Whenever Google rolls out a new “helpful content” update, website owners around the world cross their fingers and hope that nothing will go too wrong this time.
Google’s updates often have the best intentions; they’re aimed at reducing the amount of unnecessary bloat when it comes to content, stopping sites from using black hat SEO techniques and pushing useful, authoritative articles people actually want to read.
However, more often than not, websites with genuinely good intentions can get caught up in Google’s whirlwind, meaning that even great websites with lots of high-quality content to offer suffer when a Google update arrives.
If you don’t want this to happen to you, then read on. Here are some of our biggest and best tips on how to adapt to the new Google helpful content update!
Accept that it’s happened
We know that this first one might sound a touch obvious, but the biggest and most important way to adapt to the new Google helpful content update is to accept that it’s happened.
If your current content approach isn’t working, then doubling down or pretending that things will “go back to normal” will likely result in long-term harm to your website.
Accept that something has changed in terms of the way the Google algorithm prioritises your content, and look for changes to make rather than railing against Google or bemoaning the changes without taking any real action.
There are lots of ways to ensure that your content is authoritative.
First, comb it carefully to make sure it’s factually accurate and doesn’t contain any errors. If content is inaccurate, then Google may penalise you for it.
Second, build a profile for the writer of the content and try to ensure that their profile contains links to other bylines or content they’ve written. This will build an authoritative profile for them and help to convince Google that they are writing “helpful” content.
Third, purge any unhelpful or inaccurate content from your website quickly and efficiently. Don’t leave it up for clicks; this could convince Google that you’re up to no good, and that could have negative consequences for your site.
Make sure your ads are integrated tastefully
There’s nothing worse than landing on a website and immediately seeing a massive ad that covers half of the page.
This is especially true when it’s not possible to easily dismiss the ad; the content you came to read is now covered completely by the ad, and there’s no way to get rid of it.
Where possible, optimise your site for UX rather than ad placement. Google wants to see that your site is useful and that you’re not just trying to squeeze the maximum amount of revenue out of your readers.
You can refer to Google’s Page Experience guidelines if you want to know the best way to build a page.
If your site is wellness-based, be extra-vigilant
Several bloggers and SEO sites have noted that those who have wellness-based sites or health blogs have been hit particularly hard by the last helpful content update.
If your site contains promotions for products and you’re making claims about the health benefits those products may have (or, indeed, the health drawbacks that other products could have), then make sure you’re vetting those claims.
Google is desperately trying to get rid of false and erroneous information from its search engine rankings, and if your site contains any degree of dubious information that hasn’t been verified by authoritative peers, you could be in trouble.
Expertise is one of the biggest factors in a page ranking on Google, and when a site promotes untrustworthy claims that can’t be verified by independent forces, that site’s expertise falls dramatically.
Don’t try to spread out too much
Most sites will have a specific niche that they’re trying to target. That’s fine; it’s part of what makes a website special, and it’s also how your content writers can demonstrate the all-important expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
If you try to serve too many niches at once, then you may find that Google penalises you for this. The search engine will recognise that you’re writing content that isn’t in your usual wheelhouse and may rank you lower because of it.
Focus on a single niche. If you want to branch out, then write content related to that niche.
For instance, let’s say you write for a gaming website. You can write content that relates to gaming, as well as content that covers gaming-themed movies, tabletop games, or card games.
You should not, however, start writing recipes, talking about travel (unless it’s gaming-related), or promoting health products, because this would fall out of your usual remit, and Google doesn’t like it when websites look to be transparently trying to artificially increase demographics.
Write for humans
If you and your writers are still constructing content that’s essentially built for SEO robots to enjoy, then it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Google, ironically, values content that’s written for humans (even though it uses algorithms to comb for that content).
As such, you should be writing content that’s intended for humans to consume, which means not overusing SEO terms artificially. If you can find a way to incorporate those terms organically, that’s great, but your content shouldn’t come across like it’s written for robots.
Again, it all comes down to whether content is “helpful” or not. A user doesn’t want to read endlessly repeated SEO terms; they want to read content that will help them to do or understand something.