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Google’s Helpful Content Update: Will Your Web Content Make the Cut?

Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Google recently announced a new content algorithm update known as the “helpful content update.” While the search giant releases updates quite often, this one is set to transform how and why web content is created—and for the better.

Here at CCS, we’re firm believers in creating content that’s valuable and tailored to fit your specific audience. It’s the only way to ensure your voice cuts through the noise and reaches exactly who it’s meant to.

In this latest update, Google aims to prioritize helpful content over noise. As part of Google’s initiative, helpful content will be rewarded in search, while content that doesn’t add value won’t perform as well.

Will your web content make the cut? In this guide, we dive deeper into the helpful content update and provide tips on ensuring your content fits Google’s recommendations.

What Is Google’s Helpful Content Update?

According to Google, the helpful content update is “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

The update is set to start taking effect the week of August 22, 2022, and could last a couple of weeks. Google specifies two key recommendations for improved performance:

  • Focus on people-first content
  • Avoid creating content for search engines first

How Does Google’s Helpful Content Update Work?

To show users the best results for a search query, Google uses ranking signals such as page relevancy and usability. This update includes a new signal that enables Google to detect low-value content. As a result, low-value content isn’t ranked as high as more valuable content in search results.

Who Does the Helpful Content Update Effect?

The update will directly affect any website that showcases content written for search versus content written for humans. For example, websites that prioritize content written in line with outdated SEO practices (such as keyword stuffing) may take a direct hit.

How to Create Web Content That Fits Google’s Recommendations

The need to create people-first content isn’t something new. Humans have been searching for answers to their problems online since the dawning of the internet. 

However, over the past several years, industry leaders like Google have begun to truly prioritize content written for humans, not algorithms. You must do the same to connect with those who need you most.

How do you make it happen?

1. Learn What Your Audience Expects—And Deliver

If there’s one thing you must take from this and start doing today, it’s this:

Get to know your audience.

This doesn’t mean understanding simple demographics. It also doesn’t mean having a basic understanding of what your audience is looking for. Instead, you must truly get to know your audience on a deep level. You must know:

  • Your audience’s needs, fears and desires
  • The intent behind your audience’s search queries
  • How and where your audience wants to consume their content

Once you understand what your audience expects from you, you can deliver. And delivering that kind of value will help you get a passing grade from Google. 

How do you get to know your audience?

  • Conduct audience research: It’s not enough to guess who your audience is. Conducting audience research helps you to clearly define your audience through investigation. For example, take a look at your website metrics. Who’s visiting your website? Where are they from? What pages do they frequent? You can also perform other research tasks such as interviewing current customers. How did they find you? Why did they choose you? All of the info you gather will help you clearly define who it is you serve.
  • Develop an ideal customer avatar (ICA): An ICA, also known as a buyer persona, helps you dig into the unique make-up of your audience. Plus, it gives you a documented, detailed description of your audience that you can use whenever you create new content.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open to engagement: Who’s following you on social media? Who’s subscribing to your e-newsletter? Who’s calling you with questions? Always pay attention to who’s engaging with your business.

2. Stick to What You Know

Picture this: you’re planning your family’s first-ever trip to Disney World. You, of course, want it to be as magical as possible. After researching online, all you can seem to find are lists of top attractions and the same old tips.

That is until you find an in-depth guide written by a travel blogger passionate about Disney.

Inside, you find first-handed experience and detailed advice about what to do, what to expect and what to avoid. You now feel completely prepared to take on the parks.

This is exactly what content should do for your own audience. The key is to stick to what you know. Your audience wants and deserves your unique perspective and expertise. 

Don’t regurgitate the same old content. Instead, deliver value through your first-hand experience and soon-to-be trusted advice.

3. Stop Trying to Game the Algorithm

We know that ranking in search is important for your business. It’s so important, in fact, that many businesses have tried to “game” the algorithm to simply capture more website traffic and leads.

It doesn’t work.

Sure, ranking high in Google may result in more traffic. However, that gain may be short-lived. If a reader lands on your top-ranking blog post, for example, and is instead met with content of little value, they will bounce and may never come back.

Instead of writing just to please the algorithm, work to please your audience. The algorithm now prioritizes content that does just that.

4. Reconsider the Use of AI Writing Tools

AI writing tools are “all the rage” right now in the marketing industry. They promise to save you time, effort and cash when it comes to creating copy. But, is it true?

AI writing tools can indeed generate content on your behalf. But these tools use machine learning algorithms to analyze content that’s already out there. The result? Copy generated for you that sounds a lot like what already exists.

We’re trying to avoid regurgitation, right? Right.

Go ahead and use tools like Grammarly to check your grammar or Content Harmony to create briefs. Many AI tools can definitely support your writing efforts. But, leave the deep work of writing to the human life forms. 

You know your audience best—share your unique voice and perspective instead.

Start Creating Valuable, Audience-Focused Content Today

We won’t sugarcoat it: creating high-quality, valuable content takes work. If you’re struggling to create audience-focused content, we can help. Reach out to our team today.

Custom Content Solutions

A Content Marketing Agency
Since 2013, Custom Content Solutions has been offering brand-driven, audience-focused SEO content to small and mid-sized businesses. By leaning into the Connection Copywriting Method, created by founder Cari O’Brien, we deliver search-optimized copy for websites and blogs that connects with ideal audiences and converts them into dream clients.

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