Should You Be Worried About Google’s Helpful Content Update?

Andrew Copeland
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Google rolled out their latest algorithm update this week and the internet is buzzing. It’s being called the Helpful Content Update and, ver since the change was announced last week, SEOs and content marketers have been speculating nonstop. 

In case you haven’t had time to catch up on all the chatter regarding the Helpful Content Update, here’s what you need to know.

The Helpful Content Update Summarized

The latest algorithm update was first announced last week and began rolling out today. It will take about two weeks to completely roll out so we don’t know which sites will be affected and how severely just yet.

That said, here are a few key points that we do know:

  • The update seeks to penalize “SEO first” articles
  • Another step toward “unique, relevant content”
  • Emphasize quality over quantity
  • Don’t try to outsmart the algorithm
  • Focus on creating helpful content for your audience
  • Remove low quality or “unhelpful” content from your website

Google Algorithms Explained to Business Owners CTA

What does the update do?

The latest algorithm change is being called the Helpful Content Update (HCU) and – as you hopefully guessed – is focused on promoting content that is helpful to searchers. 

The Helpful Content Update has introduced a new ranking signal that will push down sites with high volumes of low-value content or, in other words, content that is “not helpful.”

In Google’s own words: “Any content — not just unhelpful content — on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search”

So basically, if your content strategy has been to pump out large amounts of keyword-rich blog posts that focus on high-volume search terms, you might be in trouble. But if you’ve been focused on answering questions and providing insights, you should be fine.

Adjusting Your Strategy

All strategies need to be revisited and tweaked on occasion. Even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, this could be the perfect opportunity to update your list of best practices. Here are some tips on how to refine your current strategy and benefit from the latest algorithm change:

What you should do

  • Focus on reader intent
  • Look for ways to inform rather than rank high
  • Highlight your expertise
  • Create more content for “how-to” style searches and queries

What you should not do

  • Produce lots of content on different topics and hope that some of it might perform well in search results
  • Cover topics because they are trending and not because they are interesting to your existing audience
  • Write about niche subjects that have high search volume but are not relevant to your expertise

So, What’s the Point of this Update?

The Helpful Content Update follows a similar theme as previous updates and reinforces what many of us already know: the best content strategies focus on satisfying the searcher, not the search engine.

Google is seeking to penalize “content for search engines first” and weed out the kinds of sites that spam search results with junk content. Gimmicky things like keywords and summaries of high-ranking pages will become less helpful and may even have a negative impact.

The bottom line? You and the algorithm should have the same goal: giving people the help they want. If you concentrate on that, algorithm changes shouldn’t turn your whole world upside down.

Creating Content for People First

With this latest Google algorithm change, it sounds like content strategy is moving closer to where it was before search engines came into the picture. If you’ve been creating content that takes a user-first approach, then this new update shouldn’t be much to worry about.

There is a huge amount of noise and increasing competition for every keyword & many of those keywords have the potential to generate large volumes of traffic, but they often don’t serve the goal of getting your audience to trust and like your brand. Here’s to replacing commodity content with content that resonates!

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