Google’s Helpful Content Update: What You Should Know

google helpful content update

Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” If he’s to be believed, then Google must be pretty darn intelligent, because the search engine giant is in a near-constant state of change.

The latest? The rollout of Google’s “helpful content” update.

From Google Search Center: “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.”

But what does that mean in human terms, and how does it affect your ability to perform well in the rankings? Let’s take a closer look.

3 Things to Know About the Helpful Content Update

Making a Shift to Prioritize People-First Content

We’ve talked plenty about search engine optimization (SEO) in the past. And we’re going to keep talking about it because it still matters, no matter how many doom-and-gloom prophets scream that it’s on life support.

What’s changed is that the focus is now on people-first content. SEO has become a supporting actor — one that’s always on stage but might not be directly in the spotlight.

People-first content has a primary focus and an intended target audience. It should position your brand as an expert in your industry, provide specific knowledge, and leave your audience satisfied. With the new helpful content update, SEO is complementary:

“SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content,” Google says. “However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.”

Unoriginal Content Is No Longer Welcome

It used to be that summarizing someone else’s ideas or hopping on the back of a trendy topic that had nothing to do with your specific business could be a quick and easy way to get content out there when you were running short on ideas.

Not anymore.

Google is actively searching for unoriginal content … and it’s not because they want to reward it.

This doesn’t mean that every idea needs to be 100% original. But it does means that if you’re going to write about something, you need to have a unique angle and a business-worthy reason to write about it. Why does this particular thing matter to your specific audience?

The same goes for trending topics. It’s still OK to use them — as long as it makes sense for you to do so. If you’re a marriage therapist, feel free to talk about the latest celebrity break-up and how you would have approached counseling them to a better outcome. If you’re a small engine mechanic just looking to capitalize on the Kardashian clan … well, better luck next time. Google won’t be fooled.

Site-Wide Penalties Apply

Like with other aspects of search, Google has now decided that if some of your content isn’t on par with their helpful content expectations, none of your content is on par. That means your entire site can be penalized in search rankings.

And while Google keeps the Big Book of Punishments close to the chest, it’s widely thought that it can take several months to recover, even if you fix or remove the offending content immediately.

A New Horizon for Business Marketers

The helpful content update means that business marketers need to shift the way they handle content creation. To stay on Google’s good side, you’ll need to take a people-first approach and create original content (or at least content with an original angle) across your entire site, starting right now!

Do you need some help switching up your marketing strategy? Mischa Communications would love to be your go-to. Tell us what you need!