From time to time, Google updates its guidelines for website owners. The goal is always the same – to help people using the largest search engine ever find what they need. Recently, Google introduced the Helpful Content update. Find out whether your content and SEO strategy is compliant with it.
On August 18, 2022, Google announced the latest update in its indexing algorithms. The Helpful Content update was designed to provide users with “more original, helpful content written by people, for people.” What does it actually mean?
Google wants to put an end to creating content just for SEO purposes, with no genuine value for people reading it. In other words, if you create repetitive texts that contribute nothing new or valuable, you will have a hard time reaching a high position in the SERP. As one might expect, in such a situation, you can lose many potential customers.
The Helpful Content update in practice
First off, Google reminds us of the long-standing search essentials regarding all web content. Everything you publish should concentrate on users and their needs (Google calls it people-first content), which means that traditional SEO should not be your main concern when writing and publishing blog posts, articles and other pieces of content.
Ensure each piece that you publish offers a satisfying experience for the readers and that it meets their expectations.
Every time you want to publish a new post, ask yourself three valid questions:
- Is this post helpful and valuable for my customers?
- Does it show my knowledge and first-hand experience?
- Would I publish it if Google didn’t exist?
They will help you assess whether the given text is compliant with the Helpful Content update.
Secondly, you must ensure that every piece of content you publish is of high quality. This means that:
- There are no spelling, stylistic or factual errors; each article needs to be written with utmost care and attention to detail.
- The text is driven by the genuine interests and needs of your readers.
- The article has been verified before publishing (to make sure it’s unique and correct).
- Ideally, it was published or at least verified by an expert with hands-on experience in the field.
Let’s go further. The helpful content is always transparent and legit. This means there is no false/unverified information and no clickbait. Furthermore, every subpage should clearly inform the audience what it’s about and have a primary purpose or focus.
Use the skyscraper content technique
This content-writing technique is based on analyzing other well-ranking posts and articles on the same topic in order to create something better. You don’t use these texts to copy-paste them (just using slightly different words) but to see what each of them lacks and include that information in your piece. As a result, your text will be more insightful and helpful compared to what can be found online.
Make sure each piece you publish online adds something new to the discussion. Even if you publish a summary or a comparison, try to go beyond what’s been already said (and, as Google puts it, “beyond obvious”). If possible, refer to your knowledge and experience. For example, you can mention a related case study or a past project.
What to avoid
There are a few things that you need to avoid at all costs:
- Duplicate content and plagiarism
- Automated content generators
- Publishing controversial and unverified information (if possible, refer to proven sources and research)
- Mass content production (it’s better to write and publish one high-quality post than five low-grade ones)
- Keyword stuffing (this technique is no longer effective and can even be detrimental to your content’s performance)
- Distracting elements (try to limit things that can distract your readers, especially ads)
- Publishing content on many different topics (that’s a suggestion for Google that you have no primary focus, and you publish random posts hoping that some of them will attract more traffic)
Remove all the unhelpful content from your website
Have you ever published unhelpful, repetitive content that was made just for SEO purposes? Now, Google advises you to remove it from your website. And yes, it can mean that your website will perform a bit worse in the SERP, but that’s just a temporary problem. In the long run, your SEO/content strategy will be improved, and so will your website’s position. If you don’t want to remove the given text, make sure you update it and enhance its quality. Sometimes, you’ll need to rewrite the text altogether.
Does it mean that SEO is no longer effective?
By no means! Search engine optimization has never been only about creating SEO-friendly texts. There is still a lot to do when it comes to other Google guidelines concerning your website’s performance (read more about Core Web Vitals), its technical condition, backlinks, internal and external linking and many more SEO-related elements.
SEO is, in fact, nothing more than an attempt to adjust your website to the search engine requirements. So, when Google tells you that now each piece of content has to be high-quality and valuable from the reader’s perspective – that’s what you should do; that’s the new SEO.
And what about keywords? Are they no longer relevant? Also no. In the SEO Starter Guide, Google clearly indicates that keywords still play a vital role: “Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content.” So, you still should use them, but don’t go overboard. Using too many or unnatural keywords won’t do any good. Concentrate on keywords that are relevant and use them sparingly.
Let us tweak your SEO
Are you looking for an experienced partner that will help you boost your visibility on Google? You’ve come to the right place. LIFE Web & Design has extensive experience with creating and updating SEO-friendly websites. We continually track all the changes in Google algorithms, and we know how to make your website fully SEO-friendly.
Take a look at our SEO services and reach out to find out more.