Google has announced that they will be launching a new ‘Helpful Content’ algorithm update that could have a significant impact on search rankings over the coming weeks and months.
As always, Google announced the news through the Google Search Liaison Twitter account stating:
Our “helpful content update” launching next week will better surface original, helpful content made by people, for people, rather than content made primarily to gain search traffic. It’s part of a broad effort to show more unique, authentic info in results
Our “helpful content update” launching next week will better surface original, helpful content made by people, for people, rather than content made primarily to gain search traffic. It’s part of a broad effort to show more unique, authentic info in results https://t.co/LlCqoP4RPy
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) August 18, 2022
What is the Helpful Content algorithm update?
As the name suggests, the helpful content Google algorithm update is designed to improve the rankings of content that is deemed to be helpful. That means content that has been written to provide value to users, instead of ‘gaming the system’ with lengthy, keyword rich content that is simply there to tick all of the SEO boxes.
For anyone that has ever looked for a recipe or succinct answer to a question, you will know the frustration that comes with being served a 5,000+ word article that goes into excruciating detail in order to gain SEO rankings.
Over the years, content has become longer and longer as search engine marketers saw success with long-form content. Now, this update could throw a cat amongst the pigeons with Google looking to give preferential treatment to websites and webpages that provide succinct, valuable information to users.
When will the Helpful Content update rollout?
Google is set to launch the helpful content update over the next week. That means that we can expect to see changes coming through on (or around) the 25th of August 2022 that will relate directly to this algorithm update.
Time will tell how this will impact search rankings and just how dramatic this update will be. We will be posting a follow-up article over the next week with ranking evidence across different industries (and different content strategies) to see how this update has impacted search results.
What guidance does Google provide?
Google has provided a guidance document titled “More content by people, for people in Search” that outlines what the helpful content update means for users and for webmasters. The two key elements covered in the document are:
Better ranking of original, quality content
Google wants to make it easier for users to access original, high-quality content that makes it easier for users to find information – presumably without needing to wade through long-form content to get it.
Some of the benefits include:
• Better rankings for content that provides valuable information to users
• Making it easier for users to find information in search engines
• Better results related to online education, as well as arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content
• Authentic, original information that means users are more likely to find original content that they have not read before
More helpful product reviews written by experts
Following on from the latest product reviews updates, the second focus for the document outlines how product reviews ‘written by experts’ will be an ongoing focus for the Helpful content update.
Some of the benefits include:
• More helpful product reviews written by experts
• Make it easier for users to find valuable information when researching the web
• Access helpful, valuable information through search
Will this be a significant update to Google’s algorithm?
It could well be.
Historically, the Google Panda update was the last update that truly went after low-quality content. Of course, Google now uses the Panda update as a ranking signal for all websites when determining content quality, relevancy, and originality.
From what we have read, this update could be of a similar magnitude. If Google is serious about changing the fundamental SEO content ranking algorithm that has been used to determine the quality of content in search, then this could be big.
At the moment, the search results are bloated with websites that provide low-quality, re-published content for the sake of bolstering SEO metrics. With this update, we may see a fundamental shift as Google takes into account on-page metrics (think bounce rate, time on page etc.) to determine the real relevancy and value of content displayed in organic search.
What can I do now?
Hold tight and see what the search results look like over the next week.
If you are publishing content between now and then, we recommend (as always) creating content with the user in mind. Yes, think about the keywords that you will be targeting on the page, but more broadly, it’s important to think like an on-page SEO specialist and consider the value that your content is providing to users.
Focus on creating content that:
• Answers questions
• Provides unique insight
• Demonstrates data application
• Meets user expectations
We also recommend auditing old and existing content. If you find content that does not fulfil the above criteria, then it is time to review and determine whether it is worth keeping it on your website.