Google’s Helpful Content Update: Everything you need to know


11 minutes reading

Google is not perfect. That’s a rather bold statement for a blog post that aims to get on Google’s first place for a particular keyword. But it’s true. Even Google knows it, and as they strive for perfection, they make constant minor updates to address a bug or a small user experience problem. There are at least several thousand updates each year, but only a few are what we call core updates. However, it’s not very often that we get a massive update that promises to change strategies and generally change the way we interact with Google. The Google Helpful Content Update (GHCU) did just that. The changes were done back in August, but as SEO works with a bit of delay, now is the time to see how those algorithm changes affected websites’ optimization strategies.

What is Google Helpful Content Update?

The Google Helpful Content Guide is a small document that allows website owners, bloggers, and SEO specialists to glimpse at what Google considers valuable for its users. So, naturally, this is a blueprint for getting your website, blog post, or product at the top position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). As users’ behavior changes over time, so do these guidelines. After all, Google’s main objective is to deliver its users the best experience, and it does so by showing the best results based on the users’ behavior.

You might wonder, can’t you do what you do and ignore Google as a factor in your content creation? The answer, of course, is yes, you may. But with 70,000 searches each second, Google is still the best way to get free traffic to your website, blog, or product pages. So following Google’s guidelines, although not mandatory, it’s highly recommended.

Change Rankings

Will Google’s algorithm update change your ratings?

If you’ve always been meticulous about your website content and have done a great job at your SEO, you shouldn’t worry. Although a game-changer, the update still has the user’s best interests in mind. So if you offer genuinely good and informative content, you can only benefit from this update.

One unique thing about this change is the algorithm’s scope on your website. Until now, the crawlers checked only the particular page for trustworthy content and other signs of fraudulence. However, now your whole website will be under the lens. So if your website contains some untrustworthy content or other elements that might push Google crawlers away, you need to delete them as soon as possible. If not else, this GHCU gives you the excuse to do some spring cleaning on your website and get rid of old and untrustworthy content if you have such.

You have nothing to fear if you run a genuine and trustworthy website. On the other hand, those running shady web pages who try to get between Google’s fences and climb to the top spot in the SERP will be hit the hardest. However, consider going through your content and fact-checking everything to be safe.

Naturally, if you have a massive amount of content, it would be difficult to pinpoint the article that might be problematic. Going through your content might be interesting, but it is not time-efficient. A better plan is to use Google Search Console since Google won’t notify you of a problem with your content, but you will notice a drop in SERP positions on some keywords. A quick analysis of the results will pinpoint the weak link so you can change your content or delete it all together. You will also notice a drop in your visits through Google Analytics. This is the best way to analyze the full impact of the algorithm change.

On the plus side, if you were meticulous with your content, you may gain some SERP spots while others suffer through Google’s changes. So basically, the update is bad news only for those who tried to cheat Google previously.

SEO Strategies

How will the update change SEO strategies?

In general, GHCU does not demand any changes. SEO is always about satisfying your audience’s needs first. So if you have a good SEO on your website that doesn’t try to fraudulently “persuade” Google crawlers that it’s the best content for a particular keyword, there is nothing to change. The modifications that Google implements now are actually trying to push everyone to follow the best SEO practices, so if you are in line with them, keep up the good work.

Still, you might have doubts about whether your website is good enough, so let’s go through some of the most significant changes that will determine your SERP position.

Google’s golden rule

There is one rule above all else – people first, customers second, bots – last” This is the holy scripture of brilliant SEO. Search engines, as a rule, care little about your content. What they care about, however, is what their users think about your content, so writing about people and not bots is instrumental for your success.

Forget about plagiarizing

Plagiarism is a disgusting method of profiting from someone else’s work without their approval. It’s immoral and legally jeopardizing. So never sink so low as to copy another person’s hard work and claim it as your own. Google goes a step beyond, as it can flag as plagiarized any content that was “heavily influenced” by another one. Although that’s not actually plagiarism, it’s still a breach of Google’s trust. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t get information from other websites, but make sure to add something from you – an analysis, comment, or just an observation.

Leave AI outside of the content.

While AI is definitely the future in almost any aspect of marketing, content writing is very far from being ready to be replaced by a robot. Mostly because AI can’t conclude various perspectives, can’t offer first-hand knowledge, and can’t bring that extra flair only a true professional can infuse when talking about an issue they care about.

Keep content relevant

We know you have various interests all across many fields and industries. Your audience does not. Or at least they are not on your website for that.

For example, if you sell high-end shirts, your audience will be interested in textile or fabric information. They won’t be so keen to learn what you think of last night’s episode of the current viral show. So keep your content to your niche and deviate only when you know you can add some value to your audience, not only because a topic is viral at the moment.

Keep it short and sweet.

While being a bit detailed with your blog posts is fine, going overboard and over-explaining everything will do more harm than good. So better stick to the point of your posts and make sure you don’t go overboard.

What Google will prize from now on

As you can see, Google is quite demanding on what not to be done. However, if you want to go beyond and go straight to the first spot at the SERP, you need to follow a few extra steps.

Google will finally reward expertise.

Google has gone one step further in offering its users the best solution to their problems. This change was long coming, and we are happy that finally being an expert will give you bonus points. There will be no penalties if you are not an expert, but expertise will be pushed forward, allowing the users to get the best and most accurate answer to their queries. Naturally, that shouldn’t be a problem, as most website owners are experts at what they do. You can’t really be an electronics business owner without having some expertise in the field. Moreover, you know the business from the inside and have some insider knowledge, so if you are not a fraudulent website, you shouldn’t worry about this change.

However, being an expert is not enough. You will have to choose your blog topics carefully. Just because the keyword was trending, writing on a random theme is not a recipe for success. Stick to your field of experience and what’s relevant to your audience, and you will be golden.

Adding value is mandatory.

You might be a brilliant writer and a recognized expert in your field, but if you don’t add value to your content, Google won’t recognize you as a viable first choice for their search results. This is because many people just list the problems without really giving a solution, which contradicts Google’s desire to provide its users with the best and most reliable answers to their questions fast.

So from now on, only content with added value will be eligible for the first spot. This means you will have to add some solutions to the problems and give some examples, some first-hand experiences, or a unique perspective on the topic.

Show, don’t tell

However, what will truly bring your website some huge benefits is google’s new motto, “show, don’t tell.” Yes, the search engine giant will give you additional scores for unique, entertaining, and, most importantly, relevant pictures, gifs, and videos to illustrate your point. Of course, mobile-friendly visuals, with good quality and resolution, is a must if you want to get the bonus points.

One question, one answer

Mixing several topics into one blog post might sound like a good idea, especially with the opportunity to try and list more than one long tail keyword in only one content. However, Google will penalize this behavior from now on. The main argument here is that people come to a particular page searching for an answer to a specific question. So having 5-6 questions answered in one post is definitely not user-friendly. It devalues the post and makes it only a sketch of a real answer.

If you want to target different keywords, just make additional posts. Moreover, this will help you fill your blog, and you won’t have to wonder what to post next week. On the other hand, you don’t have to write needlessly long posts. If you don’t have enough to say, 1000 words or so are quite enough for Google to deem you worthy, as long as you follow all previously mentioned rules.

Be decisive with your answer

Most important, however, is to give your audience a clear, fully comprehensible answer that doesn’t leave any doubt in their mind about what is the solution to their problem. In this sense, forget terms such as “in my opinion” and “Take that with a grain of salt” when concluding your exposition. Instead, end your text firmly, believing in your expertise and knowing you have the correct answer to the question asked.

On the other hand, never give conclusive answers that facts can’t prove. You can provide your own understanding and rely on your experience and expertise, but you need to acknowledge the fact that there is no conclusive answer to the question at hand, and to your best knowledge, you are correct. Naturally, it would be best if you did it in smoother terms.

Speed Matters

Speed is still very much a factor

One of the key characteristics that Google looks for in a page for its SERP’s number one spot is the load speed. In this sense, a slow website or an unfortunate server crash can ruin your chances of becoming Google’s favorite website. To avoid this, you need a speedy, secure, and stable hosting service. HostArmada is just the place to get them. With its cloud-based servers, you will never experience downtime and enjoy lightning-fast speed, top-notch security, and guaranteed stability. So check out our offers and contact us to help choose the best plan that suits your needs.

What to remember?

Google’s new update is a game changer that solidifies the best SEO practices. In this sense, if you have followed these standards, you have nothing to worry about, as you will most likely win from the whole turmoil. Still, it’s a good idea to go through your Google Search Console and Google Analytics just to see if there are some drops in your performance. If there are, pinpoint the problem and follow the guidelines to make your content irresistible for Google.