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Google’s Helpful Content Update

In August Google put out an update to its algorithm called the “Helpful Content Update”. For anyone who has been keeping an eye on how the Google Algorithm works, this update came as no surprise. Over the past decade they have been tweaking the algorithm with one goal in mind. Good, helpful, content that answers the questions and needs of the end user. For years they have been signaling to ignore what you think the search engine wants, and concentrate on what you know your customer needs.

You have to understand Google’s goals. They want to be everyone’s go to and they want to be trusted. So they try to deliver the results you are looking for. They want to be able to almost read the end user’s mind and deliver exactly what they need. By doing that, people keep coming back and using their services where they can serve targeted ads. Youtube, Google Search, Gmail, etc all come with user data and ads. If you use them, Google makes money. 

This update is just putting this goal into practice. Some things to keep in mind about this update

This affects your whole site, not just one page. 

While there have been updates in the past that could impact your whole site, usually that was for something dangerous or illegal. There was manual action taken and you could fix the issue and get your site back up and running. Now, if you have a few spammy pages on your site, they pull the whole site’s rankings down. This is also in line with Google’s focus on the end user first. While they state that leveraging SEO is still important, they are clear that the MOST important factor is that the end user is being helped by your site. They aren’t going to rank sites that are trying to rank on some pages and trying to manipulate the algorithm on another. 

This is an ongoing effort

When the update first rolled out, most SEO specialists didn’t notice much of a change. As I mentioned earlier, this is in line with what Google has been headed towards for a while so if you have been following along, you were pretty much already doing this. Additionally, initial rollouts are never the end with Google. They will continue to refine and build upon this update. If  you are trying to pull SEO levers without delivering good, useful content, you may not have noticed much now, but in the next few months, you may get penalized. 

How much should I worry about this

Unless you are trying to churn out low quality content in order to game the system, probably not a lot. If you are creating content with your end user in mind, you should be okay. We would recommend reviewing old content and making sure the information is accurate. If you do have inaccurate or outdated content, you can either update or remove the content. If you choose to remove the content, just be sure to have redirects in place to bring people back to your blog or to another piece of content that may be more useful. 

Like many Google updates in the past, the Helpful Content Update was initially met with a little bit of panic and confusion. In the end though, it is nothing to panic about. For now at least, as long your content is user and not bot focused, you will be alright. Just keep focusing on creating great content to help your potential customers and clients. Google is penalizing well done SEO strategies, they are just making sure you are focusing on the most essential resource any business has, the customer. 

If you have any SEO questions please feel free to shoot us an email! We are happy to set up a time to go over how we can help you get your SEO in line and boost your digital marketing efforts.