Google is Making the Right Kind of Noises with its Helpful Content Update: 8 Ways to Ensure You are Listening
I was worried when Google's Helpful Content update hit the headlines a few weeks back.
Will it affect GoodFirms' rankings?
By far, and thankfully, there's no change in our traffic and DA.
Now that I think of it, what helped us maintain our status quo when other sites, in all likelihood, had to bite the bullet?
It could be our extensively and painstakingly researched survey articles. (For the unversed, GoodFirms researchers speak to more than 200 companies to develop research-based articles.)
Maybe our SEO has done a better job of ensuring we writers don't overload our copies with unnecessary keywords. Maybe, our link-building strategies were great. Whatever the case, we can heave a sigh of relief now. Before talking about tips, let's first understand the reason behind Google's Helpful Content Update.
The Need for Google’s Helpful Content Update
Google’s Helpful Content Update was rolled out to tackle websites dealing with “unhelpful content.” Yes, that’s the term Google uses for sites that publish unuseful content to mint money or improve their site rankings.
As we know, Google won’t take things lying down. It had to stop misleading websites from producing manipulative content whose sole goal was to draw in bots. So, such sites may face setbacks in traffic loss and lead in the coming months.
Despite the update, all is not lost for websites. Sites with non-useful content can still rough out new content marketing strategies and can get things streamlined in the coming months.
As mentioned, the new algo will harm their site rankings in the short term, but they can regain their lost ground in the long term.
Google’s New Helpful Content Update: What Does it Say
As it turns out, the search engine giant has made it explicitly clear in its helpful content update that content creators should focus on people-first content. Not content for search engines.
In a word, no, keyword stuffing. No writing for search engines.
This begs the question: Should SEO be put on the back burner?
SEO still holds a valuable place in Google’s eyes, or else it would have removed its guidelines page by now. Isn't it? The new rules primarily aim at websites that have crossed their predetermined boundaries and encroached on uncharted content territories to improve their SERP rankings.
For instance, those running exclusive beauty websites might have crossed over into the cooking world and targeted some trending topics, like top cooking tips rather than hairstyling tips which are actually part of their website profile. In such cases, it’s obvious to Google that you are going out of your way to attracting an audience that isn't part of your target audience profile. Google doesn’t appreciate such audience hijacking.
Your website can avoid Google's penalty by staying true to your niche and offering the best answers to your audiences' search queries.
Tips for Content Creators to Ensure your Website Doesn’t Get Bitten by Google Algo’s in 2023
#1. Generate Content Partly for Search Engines but Mostly for People
As it turns out, some sites create content exclusively for search engines. Why? Simply because that’s where all the money is.
As widely observed, if your content doesn’t figure in the first pages of Google, your content is almost non-existent.
This means businesses produce stuff by hook or crook, which gives them a chance to rank on the first pages of Google.
New helpful content has been rolled out to crack down on such sites. As already mentioned, the helpful content update wants content creators to focus on people and their needs and conjure stuff accordingly instead of duplicating content from other sites.
So, previously, you may have come across review sites that just copied-pasted reviews from other sites without adding any fresh perspective of their own. No more! With the new update, websites must ensure that they only provide authentic, original information. (Consult top content marketing companies in Mumbai to get some real-authentic content written. These companies hire top talent to offer outstanding content services.)
According to Google, the new content update will help improve the content of education sites, arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech sites.
#2. Write for your People; Forget the General Audience
The point Google is driving home here is: to know your target audience and focus on generating educational content to help them accomplish their goals. On the other hand, writing generalized content on different topics is one sure-shot way to wreak havoc on your site's rankings, as Google considers this an unhelpful content strategy generated just for search engines.
Now, the question is: are you aware of your website's target audience? If not, try empathy mapping. For the unversed, empathy mapping is the linchpin of any marketing strategy. They help in persona construction and can come in handy if you are still trying to zero in on your target audience.
The most significant benefit of using empathy maps is learning about the user's thoughts, feelings, and subsequent behaviors, which helps you create pertinent content. To this end, the website has to conduct user research via user interviews. This is the best way to gather pertinent information based on the type of content that needs to be produced.
Pro tip: If you don't have much time on hand, you can think through the user's lens and plan content accordingly or speak to some stakeholders. Or you can even engage in some role-playing and get one of the content creators to pose questions as a user. Such empathy mapping won't require more than 10 minutes; not to mention, you can iterate on them later based on real data.
#3. Add your Voice to the Topic at Hand
In other words, people want you to know your opinion on a particular topic, product, or service. They want to know what you think about it, your feelings, and so on. Share your experiences, observations, feelings, and ideas. In short, use your “voice.” You must add more value and originality. If you merely rechurn what others have produced, that won’t be considered as your opinion. That’s obvious! Google and people will soon realize your shortcut tactics, and the former will get their act together to penalize you.
Therefore, the only rule of thumb is: to be yourself.
Add your twist to the tale. No matter the subject, always write in that voice, and more importantly, amplify it rather than stifle it.
In addition, you can check out Google’s E-A-T guidelines. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Pro tip: To create content with "your voice" in it, conduct internal surveys, run Haro queries, and consult with authorities in related fields. Produce E-A-T content. For further guidelines on producing E-A-T content, consult top content marketing agencies in Delhi. So, before it’s too late, start sharing content in “your voice.”
In the following three content samples, GoodFirms writers use their voices:
- Turning a Loss Into a Strategic Gain - Top Tips from Top B2B Experts
- Cloud Computing: Current Trends, Future Prospects
- The Rise of the Healthcare BPO: Outsourcing Medical Coding and Claim Processing
#4. Provide Insightful Analysis or Interesting Information
In addition to adding your voice to the content, see if you can offer new insights or new information that’s not commonplace. Something that would automatically evoke more interest in your content. Maybe for this, you may have to undertake Deep Work, as Cal Newport suggests in his book of the same name.
Scratching at the surface level won’t give you good enough insights. To find unexpected insights and information, you must dig far and wide. To this end, you can rope in experts or use expert opinion. Research papers, books, and more to ensure your content stands out. According to Google Core Updates, the information offered should be so good that the reader would want to bookmark it, share it with a friend, or recommend it to others. Or could be taken up or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book.
#5. Generate Content for People by People
“By” is the watchword here.
Yes, these days, AI is the new content creator. Why, may you ask? The answer is plain and clear. You will be able to generate high volumes of pieces in a short time. But let AI not take over the content generation process completely. I guess some 75:25 partnership would be ideal.
Put another way, you can rely on AI for headlines, outlines, and everything else. But the fleshing-out part should be done by writers entirely. Relying on AI to flesh things out means you will get only mediocre results. The content won’t be top-notch and won’t stand out in the overcrowded marketplace. Bottom line: Use AI with caution. These are machines that can turn on a dime. You will be caught unawares if you throw caution to the wind and rely on AIs blindly.
#6. Come up with Comprehensive Information
Google’s content guidelines have thrown up many questions for content creators to answer. Two of these questions focus exclusively on the significance of developing in-depth content.
These two questions are:
This suggests that your main priority should be to offer thorough information in addition to unique content. Information that is good enough to help readers achieve their goals. So do research widely. A step-by-step approach to developing comprehensive content.
- Accumulate as much information as possible.
- Filter tightly: not all the accumulated information will be helpful to them.
- Narrow it down to those that might whet the audience’s appetite and take it further from there by adding more depth and data.
#7. Ditch Word Count; Focus on Reader Experience
Long-form content is the norm these days. And there’s no denying its usefulness in generating backlinks, pillar posts, and more.
However, the point is not whether the content should be short-form or long-form but whether it covers enough info to satiate the readers' appetite. If short, snappy, snackable content does the job, then it’s fine. Why unnecessarily pad up and frustrate the readers?
A Hubspot blog post, “7 Deadly Blogging Myths: BUSTED,” very well points out that even 100 words would do, provided it serves your audience and helps your business grow.
#8. Ensure Mobile-friendliness
The significance of having a mobile-friendly website cannot be overstated, given that 83.32% of people worldwide own a smartphone. However, building a responsive website is one thing; another is developing mobile-friendly content.
To ensure that the information on your website is mobile-friendly, you must adhere to various best practices. One is to cover the critical information in the beginning, using an inverted style pyramid. Keep the content skimmable after that. Keeping unnecessary words out is the third step. Add photographs and videos, as well as insights and highlights. Before I forget, strategically place CTAs. And yes, say no to excessive ads.
Over the years, Google has introduced several content updates. And with every key content update, Google’s goal was to make its content search-friendly. The goal is no different this time. It's repeating this advice this time as well, in accordance with EAT recommendations to make its content people-first.
Businesses that follow these updates will face no issues. However, those that take these updates with a pinch of salt will have to face the brunt.
Omni-channel marketing is a marketing approach that prioritizes customer experience over distribution. The omni-channel marketing strategy is one that focuses on a cohesi ... continue reading