This went live on September 6th, 2022 as part of Google’s greater scheme to make sure users only see the best content possible in search results. Google is trying to demote all the low-quality content so it doesn’t show up in search results. This update is expected to be as big as Panda (which targeted low-quality content) and Penguin (which targeted web spam).
This update introduces a new ranking signal that will be taken into account for ranking pages in search results. Google’s AI system will continuously evaluate and identify pages that are not helpful and offers little value to the searchers.
This classifier works continuously, and unlike broad core updates and product review updates, this classifier does not require a periodic refresh. So if your site is affected by this update, it will take months for the demoting ranking signal to be reduced or lifted.
What Is People-First Content?
People-first content means articles that are assembled primarily for searchers instead of for search engines.
This means creating content that is original and helpful while also utilizing SEO best practices to ensure that your content is easily found by searchers.
Google’s guidelines go over creating people-first content to stay unaffected by this update. Creating people-first content can be a challenge, but it’s worth it if you want to see success with this update.
How Can I Tell if My Site is Affected?
If you witness a decline in traffic following an algorithm update, it is critical to take a step back and analyze your content. By asking yourself a few questions, you can determine if your content is still applicable and interesting for your audience.
- Is the content still relevant to my audience’s needs?
- Has the content been updated to reflect any changes in my industry or niche?
- Is the tone and style of the content still appropriate for my audience?
- Is the content engaging and easy to read, or is it dry and difficult to get through?
If you can answer YES to all of these questions, then your content is likely still on track. However, if you’re unsure about any of them, it might be time to make some changes.
1. Don’t Stray Too Far From Your Main Topic
Google is encouraging sites to stay within a certain niche or topic area. The process of creating content that can mean writing articles that are on a broader scope in hopes of gaining that search engine juice.
- Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
- Are you writing about things simply because they seem to trend and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
2. Do Demonstrate First-Hand Experience
“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)?”
Google’s advice is for people not to write about something they haven’t experienced themselves. Creating content for search engines can involve writing about products and services you haven’t used, which usually come with affiliate links that earn commission.
Ask yourself the following question: Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
3. Don’t Combine Multiple Topics Into One Site
“Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?”
A website can’t be all things to all people. Not only is that unhelpful to visitors, but it’s also confusing for search engines trying to understand the site.
If you’re concerned about how these changes may affect your site, please reach out to Builtwell for a free SEO audit to determine if your business is protected against Google’s Helpful Content Update.
Suggested Actions: Read more about what Google says creators should know about the update.