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What Is Google’s Helpful Content Update, and How Will It Affect Your Website?

Google is shaking up the search results with a new algorithm update. Known as the helpful content update, it was announced on Aug. 17, 2022. Google says it’s part of a broader effort to serve users more original, high-quality website content. Like many of Google’s past algorithm updates, it changes how Google processes and ranks websites.

What Is the Helpful Content Update?

The helpful content update is an update to Google’s primary ranking algorithm focusing on content quality. It rewards websites that create content for visitors and punishes websites that create content for search engines. Websites that create content specifically for visitors may outrank sites that create heavily optimized, search engine-oriented content.

Google, of course, has always prioritized websites with high-quality content in its search results. The helpful content update simply reinforces Google’s use of content quality as a ranking factor. It allows Google to distinguish between content that’s helpful to visitors and content that’s unhelpful to visitors.

While the helpful content update affects all types of content, it has a greater effect on shopping, educational, entertainment, and technology content. The helpful content update is also weighted. Websites consisting mainly of unhelpful content will be affected more than sites with only a few pages of unhelpful content.

The Impact of the Helpful Content Update

With the helpful content update, user experience takes the stage. You must create content for your website that provides a positive experience for visitors. Otherwise, your website’s search rankings could decrease.

The helpful content will weed out websites that create content for search engines. This grey-hat search engine optimization (SEO) tactic worked in the past. Websites could rank high for their target keywords by creating heavily optimized content. Even if visitors had a negative experience, they would rank high. The helpful content update forces websites to create content with their visitors’ best interests.

According to Google, the helpful content update is a site-wide update. In other words, it affects entire websites rather than individual pages. Even if you only have a few pages with unhelpful content, your entire website’s search rankings may suffer. All pages on your website, including those with helpful content, may rank lower.

Keep in mind that the helpful content update is limited to Google’s search results. It doesn’t affect Google Discover, Google News, or other surfaces. Google may expand the helpful content update to other surfaces in the future, but it currently only affects websites ranking in Google’s search results.

The Helpful Content Update Is a Signal, Not a Penalty

The helpful content update consists of a new signal, not a penalty. When Google visits your website, it will process your site’s content with this signal to determine whether it’s helpful or unhelpful to visitors. The helpful content update is a site-wide signal that can bring down your entire website’s search rankings if it has unhelpful content.

You won’t receive any notifications from Google if your website is demoted due to unhelpful content. Google only sends notifications for manual action penalties. The helpful content update isn’t a penalty, so it doesn’t involve any Search Console-issued notifications.

How to Safeguard Your Website From the Helpful Content Update

What steps can you take to safeguard your website’s helpful content update? Because it focuses on content quality, you’ll need to conduct a content audit. Go through your website’s content while checking to ensure it’s helpful to visitors.

Don’t worry about keyword density when conducting a content audit. Keyword density represents the percentage of words on a page containing an SEO keyword. Many SEO professionals previously recommended a keyword density of 3 per cent to 6 per cent. But the helpful content update eliminates the need for a specific keyword density. Creating content with a specific keyword density may harm your website’s search ranking.

Upon loading your website’s pages, visitors should find the content that compelled them to visit your site. It’s not uncommon for visitors to click an organic listing in Google’s search results in hopes of finding content on a specific topic. Upon loading the page, visitors may encounter irrelevant content that doesn’t answer their questions or address their needs.

If you come across any unhelpful content on your website, you should remove it. Don’t try to consolidate it by moving it to another page. Google will detect the unhelpful content on the page to which it’s moved, and it may demote your entire website. Google says that webmasters should remove unhelpful content to preserve their site’s search rankings.

Google cites release dates for TV shows and movies as an example. Some websites create content that promises to reveal the release date for an upcoming TV show or movie. Visitors will click listings in the search results, believing the indexed pages contain a release date. The pages are simply designed to rank for release date keywords; they don’t reveal a release date.

Recovering From the Helpful Content Update

If your website begins to rank lower following the helpful content update, you should take action to restore it. Removing unhelpful content from your website and replacing it with helpful, visitor-oriented content can shift your website to the top of Google’s search results.

Like with other algorithm updates, you won’t be able to recover from the helpful content update instantly. If the helpful content update targets your website, Google will place your site in timeout. Your entire website’s search rankings will be negatively affected during this timeout period. According to Google, the helpful content update timeouts may last several months.

You don’t have to submit a re-inclusion request if your website is targeted by the helpful content update. Just remove the unhelpful content and wait for Google to restore your website. It may take several months, but you can recover from the helpful content update.

As long as you create content for visitors, you shouldn’t fear the helpful content update; you should embrace it. The helpful content will ultimately improve the quality of Google’s search results. If you create content for visitors, Google will reward your website with higher search rankings.

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Last Updated in 2022-08-25T13:34:25+00:00 by Lukasz Zelezny