How the Google Helpful Content Update Could be Impacting Your Website
If you haven’t checked your company’s organic search results in a while, it may be time to take a fresh look. After several years of Google’s search algorithm being focused on technical aspects, such as site speed, AMP pages and Java script errors, they search giant is turning back to the basics with new ranking factors focused on high-quality website content.
Are you creating content on your website to help a specific audience, or strictly targeting topics for SEO so it will perform well in search engines? Either way, Google is shaking things up for those producing content and driving traffic. They are working to better connect people to helpful information. Here’s what you need to know to update your content.
What’s Going On with the Latest Organic Search Results?
For some time now, Google search results have left many information-seekers wanting. So many topics are being highjacked by well-funded large brands and high-paying ad buyers. Companies with big budgets are also writing over-optimized SEO content. This is diminishing readability and user experience.
In an attempt to “win” at SEO, some brands and agencies have over-optimized their SEO content for several years. In many cases, content is created strictly for spamming the search results. This practice starts with low-effort (aka cheap) content that is poor to average at best. This cheap content is then “SEOed,” often just describing the same items repeatedly to please the search engine. It’s clear in these cases, that the content was not created to satisfy the searcher.
The Google Helpful Content Update (HCU) aims to improve search results. This update will introduce a signal for ranking web pages. This signal will aid in identifying content that has little value, low-added value, or is not particularly helpful to those searching. This classifier will run in real-time and run continually. This means that it will be looking at existing sites as well as new sites.
Who is Impacted by the Helpful Content Update?
Essentially, this Google algorithm update will mainly impact websites with lots of random, unfocused, or unhelpful content. This signal will be used to “weed out” content that is not people-focused or helpful to the target audience. You could be in trouble if your site strictly pumps out low-quality content for rankings.
Not all sites will be affected. Sites with high-quality, informative content shouldn’t worry about this rollout. You may even see a traffic boost. Either way, keep your eye on this update and how it affects your website. This update will impact English searches globally in the beginning, with expansions to other languages to come in the future.
One important thing to remember is that this update is “site-wide.” Even if you have been committed to providing useful, entertaining or engaging content for a while, older low-quality content may keep your website from ranking as highly as it could.
What Can You do to Counteract Any Drops in Rankings?
Counteracting any drops in rankings can be as simple as developing a content plan. Start with an SEO content audit for all existing web pages. You need to identify the problem areas and work to repair them if you want to leverage these pages for higher rankings. Avoid creating strictly for SEO.
As you review your content, use the guide questions below to evaluate each page. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, that is a sign that you may need to reevaluate the content across your site:
- Does the content exist primarily to attract clicks from search engines instead of helping customers or prospects?
- Are you “spraying and praying” with your content, churning out articles on lots of different topics and hoping that some of it might perform well in search results?
- Are you using extensive automation – without any human oversight or editing — to produce content?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (they do not)
- Did you decide to enter a niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
- Are you promising to answer questions that have no answer?
Answering yes to any of those questions means you should rethink your content.
How to Produce Helpful Content that Will Rank Well
If you’re hoping to improve your organic search results, you can and should still use basic SEO best-practices for producing new content. The people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices like those covered in .
The main takeaway: Your content needs to be people-first or people-focused.
This means that you will need to create original and helpful content. You will still be able to utilize SEO best practices to ensure that your content is found easily by searchers. People-first content is focused on satisfying what searchers are looking for, while also using SEO to add value.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your content. If you answer yes, that means you are most likely on the right track with a people-first approach.
- 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 (expertise that comes from having 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 read your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
If you see that your ranking has dropped, don’t panic. It isn’t a death sentence for your website. Dig in and make some adjustments to your content. Over time, with people-focused content, you should see improvement.
See Real SEO Improvement with High-Quality Content from Dragon Horse Agency
Formulating a true content marketing strategy and creating high-quality content are your top tools for better SEO and higher search rankings. Dragon Horse Agency has the experience to help.
As a full-service creative and media agency, we know that smart, persuasive content is at the heart of any client’s messaging strategy. That’s why we work diligently to stay on top of changes that could impact you.
With an expertise in creating unique and original content, Dragon Horse Agency is here to help you navigate the ever-changing world of algorithms, SEO, and content. From website creation and SEO strategy to customized blogs and whitepapers, our team of writers, designers and digital strategists will work to ensure that we provide you with the articles and information your audience is looking for.
Let us help you stay on top of that Google search with content that is people-focused and most importantly – helpful. Contact Dragon Horse Agency today to find out how we can help you stay on top of the game.
Dragon Horse was founded in 2015, headquartered in Naples, FL, with offices in Santa Monica, CA, is a multi-award-winning business marketing leader offering services designed to achieve clients’ goals. Dragon Horse is the next generation creative syndicate, a marketing and business strategy agency, combining synergies of in-depth skill sets in one integrated, comprehensive solution for business success.