Remember Panda and Penguin? Hummingbird? Oh, and who could forget BERT?

When it comes to naming algorithm updates, Google often favours the abstract. But this time, they’ve taken a more plain-talking approach.

The ‘helpful content update’ is here to hold online content to account – or rather, hold the creators of that content to account. It wants to know: Did you write this content to rank well on Google or with the user in mind? The update also introduces a new signal to rank webpages.

With the rollout now underway, let’s take a closer look at what it means for brands and marketers, and how it will affect the content you need to be pushing out.

Helpful content update: The facts

Here’s everything you need to know to get up to speed:

  • What? A crackdown on publishers creating ‘unsatisfying content’.
  • When? Rollout started on 25 August – taking up to two weeks to complete.
  • Why? To make it easier for users to find useful content that has been made by, and for, people.
  • How? By rewarding helpful (original, satisfying, quality) content. And by devaluing unhelpful (complex, confusing, vague) content written by someone lacking expertise – or not written by a human at all.
  • Who? This update will impact anyone creating and consuming online content. Industries most affected will be online education, arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech. While sites most affected will be those covering a wide range of topics or not providing unique value.

5 things to consider when planning content

It seems Google is finally putting weight behind what it’s been saying for years. Namely, that content planners, creators and strategists should:

  • Always focus on people-first content
  • Never make SEO the primary goal

To help you keep your content on track, here are five things to think about:

1. Are we experts on this topic? 

When content is written by an expert or enthusiast, it shows. Content that contains errors or lacks evidence and depth of knowledge will not gain the readers’ trust. Stay away from current trends and instead, focus on your primary purpose or topic.

2. Are we providing useful information? 

Unless content answers the questions searchers are asking, it serves little (or no) purpose. Your content needs to inform, educate, add value, and give users a satisfying experience. To get this right you need to know your audience and write in a way that reflects that understanding. 

3. How does our content compare to that on other sites?

Ideally, you want your content to offer maximum value to the reader. If not, at the very least it needs to offer significant value compared to other SERPs. For this, make sure your content serves the interests of your users.

4. Do we need to improve existing site content? 

Is it time to step on the brakes? What’s the point of creating shiny new content if your existing content is not hitting the mark? Conduct an audit to see if your time could be better spent repurposing and improving what’s there already.

5. How can we create more rounded, authoritative content?

Summarising what’s already out there is not enough. For insightful content, you need to talk to experts, refer to credible sources, and get your facts absolutely spot-on.

How Q can help you stay on the right side of Google

At Q, we’re here to make sure your content never leaves users wanting. Our team of experienced writers specialise in the topics you want to write about and we can interview relevant experts within your business to produce truly insightful content.

As well as guiding you through the planning stage, we can also help you improve and reimagine your current content. The result is topics that resonate with your audience (aka they find helpful) and content that offers a new take on the world around us.

Are you ready to create quality content that stands out over your competitors and navigates the latest Google update? We’d love to hear from you: / 01225 720099