In August 2022, Google started rolling out what it called the “helpful content update.” According to Google, the goal of this update was to focus more on people-first content that meets the expectations of visitors.
What does that mean? According to Google, “People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.” In short, Google is looking for content that is helpful for people, not designed for search engines. This is what Google has been trying to accomplish for a very long time, but these recent changes are an updated version of that strategy.
One of the main things you can do to satisfy the Helpful Content Update is to write high quality content that is on topic. There are many instances of websites that try to include absolutely everything about a topic in one post, in hopes of getting traffic. This strategy will no longer work.
For instance, if you have an article called “The Best Widgets for Families”, your article should be about the best widgets for families. That doesn’t mean it can’t include some background and some other related content, but it does mean that it might not be best to also include a detailed history of widgets, what makes a family happy, the best vacations for families, why widgets exist, what else families enjoy, etc.
Google explains this in its “Focus on People-First Content” section. Two points that it makes are “Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?” and “After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?“
“People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value”— Google’s Helpful Content Update
Most people have experienced a situation where a site is trying to do too much and it ends up not helping the visitor achieve their goal. This often happens with recipe websites that start with 1000 words on the history of the food and answers to various questions about the food before getting to the actual recipe. These topics may be better off as separate posts.
For example, if someone searches for “Chocolate chip cookie recipe”, they want a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They may not want to know if cookies can be frozen, why you should put baking powder in cookies, the history of cookies, or what’s the best milk to drink with cookies. Other people may be asking these questions, however, so this content could still be valuable. It just isn’t valuable on a page about recipes. Keep each post on topic.
This point goes along with the previous one. When someone searches for a topic, they want content related to that topic. They don’t want to have to read through ten paragraphs of somewhat-related content to get to the information they’re searching for. When you’re writing content, think about what the visitor expects from the page and give it to them in a clear and easy-to-find way.
As Google itself says, ask yourself “Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?“
If you giving visitors what they’re looking for and make it easy for them to find and understand, they won’t feel the need to go elsewhere.
You don’t need to write a certain number of words to rank highly on Google. Google itself says “Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).” That’s not saying that you can’t write longer content. You certainly can. If this content is informative and provides value to readers, it will rank highly. However, it’s better to write shorter content that’s informative and on topic than it is to write longer content that doesn’t provide value.
In short, trust what Google is saying. They are telling people to write informative content aimed at people. Remember, “People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.” That’s what Google wants and that’s what what visitors are looking for too. If you create this content, you’ll make visitors happy and improve your search ranking.
If you need help doing this, contact Toronto SEO Web Content today!