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Google’s Helpful Content Update Explained and Recovery Strategies

The Helpful Content update is the most recent of Google’s algorithm updates. Earning the coveted top spots in Google’s SERPs requires sites to optimize for these updates and, in some cases, recover from them. This article from Linchpin SEO outlines everything you need to know about Google’s Helpful Content update and the recovery strategies you need to get back on top.

What Google’s Helpful Content update Impacted

Searchers come to Google for quick, relevant answers to their queries. When presented with a page or site in Google’s SERPs that doesn’t meet their needs, users become frustrated (understandably.) Google’s Helpful Content update rewards better, more valuable content written for human readers.

The update negatively impacts websites with unhelpful, confusing, or poor-quality content. This includes sites with content written for search engines to earn high rankings with no regard for its usefulness or helpfulness to the reader.

Because the update is site-wide, it affects not only individual pieces of content but content across entire websites. If your site experiences a significant decrease in visibility, it could be that the Helpful Content update has targeted some of your website content, affecting your entire site.

How the Helpful Content update Works

Google regularly updates its algorithms to deliver the best search engine experience possible. As a result, Google is the global search leader, and its updates contribute significantly to that status.

Google’s Helpful Content update rewards content that provides users with a satisfying experience. If the algorithm deems content helpful, it’s rewarded. Conversely, the site is punished if the content is not helpful or doesn’t satisfy user intent.

Any content on sites with a high volume of unhelpful content is less likely to perform well in Search, even if that particular piece of content hits the mark for helpfulness and relevance.

Google’s latest update provided users with a better experience site-wide and was a genius PR move for the search engine giant. The Helpful Content update explicitly communicates Google’s motivation: to create helpful content for its users. In addition to providing a superior product, the name communicates that Google strives to continuously help its users find the content they want.

How to Adjust Your SEO Strategy for the Helpful Content update

If you’ve noticed rankings and traffic drop, it could be that your site was affected by this update. The process is entirely automated, using machine learning to weed out bad content and highlight content that delivers. So it’s not spam or manual action but a signal that Google now uses to evaluate and rank content.

You’re probably wondering how long it will take until your site performs better. That depends on how aggressively you implement recovery strategies. In addition to following Google’s search essentials guidelines, you can adjust your SEO strategy for the Helpful Content update in the following ways:

Focus on People-First Content

The Helpful Content update rewards content that best serves readers. If the update has targeted you, your recovery strategy should focus on people-first content: create content for human users, not search engine crawlers.

User-centered content delivers helpful, relevant content that is easy to consume, utilizing SEO best practices to enhance the user experience. Include relevant keywords without keyword stuffing. Create content that informs and educates your audience, leaving them with the knowledge or information they came looking for.

A few quick rules:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful?
  • Does your content demonstrate a depth of knowledge?
  • 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?

Avoid Creating Content Soley for Search Engines

Google crawls your content to rank it for users. While approaching content with a user-first perspective requires you to utilize SEO practices and strategy, you shouldn’t create content for search engines.

Is the content you create primarily to pull people in from SERPs, or is it written to provide a solution for your readers? Your content should provide all the information users search for; they shouldn’t have to conduct additional searches to get supplemental –– or better –– information from other sources.

The topics you choose will help you see if you’re writing for search engines or the user. For example, do you decide to write about trending topics you aren’t well-versed or knowledgeable about? Writing within your expertise proves you create content for the user, not merely to earn traffic from search engines.

A few quick rules:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines rather than made for humans?
  • Are you using 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 to trend and not because you’d write about them otherwise?
  • Does your content make readers feel like they need 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?
  • 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 but has no answer?

 Remove Unhelpful Content to Boost the Rankings of All Pages

A necessary component of your Helpful Content update recovery includes removing unhelpful content on your pages and site. Even one piece of irrelevant or useless content can affect your rankings, regardless of how many pieces of high-value content you publish.

By pruning low-quality content, you create a better experience for your site visitors and avoid the impact of Google’s latest update.

Make Google’s Helpful Content update Work for You

This algorithm update can drive traffic to your site if you’re creating helpful, useful, relevant, and high-quality content.

Whether you need to recover from a Helpful Content update penalty or want content that helps you reach your business goals, Linchpin SEO provides the solutions you need. Reach out to our team today to learn how our content creation services can drive your success.