Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm: How To Write Helpful Content
The internet unlocked countless new ways for businesses to reach their audiences. Keywords, backlinks, and other SEO tactics were soon at the forefront, at times inadvertently diluting or burying the truly valuable content published online. To combat this trend and revitalize its digital ecosystem, the world’s largest search engine rolled out a major update starting August 2022: the Google helpful content algorithm update.
With this helpful content update, SEO techniques will need to evolve. Let’s explore how the algorithm update impacts your brand’s online efforts and how you can write helpful content that satisfies the new system.
Google’s Helpful Content Algorithm
Since releasing its search engine in 1998, Google has become the de facto police for maintaining order in the digital sphere. Its algorithm scrapes the web daily, constantly analyzing, ranking, and indexing new pages in a sea of billions. Over the past few years, however, the algorithm has been over-incentivizing quantitative metrics (like keywords and backlinks), favoring content that was written for a search engine rather than a person.
What Is the Google Helpful Content Update?
Google’s helpful content update adjusted the search algorithm to improve how it evaluates how helpful a page is to real human beings. Using this improved signal, Google’s primary goal is to reward people-first content while devaluing programmatic material that feels inorganic.
What Is Google’s Helpful Content System?
It comes as no surprise that Google is leveraging the best technology to power this new update. The company tapped in-house experts to build a machine-learning model to evaluate a website’s helpfulness.
The Google helpful content algorithm assesses each website for several quality factors and then delivers a signal indicating whether the content seems low-value or not particularly helpful. This is called Google’s helpful content system, and it’s the backbone of the infrastructure the company uses to deliver better search rankings.
It’s important to note that this signal is issued site-wide, not for every page on a given site. That means unhelpful content anywhere on your site will hurt all content you publish — not just the unhelpful bits. To address this, you should start identifying and removing any unhelpful material that you’ve already published since it could skew your helpfulness signal down and hurt the ranking potential of your useful, helpful content.
What Is Helpful, People-First Content?
You might be wondering: What is helpful content in the first place? This term refers to content that directly aligns with the interests and needs of users. As Google puts it, helpful content is more likely to be useful, original, and satisfying. It should convey meaningful information, solve problems, and otherwise add value to readers.
This is in stark contrast with search-engine first content, which is notorious for overly focusing on optimization and using clickbait tactics. People-first content prioritizes the user’s satisfaction and experience. Taking a people-first approach not only augments the search engine’s rankings but also builds a high-quality ecosystem of valuable online content. This translates to a loyal following that trusts you to deliver genuine value in the content.
For instance, consider a travel blog. People-first content would provide comprehensive travel guides, capture authentic travel experiences, and deliver practical tips that directly enhance readers’ trips. On the other hand, search-engine-first content might be stuffed with irrelevant keywords or lack substance about travel, aiming to drive traffic to the site without offering any real value.
How To Write Helpful, People-First Content
Crafting people-first content might sound straightforward, but it actually requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to content. Let’s explore a set of best practices laid out by Google that explain how to write material that resonates with your audience.
Stick to Your Expertise
The foremost guideline you should follow is sticking to your expertise. Focus on writing content within the bounds of your specialty and niche. This sets your material up for success, giving you the chance to showcase your authority and knowledge in a space.
Start by listing the main categories related to your business alongside the top pain points you resolve for your customers. Then brainstorm topics within each category that you could write about, ensuring it ties to a customer pain point. This will offer a good starting point to leverage your expertise and narrow down content ideas that align with your unique value propositions.
Write to a Specific Audience
Another key tip for crafting people-first content is to know exactly who your audience is and then write to their unique traits, wants, and needs.
Create a detailed buyer persona for your target audience. Include information about their demographics, interests, pain points, and goals. Refer to this persona every time you sit down to write, ensuring your content speaks directly to the unique needs of your audience.
This can be a powerful step in any strong content strategy, leading to huge improvements in your performance. Why? Because you’re writing content that’s relevant to your reader base while attracting more like-minded readers (i.e., potential customers).
Prioritize Quality and Depth
Take your content efforts one step further by diving deep into a topic and providing valuable insights about it. Google wants more content with meaningful substance — material that people want to spend time reading. That means they’ll incentivize pieces in line with this agenda.
Spend time creating thoughtful content with care, exploring nuanced perspectives, and adding insight to differentiate your content. Gather data, statistics, and expert opinions to support your stance.
Capture Your Humanity
Let your own personality shine through your content to set yourself apart. While the old algorithm might have rewarded inorganic keyword stuffing without any flavor, the new Google helpful content algorithm will not. Showcase your authenticity to connect with readers on a deeper level.
To implement this within your own writing, reflect on your experiences, challenges, and successes — which ones add value to your content? Then start integrating these human elements throughout your material, letting your voice shine through to create a deeper connection with your readers.
Aim To Please
While it may sound a bit odd, Google’s helpful content update clearly states that it rewards “satisfying” content. So write with this goal in mind! Craft your material in a way that leaves your audience wanting more. Make them come back every day to read your content because it’s just that good.
To help with this, here’s a quick exercise: Imagine you’re a typical reader who stumbles on your article. What might you think as you read it? After you’ve done this, ask yourself: What would make it irresistible?
Google also prefers content that is focused. You won’t win any helpful content SEO points by delivering a scattered piece without any real direction. Instead, maintain a purpose throughout your piece and deliver on every promise or expectation.
To get started on this, set one main goal that every piece you write will aim to achieve. While writing, constantly recalibrate your work to align with the goal you created. Once you’ve finished, re-read the piece and ask yourself: Did I satisfy a singular purpose?
How Do You Write Helpful Content?
Stick to your expertise and write about topics within your niche that leverage your strengths; this allows you to establish authority. Know your target audience and create detailed buyer personas — your content should speak directly to their unique traits, wants, and needs. Further, focus on delivering quality and depth via valuable insights and thoughtful perspectives. Back up your ideas with data and expert opinions.
Be authentic, satisfying, and consistent!
The SEO landscape is dynamic. There’s never a stopping point, and the standard for what’s great is constantly changing. The new Google helpful content algorithm proves just that, making it more important now than ever to prioritize your audience’s satisfaction and experience.
People-first content is the best way to do just that.
By adhering to these best practices, you set up a reliable content strategy to create engaging, authoritative, and user-centric content that drives organic traffic and fosters brand loyalty. Remember, by putting your readers first, every piece of content you publish will not only thrive in search rankings but will also make a lasting impact on your audience.
As Google continues to make changes to the algorithms that crawl the internet for helpful content, marketers need to continue to produce material that is relevant, informative, and written by humans — not just SEO-focused. If you need help writing content that does exactly that, reach out to our team for support.
Animesh is a professional writer with expertise in business, tech and marketing.