Google Announces Helpful Content Update

As a search engine built for its users, Google is continually making updates to create a better user experience for searches. With hundreds of SEOs constantly learning new methods of gaming the system through various black-hat or white-hat metrics over the years, Google has found the need to continue to make updates to ensure readers are landing on helpful websites.

Google’s Helpful Content Update

On August 18, 2022, Google announced they would be implementing a new update to drive more traffic to “helpful content” on websites.

Google announced this update on Twitter and provided a link to their new developer article expanding on advice and details of the update.

Things Google Is Likely Looking For

There are several things that Google has worked into its algorithm to improve users’ experience on websites. Google’s Panda update, which started in February 2011, has been the biggest push toward improving user experience. 

A lot of the best practices that are recommended for website design and content are going to be more important with this update. Some things Google is likely going to be looking at with this update include:

  • Your content’s readability score.
  • User engagement on your pages. This includes bounce rate and time on site.
  • Social shares and backlinks to the page. If the content is naturally being shared online, this is a good indicator that it’s helpful to users.
  • Writing style and consistency. Is the content written in proper English (or the target language)? Be sure to spell-check and proofread all of your content.
  • Originality.
  • Keyword density. Is the content clearly just repeating keywords over and over in an attempt to rank well?
  • Content-length. How long does the article need to be to properly cover the necessary topic?
  • Trustworthy links out from the content.

Reading through these articles provided by Google will also be helpful:

What You Should Do

If you’ve been creating content for your readers since the start, great! You shouldn’t have to change anything moving forward. 

If your team has been creating content specifically for search engines you might want to take a hard look at your site’s content. 

If there are older blog posts or pages that are clearly keyword-heavy or written just for search engines, consider deleting them from your website altogether or fleshing them out and building long-form content that’s actually helpful to readers.

Since Google hasn’t provided much of a notice on this update and announced it just a week before rolling the update out, that doesn’t give website owners much time to react. Once the update is live, you will likely see its impacts quickly if your site is being negatively impacted. 

If you see your traffic drop, we suggest you use a tool like Google Analytics or Google Search Console to dive into which pages have lost the most traffic and impressions and start by looking at those pages first. 

Creating a Content Strategy Moving Forward

Our advice is don’t worry about search engines. Even though your main goal is likely to increase organic traffic and views to your site, think about what your readers will want to see.

Where to Start

Many experts have dubbed this update, the people-first update. This should really be where you start. 

If you’re in the process of putting together a content strategy, we suggest thinking about the following things first:

  • Ensure you have a strong handle on your target market or buyer persona.
  • What questions do you commonly get asked by your customers?
  • What things would you imagine your target customer would have?

With the things above in mind, it is still helpful to perform keyword research to provide you with insights for your content plan. Perform keyword research with tools like SEMRush to find keywords that are high volume and low competition. 

With a list of keywords and questions from your customer base, you should have a strong layout of the topics you want to cover.

Writing Content to Rank Well

Again, make sure you’re writing your content for your target market first. We suggest sitting down and writing all of your content without optimizing it for search engines first. Then, circle back and use a tool like SEMRush’s SEO Writing Assistant to provide you with insights on semantic keywords, keyword density, and readability to optimize your content or add to it afterward.

Start out by simply looking at your topic and keyword focus and thinking about what readers would want to see if they Googled that keyword. Some other things to think about:

  • What is the searchers’ intent? What is the searcher actually looking for?
  • What are their next questions? What else might they be asking or looking to research next? Cover those things if you can or create or link to additional content within your site to help users find that information.
  • Other helpful information. What other information might your readers find helpful even if they don’t realize they need it. Are there additional tools or articles you can link to or advice you can share?
  • What can your business add to this? As a business, what additional or personal insight do you have from your experience? Do you have examples of past projects you can share or quotes from customers? Add your own touch to your content.

Example Writing Process

When writing content for a new page or blog post, this is generally the process we follow. For this example, let’s say our target keyword phrase is “average assisted living cost.” These are some things we would think about before creating the content.

  • What is the searchers’ intent?
    • Searchers will likely want to see a number. Make sure you list an average monthly cost very clearly toward the top of your content. Highlighting it in bold can help make it more clear too.
  • What are their next questions?
    • Searchers will likely have follow-up questions. Decide whether it makes sense to cover those questions on the same page or if it would be better to link to other blog posts or pages within your site to cover those things. Here are some examples in this case.
      • What are the average costs in my area?
      • What are rates based on?
      • How much do rates vary?
      • What should I look for in an assisted living facility?
  • Other helpful information. 
    • Is there any other information that you can add that readers might not realize they want? In this case, a financial planning tool may be helpful to link to.
  • What can your business add to this?
    • If this content is written by an assisted living community, add information on the costs of your particular community and the financial support you offer. If rates vary, add insight on how the rates fluctuate for your community.
    • If this content is published on a site that simply provides seniors or adult children with advice, offer helpful tips on the best strategies to price shop and what to look for.
    • Do you have any quotes from residents or past customers of yours on if they’ve felt the costs were worth the benefits or added security assisted living homes offer?

Once the content is laid out or written, we would suggest running it through SEMRush’s SEO Writing Assistant. Below is a screenshot of the type of advice it will provide you with. In this case, some of the recommended keywords that are suggested are “family members” and “memory care”. Go back through your content and additional information about those things to your article, not just the keywords.

Google’s August 2022 Helpful Content Update
Scroll to top