Google recently announced a huge change to its search ranking algorithm, which could affect your website’s position on results pages unless you take quick action. The search engine’s “helpful content” update is part of a broader effort to ensure search users see more original and valuable content on the web. But how could it impact your business? And what changes should you make to your site now? Hike SEO explains the new Google algorithm that every online business needs to know about below.
What Is the Helpful Content Update?
Google releases many algorithm changes throughout the year, but its recently-announced helpful content update—a type of search ranking update—could significantly influence your position on results pages. Revealed on August 18, 2022, Google rolled out its new algorithm in the two weeks following August 25. That means you might notice changes to your website rankings, including movements up and down pages for your chosen keywords.
SearchEngineLand—one of Hike’s favorite places to source the latest SEO news—thinks Google’s helpful content update could be as significant as Penguin’s launch ten years ago. For those who remember, Penguin was a Google update that reduced the number of websites using “black hat” SEO techniques appearing on search results pages. Many websites saw a dramatic drop in their search rankings after the change.
Helpful Content Update: What You Need to Know
Google’s helpful content update wants to reward websites for publishing content that satisfies visitors. Since the rollout of the new Google algorithm change, content that doesn’t meet an internet user’s expectations won’t appear as high on results pages. In other words, Google wants you to create content for people, not search engines.
That’s not to say you can’t use SEO best practices that add search value to your content, but the core of your content creation should have a people-first mentality.
Google has some guidelines for ensuring you fulfill that people-first approach to content creation:
- Content should prove valuable and useful for your existing or intended audience.
- Content should have a depth of knowledge and contain first-hand expertise.
- Your whole website should have a purpose or focus.
- Readers should leave your site feeling they have learned enough about a topic to achieve their goal.
- Readers should leave your site feeling they have had a satisfying experience.
There are separate guidelines for websites publishing product reviews.
You might already be creating content for people, not search engines. If that’s the case, you might notice positive changes on Google’s results pages by now. However, content created specifically for search engines —Hike calls this “SEO-first” content, which spins or regurgitates articles and blog posts from other sites—will no longer be favored by the new Google algorithm.
There are still a lot of questions surrounding the new Google algorithm and how it will impact businesses. You might think it’s impossible not to create content for search engines because that’s how you attract potential new customers to your website. It seems like a catch-22. Hike thinks Google wants to single out websites producing content that doesn’t have a particular theme or businesses that churn out lots of random articles and blog posts because they want that content to rank higher on results pages. That goes back to the people-first mentality for content creation. You can still use SEO practices that help your search rankings, but it should be your secondary focus, not your primary one.
Google has published some guidance about how to avoid creating content for its results pages:
- The new Google algorithm will downgrade websites that use extensive automation to generate content on lots of different topics.
- It will demote sites writing about trending topics that don’t provide value to audiences.
- Content creators that write a particular number of words because they think Google has a preferred word count will no longer do well. Neither will niche content written explicitly to improve search traffic.
- Content that promises to answer a question with no answer—such as the release date of a movie, product, or TV show when no official confirmation exists—will also be shunned by the new Google algorithm update.
Interestingly, Google says removing “unhelpful” content on your website could help your other content rank better. However, you might not see any positive changes on the search engine for months.
You can find other tips to avoid creating content for Google’s search engine here.
As you can see, the new Google algorithm update is a pretty big deal. Hike recommends you keep an eye on your search rankings. If you notice any significant decreases, it might be time to remove so-called unhelpful content. In the future, adopt the people-first mentality for content creation but still use SEO best practices to improve your rankings.
Hike provides powerful software that supports small businesses that don’t have the time to learn SEO. You could get your website to the top of Google and drive more traffic by only dedicating a few hours to SEO every month. Learn more about Hike!