search marketing

Google Helpful Content Update: Why We’re Excited About it

Google Helpful Content Update FAQs
Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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Right now, Google is rolling out a major update called the “Helpful Content Update.” In this article, we give you all the details and tell you why we’re expecting our SEO clients to benefit from the update.

What is the Helpful Content Update?

Google has been seeing a big increase in unhelpful content. Here are some of the questions they provide to help us understand what kind of content they consider unhelpful:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • 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?

On the other hand, Google provides these questions to help us understand what they consider helpful content:

  • 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)?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?

How does the Helpful Content Update work?

With this new update, Google is introducing a new “site-wide signal” that will be used in the search ranking algorithm.  What that means is every website will get a “helpfulness” score, which only Google knows. That helpfulness score will impact the search rankings of all the existing pages on the website as well as any new pages added in the future.

The helpfulness update will run continuously from now on. Therefore, as sites remove unhelpful content and add more helpful content, their helpfulness score will improve over time and so will their search rankings. Conversely, sites that publish more unhelpful content in the future will see their helpfulness score and search rankings decline over time.

When does the Helpful Content Update rollout?

It started rolling out August 25, and Google said it would take about 2 weeks for the rollout to complete. During this time, search rankings could fluctuate more than usual.

How big an impact will the Helpful Content Update have?

Google makes more than 1,000 changes to its search algorithm every year. But it only announces a handful of them in advance, usually because it wants website owners to “brace for impact” or improve their websites in a way Google thinks will give visitors a better experience.  The fact that Google announced this update a week in advance means it will probably among the biggest 3 updates it rolls out this year.

How will the Helpful Content Update Affect MY Search Rankings?

The less content you have on your website, the smaller the impact is likely to be.

The vast majority of websites built with our WP-EZ Website Builder and most of the custom designed websites we’ve built are websites for organizations – churches, businesses and ministries – which just have information about their organization. If this describes your website, you’re unlikely to see your search rankings change much.

This update is intended to impact blogs, pseudo-news sites, and sites that offer advice on money, health, products, etc.  Some of these sites are cutting corners and producing unhelpful content to try to make a buck. They are going to be hurt by this update.

But, if you have a blog or regularly publish other content to your website like a sermon, and the content you’re producing is original, good quality, and it’s on a topic you know something about, you’re probably going to see an improvement in search rankings.

Bottom line…

If you publish original, quality, helpful content on your website, you have nothing to fear from Google.

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We’re excited about the Helpful Content Update because of the quality of the content we produce for our readers and our clients.

A big part of the SEO services we provide for Christian businesses and ministries is writing, optimizing, publishing, and sharing high quality, original blog articles on their website.

We do this by interviewing a leader in the organization, recording that interview, and then having a good, native-English writer create the articles before an experienced SEO optimizes it. This saves the leader time, and ensures the published articles are well written with first-hand expertise.

If you are interested in speaking to a member of our SEO team about how we could help you produce helpful content that improves your search rankings and helps you better live out your mission online, fill out the consultation request form below.

Comment and Discuss

  • What questions do you have about the Helpful Content Update?
  • How do you feel about it – nervous, optimistic?

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.