Understanding helpful content update and how to align your content

Understanding the helpful content update is no rocket science. It is like filling up a questionnaire, but in what context? And, what you should do to align with it.

Written By Anil Kumar P.

On Last updated Sep 26, 2022
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Anil brings immense value to the digital marketing space as a techno-marketer with 30+ years of experience. He understands both eco-systems – technology and marketing. Digital marketing is the love of his life & he has been pursuing it for over 20 years. His other interests areas are Artificial Intelligence, Expert Systems, Sustainable Technology and Coding.

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Read time: 10 minutes

The best way to understand helpful content update from Google is by honestly answering the questions posed on the Google Search Central Blog about this update. Let us take some time out to answer them by taking this website as an example. 

We have done another post a few days ago on helpful content update and that was about the repercussions of not adjusting your content to this update. As an addition to it, this article is a guide to answering these critical questions and the reasoning behind them. This will help us better understand this update that promises to make the internet a much better place and a level playing field.

What better way to analyse if we are going to be penalised while the helpful content update rolls out. Before we go through the content on our website, we would like to answer the 15 questions posed on the Google Search Central Blog. And, you should do the same after reading this post. It will help us isolate bad content or pages, if any.

Once you analyse all your webpages, you will need to understand what Google wants by answering the questions below. Next, change the content on the affected pages as you think fit.

The first advice by Google is to:

“Focus on people-first content”

People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach.

For example, some links you have built over the years using your link building strategy, and a visitor land at your webpage, is the content helpful to him? Think…

Google Search Central Blog
Understanding helpful content update
People first content

The ‘YES’ Questions

Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?

Google

Yes, my audience will find my content useful. Which means the content adds real value to real visitors and helps them understand or find something related to their visit intent. It does not focus on adding value to search engines using tactics like keyword stuffing, content automation, doorway pages, negative SEO on competitors, cloaking, sneaky redirects, link schemes and hidden links or text. If you have any such stuff on your webpages, it is wise to rethink, remove and go honest with great, qualitative content. To avoid being pushed down the ranks, understand the helpful content update, get it re-written or get it fresh. We can do it for you, get in touch.

Does your content show first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?

Google

Yes, we are experts at what we do. Expertise shown across the table is always more powerful. Here, since we are using a website to showcase it, the only way we achieve this is by creating in-depth content. Showcasing knowledge helps in creating trust, uplifting the brand, getting repeat customers and finally, more sales. In understanding the helpful content update, you can evolve as an expert and a thought leader in your own domain. EAT is the way to go. It is a win-win all the way.

Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?

Google

Yes, our website has a primary focus. We are a vertically integrated bespoke, strategic digital marketing agency and our website demonstrates it. This means that we offer customised digital marketing strategies to align with your domain, your business vision and mission and your targets. We do not spray and pray like most other marketing agencies. They have the same roadmap for all businesses and domains. If we understand this helpful content update properly, we will rank higher in this highly competitive niche.

After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?

Google

Yes, what do you think? You have been through this post and are you feeling you have learned something up to now? And, will this knowledge help you answer these questions for your own website? If yes, then our content is meaningful and people-first.

Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?

Google

Yes, aren’t you happy reading this article up to this point? Can you say it satisfied you with the knowledge you have gained and help to answer these questions for your own website? Simply put, do you understand your readers? Do you write for them? Yes, you answered this one.

Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

Google

Yes, of course. As far as core updates go, Google says core updates can drop or raise the SERP, however that is not a penalty. When it drops, you may feel the need to do something. Give it some cool-off time and focus on creating valuable, informative, people-first content. That is the only thing Google rewards. And for product reviews, we have done many for customers and we have always followed Google’s guidelines.

Our recommendation: We recommend you keep answering and re-answering the above questions until you answer ‘YES’ to all of them. Keep identifying lacunae in your content, identifying bad webpages and understand helpful content update. Change, rewrite or put fresh quality content on those pages that do not cater to the above guidelines.

The second advice by Google is to

“Avoid creating content for search engines first”

Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying. How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site.

Google Search Central Blog
Understanding helpful content update
Don’t write for search engines

The ‘NO’ Questions

Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?

Google

No, of course not. We write for people with an intent to become thought leaders soon. Yes, we follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to enhance the content and help Google index our pages with a proper SERP and no more. Additionally we resort to content marketing with best practices in place. What is the point of writing content, if it does not reach the audience?

Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hope that some of it might perform well in search results?

Google

No, we are not producing lots and lots of content because, as we said earlier, we do not spray and pray. We create content with a discipline about happenings in the industry (like this post) and that which helps people overcome challenges by adding real value to them. And, we understand we will come on top, in time. Yes, we follow, SEO best practices and do live on hope, founded on hard work.

Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?

Google

No, automation for creating content is a no go for us. Automation does not give quality and as far as we understand helpful content update, we are looking to write content that is considered people-first. Everyone has a distinct style of written communication and it is more of an art form whereas automation is more of a science. Expectations do not match. No, we do not create, use or encourage bot content.

Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?

Google

No, not at all, we only produce content that has not been produced before (like this one) or content that helps people solve a problem. Most content on the internet is about problems and no actual solutions. We are trying to address it by offering content that solves something.

Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?

Google

No. In this article, we are expressing our answers to help you sort out your website content after understanding helpful content update. This topic is trending as of now, but this article will remain forever to solve your issues, so we are writing for you, our existing audience.

Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?

Google

No. Do you feel that way reading this? If yes, we would love your comments below on this ground. We will take action and make this page a comprehensive solution to understanding the helpful content update.

Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).

Google

No, because Google does not have a preferred word count. Yes, you read the correctly. Google indexes longer articles better, not because they are long, but because they are comprehensive and offer better information. Google indexes content that adds real value to readers.

Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?

Google

No, if we do not have expertise in a domain, what will we do with traffic? In the long term, a business without expertise has to fail. We are not setting up ourselves for failure. We have been here for over 20 years and have no intention of leaving this space. If we understand the helpful content update correctly, we are setting ourselves up for a colossal success. Are you?

Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

Google

No, for example, today, these questions have been asked and no one has answered them, as far as we know. Making false promises or asking misleading questions is a criminal waste of time, both for the publisher and the reader. Anyone who knows English can understand these questions on the Google Search Console Blog. The aim of this post is to find out if we are all on the path to progress. We are analysing our content based on these questions and we did not need to change any content.

Our recommendation: We recommend you think and keep answering and re-answering these until you answer ‘NO’ to all of them. Keep auditing your content. If required keep changing the content.

Here is a help sheet that you can use to answer the above questions with simplicity and define your SEO path.

Conclusion…

We have done our job of answering these questions and did not need to change a word of content. We are confident that our rankings will go North. Our final advice to every website out there is to be honest and refrain from gaming the search engines. They are way too intelligent for us and you will get yourself into trouble, if not today, tomorrow.

We are always here to help.

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