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Google’s Helpful Content Update for SEO

Google’s Helpful Content Update created a buzz throughout the digital marketing industry when it was announced in August 2022. SEOs and digital marketers knew Google was already rewarding well-written content intended to help users, but Google giving a name to this factor indicated a long-term shift in how they prioritize and assess content quality.

Read on to learn how organizations can proactively measure and monitor Google’s Helpful Content Update and future Google algorithm updates that focus on content.

Google’s Helpful Content Update

Over the past decade, there has been a prominent shift in SEO to focus more on people than search bots. There is no surprise that Google makes tweaks to its algorithm every year to reward sites with content that provides a satisfying experience for users.

At the end of August, Google released a Helpful Content Update in an effort to leave users with a better experience when landing on a website. This update rolled out over two weeks in August and September with a minimal but widespread impact felt in the beginning stages.

As a site-wide update, as opposed to the more page-specific product review update, we anticipate this change will have a larger impact when newer Core Updates are released.

To ensure organizations are prepared for future updates, let’s dive into the importance of content and proactive measures brands can take.

The Importance of Content and SEO

How crucial is content to SEO and consumers’ experiences? The short answer that most search experts know is content is king. To create and nurture meaningful connections with clientele, it is essential that brands create useful information that inspires, educates, and spurs desired actions.

Digital marketers’ top goal typically aligns with increasing website traffic and, in translation, the bottom line or revenue for an organization. When looking at Google’s search engine results page (SERP), it is known that the top result has a substantial advantage over the competition, with a click-through rate of 27.6% compared to 15.8% in position two and 2.4% in position ten.

Here’s another way we can look at the importance of content:
 

Optimized, robust content --> Improved ranking --> Better CTR --> More traffic --> More conversion potential
 

Ensuring all organizations have high-quality, optimized content across their landing pages, especially product and category pages, will help leave consumers with a more satisfying experience. Google Search Central Blog highlights a handful of characteristics that define high-quality content:

  • Provides a complete, comprehensive description of the topic
  • Ensures information is insightful or interesting beyond what is obvious
  • Includes original reporting or analysis
  • Adds value or originality when drawing on another source
  • Uses descriptive titles and avoids exaggerations
  • Produced with great care and attention to detail, free of any spelling or grammar mistakes
  • Provides substantial value when compared to other pages in search results

If you are still skeptical of how content improvements and well-written copy can help improve overall SEO efforts, here’s a myriad of examples where content expansion and optimized content resulted in substantial lifts in site traffic for various industries and clients.

example SEO client results

Impact on Organizations

The SERP for organizations is notoriously competitive because there are numerous players in a small niche. Google’s Helpful Content Update aims to help users find what they need with greater accuracy, so organizations will want to ensure they are strategizing accordingly. If your site takes proactive measures and optimizes content, the Helpful Content Update can be an asset to your organization.

Proactive Content Optimization Measures

Here are some proactive measures to take in the wake of the Helpful Content Update:

  1. Review the following types of pages for content quality and helpfulness:
    • Top evergreen collection pages
    • Upcoming holiday and/or seasonal event pages
    • Top-performing category pages
  2. Identify whether page content needs to be expanded for helpfulness.
  3. Ensure product pages house informative copy and optimize if necessary.
  4. Continue targeting long-tail keywords within on-page copy.

Monitoring During Future Content Updates

Google is constantly making changes to its algorithm and announces major updates several times every year. Understanding how to monitor your site during an update is imperative for organizations.

How to Monitor Your Site During an Algorithm Update

  1. Get familiar with Google’s documentation about Broad Core Algorithm Updates, so you can understand what Google’s goals are when they make changes.
  2. Use position trackers or dashboards to track keyword data week over week.
  3. Check if keywords move out of their original position category – positively or negatively!
  4. Monitor SERP volatility in your industry. Each algorithm update is different and often affects some industries more than others.

Google’s Helpful Content Update may not have completely rocked the boat for most industries, but it is a strong signal that content quality will be a focal point in algorithm updates going forward. To guide you during this and future updates, please download our complimentary checklist to ensure your content is in a good place.
 

Download Your Free Content Checklist

Thanks for reading our blog about Google's Helpful Content update! Please enjoy a free checklist to help you evaluate your content quality.