Google is going to soon launch the so-called helpful content update which, according to many experts, has the potential to be one of the most impactful search algorithm updates in more than a decade. The upcoming update will affect websites with a lot of “SEO content”. This is a type of content that’s only meant to rank well on search engines and lacks substance and added value. The company claims that the update is set to completely overhaul the way search results will appear to people from now on. Here is everything you need to know about this new and highly-interesting content update!
What exactly is the new helpful content update from Google?
Google explains that the new and upcoming helpful content update represents a way to target content that seems to have only been created to feed search engines and rank well rather than help people with information. Thanks to the new update, people will now be able to find qualitative online content a lot easier than before. The company is doing this intending to also help and reward websites that are working hard on creating professional and informative content.
There have actually been discussions on social media platforms about what can be called “SEO content”. A lot of people have become increasingly more frustrated because these types of websites are ranking extremely well after having been specially designed like this and not because of the content they contain. This creates confusion among searchers, wastes their time, and does not help anyone become more informed on a certain subject of interest.
From now on, these websites will receive a downgrade from Google. Helpful and real websites on the other hand will be pushed up in the hope of making it easier for people to find useful and qualitative content.
- The helpful content update was released by Google last month and its rollout was completed on January 12, 2023.
What content types will the Google content update impact?
Google representatives claim that the new helpful content update will not impact any specific content niche. However, when it comes to content types, people can expect shopping-related content, educational resources, and materials (such as online tutorials), tech-related content, as well as entertainment- and art-related content to be the most affected by the update.
Why these specific types of content? Well, the reason for this is that for entire years, the content for these specific niches has been written specifically for search engines with the aim to rank well and not offer any actual useful information. So, based on a thorough analysis from the company, these areas should suffer the most after the rollout of the new update.
As for any specific examples of how the new helpful update will make a difference, Google representatives have said that websites that aggregate online reviews are a good starting point to understand the difference that the update will make. Whenever you wish to search for an informative film or TV show review, for example, you usually end up on websites that simply compile other online reviews and do not offer any added value for the reader. The new Google update will get rid of these kinds of websites and push real and professional content up so more people can see it.
A site-wide algorithm, not a page-by-page one
It’s not a secret that the majority of Google’s algorithms are applied page-by-page meaning that they rather affect certain portions of the websites they target rather than the entirety of them. When it comes to the new content update, the company has announced that it will be a site-wide one. This means that Google will detect pages containing content meant to rank high on search engines. If it does that, the whole website could become inactive.
It’s worth noting that, for the time being, Google has not announced what exact percentage of SEO content could make your entire site come crashing down. To explain it better, your whole website might be affected even if it also contains real and informative content pages mixed with unwanted search engine content.
Google also advised website owners to remove the SEO content themselves as quickly as they can. This could not only prevent the entire website from being taken down thanks to the new update but could also drastically improve the ranking of the real content pieces on it.
Google’s tips on creating informative content for humans
Similarly to how it conducted the rollout of its previous updates, Google has now released a useful guide on how you can create content that is valuable and informative for human beings as opposed to SEO content. The guide also explains how the new update will work and what can website owners do to prevent their content from being taken down.
When it comes to creating human-first content, Google has shared some incredibly useful things to take into consideration:
- Your website, regardless if it’s for a business or something else, should have a target audience that will be interested in reading your content;
- Your website should present real information and opinions extracted after using a certain service or product, in the case of review websites. This means that websites that simply compile information from already-existing online reviews and don’t offer anything more to the readers will be targeted by the new update;
- Your website and its content should have a clear purpose;
- Your website should present content that people can learn something from upon reading it;
- The overall experience of reading the content on your website should be a pleasant and informative one;
- Take into account the guides on product reviews and core updates that Google has previously released.
The company has also offered some tips on how you can avoid creating SEO content, in case you think that you might be doing that accidentally:
- Your content should look and read like it’s meant for real people rather than search engines;
- Your content should focus on one single topic of interest rather than many of them in the hope of ranking well on search engines;
- Using extensive automation for content writing means that it’s done for search engines. Real content should be authentic and organic;
- Your content should add value to a topic and not simply repeat or compile information from what other websites have already put out;
- Your website should never publish content only because a certain topic is trending at a moment, especially if the said topic doesn’t have anything to do with the purpose of your website;
- Your content should answer the questions coming from your readers and not leave them having to search again to obtain information;
- Your content should feel natural even if it’s short-form. Google does not have any preference for word count so don’t try to put out lengthy articles just because you think they will do well;
- Your content should never focus on a niche that you are not familiar with simply because you might get traffic. You will never manage to add value to content that you don’t know anything about;
- Your content should never trick your readers into thinking that they will get the answer to an important question and then never provide it.
The new content update will have a significant impact
According to Google, the new algorithm will run completely automatically and all the scores of the analyzed content will be regularly updated. However, what’s interesting to note is that once a website gets affected by the algorithm it will take a lot of time for it to be back on the right track and recover from the hit. In order to do that, a website needs to be capable to prove that it does not publish SEO content anymore and that it instead uploads content that is meant for humans.
The SEO content will be identified using machine learning
Google says that it will use a brand-new and improved machine learning algorithm in order to identify the content that was written only for search engines. In fact, the company claims that the algorithm will get better and better as time goes by and everything is improved. It seems that there will be certain signals that machine learning will detect in websites that publish SEO content but it has not mentioned exactly what those will be.
Google will also employ quality raters to help validate search results. Those will help Google establish if they are real or only created to rank high. Thanks to those, real and valuable content will be pushed up while SEO content will be punished. Moreover, the raters will improve the search results while helping people find the information they’re looking for more easily. This also comes with an improved user experience that everyone should be able to enjoy.
It’s also worth mentioning that, for the time being, the new content update from Google will only affect searches in English. However, as time goes by, the company will expand to many other languages too. Also, only the Google Search section will be affected by the update for the moment. Other products, such as Google Discover, might follow soon but nothing has been confirmed as of now.
Can the new update be what Panda was back in 2012?
The news of the content update from Google might remind some people of the infamous Panda update that was introduced by Google back in 2012 when the whole industry was still in its inception phase. At the time, it completely revolutionized the SEO writing rules for content. Right now, Panda still exists in the aforementioned core update so it had a really big impact, especially considering that those rules still apply today.
So, can the new Google update be as groundbreaking and industry-changing as the Panda one? All signs point to this being true, especially if we are to consider how experts saw that update when it was released and how they see this one. Looking back, Panda changed everything and the new update has the potential to do exactly the same thing. Still, these changes need time to be absorbed so we will see how things change in the coming months.
All in all, the new helpful content update from Google has the potential to change the content writing industry forever, or at least this is what most experts seem to expect. However, nothing is certain at the moment apart from the fact that SEO content will most likely start to disappear in favor of human-first content that needs to add value and be informative and verified. The way content is built will change completely and, if things go well, it will definitely change for the better, allowing for a much better user experience when using Google search.
Website owners need to keep an eye on their analytics as this update is being introduced. They also need to see whether or not their content needs to be revamped or even completely changed to fit in with the new update. Not doing this, especially if you are aware of the existence of some SEO content on your website, could damage it forever or at least for an undetermined period. As we have already mentioned, the recovery time for such a website is still a mystery which is why taking precautions is better than taking a hit.