GOOGLE'S HELPFUL CONTENT UPDATE
Don't curtail your clients' keyword rankings by crafting crummy, crappy content.
In More Detail
At the beginning of September, Google rolled out a new algorithm update, called the "Helpful Content Update."
The purpose of the update was to reward content that solves users' problems, gives them useful or interesting information, and generally provides a positive experience.
By implication, we can assume that the Helpful Content Update punishes content that fails to provide that value or that experience. This might include:
- "spun" content
- AI-generated content
- keyword-stuffy content
- "made for SEO" content
- content with nothing new to say
Why It Matters
Those of us who have been in the SEO game a while sometimes wake up in a cold sweat remembering the chaos of updates like Hummingbird and Penguin.
Any time Google launches an initiative to crack down on a new web trend, we scramble to make sure that our clients won't be negatively impacted, and how we can help clients recover if they get hit.
The last thing we need is clients blaming us, canceling, or cutting back their budget due to reduced site traffic.
That's why we thought this one was worth paying attention to, and why you might like to know about it, too.
How We Pivoted
To put it simply, we didn't.
We had already been striving to create the kind of content that this update rewards.
Now, we didn't have some crystal ball. We didn't know this update was coming--not specifically. But our philosophy of SEO nevertheless has steered us away from the kind of content Google wants to punish, towards the kind of content Google wants to reward.
Think about it: what does Google want? Google wants to return relevant, authoritative, reliable search results which provide a good user experience. They want to serve up the kind of results their users are looking for, so users will continue to use their search engines, which will allow them to charge for ads. That's why we all started using Google in the first place, and it's why we haven't jumped ship to Brave, yet.
In short, Google's algorithm is trying to make decisions about what users want. Google is chasing the users.
So, when making SEO decisions, is it smarter to chase the algorithm (which is constantly changing), or is it smarter to chase the users?
We decided that it's smarter to chase the users. That way, we get to where Google is going before they do!
While we make it a priority to keep one eye on what the algorithm is doing, our writers are repeatedly told that we write first for humans, and only second for the algorithm.
We recommend the same approach for any agency creating pages or posts for their clients.
How You Can Pivot
If you've been using AI tools, non-native English speakers, or other cheap or automated methods of crafting website content, consider not doing that anymore.
The day may come when AI can craft native-sounding helpful content, but it's not there yet (despite what Jarvis's marketing emails claim). I encounter AI content in the wild, and it's crap.
Content is King, but crappy content is King John.
Other tips provided by Google include:
- Focus on people-first content
- Avoid creating content for search engines first
- Identify an intended audience and write what would be useful to that audience
- Demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge
- Keep content relevant to your USP
- Give readers enough helpful content to solve their problem or achieve their goal
- Add something new to the discussion--don't just recycle what others have said
- Be comprehensive on your topic
- Topic should be covered in sufficient depth but with minimal filler (higher word counts aren't necessarily better)
- Content should be accurate and reliable
How Longtail Dragon Can Help
One of the strongest assets we have is our expert team of writers and editors. Longtail Dragon hires only native English speakers who have a proven track record of content marketing success. Our writers must certify for your client before they write for them. They're trained in SEO best practices and produce content that follows Googles guidelines and recommendations.
In summary, our content team is full of badasses!