What Is The Helpful Content Update All About?
How often have you searched online for information but had to click on four or five different results before finding the answers you wanted?
The new Google helpful content algorithm update aims to put an end to that fruitless and highly frustrating practice.
Essentially, the helpful content algorithm identifies websites with low-value, unhelpful content, which it promptly sends to the back of the line in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Below, we’ll give you a complete roadmap to this new update and how you can adapt and optimize your website content to ensure it meets the new helpful content standards.
Google’s Helpful Content Update: The Basics
The helpful content measure is one of Google’s core updates to its algorithm, which rolled out in 2022.
Its primary purpose is to reward “people-first” content from human writers writing for a human audience rather than for search engines or crawlers.
This system uses machine learning to produce a signal that identifies low-value content. It’s important to note that it’s not a spam or manual action but a site-wide signal.
Websites that provide content that Google deems to have been written “by people, for people” will rank higher in the SERPs. Websites that produce content that doesn’t provide valuable, helpful information or a satisfying experience will rank poorly.
Furthermore, websites with large amounts of what the signal identifies as low-value content are less likely to rank highly in the SERPs, even if they also contain high-quality content.
Even worse, once the new signal deems your website as containing unhelpful content, you may experience adverse consequences for months before recovering.
After you update and remove the “bad” content, it could still take a long time for Google to re-classify your website and improve your rankings.
For more information right from the horse’s mouth, check out this post from the Google Search Central Blog discussing what creators should know about the new update.
Optimizing Your Website for the Google Helpful Content Update: Main Takeaways and Actionable Advice
Next, we’ll run through the strategic takeaways and provide you with actionable advice you can use to optimize your website and ensure it follows best practices and guidelines for the new helpful content system.
Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness
Your website should have content that follows Google’s EAT guidelines to avoid suffering lower SERP rankings.
EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
To break that down even further, here are the evaluation criteria Google uses to determine whether your content fits under the EAT principle:
- The overall reputation of the primary content creators or website
- The amount, quality, value, and reliability of the main content
- The general purpose of the website or content—is it beneficial, and does it provide value to the intended audience?
- The amount of information about the website and its primary content creators
Essentially, your website and its content (and content creators) should:
- Demonstrate first-hand Expertise on the subject
- Come from an Authority source on the main/niche topic area
- Have a level of reliability and Trustworthiness
Search Quality Rater Guidelines
Additionally, Google uses its Search Quality Rater Guidelines (SQRGs) to evaluate whether a website and its content follow the EAT principles:
- Standard websites should contain information about the website owner or main content creator/s. For eCommerce sites, there should be contact information for the customer service department.
- Websites should have a large amount of high-quality, informative, and helpful information (including a clear, accurate, and descriptive title for every post).
- Websites that are authoritative and/or trustworthy will have a good reputation among visitors/customers and generally positive reviews.
Perform an Audit of Your Existing Content
The best way to audit your existing content is by creating a spreadsheet database that you can easily update when necessary.
However, most business owners (particularly those of service-based businesses like contractors) already have a full plate and lack the time required to perform a proper content audit.
In that case, consider investing in services from a professional SEO (search engine optimization) agency.
For those who want to do an independent audit, you can use Google’s Search Console to identify the websites with the most traffic and best performance. Or, use Google’s Analytics API to crawl your site and look for content that has:
- Low traffic numbers
- Low word count
- Low backlink metrics
- Low conversions/revenue
You should also invest some time into keyword research to determine high-volume keywords related to your business or niche.
Additionally, determine any potential opportunities for new keywords or phrases that you could use to rank higher or gain a competitive edge.
Finally, ensure that your content is evergreen (i.e., not outdated) and contains a new, informative perspective rather than just regurgitating or paraphrasing what others have said about the subject. It should also be topically relevant and include information that aligns with the primary focus of your site.
Unhelpful Content: Should You Update or Remove?
So, you’ve audited your content and found some information you believe the new signal may categorize as “unhelpful.” What should you do: update or remove?
Improving Low-value or Unhelpful Content
Once you’ve identified unhelpful content on your site, determine whether there’s a way you can improve or update the information to follow the EAT and helpful content guidelines. For example, you can:
- Have a content creator with first-hand expertise or knowledge add their perspective or experiences
- Fill in any informational gaps
- Optimize the content so that it relates to the primary focus or purpose of your website
- Update the information to make it evergreen
- Add more information to the content to ensure it provides comprehensive answers
- Give old content a fresh perspective or advice
Removing Unhelpful Content
If you’ve identified unhelpful content but can’t determine how to improve, optimize, or update it, the best course of action is removal. Although it may take some time for Google to update the score or evaluation of your website, the sooner you remove “bad” content, the better.
Use the following tips to permanently block a web page from showing up in the search results:
- Prevent visitors from viewing the page by adding a password for access
- Remove the textual and visual content and replace it with a “404” error message
- Use a no-index tag to prevent Google from indexing the page for the search results
Alternatively, you can use Google’s Removals tool to block a web page from the SERPs within 24 hours. However, this is only a temporary stopgap, as the block will expire in six months.
Avoid Using Scaled or AI-written Content
One of the biggest red flags for Google under its new helpful content classifier is websites that contain obviously scaled or AI-written content. However, the principles of scaled content go directly against the qualities in the EAT guidelines and the Google helpful content algorithm content update.
The search engine giant doesn’t want its top-ranking page results to contain low-value, AI-generated content, even on high-authority websites or domains. Your safest bet is posting content written by people, for people.
Provide Comprehensive Answers
Remember, Google’s primary criterion for helpful content is just that: It rewards content that is valuable, teaches something people want to know about, answers pain points, helps readers complete a task, etc.
Therefore, you should write content with that core value in mind: How can you provide the answers they want or solve their problems? Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What are they looking for, and what do they need that will bring them to your website?
If you’re drawing a blank or lacking inspiration for new ideas, topics, and content that will be helpful and provide value to your readers, here are some tips to get you going:
- Evaluating customer feedback
- Holding a brainstorming session with your employees, marketing team, staff, etc.
- Reading comments on blog posts or your social media pages
- Analyzing the top-performing posts on your competitors’ websites
- Conducting reader/customer polls on your social media pages or blog
- Looking through Google’s trending data and Search Console
- Reading the “People Also Ask” and “People Also Search For” sections on Google for high-ranking keywords/search queries
Focus on Providing an Exceptional User Experience (UX)
Don’t forget to focus on providing a reliable, quality, and satisfying user experience. Google prioritizes and rewards content with a positive UX. Here are a few more tips for optimizing and creating content regarding UX:
- Include a table of contents
- Make content easily skimmable with numbered lists and bullet points
- Include visual elements, like photos, videos, graphics, etc.
- Answer questions right away instead of overwriting or being vague
Optimize Your Website With Help From Contractor Growth Network
Do you need help updating and optimizing your website to fit in with the new Google helpful content algorithm update? If so, we can help.
At Contractor Growth Network, we’re an experienced digital marketing and SEO agency catering exclusively to contractors. We can help you with all aspects of your company’s marketing needs, including web design, SEO services, content strategies, and more.
Contact Contractor Growth Network now at (980) 449-4384 or grab a spot on our calendar to schedule your call today with our team of experts.