What’s the update?
Google is bringing a “Helpful Content” update as a part of its August plan to help its effort to bring original, relevant content into the hands of its users.
This update releases a new site-wide signal (plus its existing signals) that it will consider for ranking web pages. This signal works on a machine learning model and will monitor existing and newly-launched websites.
Any content or site with massive amounts of unhelpful, irrelevant, non-value-adding content will lose its visibility on search engines and will be less likely to perform well.
The update will initially work on English searches worldwide and will be rolled out later for other languages in the future.
Great, so what does it mean?
We always knew content should be original and should add value. What changes now?
With advancements in technology, there is a lot of content being generated. Many times, it’s even a spin-off of original pieces. It is leading to content generation but no value generation.
This update keeps people at the forefront. If your content makes the visitor feel they have gained something or learned something new from reading it, you are doing a good job.
The update simply says, “Make content for people, not web crawlers.” We all know “Content value supersedes SEO.” But does this mean you should not focus on SEO guidelines? Of course not! SEO will always be in the picture. That’s what even Google says in its SEO guide. It is still needed to make search easy for visitors and ranking. But it should not be the entire picture.
If you really look at this update, it’s nothing new. It’s a part of Google's broader effort - to make the search a worthwhile experience for its visitors.
Who should be worried?
It would be a great update for all who create high-quality content, but it's definitely not a great sign for those who knowingly/unknowingly don’t. If you are doing any of the below, best will be to start making changes now.
- Extensive use of AI to spin out content from existing ranking pages
- Talking about trending topics without paying heed to whether it is relevant to your audience or not, just to get more traffic
- Rolling out multiple similar content pieces but targeting different keywords in them
- Adding tons of keywords and promotional links in your content pieces
Who shouldn’t be worried?
As we mentioned, those who are adding value to their audience have nothing to worry about. If you fit into any of the below, you are all set.
- Someone who considers AI as a friend to write content, not spin it off.
- Someone who offers content simply because it is for their audience, not a part of some fad to catch temporary attention.
- Someone who adheres to Google’s SEO guidelines, not abuses it. Meaning no keyword stuffing, no cloaking, no hidden links or text, no phishing or pfaffing.
- Someone who has managed to keep their websites clutter free from low quality content
Finally, what should one do?
Cut the clutter
Remove the unhelpful content pieces from your main website or shift them to another domain. If, say, you are classified as a site usually having unhelpful content (after the update rolls out), but you have some people-first content in your repository, then that content can still rank or hold its position on the web.
But, remember - sites with a lot of unhelpful content are less likely to rank on search engines. Further, it can take months for a site to get classified with good signals. Best to cut the clutter now!
Assess if you are offering rich content
91% of B2B brands use content as a part of their marketing strategy to reach customers, 72% say it increases engagement and brings in leads. Would you believe if we tell you the same number (72%) also intend to increase their content marketing budget in 2022? Insane, right?
The above statistics reflect how important content is. Ask yourself these questions each time you wish to post something, not just to oblige to Google updates:
- Is my content original? Even if my content says something that my competitor is also talking about, does it offer my perspective? Is there any value-add?
- Will my audience learn something after reading it?
- Does this content answer the queries of my reader?
- If I was a reader, would I share this with a friend?
- Is the content comprehensive? Does it cover all the aspects of a subject?
- Is the flow of the content smooth or skimmable enough that my reader would want to keep reading?
- Have I added the latest statistics and data points to showcase depth and research of the topic?
- Have I added enough details, insights, or examples for the reader to trust me?
Ensuring good presentation, hygiene and SEO guidelines in your content goes without saying but answering the above questions lets you not lose sight of what’s important - Keeping it people focused.
Humanize the content
Add your perspective
People trust content that they know is coming from an authority who holds the subject's expertise. To save your content from going down the drain, go back to it and add your insights. Rephrasing already ranking content is a big no-no as it may come under Google’s radar going forward. Marrying unique content with a fresh perspective is important.
From spins to specifics
A bot can read what’s on the SERP, it can’t read what’s on your mind. Therefore, AI writers don’t do one thing: get into specifics. For content completely written with AI, you can do a few things to humanize it.
- Ask rhetorical questions
- Use first-person perspective/voice
- Add examples from experience
- Add your own touch (the tone and references a human would use)
- Cut down the keyword bloat, if any.
Google algorithm updates are a nail-biter for SEO strategists and creators, but if you have been following the intrinsic golden rule of providing content that adds value to life; you are in the clear, my friend.
- The “my friend” should tell you this post is not a spin-off. It is specific to our target audience.
- The term “keyword bloat” can work as a great example of how you can humanize your content with specifics. AI wouldn’t use the term “keyword bloat”, but a human would still know what I am talking about. It works as a surprise element.
- There you go! I used the first-person voice in my last point and this one.