Google Launches Helpful Content Algorithm Update

Ashley Scharber - August 25, 2022

On August 18, Google pronounced it was unveiling a new algorithm update referred to as the “helpful content update”. This is a new sitewide ranking signal that aims to zero-in on poor quality, unhelpful content that’s created for “search engines-first.” Google mentioned that this is part of a larger push to ensure that searchers experience more original, helpful content that is written for people, not search engines.

People-First Content

Large impacts are likely to occur with sites that Google classifies as having significant amounts of “unhelpful content,” which it believes to be content that has “little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.”

The objective is to recognize content that is high quality and meets the intent of searchers while reducing the amount of content displayed in search that is written for Search Engine Optimization. This isn’t to imply that SEO isn’t highly valuable (it still is), but content should primarily be written for humans first (ahead of search engines). Google suggests initially creating content that will resonate with your audience, while incorporating best practices for SEO.

Google has provided a set of questions that marketers developing content can ask themselves to figure out if their content is people-first or search-engine-first.

Content written for humans:

  • Is written for the intended audience who would find the information insightful if coming directly from you
  • Exhibits “first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge”
  • Aligns with your website’s main application
  • The reader gains enough valuable information about the topic to achieve their searching intent
  • Delivers a favorable experience for the visitor

Search-engine-first content:

  • Is developed with the primary goal of ranking in search, rather than to help your intended audience
  • Includes “extensive automation to produce content on many topics”
  • Regurgitates what others have written without providing additional value
  • Fails to achieve the goals of searchers which results in them re-searching
  • Addresses topics that are beyond your expertise or are outside the primary focal points of your site or are related subjects your target audience would not be interested in learning about

A New Sitewide Ranking Signal

Unique from Google Core Updates, this is a first-time ranking signal which can adversely affect your entire website if Google decides to classify it as having large amounts of unhelpful content.

For instance, if there are a few examples of content on the website that are impressive quality and rank effectively organically, but Google finds a material amount of content on the balance of the website that is thin or not helpful, companies could experience ranking drops for content on the site, including any high-quality content.

Additionally, Google mentioned that this is a weighted signal, meaning that sites with a lot of less than helpful content could experience a harsher impact.

Unhelpful Content from Your Site should be Removed

Google specifically explains that site owners ought to remove unhelpful content from their websites.

However, if you’ve been impacted by this update, you shouldn’t anticipate progress to occur immediately. Google has said that websites which have been classified as having significant degrees of unhelpful content can have this signal applied to them for several months until Google’s classifier (which runs all the time) has an opportunity to review the content again and believes that the unhelpful content is gone and will not be added back to the site.

Be Sure You Have an Effective Content Strategy in Place

As we begin to see the affects of this new ranking factor moving forward, having a strong content strategy along with a well-defined roadmap for building out the content for your audience that is search engine friendly will be more vital than ever.

MoreVisibility has been working with our clients to develop high quality content for more than 22 years. Reach out to us to discover how we can help you be well-positioned for a strong future into the organic rankings.

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