In August 2022, Google rolled out a significant update called “Helpful Content”.
Google explains this update in these ways :
“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.”…..
“Many of us have experienced the frustration of visiting a web page that seems like it has what we’re looking for, but doesn’t live up to our expectations. The content might not have the insights you want, or it may not even seem like it was created for, or even by, a person.” ( Hello reliant on AI generators people!)
“We know people don’t find content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers. So…we’re rolling out a series of improvements to Search to make it easier for people to find helpful content made by, and for, people. This ranking work joins a similar effort related to ranking better quality product review content over the past year, which will also receive an update.
Together, these launches are part of a broader, ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in Search.”
Why should you care about the ‘Helpful Content’ Update as a site owner or content creator?
We all know the feeling: getting frustrated when we land on “unhelpful” Pages, that show up for our query in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) on any topic, simply because they were technically ‘designed’ to rank well!
Google’s algorithm aim/ intention is to downgrade those types of websites that are designed just to show up, while promoting more helpful websites that are designed for people, above ranking on the Search Engines.
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Search Engine Land says “Unlike many Google algorithms that get applied on a page-by-page basis, this new helpful content update will be sitewide.
That means that if Google determines your site is producing a relatively high amount of unhelpful content, primarily written for ranking in search, then your whole site will be impacted.
This will not just impact individual pages or sections of your site, but rather, it will impact the whole site.
Google won’t say exactly what percentage of the pages on your site need to be helpful versus unhelpful to trigger this classifier, but they did say it is sitewide and will impact the whole site, even if you have many pages that are helpful.”
and they add this Warning!
“This algorithm will run automatically, Google said. The scores or classifiers will continue to update all the time.
But if a site gets hit by this helpful content update, it can take several months for the site to recover.
A site needs to prove itself over time that it no longer publishes content with the sole reason to rank in search engines, a search engine first content experience, and that takes time.”
“Google’s helpful content update will likely be a significant update that SEOs will look back at as the catalyst of change in terms of the advice SEOs gives clients when building content.
Granted, it is too soon to tell how large of an impact this update will have on Google’s search results, your site or your clients’ sites.
As the update rolls out, make sure to watch your analytics and, if necessary, re-evaluate your content strategy around the advice Google has provided “
Google expands on scores/ classifiers:
“This classifier process is entirely automated, using a machine-learning model. It is not a manual action nor a spam action.
Instead, it’s just a new signal and one of many signals Google evaluates to rank content.
This means that some people-first content on sites classified as having unhelpful content could still rank well, if there are other signals identifying that people-first content as helpful and relevant to a query.
The signal is also weighted; sites with lots of unhelpful content may notice a stronger effect. In any case, for the best success, be sure you’ve removed unhelpful content and also are following all our guidelines.”
Google’s Blog posted this on May 10th about It’s ‘Perspective’s Filter’ and Helpful Content:
How we help you find the expertise you need
In addition to making it easier to find authentic perspectives, we’re also improving how we rank results in Search overall, with a greater focus on content with unique expertise and experience. Last year, we launched the helpful content system to show more content made for people, and less content made to attract clicks. In the coming months, we’ll roll out an update to this system that more deeply understands content created from a personal or expert point of view, allowing us to rank more of this useful information on Search.
Helpful information can often live in unexpected or hard-to-find places: a comment in a forum thread, a post on a little-known blog, or an article with unique expertise on a topic. Our helpful content ranking system will soon show more of these “hidden gems” on Search, particularly when we think they’ll improve the results.
We’ve also worked to improve how we rank review content on Search – for example, web pages that review businesses or destinations – to place greater emphasis on the quality and originality of the information. You’ll now see more pages that are based on first-hand experience, or are created by someone with deep knowledge in a given subject.
And as we underscore the importance of “experience” as an element of helpful content, we continue our focus on information quality and critical attributes like authoritativeness, expertise and trustworthiness, so you can rely on the information you find.
A big part of what makes Search so helpful is its ability to connect you to the wisdom and experience of people all around the world. As we bring new advancements to Search, we’ll continue to help you find and explore content from others, whether it takes the form of a 30-second video, a deep-dive article or something in between.”
I have written about Google E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) previously, as it is so important to understand what Google means by “Experience ” and “Expertise”
Part of being a Strategic Online Marketing Consultant is staying up to date to advise our clients!
Google gives us more details about “Helpful Content”
How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update?
By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.
Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:
- 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)?
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
- After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
- Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
Update June 10 2023
SEJ (Search Engine Journal) Google on “Index Bloat”
The Theory Behind Index Bloat
The term “index bloat” describes a situation where search crawlers index pages that aren’t ideal for search results.
This includes a variety of pages, such as filtered product pages, internal search results, printer-friendly versions of pages, and more.
Proponents of the index bloat theory argue that these pages make it harder for search engines to understand websites, negatively impacting search rankings.
The theory relates to the concept of a crawl budget, the number of URLs a search bot will crawl during each visit.
The theory suggests that index bloat can lead to inefficient use of this crawl budget as search bots spend time and resources collecting unnecessary information….
Google’s Response to the Index Bloat Theory
Mueller debunks the index bloat theory, stating:
“I’m not aware of any concept of index bloat at Google.
Our systems don’t artificially limit the number of pages indexed per site.
I’d just make sure that the pages which you’re providing for indexing are actually useful pages, but that’s independent of the number of pages your site has.”…
Those who support the index bloat theory often cite causes such as accidental page duplication, incorrect robots.txt files, and poorly performing or thin content
However, Google suggests that these aren’t causes of a non-existent “index bloat” but general SEO practices to which webmasters and SEO professionals should pay attention.”
Update June 17th 2023
Google just tweeted
“If you create content, a reminder: create your content for people, not robots, for success with Google Search. That’s long been our advice.
For a refresher, see our guidance about creating helpful, reliable, people-first content:”
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