Google’s Helpful Content Update is Rolling Out Soon
It’s finally time to stop creating spammy, useless content.
If you haven’t heard yet, Google is rolling out what they are calling the Helpful Content Update starting on August 22, 2022. This update is expected to have major impact on search results, which means major headaches for many business owners.
As its name suggests, this update will favor high-quality content that provides value for the user and devalue content that is written solely for search engines.
In other words, this update already has a lot of low-budget SEO “experts” shaking in their boots.
Here’s the brief version:
- The Helpful Content Update begins rolling out on August 22, 2022, and should take about two weeks to fully process
- The update will elevate helpful, unique content written by people to provide value for other people
- The update will devalue low-quality content written for search engines; it may also target content created by artificial intelligence programs
- This is a sitewide update, so any low-quality content on your website can potentially bring you down
What is the Helpful Content Update?
Google’s new helpful content update will specifically target content that has been purposely created to rank well in the search engines instead of providing value and knowledge to the reader.
Low-quality content has long been a major issue that has cluttered up search engines, and Google is well aware of this. In the words of Google:
“Many of us have experienced the frustration of visiting a web page that seems like it has what we’re looking for, but doesn’t live up to our expectations. The content might not have the insights you want, or it may not even seem like it was created for, or even by, a person.”
Based on the extreme emphasis Google’s announcement places on “people” and “humans,” it’s very likely this update will have a big impact on any websites that rely heavily on AI-generated content.
The driving force behind this update is to help searchers “find high-quality content.” Google wants to reward and favor those pieces that have been written with the user’s benefit in mind and downgrade the pieces of content that have been primarily written for SEO.
Unlike previous Google updates that targeted specific pages, this update will be sitewide. This means that it has the potential to affect your entire website, including your good content. For example, if you have a lot of low-quality pages on your site, that bad content may bring down the value of your good content that’s currently ranking well in search.
For anyone who’s been in the SEO space for a while, this update doesn’t sound all that unique. Google has long been vocal about low-quality content, and other updates such as Panda and even the more recent Product Review Updates have targeted thin or spammy content.
Good SEO professionals have always argued that all content should be written with the end user in mind. Unfortunately, bad content has always performed well in search, so many SEOs have taken shortcuts in order to get better rankings.
The Helpful Content Update, in theory, will put an end to that.
What Types of Content will be Impacted by the Helpful Content Update?
When these algorithm changes are released, they are not necessarily released with the intent to target a specific niche or industry. However, some industries do get impacted more than others. Google announced that the helpful content update may impact the following industries the most:
- Online Education
These industries may experience a greater impact because of the historical precedent of poor-quality content designed only for rankings and not to benefit human users. These industries themselves are pretty broad and encompass a huge percentage of websites, but they likely won’t be the only industries impacted.
Any website and any industry can see a big shakeup in search results from this update.
Industries aside, these are the main content issues that will be impacted by this update:
- Low-quality content
- Content with no unique perspective
- Content created by AI
- Content scraped from other websites
- Lack of content
- Aggregated content
- Content that was written for search engines, not people
Some of those categories are fairly vague, but it should give you a good picture of what Google is planning to do with this update.
If you’re not sure if your content is high quality, then simply ask yourself if it provides unique value to your users. If it does, then you should be in the clear.
How to Prepare for the Helpful Content Update
Similar to previous updates, Google has provided us with a list of checkpoints and questions to consider when trying to optimize our content and pages. For the helpful content update, Google provided the following track points:
Focus on human-first content
- Do you have an intended audience for your content?
- Does your content showcase firsthand expertise?
- Does your site have a primary focus?
- Are you following guidance from core updates?
- Do users leave your site feeling like they learned something valuable after reading your content?
Avoid search engine-focused content
- Is your content created for SEO and search engines in mind?
- Are you using extensive automation to produce new content?
- Are you only writing about things that seem trendy?
- Are you writing to achieve a certain word count?
Those are some of the questions Google recommends you ask yourself when creating content to make sure it is valuable and helpful to the end user.
In addition to the track points listed above, here are some additional steps our experts recommend you take to prepare for this update:
- Establish baselines for rankings and organic traffic
- Evaluate existing content to determine the likelihood of impact
- Closely measure rankings and organic traffic over the next 4 weeks
- Contact a qualified SEO expert
If you want to get out ahead of this update, then you may wany to do the following:
- Perform a full content inventory now
- Delete or rewrite any content that isn’t “helpful”
Of course, if you are deleting anything, make sure you follow best practices when it comes to redirects.
Stay Ahead of the Helpful Content Update with Perrill
We understand this is a major update and that you may feel on edge and unsure of where to start. If this is you, let’s talk. Perrill has a group of SEO experts, and content writers ready to help you create engaging, valuable, and human-first content.
Nate Tower is the President of Perrill and has over 12 years of marketing and sales experience. During his career in digital marketing, Nate has demonstrated exceptional skills in strategic planning, creative ideation and execution. Nate's academic background includes a B.A. with a double major in English Language and Literature, Secondary Education, and a minor in Creative Writing from Washington University. He further expanded his expertise by completing the MBA Essentials program at Carlson Executive Education, University of Minnesota.
Nate holds multiple certifications from HubSpot and Google including Sales Hub Enterprise Implementation, Google Analytics for Power Users and Google Analytics 4. His unique blend of creative and analytical skills positions him as a leader in both the marketing and creative worlds. This, coupled with his passion for learning and educating, lends him the ability to make the complex accessible and the perplexing clear.