Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm Update: What You Need To Know

Just as the season's change and trends come and go, Google is also in a constant state of evolution. The search engine giant has released so many platform transformations and search algorithm updates in recent years that it can be difficult for even the expert marketer or developer to keep up.

However, no matter what major modifications Google makes, its objective will always remain the same: to deliver the best, most reliable search results that users want to see before they even know they want to see them. This overall goal has been at the core of every major platform change since the stone ages of digital marketing (circa 2006) – and Google’s Helpful Content Update is no exception.

Just as before, the recently announced algorithm change specifically “aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience.” In plain English, this means that a business or brand’s digital presence should be designed for the human first and foremost. While they admit that SEO rules are still important to include, Google is not willing to budge regarding the type of content they value – and digital work that is clearly created for the search engines alone will never cut it. The devil may work fast, but Mark Zuckerberg and the folks over at Instagram work faster. Thanks to their ongoing battle to remain relevant and keep up with competitors like TikTok, the platform has recently focused on expanding the app’s capabilities – both for the average user and potential advertisers alike.

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Sure, pinpointing what exactly makes content “helpful” can be somewhat subjective and difficult to define. Despite never being folks who like to give the answers away, Google does offer some insight in a recent post on their developer's blog. Since most of the language will sound completely foreign to a novice, the District Maven team is here to help break down for the average small business owner or webmaster.

Where Should I Begin?

Although they don’t directly come out and say this, Google makes it indirectly clear that being “helpful” starts with one’s website. After all, this is where the search engines (and potential customers) gain a strong sense of expertise, trust, and experience from any given business or brand. Google explains this is where the “people-first” content should start. According to their post, if one can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, their website (and its contents) are on the right track:
  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if it came directly to you?
  • Does your knowledge 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)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
    • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
    • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
    • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and product reviews?
    Or, in other words, does your website convince others that you’re an expert in your field? Or that the services or products offered to solve major problems for your desired audience? If not, this is the first place we would look to make adjustments for the Helpful Content Update. No matter what is published elsewhere, your business or brand website will be the primary place that the search engines look to derive information about a company – one would be wise to prepare content accordingly.

    What Type Of Content Should I Avoid?

    Again, determining what Google means by avoiding “search engine first” traffic can be somewhat confusing. According to their blog entry, answering “yes” to any of the following questions can be considered a warning sign that content needs to be reevaluated:
    • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines rather than made for humans?
    • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
    • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
    • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
    • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you'd write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
    • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
    • Are you writing to a particular word count because you've heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don't).
    • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you'd get search traffic?
    • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there's a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn't confirmed?

          Essentially, Google encourages you to be real with yourself about the content your business or brand produces. If the creative you’re producing isn’t inherently helpful to your target audience, providing valuable information or offering a unique perspective, then you should readjust your content strategy.

          This certainly isn’t the first algorithm content-based algorithm update Google has implemented, and it definitely won’t be their last. Their search engine indexing is likely to continue doubling down on their user intent philosophy, making it even more important that businesses and brands rethink their content marketing now. The District Maven team is here to help you get started. Learn more about our marketing services or request a quote from our team of creative professionals by clicking here.

          Just as the season's change and trends come and go, Google is also in a constant state of evolution. The search engine giant has released so many platform transformations and search algorithm updates in recent years that it can be difficult for even the expert marketer or developer to keep up.

          However, no matter what major modifications Google makes, its objective will always remain the same: to deliver the best, most reliable search results that users want to see before they even know they want to see them. This overall goal has been at the core of every major platform change since the stone ages of digital marketing (circa 2006) – and Google’s Helpful Content Update is no exception.

          Just as before, the recently announced algorithm change specifically “aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience.” In plain English, this means that a business or brand’s digital presence should be designed for the human first and foremost. While they admit that SEO rules are still important to include, Google is not willing to budge regarding the type of content they value – and digital work that is clearly created for the search engines alone will never cut it. The devil may work fast, but Mark Zuckerberg and the folks over at Instagram work faster. Thanks to their ongoing battle to remain relevant and keep up with competitors like TikTok, the platform has recently focused on expanding the app’s capabilities – both for the average user and potential advertisers alike.

          Image
          Sure, pinpointing what exactly makes content “helpful” can be somewhat subjective and difficult to define. Despite never being folks who like to give the answers away, Google does offer some insight in a recent post on their developer's blog. Since most of the language will sound completely foreign to a novice, the District Maven team is here to help break down for the average small business owner or webmaster.

          Where Should I Begin?

          Although they don’t directly come out and say this, Google makes it indirectly clear that being “helpful” starts with one’s website. After all, this is where the search engines (and potential customers) gain a strong sense of expertise, trust, and experience from any given business or brand. Google explains this is where the “people-first” content should start. According to their post, if one can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, their website (and its contents) are on the right track:
          • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if it came directly to you?
          • Does your knowledge 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)?
          • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
          • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
          • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
          • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and product reviews?
            Or, in other words, does your website convince others that you’re an expert in your field? Or that the services or products offered to solve major problems for your desired audience? If not, this is the first place we would look to make adjustments for the Helpful Content Update. No matter what is published elsewhere, your business or brand website will be the primary place that the search engines look to derive information about a company – one would be wise to prepare content accordingly.

            What Type Of Content Should I Avoid?

            Again, determining what Google means by avoiding “search engine first” traffic can be somewhat confusing. According to their blog entry, answering “yes” to any of the following questions can be considered a warning sign that content needs to be reevaluated:
            • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines rather than made for humans?
            • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
            • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
            • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
            • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you'd write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
            • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
            • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
            • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and product reviews?
            Essentially, Google encourages you to be real with yourself about the content your business or brand produces. If the creative you’re producing isn’t inherently helpful to your target audience, providing valuable information or offering a unique perspective, then you should readjust your content strategy.

            This certainly isn’t the first algorithm content-based algorithm update Google has implemented, and it definitely won’t be their last. Their search engine indexing is likely to continue doubling down on their user intent philosophy, making it even more important that businesses and brands rethink their content marketing now. The District Maven team is here to help you get started. Learn more about our marketing services or request a quote from our team of creative professionals by clicking here.