It is my pleasure to introduce myself as MD. Azhar a digital marketer and trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the industry at the Web Training Institute in Hyderabad, Telangana. A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a blog post about Google’s brand-new “Helpful Content Update,” which became live on August 18, 2022. This is an exciting time for me as I share my findings with you all!

In conclusion, I will offer some recommendations so that this update does not adversely affect the ranking and performance of your website’s content. As I discuss in this article, I will examine the facts and reports regarding Google’s most recent update and explain what Danny Sullivan and Google Search Central Blog have to say about the “Google Helpful Content Update.”

Reference 1:https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/08/helpful-content-update?hl=en

Reference 2:https://blog.google/products/search/more-content-by-people-for-people-in-search/

As many of you know, Google’s machine learning algorithms have developed extensively over the past two years. This update is a significant change from Google’s previous methods of ranking content. When it comes to ranking content, Google has traditionally taken into account a number of factors. It is imperative to take into account factors such as the number of backlinks, search volume, length of the content, overall user experience, technical SEO factors, Core Web Vitals, and many more.

With this update, Google is placing a greater emphasis on the quality of the content itself. Consequently, it is critical to keep in mind that the factors previously mentioned are still relevant. However, they are not the only factors that Google will consider from now on. A significant change is that Google will now factor in the “helpfulness” of the content when ranking content.

The way Google ranks content has undergone a significant change, and site owners, content writers, and SEO Webmasters should take note of this change. Prior to this update, Google released several algorithmic updates that reference helpful and quality content. In the period between 2020 and 2022. As a result, many websites with spammy or low-quality content were placed on “blacklists.” by Google.

As I have previously stated in my blogs, if you want your website’s ranking and performance to remain the same, you must strictly follow all the Google algorithm update policy guidelines. We are all aware that Google’s primary focus is to provide a better search experience for its users. When you focus on your target audience, Google will take care of your website’s ranking and overall performance in search engine results. According to Google, this has been conveyed several times.

The updated guidelines will affect not only blogging websites or affiliate websites but also all types of websites, such as service websites, e-commerce websites, and business websites if they violate the guidelines. Google has clearly stated that all kinds of websites will be affected by this update.

1. According to the first paragraph of the Helpful content update released, and I quote,

“Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. To this end, we’re launching what we’re calling the “helpful content update” that’s part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results. “Below is more about the update and things creators should consider.” – Danny Sullivan and Google Search Central Blog.

As a result, the main ongoing efforts by the Google search team can be summarized as follows:

The goal is to provide users with authenticated and valuable information by providing them with the exact results for their search queries. This will enable them to find answers without having to navigate between different websites. This is one of the components of the “Helpful Content Update.”

Additionally, Google wants to ensure that original unique content is seen by users, which ensures that the content is authentic and distinct.

Google does not like content written using AI tools (like GPT+3 or Open AI tools) because they consider it spam. Following this update, Google will always promote original content authored by subject matter experts. As mentioned previously, Google prefers to publish content that follows E-A-T guidelines.

This is in contrast to content that has been scraped and rewritten or paraphrased by a tool without adding any original value.

In a tweet from Google CEO Larry Page, a podcast from Google Search Central, and John Muller’s Google SEO office-hours hangout, it seems non-human content will not benefit users when they experience it in real time. In spite of the fact that even such content contains some factual information, Google will not rank it.

2. Going through the second paragraph of the Helpful content update released, and I quote,

Focus on people-first content. 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.” – Danny Sullivan and Google Search Central Blog.

In other words, content creators should think more about what users want and what they search for rather than what Googlebot wants.

With this update, the trend of simply putting generic information on the website without meeting the user’s expectations will no longer prevail. As a result, content creators hoping to get ranked in the search results by simply adhering to SEO aspects will not be able to achieve long-term stable performance in ranking.

Therefore, You must have both high-quality content and a well-functional website structure on your website. In that case, only SEO factors will be considered.

3. As part of the updated algorithm, Google has provided a Content Quality checklist in the form of questions for content writers.

If all of the answers are “YES” to the questions, it means you are doing well and will not be negatively impacted by this update. Comparatively, you can notice an increase in overall site performance.

Let us now examine each one in turn and gain a deeper understanding of each.

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if it came directly to you?
    A major objective of Google is to determine the amount of direct traffic and existing returning audience. This is done by determining how much time audiences are spending viewing the content and whether they are finding it valuable.
  • 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)?As part of the Google E.AT algorithm, content pieces are also evaluated according to their Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, which means the content should be written by subject matter experts. The author must establish Expertise and Authority in their respective niche, and the audience should feel a sense of trust after reading the content.
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
    The question refers to whether or not you have a primary niche-specific content website targeted at a specific audience group.Make sure that the entire website is focused on the same topic or that a specific category caters to content in the same niche that is available to the site visitors.
  • Are readers satisfied with your content? 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?
    Upon visiting your website and reading the content, does the user feel satisfied with the information provided? Does the user receive an answer to the query for which he landed on the website? Whether the customer is satisfied after leaving the website?A minor role will be played by likes, comments, and feedback. As a matter of fact, Google will also take into account your Bounce rate and Dwell time.
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
    This is where Google asks you whether you are following the policy guidelines of the previous core vitals update and all product review updates. In addition, Google recommends that you review all policy guidelines before requesting indexing.

4. As part of the updated algorithm, there is a second checklist for quality content.

In the event that any of the following answers are “YES”, you should re-evaluate how you create content across your website as it might result in negative results:

To gain a deeper understanding of each, let us examine them individually.

  • Avoid creating content for search engines first.
  • SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.
    Google has clearly stated that content creators should avoid creating content primarily for search engines which means content that is created for the Googlebot and not for actual users. From now on, only content that can help people with their search queries should be the focus of the website. This is in contrast to content that is solely designed to attract search engines.
    Google is placing a greater emphasis on the quality of the content itself as a result of this update. As a result, it is imperative to keep in mind that all SEO best practices factors are still relevant. Nevertheless, simply following SEO factors and ignoring content guidelines will no longer be enough to ensure a successful website.
  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines rather than made for humans? Are you solely designing your content so that search engine crawlers can read it, find is it appealing, and rank it?
    According to Google, The sole purpose of creating content should be to reach humans and real-time users.
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?The search engine giant strongly condemns the practice of creating content on a wide range of topics in the hope that if one article does not rank or perform well in the SERPs, another may succeed.Each article on the website should be unique within its respective focus category. In simple words, there shouldn’t be any duplicacy of content within the website articles.
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
    Search engines do not like content that uses automation AI tools (like GPT+3 or Open AI tools) in order to produce bulk content on various topics regardless of E-A-T guidelines. In this case, Google will consider the content as spam.
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
    Today, Google has extremely strong artificial intelligence capabilities, and it is evident that Google specifies that articles are created by scraping the top 10 to top 20 search results and rewriting or paraphrasing them using an automated tool with a set of formats such as a predefined number of words, heading tags, images, and so on, will be affected by this helpful content update unless they are updated with additional valuable original content.
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem to trend and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
    Google recommends that you do not simply write about topics that are trending in order to increase traffic to your website. Rather, you should write only for your primary focused target audience in your field.
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
    Does it appear that after reading your website content, your website audience or readers still feel that they need to navigate to various sources/websites for more information? Is your content not completely satisfactory to them?We then have the Bounce rate, which is one of the most significant ranking factors. As a result, in case a large number of the audience returned back to the search engine result page for more relevant information without taking any action on the previous website. The Google algorithm interprets this as a negative signal that the content on the website does not fully satisfy the search intent of the user and will be negatively affected.
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
    Are you only writing on any topic that is just required and sufficient for the search query? Or Are you elaborating the content predominantly based on what you have read or heard or any tool that suggests Google has a favorite word count?Please note, always keep the topic relevant and cater to user queries only rather than concentrating on the word count. Please note that Google has not officially set a word count limit guideline.
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
    There are two main points to be explained here:The first point. Relates the E.A.T. factor, Google states that you need to have real expertise, authority and that your content must be viewed as trustworthy by humans.
    In the second point, Google advises not to chase trending topics in order to generate traffic or topics that have high search volume, but you are not an expert in the niche.Instead, focus on your niche where you are an expert and can satisfy your user’s search intent.
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
    After this update, Google is warning content creators who use clickbait in their articles, whether it is in the title tag or heading tag.
    Do you provide an answer to a question to which there is no accurate answer? Stop this practice of giving a probable answer to a static query.
    According to the point, this type of content generally deals with date, price, time, or any other question that pops up in Google’s answer box.

5. How the update works: Here’s a paragraph that everyone should focus on, and I quote:

“Any content — not just unhelpful content — on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”

Assume you have 50 articles on your website, and 40 of them are of real expertise, provide in-depth information, and satisfy the user’s query, However,

The remaining 10 articles do not comply with the “Helpful Content Update” guidelines. The 10 unhelpful content will also negatively impact the 40 helpful content, and ultimately it will result in an overall site-wise penalty due to the 10 unhelpful content. Please note that it is Google’s AI-ML-based penalty rather than a manual action.

As of now, it will only impact English language content worldwide from August 18, 2022 but Google plans to implement regional or country-specific languages in the future.

The best practice will be the removal of the Unhelpful content from your website if you are sure you got hit by the HCU.

Conclusion:

How to get rid of the penalty if your website is hit by the “Unhelpful Content Update 2022.”

The steps are:

  1. Verify first if the helpful content update has already affected your website by logging into your Search Console dashboard and Google Analytics dashboard or consult a digital marketing agency that is among the best in your town.
  2. Check and compare the clicks, impressions, traffic, ranking, and overall site performance of the website between the previous three months.
    To find out if you have received a penalty or not, you will have to complete your entire article audit on your website.
  3. Don’t be in a rush to remove content until you are sure that you got a penalty from UHC. Website rankings, clicks, impressions, and overall site performance can drop for many reasons. It is not always an update that destabilizes the website’s performance.
  4. Wait a few days after removing any negatively impacted content from your website and keep monitoring the search console and Google analytics.
  5. Publish content strictly according to the updated guidelines and checklist as per the helpful content update
  6. You will achieve the same or even better website performance after 3 months if you follow these guidelines. However, until then, make sure your content portfolio is added with more helpful content, and do not use any content generation tools. Google AI will detect your content as spam immediately.
  7. The last thing, but not least, is to keep in mind that SEO is an organic way of ranking a site, and that is slow as compared to paid ads but slow and steady always wins out. Just Follow the Google Official search central blog guidelines for latest information.
Google Helpful Content Update 2022 in Depth Analysis was last modified: September 20th, 2022 by Md Azharuddin
Mohammed Azharuddin is Founder and Senior digital marketing trainer @ Web Trainings Academy. He has 14+ years of experience in training and digital marketing services.