Around two weeks ago, on the 25th of August, Google began rolling out its Helpful Content update. The intention? To reduce ‘low-quality, and unoriginal’ content in search results.
Naturally, as a digital marketing agency, our interest was piqued. So we went straight to Google itself to understand what this meant, and here’s what we found:
This means that the move dissuades people from publishing content to purely rank in search engines, and encourages them to write content that helps people’s queries and search requests.
In short, the latest update is a people-first approach. To put things into context better, here’s an overview:
Firstly, the update is going to be sitewide, meaning the whole site will be impacted. Think ‘About’ pages, interlinked pages, etc. The whole jam.
Next, while Google is only looking at English-language content globally at present, it’s likely to expand to other languages as well. This makes it a good time to review your multilingual content if you have any.
Lastly, Google also said the impact would be felt more for online-educational materials, shopping, entertainment, and tech-related content. And while we don’t know what percentage of queries or searches would be impacted(yet?), we do know it will be significant to your ranking.
Though the update is meant to roll out in two weeks fully— and it’s prudent to wait until the process is complete to assess its impact— we also think it’s wise to take stock of the situation and prepare a plan in case you find your pages getting impacted.
So here’s us being good samaritans and drafting you a plan of action:
- Stay focused on your core topic:
The search engine might be telling us to stick to our areas of niche because brands and companies are no strangers to capitalizing on a high-volume keyword, and writing content purely for the heck of it. But Google is now discouraging this cross-over, in the spirit of users finding quality content online.
It helps to get reflecting at this stage and ask yourself questions like:
‘Is my content aimed at attracting the search engine ranking, or the right audience?’
‘Are you jumping on a trend bandwagon, or do your topics have an impact on your audience?’
- Show first-hand experience:
The content that gets published on search engines is often written by authors who have no experience with what they’re writing about. Which may alter the quality of the content produced, despite the information being sourced from credible places.
Our advice? Write extensively about the product, service, or places you’ve experienced firsthand. And support it with sufficient original photos or insights.
This would add real value to your content instead of just being a summarization of what others have said.
- Provide ample information to the search query:
When a user visits your website, they need to leave with a feeling of being satisfied with the answer you’ve provided to their questions. This curbs your bounce rate, increases repeat visits, and may even result in shares, who knows?
Again, this too requires a good dose of self-reflection from you. You can start by asking yourself if you’re writing from the reader’s perspective a.k.a providing them the best possible information in the best possible manner.
You can follow this up by looking into your word count and visual representation of facts as well. For the first one is often extended and the second barely gets dabbled into. The audience generally likes content that’s crisp, informative, and peppered with the right visuals.
- Avoid making misleading claims:
This basic rule of thumb for good business applies to the content you publish as well. And we second it, for making it clear to your readers when you’ve written about something that’s rumored or inconclusive, not only helps from legal entanglements but also helps in establishing and maintaining trust in the long term. You cannot go wrong with this.
That’s it! This should be sufficient to help you navigate the present uncertain waters, which we are sure will ebb once the rollout is complete.
In the interim, you can keep an eye on the search engine’s advice regarding other core updates and product review pages, which should position you well to benefit from the ongoing helpful content update.