Time seems to have flown by since Google released its Helpful Content Update on 25th August 2022. You may be fully on top of it, but for those who don’t really know where to start or what they should be doing, this one’s for you.
In a sentence, the Helpful Content Update means that content written for users is what’s now rewarded in the SERPs. We’re no longer being encouraged to write to appease the search engines through cleverly inserted keywords (and haven’t been for some time!). Although keywords are of course still of major importance, more emphasis now leans on creating people-first content. Google is always looking for ways to make users king, and this is just another way that they’re looking to service searchers.
The chances are your initial thought is about the existing content on your website – is it good enough? Will I be penalised? If you’re not entirely sure what’s what with your existing website content, we’ll look at this and more helpful tips below.
Is my current content helpful?
Thinking about relevancy, experience, purpose, answers, and user experience is ultimately the best place to start. If your site’s current content is aimed at your target audience and provides them with high-quality answers to commonly asked questions, you’re certainly going the right way about it. Where you may start to see problems is when content has clearly been written to appease search engines, without much thought to the audience. For example, a website that exclusively sells beauty products has spotted that there’s a lot of search volume around reading map coordinates. They create a blog post about it, even though it’s got nothing to do with what their audience wants. This is an example of unhelpful content that’s only purpose is to get traffic, any traffic, into the website. On the flip side, a beauty brand that focuses on industry-related topics, creating high-quality, informative blog posts using high search volume keywords to complement their copy – this is where you want to be.
Some other aspects that point to unhelpful content:
- Excessive content that’s duplicated across your site
- Providing answers to questions that are not based on facts or even opinions. For example, fake movie sequels.
- Content around lots of different unrelated topics just to try and rank well for some of them.
If the answer to any of these is yes, you should do some analysis and look to make improvements.
How to analyse your existing content
Don’t panic about having to rewrite or delete pages and pages of your website to make things more ‘helpful’. The chances are, if you thought about your content and who it’s for in any shape or form when you wrote it, it’s perfectly acceptable. But if you want to be sure, you can always go back, pick some priority pages, and see what you’re working with. Google has offered up a list of things to look for to make this process a little easier. You can find the full scope of points here, but below are some of the key details:
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
- Will someone who reads your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Your course of action for content that’s deemed unhelpful should be to either: edit, rewrite, no-index or remove. Only ever remove content if it’s completely unrelated to your brand and industry and doesn’t help your audience at all.
Once you’ve purged your website of any unhelpful content, it’s time to start thinking about future content…
Tips for creating helpful content
Show off your expertise
It’s fair to assume that businesses know their stuff about their industry. But does your audience know that? How have you demonstrated your expertise to your audience through your copy? Have you mentioned how long you’ve been in the industry, or what you’ve done for previous clients? Do you explain your products and services thoroughly and how they can help your customers? It’s not just about blog content, the entirety of your website copy is a targeting tool to get the right sort of traffic onto your website.
Keep things simple
It’s impossible to be all things to all people, so making sure your website has a clear purpose is going to help keep things streamlined and clear for your audience.
Answer the right questions
Do you have an FAQ section on your website or somewhere where you can address important customer questions? We’re not just talking about how to return a product or how long delivery times are. We mean finding commonly asked questions about or related to your products and services that you can provide in-depth, useful answers to. If you’re not sure what sort of questions are being asked, head to AnswerThePublic and type in your industry or a relevant topic. This will give you a whole host of questions that users are searching to get answers for. Remember to keep things in line with your industry and ensure that each question’s answer is well-written and factual.
SEO is still incredibly important
SEO comes hand-in-hand with content and always has done, so don’t start to ignore SEO in favour of creating content you think is relevant, it’s more important than ever to do your research. The best thing your content writers can do is work together with SEO to discover the search trends, best keywords and optimisation opportunities for your website and then just make sure the output from a content perspective is highly engaging, informative and useful (the latter being the key word here!).
Always keep relevancy, experience, purpose, answers, and user experience in mind.
We hope you now have a course of action to ensure your site doesn’t get penalised for any ‘unhelpful’ content. If you want more information or are seeking help to get your web copy in line, drop us an email and we’d be more than happy to discuss your requirements.