Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms to help its users find content that’s useful to them. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes so we can just enter a search term and not have to scroll through miles and miles of stuff we don’t want to buy, or sites that don’t properly answer the question we’re asking. This is particularly true when people — and more recently machines in the form of AI — are always trying to game the system.
With that in mind, we’ve put together 5 things you need to know about Google’s aptly named ‘helpful content update’ so you can stay in their good books and ensure your content isn’t banished into internet oblivion.
1. Google likes ‘people first’ content
Even though Google is essentially a giant machine, it would prefer you and your content to be human-based. This means your website should be about delivering a satisfying customer experience rather than cramming in as many keywords as you can and pumping out a bunch of blogs with that as the sole focus.
People use search engines to answer questions or find a product or service they need, so if you can clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge in whatever field your website is aimed at, you will be favoured by the search engine gods.
2. You shouldn’t stray too far from the main topic
In the past it may have been tempting to use your existing website to exploit a high-volume keyword that isn’t really related to what you’re selling in an attempt to get more traffic. For example; you’re a chocolatier and you decide to write a couple of blogs about beauty products. Because this isn’t your area of knowledge and not something you have first-hand expertise in, you’re likely to get down voted by Google for doing this.
A useful website should have a clearly stated ‘main topic’ so that users know why they’re coming to you. You can’t please everyone, so aim your content at pleasing the right people rather than combining multiple topics into one site.
3. Avoid acting like you have the answer to something that doesn’t have an answer
As of today, it might be accurate to claim that George RR Martin is about 75% finished writing the highly anticipated final book in the series that inspired ‘Game of Thrones,’ but trying to drive traffic to your site by hinting that there might be an actual release date on the cards would be rather disingenuous (he’s been saying he’s nearly finished since about 2014).
If you want your content to be seen as helpful, you need to make it clear to anyone visiting your site when you’re reporting a rumour and when you’re reporting a fact. Speculation is welcome in some contexts, but not if I want to know what time the match is on at the weekend.
4. Make sure you think about the overall user experience
Don’t review a laptop without showing any images of the laptop. Also, expect a review of the same product that also comes with a video to rank higher than yours.
It’s a highly competitive marketplace out there. You should always try to avoid leaving people asking for more, otherwise Google will just show them something else.
5. Don’t worry about word count
You might have heard or read that Google has a preferred word count for blogs or articles, but with their helpful content update they specifically said this isn’t the case.
This stands to reason, of course. People don’t want padding, they want their search queries answering. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write a long, authoritative article on the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox if you have a physics blog, but it does mean you don’t have to hit some imaginary 300-500 word limit if there simply isn’t that much to say.
Talking about having something to say (we hope Google appreciates that segue), we’ve been keeping up with SEO trends for years, and we know what it takes to maintain a website that performs well in search results.
Check out our SEO services today and find out how we can help you.