What is the Google Helpfulness Update?

Organic traffic is free. Yes, organic traffic is free, but it relies on the support from search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. Google’s success as a search engine is exemplified by the fact that ‘to Google’ something is to look it up using…cough cough… Google.com. Have you heard of it?

Google is the dominant lens through which eager individuals, organizations, governments, grandmas, and gamers find everything. 

So when Google announces that there’ll be a shift in how this lens works, via the ‘helpful content update,’ it’s important – not only just for users, but for the content creators that shape this experience. The lifeblood of how information is found on the internet is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). 

SEO works kind of like this. Imagine a classroom:  The teacher (the user) asks a question. Then a classroom full of raised hands is burning with answers to this question (the results). There are many answers – some right, some wrong and some are more right, and some are less wrong. Google’s algorithm update measures the “helpfulness” of the answers and chooses the hand raised that represents the best answer. 

Cultivating an SEO Strategy 

The challenge of SEO is having the right content (the results) for the right user question. If the answers are similar, the best answer goes to page one Google. But what happens when you think you have the best answer and you are on page 2 or 3. At this point, you are literally waving your hand, falling out of your seat and the teacher won’t call on you. The fact is, good SEO gets you noticed. Great SEO puts your answer on page one. 

Google’s revisions continue to change and evolve on a regular basis. Long gone are the days when you simply needed to have the keyword embedded within the content of a page multiple times, or simply adjust meta tags and titles with every search term possible. 

Search Engine Optimization requires a more holistic and consistent approach in order to keep up with constantly changing updates. Google AI continues to evolve and behave more like a human in order to produce the best results for queries and searches. The latest helpfulness update surely emphasizes this trend. Google has even given content creators best practices for writing and developing content to put creators in the best position to get noticed.

How to Begin: Product People First Content

Think about content that users would find useful and what problem you are helping them solve. Your content should clearly reflect the first hand knowledge and experience you can provide. Potential clients and customers want to do business with people that they trust and that provide value. Every piece of content should have a clear goal and audience in mind and demonstrate that narrative. People also ask and related Google searches are also great tools to help find common queries to specific terms within certain industries. Doing a quick Google search around a specific topic will give you an idea of the opportunities to be found. As well as other sites like AnswerThePublic, SEMRush, and Google Ads keyword tool.

Provide A Great User Experience

From site speed to navigation to on page elements like CTAs, forms, etc. – you want to give users the best experience possible. Consider what you want your visitors to gain from visiting your site and the goal. What path do they need to take in order to convert and get the answer they are looking for and/or their problem solved? Will they feel like they learned something? Reflect on how to best organize blog posts in clusters, complete a content audit and have content around specific topics organized, interlinked and easily accessible. Along these same lines: remove or update blog posts that are not performing well as low traffic posts and pages are a sign that the page has minimal value to users. Adding tags and a search bar will help users find what they are looking for more efficiently – moreover, you demonstrate that you are an authority around that topic, providing trust for potential clients.

Reviews, Local Search and Directories

95% of people search the reviews for a business or product before deciding to purchase or engage in a business deal with a company. There is also a direct correlation between the content in the Google reviews and helping companies rank for specific keywords in the local map pack. However, please note that you should not try to make up reviews as Google’s algorithm will pick up on this and penalize as a result. 

Reviews on landing pages have shown to produce a higher conversion rate as well and can easily be incorporated into your website. Your information across all local directories and social media like Yelp, Facebook, Manta, Apple Maps and of course Google should be consistent with NAP (name, address and phone number) and match what is listed on your website. Having a page with contact info, address, hours of operation, service locations etc. is recommended as it provides one place with all information easily accessible. 

Your website as a whole should have a purpose and the primary focus should be clear. Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Walk around and get to know them, but don’t write simply to get ranked within the search results. 

Think about search queries and questions that potential users might ask in order to generate content that clearly demonstrates a solution. Great content should be geared towards answering the question, offering a solution, solving problems and above all, providing value. 

If you need help getting to the heart of your target audience and what motivates them, reach out and let’s talk! Our content experts have mastered the process of digging into a company and unearthing the nuggets of information you need to create high-quality, user-focused content.