Google Advice For Helpful Content Update

In August 2022, Google began rolling out their Helpful Content update. Along with the update, Google released some information about what the update was, the purpose of the update and some advice to creators on what they should be doing with their content.

What is the Google Helpful Content Update (HCU)?

The changes brought by the HCU algorithm intend to provide users with more original and helpful content from search queries. Rather than Google offering up SERP results that lead to non-satisfactory, or non-useful information, Google wants to improve their users search experience by ensuring that the content provided is created by people, with the end user at the forefront of the creators thinking.

Google’s algorithm will now seek to identify high-value, user driven content and reward this in the SERPs . Content that is not useful, or not created with the user in mind will not be rewarded, and therefore is likely to see a drop in visibility.

What do Google have to say about content creation and the HCU update?

The Helpful Content Update has been introduced with the purpose of better rewarding content that satisfies the users wants and needs, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

By following Google’s long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines, you take steps to ensure your content performs well in the SERPs. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while implementing best-practice SEO measures to also benefit the user. Google says, if you’re answering yes to the question below, then you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

Google’s advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. Rather, Google reiterate that ‘content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying’.

So, what do Google advise you do to ensure you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Well, if you’re answering yes to some, or all of the below, perhaps it’s time to have a think about your overall content strategy:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

If you have any questions regarding the Google Helpful Content Update, or would like to speak to a member of our Technical SEO Agency team, then please get in touch via phone, email or the contact form today.


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