It has recently been announced that Google are releasing a new update called ‘Helpful Content’ this is potentially one of the largest changes to the Google landscape of the past few years. The following 1-pager outlines the key points of the Google Helpful Content Update.
What is Google Helpful Content
Helpful Content is designed to reward content that is written for humans rather than simply search engine visibility. At the moment this update only impacts Google Search and not other surfaces but it’s likely to expand in future.
Helpful Content is a sitewide algorithm update so the entire site will be impacted if Google deems some content to be unhelpful. Google have stated that the impact will be ‘meaningful’ although we don’t yet know which percentage of search terms will be impacted, we do know that Online Education, Entertainment, Technology and Shopping are likely to be impacted the most.
When will this take effect?
The rollout started week commencing the 22nd of August and will take approximately two-weeks to complete rolling out. However, as with a similar content update, Google Panda, it is highly likely there will be continuous updates and releases of Helpful Content. Google has stated that the impact on rankings and performance may not be seen for a number of months.
Note. Helpful Content doesn’t replace the Panda updates but works alongside.
Which content may be impacted?
- Content primarily written to attract people from search engines and not written for users
- Sites which cover multiple, wide-ranging topics with little or no expertise
- Content which is produced using automation or AI tools
- Content which doesn’t add value to the user
- Content simply based on trending topics rather than being relevant for your site audience
- Content which doesn’t fully satisfy user queries
- Content which writes to a particular word count
- Content targeted to answer a question with no answer such as a Film release date
What is Helpful Content?
If content is written which positively satisfies the previous points this should be deemed Helpful Content. In short, content should be
- Created for a specific/relevant audience
- Showcases expertise or knowledge around a particular subject
- Is trustworthy and credible
- Meets the needs/requirements/queries of the user
What if your site is impacted by Helpful Content?
It’s worth noting that Google is not calling any negative impact a penalty unlike previous algorithm updates – although it may feel like it for impacted sites.
If a site is impacted by the Helpful Content update. Google recommend improving the content on your site in line with their Helpful Content guidelines, rather than simply removing any potentially damaging content/pages.
What are we doing to monitor the impact?
As usual, we will be monitoring performance of all our clients so we can easily and quickly identify any potential impact from this update. If we do see any impact, we will work with you to develop a plan for recovery which Google have stated clearly is possible for any impacted sites.
At Green Ginger Digital, we believe this is a welcome update to the search landscape which should improve user experience across Google and should not be seen as a threat or negative. Much of the advice from Google has been typical best practice from the previous Panda update and we believe sites which are most likely to be impacted are Publisher sites which focus on a broad range of topics or sites which use AI to generate huge volumes of content at scale.
We work with our clients to support them with a content strategy which we believe meets the requirements of the Helpful Content update. We invest time in research and content development (where relevant) to ensure this meets the needs of the user, meaning we believe our current approach to be fit for purpose for this latest update.
In summary, we would recommend that content
- Is focused on relevant topics to the user and site without writing irrelevant content
- Clearly answers users’ questions / requirements with expertise and trustworthiness
- Not aimed to beat the algorithm – such as AI content, keyword stuffing etc.
More information can be found here: