming out of your own brain.
On the other hand, there is a writer who is passionate about a niche and can easily write detailed, well-researched articles through personal experiences, such a site is bound to perform incredibly well on Google over time.
“Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?”
If your site comprises content that is answering a question that is not even a question yet, it could pass on a bad signal to the search engine.
How to Recover from the Impact of Google’s Helpful Content Update?
If Google finds your site guilty, it will classify your site under the made-for search-engine category. Then no one can stop your site from being penalized. The impact of penalty will impact your site’s overall ranking apart from page & post rankings. You can experience a sheer decline in the rankings and traffic for a few months to come.
However, it is said that nothing is impossible in this world. You can get rid of the search engine’s classification by working on the weak points. For that, you indeed will have to follow everything mentioned in Google’s helpful content update. Identifying the issues and working to eradicate them from your site forever would be the way to go.
If you find your site dealing with severe repercussions after the full-fledged rollout of the helpful content update. I have discussed some points below following which you can take care of your site without hurting Google’s sentiments.
- Run down analysis of your site and figure out the content or pages or posts that could be classified as ‘made for search engines rather than humans.
- Decide which content has the scope for improvement in accordance with Google’s new guidelines. If a piece of content can’t be improved, it will be better to remove it completely.
- Discover new ways by which you can create human-oriented content without worrying about SEO. The more human-targeted content you will create the better will be your chances to get classified as a ‘made for human’ site by the search engine.
- Analyze the competitor sites which are still ranking top in spite of the helpful content update. Spy on their strategies and research what good things they are doing to win the trust of Google.
- Focus on enhancing the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) of your site. Google’s algorithm gives more preference to sites the content of which is written by industry experts, it automatically boosts the authority of the site and helps build trustworthiness among people.
- A website comes into existence to fulfill a purpose. Your purpose might be something else, but Google wants that purpose to be to help people. If you want to recover from the impact of the helpful content update your site should only have one purpose i.e., to satisfy people with the right, precise, and detailed information.
- You might have to learn to leave bad things behind and move on to a more profound opportunity. I personally think that there are sites that will find it extremely difficult to come out of the effects of Google’s helpful content update.
The helpful content update is not at all an attack on SEO. If your SEO strategy includes helping people with nicely written content, you will never face any problems when this update will be live. But if your SEO strategy only includes SEO and search engines, your site will be impacted for at least a few months in the future.