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What You Need to Know About Google’s “Helpful Content” Update
Marketing Trends

What You Need to Know About Google’s “Helpful Content” Update

When it comes to “writing for SEO” or creating “SEO optimized content” many content creators and marketers can get lost in the technical side of it. Some write really long headlines jam-packed with keywords or put highly searched terms in meta descriptions — even if the pages don’t really talk about the intent behind that term.

The result is content that has been overcomplicated rather than genuinely improved, which is why so many are left scratching their heads when they put in all of that extra effort only for their SEO scores to stay the same. 

On August 18th, Google announced the rollout of a new update that is meant to help better connect people to helpful information. Google is referring to this update as the “Helpful Content Update,” which is essentially a ranking update for all published online content.

It’s important to state upfront that the new update isn’t meant to penalize existing content work or force anyone to rework their entire content strategy. On the contrary, its intention is to increase the ranking of content that is HIGH quality. So let’s talk about what that looks like.


How to Improve Your Content Quality

Rather than creating content for search engines, Google wants us to create content for people. This seems like a no-brainer, but when you still have to work with the algorithms it can be hard to find the balance.

As SEO practitioners who are passionate about content, we’ve always liked to walk that line anyway, but we know that that’s not everyone’s thing. So, here are a few ways you can start improving your content without having to do a deep dive into the nuances of SEO algorithms:

Research: What is a common issue people/consumers in your industry face? What are popular questions? Does the time of year pose unique problems? (Tools like Google Trends, SEMRush, amongst other tools, and even your own Google Search engine can help you here)

Brainstorm: Think about how you can answer these questions or solve these problems. If you sell a cleaning product, and right now people are searching for cleaning hacks for classrooms because of the back-to-school season….you could do something as simple as a list of hacks, or a “what’s in my back-to-school cleaning kit” type blog.

Keyword Research: Find keywords, focusing not only on search volume but also INTENT wherever possible. Ensure these are implemented in both the title and the first 100 words. However, don’t keyword pack. Keep in mind that we don't want to pull in users who are looking for something completely different than this blog.

Create Strong Content: When creating the content, remember that we want to help the user and provide them with a high-quality experience. This can simply mean an easy read or providing more details than you would previously. Don’t simply plug a product or service, ensure that the content can stand on its own.

Setting Your Content Up for Success

In addition to creating quality content, it’s also essential to make sure the design of your blogs and content is straightforward. Try to avoid putting too many ads or breaks in the content, including things like subscriptions at the end of the blog page.

Another way to make your content design more helpful is to include internal links to previously created blogs (if they are relevant, of course), to use imagery whenever possible, and to include infographics or other design elements that help to enhance your page aesthetics while still offering readers more helpful info in juicy, bite-sized bits.


What Now?

Until the rollout has had time to take root and gain momentum, we won’t know how much it will impact our sites. But, there’s no need to get nervous at this stage. Instead, here are a few questions you and your teams can ask to pre-audit your content and start making the most of this update before it goes into full effect:

  • Look at the organic performance. Are people reading your content? Are people bouncing?

  • How is paid traffic performing on your content? How does it overall perform?

  • Take a look at the highest performing content, and assess if it is high-quality content or if it is just easy for people to find. Is the content informative?

  • Take a look at the lowest performing content. Is it just impossible to find? Is it outdated, irrelevant, or unhelpful? And if so, can you improve it?

  • Remove content that isn’t informative, and doesn’t provide the readers/viewers with anything beneficial.

At the end of the day, this update gives us all an opportunity to improve our content and revamp our approach moving forward. Embracing that opportunity might just change the way you plan content — but likely for the better!  Above all else, remember to think of the user first, get creative, and have fun.


Check out more from CID’s team of branding, marketing, and digital strategy experts on our CID Blog and see how our team can build momentum for your business with a little bit of creative intelligence. Ready to put us to work? Contact us now.

Jade Scaffidi

Jade Scaffidi

Digital Marketing Strategist

Jade is a digital deep diver on our marketing & strategy team. She loves investigating possible issues and brainstorming solutions. When she isn't deep in spreadsheets, she's drinking far too much caffeine or having off-screen dance parties to her favorite Tik Toks.

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