Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm Update: What Does It Mean For You?

Google’s helpful content algorithm update is slowly rolling out around the globe. Read on to learn what it means and how it could impact your website ranking.

September means we’re entering the last quarter of 2022, the holiday season, and the perfect time to start planning for 2023. Our upcoming blog articles will focus on content audits, tapping into the holidays and consumer content preferences. So, be sure you’re signed up to receive all the latest news and articles.

Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm Update

Google began rolling out its latest algorithm update on August 25. Google execs say the algorithm update is intended to help users access helpful content and depress content written for SEO and search engines.

Customer-centric content should be a familiar term by now. We’ve discussed it many times on this blog. However, SEO has always been at the forefront of strategies to improve website ranking. Unfortunately, Google is telling us that too much focus has been placed on SEO rather than your customers.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you can ignore SEO. You still want your site to rank for keywords relevant to your products or services.

However, Google execs want you to maintain a healthy balance between driving traffic to your website and publishing content that satisfies the needs of your target audiences. So, the algorithm will determine if your content is user-focused or SERP-focused.

So, how can you turn Google’s algorithm update into a positive for your website and social content?

Google's helpful content algorithm

Stay In Your Niche

If you’re writing content in your area of expertise, chances are it will be customer-focused and fall within the definition of “helpful content.” Your goal is to help your target audience find solutions to their problems. Or, perhaps, if you’re focused on creating demand, you might write articles that identify issues your target audience hasn’t yet discovered. The bottom line is always your target customers.

But, when writing for search engines, you might be publishing articles outside your area of expertise, loaded with the keywords that are trending right now.

For instance, perhaps you go to Google Trends and discover that vodka and beer are trending topics. So, you write an article about the best vodka or beer brands.

Perhaps you write an article about how to make your own home brew or the history of vodka. You not only load up your article with the keywords “beer” or “vodka,” but you include the top brands that consumers are clamoring for. Maybe you even decide to do a series on the topic.

Articles on vodka or beer would be helpful for consumers looking for that information. However, if you’re a business coach typically writing about leadership and entrepreneurship, your current audience will not find your vodka/beer articles helpful. And visitors who find their way to your website because of your vodka/beer articles will be disappointed to discover that your website is unrelated to the topic.

Dwell time and repeat visitors are two key ways to improve your website rankings. Unfortunately, by writing on topics outside your niche, you damage both.

Google’s helpful content algorithm will recognize content outside your website’s purpose or expertise and identify it as content written for search engines.

Before you start creating content, ask yourself:

Is the content for your target audience or search engines?

Would you write this article even if the topic was not trending on Google?

Are you going outside your niche because you want to expand the service or product offerings to benefit your customers or because you might increase traffic to your website?

Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm Will Favor First-Hand Experience

Google wants people to write about things they have personally experienced. Or to share first-hand expertise with the subject matter. If you write articles to earn commissions, be sure you have experience with the products or services you promote. Simply listing the products or tools, providing a link, and repeating facts that can easily be found by visiting the product’s website send a red flag to the algorithm that the content is for search engines.

Highlight your personal experience with the products or services that you discuss in your content. Make it clear by providing your readers with helpful insights and native photos or videos.

You can’t guarantee that visitors will be 100% satisfied that they’ve found everything they need when visiting your website. Comparison shopping still exists. But, your content should be sufficiently comprehensive so that they don’t feel it’s been a waste of time.

Before publishing, ask yourself:

Are you regurgitating what’s already out there without adding any value?

Create Your Content Around Questions Your Target Audience Might Have

If you’ve done your preliminary work—identifying your target audience, developing customer personas, and identifying pain points—you’ll be able to create content that answers their questions or addresses their challenges. Your content will be helpful, and while it may not answer all their questions, your readers should come away feeling enriched or better educated on the topics of concern.

Content writing for search engines can reach the preferred word count without providing much value.

User Experience Is Still King

With or without Google’s helpful content algorithm, the success of your website depends on user experience. UX is more than making your site navigable. It includes publishing content that provides a satisfying experience for your readers, encouraging them to return. Video, photos, memes, and infographics add to your content’s value, personalizing and enhancing the experience. You want your audience to look forward to visiting your website to access services, tools, and content that address their issues.

The Bottom Line On Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm Update

A brief glance at message boards indicates a mixed reaction thus far to Google’s algorithm update. Some website owners have reported a moderate to a significant drop in rankings. On the other hand, the SEO community appears to be unfazed at this point. Nevertheless, Google is determined to help its constituents access content written for them. So now is a good time to audit your content to ensure it’s customer-centric.

    • Identify your target audience.
    • What are their pain points?
    • How do they like to consume content?
    • Publish content that addresses their concerns, interests, and needs.
    • Stay in your niche.
    • Demonstrate your expertise or personal experience with the subject matter.
    • Create a website experience that not only leaves your customers satisfied with the information they’ve accessed but excited about returning.

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