Google's latest update, the Helpful Content Update, is likely to have a significant impact on all digital creators and their content: here are some useful tips to be prepared to deal with it as best you can.
As I told you in the last article, this week Google launches theHelpful Content Update, by which it intends to penalize content created primarily to index itself in search engines: the goal is to Reduce low-quality results, which do not add value, and instead reward those that help users and provide them with a satisfying experience.
How? With a signal that classifies content as "useful" or "not useful"; the point, however, is that the algorithm will act at the website level, so if it detects too much poor content within the latter (at the expense of more valuable content), then the whole site will be penalized in the search indexes, losing visibility.
It is clear that this will have a major impact on the entire community of digital creators and marketing agencies. If you work with SEO or use it for your online business, website and blog primarily, you will have already realized that it will necessarily affect the content you create and how you create it.
So what to do now?
Wait, stop and breathe.
First, the Helpful Content Update will first involve sites in English language and only later will it expand to other languages. Also, it is true that the update starts right now, but its full implementation could take up to two weeks.
That said, it pays to use this "advantage" to take a good hard look at yourself and take action to increase the quality of your offering, limiting any damage to your digital business.
Do you agree?
Here, then, is a whole series of tips to help you best prepare for this change.
Step one: objectivity and authenticity
Now, one of the biggest criticisms that web marketers have been quick to direct at Google's Helpful Content Update concerns the uncertainty about its evaluation methods: how does it decide when content is useful or not?
Quite a worry to solve...
It is clear that content created by artificial software or in which there is a simple copy-paste of other texts, without any added personal value and with excessive use of all SEO tactics, is doomed - I obviously hope this is not your case.
So let's assume that you are an authentic and original creator, writing valuable content with the intent of sharing your knowledge and expertise with your community, and optimizing it as much as possible to make it easily accessible.
Even for you it will not be easy to determine whether what you have written is actually of quality or not: every artist takes pride in his or her creations and has a hard time judging them objectively.
However, I am sure that if you do some sort of "soul-searching" you will be able to figure out whether or not you might somehow be affected by the Helpful Content Update.
Consider your site in its entirety, rewrite or remove anything that you fear will drag you down - always keeping in mind that this will not bring immediate results, as it may take a few months before you see any change in the rankings.
Always write for your audience, in an original and authentic way: clearly demonstrate your experience and knowledge and make sure that your website as a whole has a primary purpose. Your content should help someone learn enough about a topic to achieve a specific goal.
And don't misunderstand, it's not that you shouldn't use SEO anymore: it simply shouldn't be your priority. So by all means use all the tactics, but do it in an informed and useful way based on the characteristics and needs of your users.
Step two: Google's advice
Okay, so how do we avoid an overly search engine optimization approach?
Help comes from Google itself, with a double set of questions to be answered truthfully and objectively, to see where you stand and whether you should reevaluate the quality level of your website.
I list them here, in Italian, so that you can take advantage of them.
The first set of questions helps you understand If you are too indexing-oriented (instead of informing and educating your readers):
- is your content created primarily to attract traffic through search engines, rather than to help people?
- do you produce a lot of content on different topics, hoping that some of it will rank well in search results?
- Are you using fairly extensive automation to do that?
- Are you mainly summarizing what others are saying, without adding much value?
- do you choose themes simply because they seem trendy, rather than based on the demands of your existing audience?
- after reading your content, do users have to search again for better information from other sources?
- do you write trying to satisfy a certain number of words, thinking that Google might thereby favor you?
- you decided to enter a niche subject area while having no real experience, just to get organic traffic?
- does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer (like suggesting a movie release date when it has not yet been confirmed)?
If you answer yes to most of them, you may be hit with the Helpful Content Update.
The second set, on the other hand, allows you to figure out whether you can consider your content as actually useful and satisfactory, where the use of SEO practices serves to bring added value to users:
- do you have an existing or potential audience that would find your site's content useful?
- does your content demonstrate first-hand skills and knowledge?
- does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- after reading your content, will users perceive that they have learned enough about a topic so that they can achieve their goal?
- Through your content, will users have a satisfactory experience?
If you answer yes to these questions, it means that you are on the right track for a people-centered approach and that your site will also be successful following the implementation of the Helpful Content Update.
Step three: best practices
Okay, at this point I think you already have an idea of what you need to do.
To make it even easier for you, here is a summary of the 3 main best practices to follow to keep your content high in SERPs even with Google's new update.
#1 Stay on your tracks
Sometimes the temptation is high: following trends you feel like it will help you increase your visibility. But it doesn't pay off!
Avoid trending topics unless they are relevant to your niche and audience-better not to "derail" down roads that don't really fit with what you do and propose.
Also avoid posting content on too many different topics: keep your website focused and, if you feel the need, consider posting other topics on other sites or platforms.
Understand your primary business objectives and write about topics on which you are an authoritative expert and that are useful to your audience. Demonstrate your subject matter expertise consistently. Focus on producing content on topics on which you can speak knowledgeably, authority and trust.
Keep your content aligned with your core value proposition. Always aim for the quality rather than on the quantity.
#2 Meet the needs of your users (do what is best for them)
This means giving an expert and unique perspective, along with answers to likely user questions.
It may sound simple, but it doesn't have to be. It takes time, research and experience-it is a real investment.
It means investigating for understanding your customers: talk to them, study their problems, their feedback to find solutions, and their interactions with your brand to come up with your strategy to content creation.
Always keep your audience's needs in mind as the most important priority. Do your best to answer their questions with clear and thorough explanations.
Emphasize your unique value proposition; if there is something that sets you apart from other companies and websites, find ways to incorporate those differentiating factors into your content.
#3 Don't mind the algorithm
Yes, you got it right: it means that when you write, you have to do it for the people who are going to read you, without bringing big problems about the length of the content, for example.
The only thing you need to be interested in is. meet demand Of your audience. This is because it is easier to "chase" your readers than to run after the algorithm.
By the way, Google does not recommend a specific word count, so avoid "filler" content, but write as much or as little as you need to cover the topic you are talking about.
There is no hard-and-fast rule: do what your users need to meet their search needs and provide solid, high-quality content.
You're probably wondering if it's a bad thing, then, to incorporate SEO into your content?
Well, no, of course it isn't!
Google itself has made it clear that it has nothing against search engine optimization, as long as it is applied to content focused on people and meeting their needs.
The Helpful Content Update aims to penalize those sites that have intentionally tried to "trick" the system by offering mediocre or poor content, but still rank well because of SEO, rather than based on their actual value.
The point is that SEO should enhance the content marketing strategy and be a valuable component of it, but not the only nor the most important one. It is only fair that it be critical input in the creation process, leveraging keyword research for topic selection, taking into consideration their competitive analysis and suggestions on site optimization (including URLs, titles, meta descriptions, link building).
However, without overdoing it.
In a nutshell, the important thing is that your content is aimed at users and offers them useful information: work proactively to showcase your expertise on the subject in order to build trust with your audience and provide them with answers to the questions they are looking for. The use of SEO will be a added value That will then allow you to give it the visibility it deserves.
If your SEO strategy is focused on providing useful, valuable, high-quality content, chances are that this update will not have a negative impact on your site. If not, follow the tips I have provided to take care of it and limit the damage.
Make an objective analysis of your content to assess its quality and how it meets users' expectations; try to understand which ones might be interpreted as "SEO-first" and therefore not useful; finally, decide whether these can be satisfactorily improved or whether it would be better for them to be removed from the site.
Remember: Google wants to offer unique perspectives, created by people and for people.
That said, the Helpful Content Update may seem harsh and sudden, but I believe it will greatly improve the experience most of us have online.
After all, it is always the quality To make a difference.
Do you agree?
I'm curious to know your opinion about it - I'll be waiting for you in the comments!