With the Helpful Content Update, Google is driving its user-centric approach further ahead, and once again makes SEO professionals around the world sit up and take notice.
Because the new update says more clearly than ever what is important to Google. Good rankings are rewarded for content that is created by people for people. The search engine is concerned with the optimal combination of usefulness and user experience.
Conversely, this means: Content that is mechanical or created with calculation for the search engine loses visibility. This can even have an impact on all pages of a website, because if Google classifies them as “search-engine-first”, the entire content loses reach.
The new Helpful Content Update has been rolled out since the last week of August 2022. First of all, it only affects the English search worldwide. In the future, however, it is also to be implemented for all other languages.
It will be some time before the first results become apparent. The time that you can use to systematically prepare – so that you are not overwhelmed by the update. In this article, we will explain to you what will be important to Google in the future.
What matters after the Helpful Content Update
The proclaimed focus of the most popular search engine will be: people first! Good website content therefore primarily means providing users with a satisfactory experience and meeting the expectations of the target group
Basically, this orientation is actually nothing new. Because already Google’s tips for creating high-quality content and the Guidelines for webmasters are increasingly aimed at the positive experience of the target group.
It is not without reason that SEOs have been talking about search intentions for years and repeatedly emphasize that content for users Create users, not for a search engine.
Ultimately, Google is taking another step toward users with the Helpful Content Update. The update confirms the idea that SEOs actually do user optimization and not (anymore) SEO in the actual sense of the word search engine optimization is to be understood.
6 questions to find out if you create Helpful Content
With the announcement of the update, Google has published a series of notes on what they consider helpful content and which content is rewarded with good rankings.
To find out if you are creating useful content, Google has issued six questions:
- Do you have an existing or target audience who would find your content helpful if they went directly to your website?
- Proves your content real first-hand expertise and deep professional knowledge (e.g. expertise that really results from using the product or visiting a certain place) ?
- Does your website have a clear purpose or focus?
- Once someone has consumed your content, the person will then leave your website feeling have learned enough about the subject to achieve your own goal.
- After consuming the content, will someone leave your website feeling have had a pleasant experience?
Are you considering the Google guides on updates and reviews? You see: it’s all actually not so wild. Ideally, you should already be able to answer all of these questions with a resounding yes.
9 questions to tell you if your website will be penalized by the Helpful Content Update
The biggest fear in content marketing is always that the traffic will suddenly collapse after an update. Of course, this fear also accompanies the Helpful Content Update. And there will certainly be websites that will be penalized and whose visibility will collapse.
At the same time, we can give the all-clear. Because if you’ve kept up to date with the latest in SEO over the past few years, this new update can’t catch you off guard. After all, your content is already in line with what Google considers helpful.
To help you further, Google has published nine more questions to recognize whether you are producing really helpful content for real people or just for the search engine:
- Is your content primarily about Attracting people via search engines instead of actually creating content for people?
- Create lots of content on a variety of topics hoping some of it will be good in performance in search results?
- Use some form of automation to generate as much content as possible on different topics?
- Just summarize what others have already written, without any own value to add?
- Write about topics because they are trendy and not because they really match your intended target group?
- Do readers feel like they keep searching for better information after consuming your content?
- Write with the goal to reach a certain number of words, because you think Google has preferences?
- Move in certain niche topics because they promise traffic, although you have no expertise in this area?
- Does your content promise to answer a specific question, but it actually has no answer to it (e.g. release date for product, movie, or TV show, although there is no date yet)?
The same applies here: Normally, you should already be able to answer every question with a clear no.
Examples of helpful and unhelpful websites
Often it is useful to illustrate all this with examples. That’s why we want to briefly set up a striking thought game, but without specifically labeling any website as helpful or unhelpful.
First, imagine an Online shop for craft supplies before. This shop specializes in any form of bonding. Accordingly, he sells z. B. liquid glue and various adhesive tapes. All product pages have extensive product text. There is also a guide area in which various products are explained in their application and special bonding techniques, as well as practical tips, are explained.
And now think of a product tester page, which discusses products from a wide variety of areas, from clothing and technology to sports equipment and books. So the site has no specialty. The texts are always structured according to the same scheme and it is not clear whether the operators have really ever held the product in their hands.
Which of these pages would you consider helpful yourself? Which of the sites would you trust? And which website would Google penalize with the Helpful Content Update and which reward? You probably already know the answer – and think it’s completely correct and sensible.
Keep calm: This is how you react to the Helpful Content Update
Beware of scaremongering! Dubious agencies like to take Google updates as an opportunity to stir up a little fear and thus sell their services. So if an SEO agency approaches you and uses the update as an emotional means of pressure, be careful.
Because first of all, the topic is Helpful Content just one ranking factor among many. It is one of several aspects that Google uses when evaluating your website.
Basically, however, the update confirms the path that Google has taken: toward a clear focus on users. That’s only logical, after all, Google wants to be the best search engine and thus offer the best possible results.
Website operators need to take a deep breath. Normally, you shouldn’t have been working in a search engine-centric way for a few years now. The pure focus on the search engine has long been considered bad SEO practice. Anyone who only works for the search engine has already fallen out of time. So, as long as you are up to date, you don’t have to worry too much.
Nevertheless, there will of course be sites where the new update causes problems. The main danger is that entire web pages are classified as unhelpful if they have a certain (undefined) amount of unhelpful content. So here it can if necessary. to major slumps.
Overall, however, we stick to our credo: Keep Calm. Every Google update is only a change, not necessarily a deterioration. Because overall the efforts to offer a better user experience are a positive development. Finally, here is the opportunity to really shine as an expert.
At the same time, a new update is always a good reason to put your own content to the test. Use Google’s published questions to check your content.
Because regardless of whether you already act to the best of your knowledge and belief, routines often creep into everyday life that is rarely questioned. See So see the Helpful Content Update as an opportunity to review your own content, rather than as a risk or threat. Then you will also master this change without any problems!