What content creators should know about Google’s helpful content update
Google Search is constantly working to improve how it connects people to useful information. To that end, we’re launching the “helpful content update,” which is part of a larger effort to ensure that people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results. More information about the update and considerations for creators can be found below.
Put people first in your content.
The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, whereas content that fails to meet a visitor’s expectations will perform poorly.
How can you ensure that your content will be successful with our new update? By adhering to our long-held advice and guidelines to create content for people rather than search engines. People-first content creators prioritise creating engaging content while also utilising SEO best practises to provide additional value to searchers. If you answered yes to the following questions, you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:
- Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or website that would benefit from the content if they came to you directly?
- Is your content clear in demonstrating first-hand expertise and depth of knowledge (for example, expertise gained from using a product or service or visiting a location)?
- Is there a primary goal or focus for your website?
- Will someone leave your content feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help them achieve their goal?
- Will someone who reads your content feel satisfied with their experience?
- Are you following our recommendations for core updates and product reviews?
Avoid first creating content for search engines.
Following SEO best practises, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide, does not invalidate our advice about putting people first. When applied to people-first content, SEO is a beneficial activity. Content created primarily for search engine traffic, on the other hand, is strongly associated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.
How do you avoid relying solely on search engines? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a red flag that you should reconsider how you create content for your website:
- Is the content created primarily for search engines, rather than for humans?
- Are you creating a lot of content on various topics in the hopes that some of it will rank well in search results?
- Do you use a lot of automation to create content on a variety of topics?
- Are you primarily summarising what others have said while adding little value?
- Are you writing about things just because they appear to be trending, rather than because you would write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
- Is your content leaving readers with the impression that they need to go back and look for more information from other sources?
- Are you writing to a specific word count because you’ve heard or read that Google prefers a certain word count? (No, we do not.)
- Did you decide to enter a niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead primarily to gain search traffic?
- Is your content promising to answer a question that has no answer, such as implying a release date for a product, movie, or TV show that hasn’t been confirmed?
How does the update work?
The update will be available starting next week. When it begins and when it is fully rolled out, which could take up to two weeks, we will post it on our Google ranking updates page. This update adds a new site-wide signal to the mix of signals we consider when ranking web pages. Our systems detect content that appears to have little value, low added value, or is otherwise unhelpful to those conducting searches.
Any content — not just unhelpful content — on sites determined to have a relatively high amount of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is better content elsewhere on the web to display. As a result, removing unhelpful content may improve the rankings of your other content.
Some may wonder how long it will take for a site to improve after removing unhelpful content. The signal may be applied to sites identified by this update over a period of months. Our classifier for this update runs indefinitely, allowing it to monitor both newly launched and existing sites. When it is determined that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long run, the classification will be removed.
Using a machine-learning model, this classifier process is completely automated. It is neither a manual nor a spam action. Instead, it’s just a new signal, one of many that Google considers when ranking content.
This means that some people-first content on sites with unhelpful content may still rank well if other signals identify that people-first content as helpful and relevant to a query. The signal is also weighted; sites with a high volume of unhelpful content may see a stronger impact. In any case, make sure you’ve removed any unhelpful content and that you’re following all of our guidelines for the best results.
To begin, this update affects English searches globally, and we intend to expand to other languages in the future. We will also continue to improve how the classifier detects unhelpful content and launch new efforts to better reward people-first content in the coming months.
If you have any comments or questions about this update, please post them in our help forum. You can use the feedback form for this update to provide us with feedback specific to your site. We use your feedback to help our engineers improve our systems as a whole.