Google is the undeniable world leader among search engines. The company did not become the powerhouse it is by resting on its laurels. Rather, Google is constantly working to improve its services. One of the latest results of that work is known as the Helpful Content update. The most recent iteration of the update was announced in mid-August 2022 and finalized in early September.
Some SEO experts are calling the helpful content update Google’s most important update since Panda in 2011. We would not argue. As experts in SEO, PPC management, content creation, and web development, we would agree that Google’s push toward more helpful content will have a profound impact on search engine results for the foreseeable future.
What It Is, What It Does
As with all Google updates, the helpful content update is an update to Google’s search algorithms designed to improve the results of every organic search. According to Google itself, the update is aimed at encouraging content creators to produce “people-first” content. The Google website states the following in relation to the update:
“The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”
In simple English, Google has updated its algorithms to ensure that users are served search returns that actually help them. The company is committed to guaranteeing that content accessed through organic searches is helpful content with real value. For a company like ours, the update pushes us to go above and beyond SEO best principles to actually anticipate what content consumers really want and need.
What It Means for SEO Going Forward
We have had several months to absorb the details of the helpful content update. We have also been able to observe how the update affects page rankings. We now think we have a handle on what the update means going forward.
First and foremost, Google has applied the update site-wide. This means that algorithms are not looking at content quality via page-by-page isolation. Rather, updated algorithms are now analyzing content across an entire website to determine the helpfulness of each individual page.
This means content creators now need to make a concerted effort to boost the quality of their content across entire sites. Writing one or two high-quality pieces with helpful content will not be enough to undo the effects of 20 low-quality pieces with unhelpful content.
Abandon AI-Generated Content
Google has stated that it is now using deep learning algorithms to identify AI-generated content. According to Search Engine Journal’s Heather Campbell, “Google considers AI-generated content spam” and is now doing everything in its power to get rid of it. Content creators still relying on AI tools need to set them aside once and for all.
Clicks and Monetization Are Less Important
One thing about the helpful content update content creators are sure to appreciate is that Google is also intent on minimizing content created solely for clicks and/or monetization. Creators who bristle at the thought of producing such content now actually have a valid reason to not do so. They can focus on creating quality rather than generating clicks.
As experts in SEO, we haven’t been caught off guard by the helpful content update. In fact, the update was a long time coming. We have known for a while that Google has been increasingly frustrated by content creators who produce content for search algorithms rather than real people. That is exactly what the helpful content update is designed to change.