Google’s Helpful Content Update – What you Need to Know

Google has confirmed the rollout of the Helpful Content Update and we’ve seen a lot of change in search but how much of this can be attributed to Google’s Helpful Content Update or to other updates preceding this algorithm update?

What are the other recent Google Updates?

Summer always feels like a busy time for the Google search engine, with many SEOs getting nervous around May when we expect a core algorithm update and then many changes seem to follow. This summer was no exception, with improvements and changes littering the search landscape and providing the SEO community with a challenge.

  • May Core Algorithm Update

    • A long-awaited, broad core algorithm update, we had been quaking in our boots for six long months in expectation of this one, and it certainly shook up the landscape, with sites exhibiting poorer quality content (and a lack of diverse mediums) feeling the brunt of this one.
  • July 2022 Product Reviews Update

    • Released July  July 27th and complete by August 2nd. The update focused on improving editorial review content and was closely followed by a Schema update to include Pros & Cons. You can check out Google Search Central’s documentation on how to write high-quality product reviews for more information.

  • Featured Snippets Fact Check

    • Announced on bor around 11th August, Google updated MUM (Multitask Unified Model) to enable fact-checking of several sources, improving the quality of SERP features.
  • Helpful Content Update

    • Beginning roll out on August 25th and completing September 12th, 2022. The update targets content creators that write for algorithms rather than people; find out more on Search Central blog.
  • September Core Algorithm Update

    • Given recent changes, the current core algorithm update is likely to be doubling down on content quality and E-A-T, focusing on using a range of media in order to keep the search engine relevant to different audiences.

The good news is that this update is designed to tackle people like me cheating the system rather than true experts in their field who are more likely to write content they believe users will find informative, authoritative and trustworthy. So, if you’re a content creator trying to produce SEO-worthy content, my best tip would be to keep it natural (you know your subject and your audience); please stay away from using keywords too much and remember: link internally on-site!

As a search engine, Google makes its money selling advertising; the more users that choose the Google search engine, the more money they can make from advertising and so it serves their interest to make the experience that users have via their search engine a premium one. They do this by making the search experience a richer one, using featured snippets that include paragraphs, answers, lists, tables and videos, to name a few.  Google is improving at elongating users’ time in search and maximising exposure to different forms of advertisement. Still, the product is only as good as the information submitted by business owners. And, this is why Google invest so much into algorithms, rewarding perceived higher value content and decreasing the value that is obviously trying to manipulate algorithms through keyword stuffing or buying backlinks.

What does the Helpful Content Update Mean for you?

Google has already confirmed that this won’t be a one-off update and although we are seeing a lot of shifting in the search landscape, we are also seeing a lot of updates (suggesting upping the diversity and quality of search is a big goal for Google this year). The truth is that we’re not seeing the same dramatic results we saw from the Penguin algorithm update ten years ago (a critical update to improving the quality of content on search) and that’s because the Penguin algorithm was introduced when keyword stuffing and thin content were commonplace in search results. Today keyword stuffing in results on page 1 is almost obsolete and thin content only suffices where competition is low, or the competitors are dong the same, such as eCommerce. The Helpful Content Update has been released to eliminate stubborn weeds, such as the high proportion of duplicates doing so well (to paraphrase is not unique) and encourage web owners to consider what they are publishing more carefully.

As this won’t be the last we see of the Helpful Content Update, it’s good practice to keep the E-A-T guidelines in mind (as you should always be doing) and create educational content that will help your users, demonstrate authority and trustworthiness through authorship and references to authoritative external sources that demonstrate what you’re conveying.

If you need help with your content plan or optimising your website get in touch today to arrange a no-obligation consultation.


Sally, SEO consultant and Manager

About the author

Sally is a full-time SEO who started her journey into search engine optimisation in 2012, working within broader marketing roles until she specialised in 2018. During her career, Sally has gained practical experience in:

  • eCommerce SEO
  • Copy writing and content strategy
  • Local SEO
  • International SEO
  • Enterprise SEO

In addition, Sally has had the opportunity to apply her knowledge and experience to a range of sectors, from high street retail stores to law firms, FinTech, SaaS and more. Having worked both in-house and leading a team agency side before branching out on her own. 

Today Sally is as passionate about her work and the world of SEO as when she first started and continues to invest in the SEO community through projects such as:

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