Saturday, July 13, 2024

Google’s Advice for Online Businesses Following the Helpful Content Update

If you do business online, chances are your business relies on SEO to stay discoverable amongst an ever-growing sea of content. Over the past two years, Google released and polished the Helpful Content Update (HCU), which refines how the search giant values websites online. Like all core updates, it dethroned some sites and lifted others. Now, Google’s Search Liaison clarifies what those affected should do.

The Helpful Content Update

Since 2022, Google started releasing Helpful Content Updates designed to limit cynical content. That is, content created to satisfy search engine metrics without being valuable, or helpful, to the reader. The HCU establishes a site-wide signal depending on how helpful its pages are.

It primarily targeted written and reviewer content. After all, there are many businesses online and Google wanted to avoid wrongly painting an industry where the draw isn’t written content, but things like games or video content. Take iGaming, where a page will have a thorough rundown of how the game works. However, when someone wants to play Slingo Deal or No Deal slot, the main search intention is to start the game hosted on the page. This means the search intention is easier to solve than, for example, a review of a product or a complex breakdown of a scientific phenomenon. Likewise, UX is also taken into account after the 2023 HCU, but crawlers know how to discern between the front page of YouTube and the catalogue page of an iGaming site, so it wouldn’t expect the same format as a news outlet site.

Search intentions are very important for the HCU and Google’s SEO moderation strategy at large. After its initial launch in August of 2022, the HCU received a substantial update in September 2023 that clarified Google’s stance on AI content. Between those updates, Google also added that extra E to E-A-T, so helpful content is now judged by its Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, in that order.

Google’s Helpful Content Advice

Now in 2024, Google’s SearchLiaison account on X is still hard at work demystifying the HCU and its rippling effects in the SEO industry. The account is run by Danny Sullivan, an accomplished SEO expert who has been tipping Google’s algorithmic scales since 1997. Since 2017, he has lent his expertise to the search engine as its official point of contact for search-based queries.

On March 22nd, Sullivan was tagged by a food blogger who was having trouble identifying poorly performing pages. Fixing low-performing pages is a great way to improve a site’s SEO profile quickly and effectively. However, all her pages experienced a drop due to those initial unhelpful pages.

In Sullivan’s response, he clarified something about the HCU that some SEO experts on X had yet to catch up with. Referring to the helpful content ranking system, “there’s no longer one signal or system used to do this” and later “our core ranking systems are primarily designed to work on the page level.” Put simply, the HCU has evolved beyond its original site-wide signals and evaluates on a page-by-page basis instead.

Sullivan’s follow-up advice was to arm up with the HCU FAQ and manually evaluate pages yourself. If you write your own pages, you should follow the example of novelists and scriptwriters by getting peers to check out the page. If evaluating a page for pure helpfulness, your friend doesn’t need to be SEO savvy to provide valuable feedback.

Claire James
Claire James
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

Recent Articles

Related Stories

sakarya escort bayan Eskişehir escort bayan