Google’s helpful content update… What’s going on with SEO right now?

In the past few weeks, we have heard a lot about Google’s last core update vaguely named: The Helpful Content Update. Released in August 2022, this update is causing a lot of concern and sleepless nights for many content creators and SEO wizards out there 🤯

But fear not – there is light at the end of this long and Googley tunnel. 

We have broken down The Helpful Content update, to help you understand what is going on with Google’s algorithm, why this update has come out, and how this update will impact your SEO performances. 

Let’s go!

Why is Google always releasing new updates?

As the most used search engine worldwide, Google has to always make sure that the content it is showing to its users is the best possible match. To make sure this happens, Google has put in place many processes that allow the search engine to keep the quality of the results it returns at the highest level possible.

Let’s use an example. Imagine if you were looking for something very precise, let’s say you wanted to buy the latest Men’s Nike sneakers, but couldn’t remember the name. Because 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, chances are the first thing you are going to do is to jump to your search engine of choice and ask something like: 

“Nike shoes for men”

In our culture of immediacy, if the result you wanted isn’t listed within the first few results, the chances are you’re not going to be a happy camper. This is exactly what Google is looking to avoid – providing the best user experience for the consumer is what Google built its reputation on, and protecting that reputation is the most important thing for them.

This is nothing new for Google. They are frequently updating their quality checking processes to make sure the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) always gives the best results to the user’s queries.

This level of quality assurance is how they have conquered (and continue to dominate) the search engine space

What is the Helpful Content Update about?

The Helpful Content Update is the latest of these quality checking processes. Another check to help their algorithm judge if a piece of content should be promoted on the SERP or not. 

With this update, Google wants to penalize the non-relevant and bad quality content, to give credit only to the best and most relevant ones. Which is not surprising, this has always been the case, and a clear win for end consumers everywhere 🤩

The purpose of this update is clear: “better connect people to helpful information”. That is all that Google’s shiny North Star. And to make sure they are able to achieve this goal, Google wants to highlight content written by humans, for humans, with original and helpful information.

How is Google’s Helpful Content Update going to impact your SEO?

If this sounds scary it’s because it is – the implications of not playing by the rules can be severe. Not respecting Google’s guidelines can ruin your SEO strategy, as your website can be heavily penalised causing your SERP ranking to plummet. 

So I get it, reading these news stories about Google’s Helpful Content Update might be scary to you. How do we write content that is good enough for Google with so much on the line? 

Fear not friends. Let’s first break down what is really important to Google:

  • Focus on people-first content
    Think about your audience while creating your content. Google updates like The Helpful Content update are created to punish those pushing out content designed to rank on SERP, rather than the people that the content should be for.

So, as soon as you start creating your content for the right reasons (adding value to your audience), you’re perfectly good with the Helpful Content Update and all other Google updates  🥳

  • Avoid creating content for search engines first

Google said it best:

“…content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying”

We all know SEO is about posting the right content, about the right topic, at the right time. But, like many of life’s great loves, do it with your heart, not because you’re obliged to do it. When we’re genuinely creating content for the right reasons, be it to educate your audience, or to entertain them; this quality is always going to shine through.

  • SEO best practices
    To make sure you’re creating valuable content for your audience, use SEO best practices while writing and watch carefully your content’s performances. 👀

You can also use SEO tools like Mark Copy AI to scan your content and get an SEO score! You’ll save so much time optimizing your content, as the tool will point out exactly what is good and what isn’t, and provides precise recommendations to quickly make your content more valuable to your audience 💪🏼

So don’t post a rushed, poorly put together blog article about a topic just because you saw an amazing search volume on that query, or a very low competition level on that keyword. 

Be that thought leader that your audience looks to, and create your own opportunities on the SERP by writing about the good stuff – the stuff that matters to you, your business, and probably your audience 🤩

Easy, right?

How does the Helpful Content Update work?

With The Helpful Content update, Google will be able to “automatically identify content that seems to have little value, low-added value or is otherwise not particularly helpful to those doing searches.”, punishing those in breach of these content guidelines. 

This is not a fundamental shift – Google has always preferred quality over quantity, and that isn’t (probably) ever going to change. 

But the warning is there, make sure that the content you produce is adding valuable information at every step, and not only will Google love it, but more importantly your audience will. This only strengthens the relationship between humans and the tools we use. 

Google started with English SERP with this update, and it looks like this is going to extend to other languages in the upcoming months, and likely to be completed by the end of 2022.

Be careful, Google is watching out guys! 🧐

Happy writing! 🤖

About the Author Camille Dufossez

SEO manager @MarkCopy

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