Our Guide to Google’s Latest Search Algorithm Update
The world of search engine optimisation (SEO) is revolutionised once again, with Google’s latest search algorithm update.
Officially rolled out on 25 August 2022, the ‘Helpful Content Update‘ holds significant impact for how pages rank on its search engine. This isn’t the first algorithm update that’s focused on content. Previous updates from Google include Panda in 2011, which forced SEO marketers to rethink their SEO content strategy. Similarly, the Helpful Content update is expected to change SEO practices and considerations for businesses moving forward.
Wondering what this means for your website’s SEO strategy moving forward? Let’s dive in!
An Overview of Google’s Helpful Content Update
Simply put, the Helpful Content update targets content that is found to be of low quality by Google’s standards.
Image: Glenn Carstens
If you’re already creating content that’s original, insightful and well-enjoyed by your users, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. With the new update, websites with high amounts of low-value content will be ranked lower. More priority will be given to content that is deemed ‘people-first’.
This refers to content that is
- Unique and authentic
- Matching the intent of users
- Answering questions
- Most importantly, satisfying for your readers
Here’s a statement from their announcement explaining more:
“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.”
Google has been receiving plenty of flak lately for poor quality search results and dated information. With the update, users get to find more relevant and authentic results matching their intent.
Image: Bench Accounting
How does the update work?
The Google algorithm update introduces a new site wide search ranking signal. Site wide means that your website will be evaluated holistically, instead of individually, for unhelpful content.
In addition to the other signals for ranking pages, the algorithm identifies and automatically devalues content that is considered unhelpful. Users in turn gain a better search experience, and white-hat SEO practices are rewarded. It’s a win-win all around.
Here are some important things to take note of, at a glance:
- Launch: 25 August 2022, rolled out over the course of two weeks
- Purpose: To devalue content made primary for SEO, prioritising original and helpful content
- Algorithm Target: Site wide. This means that if your website has large amounts of unhelpful content, its SERP position is affected.
- Reach: The update impacts content written in the English language, but will likely expand to other languages in the future
How Do I Know If My Website Will Survive the Algorithm Update?
Wondering if your content is targeted for users? Thankfully, Google provided six questions for you to evaluate your content approach.
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge? (For example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
If your answer to all these questions are a resounding ‘YES’, then you’re in the clear!
What Should I Do If the Search Algorithm Update Impacts Me?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here goes. If the bulk of your content is low quality and made solely to rank high on search engines, you’re in trouble. There’s a high chance that you could be losing your position on the SERPs, even if you have high quality pieces in the mix.
The most immediate solution of course, is for you to remove the unhelpful content from your website.
Image: Scott Graham
But what exactly is unhelpful? We’ve put together a quick checklist for you to determine if your content is unhelpful:
- Is your content pieced together from other publishers?
- Does your content appear to be generated by AI tools?
- Is your content still relevant within your site?
- Is your content covering a diverse range of topics?
The points above inform Google’s algorithm that your content is unhelpful, which will then prompt the signal to apply a classifier to your website. Once your website no longer produces unhelpful content over a long-term period, the classifier will be automatically removed. However, this may take some time.
How Should I Be Strategising My Content After The Update?
Image: Austin Distel
Sweeping changes are in the mix. Feeling unsure about your SEO strategy moving forward? Here are our tips for you to craft a content strategy in line with Google’s new guidelines.
Revisit Your Target Audience
Image: Jason Goodman
Google wants you to craft content that is people-first. But who are the “people” in this new equation?
Reviewing your target audience will help you in figuring out if your content is matching their needs. Make use of tools such as your buyer persona, social media analytics and Google Analytics to help you in your review process.
Add Your Value
It’s not just Google that’s prioritising unique and authentic content. Your readers also want something different and insightful. Make your content stand out from the rest by injecting your own expertise.
Search for the top ranking pages under trending topics, and find out what they aren’t saying that your audience should know. Where possible, include real examples or case studies—a sure-fire way to reassure your audience that you know what you’re talking about.
Read more: New to SEO? Use our checklist to get started!
Consider Your Users Experience
Image: Daria Nepriakhina
Google is urging you consider the overall experience of your readers each time they come to your website. This means satisfying both their wants and needs.
Complete your user’s experience with additional resources aside from textual content. This means adding in photos, videos, downloadable content, podcasts—anything really, that brings them fulfilment to their queries.
For Humans, By Humans
Image: Dylan Gillis
Content for humans should be by humans. While AI writing tools can be useful in bringing you ideas and overcoming writer’s block, it often lacks quality and creativity.
If you’re finding it tough to invest your time in preparing content, one option is to consider outsourcing your SEO needs. This gives you more time to focus on other areas of your business, while still reaping the benefits of SEO expertise.
In A Nutshell
Image: Brooke Cagle
Content has fallen far from its main purpose: to help our audiences.
Google’s update seeks to remind us to ignore the search engines, and make users our priority instead. Follow these standards through our tips above to create better, high quality content that increases your search ranking.
Need help understanding this update or getting your website up to standards? Sounds like a job for our SEO experts at Creative For More!
Reach out to us today to find out how we can help.