Update from the future: Two weeks after it started rolling out, the Helpful Content Update is still not showing big ranking changes. Danny Sullivan said the update might get stronger with the next core update. Read more about that here.
Google is releasing a new, site-wide ranking signal that will target content created for search engines, instead of users. Glenn Gabe shared about this on Twitter, and Barry Schwartz reported on this on Search Engine Land.
Turns out a new algorithm change is about to happen, and it might just be the biggest one in the last ten years. Called the “helpful content update”, the ranking algorithm change is supposed to target websites that have a high amount of not-good-enough content, meaning that the content had one purpose in mind: getting that rank. What it should have done instead was be written for the user, not Google.
So, if you might have content that could be labelled as unhelpful or unsatisfying, you better act fast!
What Does “Site Wide” Mean?
Exactly that – it will impact content on your whole website, not just a page or two, unlike many other Google algorithms updates that are page-based. Google will evaluate your website as a whole and the impact will be just as significant. The sooner you remove the unhelpful content, the better.
BIG news, Google is releasing a new site-wide ranking signal targeting unhelpful “search engine-first” content. Yep, it’s a site-wide signal, it’s weighted, & it’s always running. I was able to speak w/Google about the signal & wrote a post w/more info: https://t.co/qRXqaUUtrf pic.twitter.com/DBtTfH9JhT
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) August 18, 2022
Why Is Google Doing This?
Because it wants to help searchers find high-quality content, Google told Barry. The search engine simply wants to reward useful content written for people, not bots and crawlers.
This absolutely makes sense, considering the number of complaints you can hear from users. It must have happened to you too; you were searching for an answer and you keep ending up on highly ranked articles that have no value to you as a reader. You end up opening a bunch of links and improving their traffic, meanwhile getting no answer to your query whatsoever.
So, it sounds fair that Google’s doing this. There’s too much content out there that’s just designed to rank well, instead of actually being helpful to the customer.
The update is supposed to be released next week, and it will take about two weeks for it to fully roll out.
According to Search Engine Land, Google said the content type that will be impacted the most will be online educational materials, arts and entertainment, shopping and tech-related content.
Also, the search engine shared with Glenn Gabe that ANY content on your site that was created to serve the search engine before the reader is less likely to have good results in Search. So even if you do have high-quality content, the bad one can and probably will bring your whole site’s rank down. Google says you should remove the unhelpful content ASAP.
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
Google’s Advice On Building People-first Content
Google shared a list of questions to ask yourself when creating content. To create people-first content, you should focus on creating satisfying, actually helpful content while also utilizing best SEO practices. Here are the questions to ask yourself when creating content:
- Do you have an existing or intended audience that would find the content useful?
- Does your content demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will a human 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 for product reviews?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are pretty high you’re all good. If not, it’s definitely time for a change.
Update from the future: The Google Helpful Content Updatefinsihed rolling out on September 9th! Even though not a lot of people reported seeing major fluctuations, the update is still valuable and very important. Read more about it here and find out what to do if you were hit!