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Is Google's new 'Helpful Content' update good news for your B2B website?

Google has announced a change to its search ranking algorithm that, as a professional marketer and copywriter, I can only applaud.

The 'helpful content update' will eliminate the rubbish written purely for search engines. Instead, it will reward content written as it should be – for humans. In other words, original content that's high quality and helpful.

The word Google next to robot

A copywriter's rant!

As a copywriter and someone who has written page upon page of content for websites, it frustrates me when I see something poorly written and clearly only there to boost search engine rankings.

Case studies with a couple of lines summarising the work carried out and then paragraphs of the standard product-biased text without showing the reader how the product or service helped the customer and how it can help them.

Or Blog posts that feature the same unoriginal content or jump on the latest bandwagon but don't add anything of value to the conversation.

And don't even get me started on product and service pages full of industry jargon and keywords, boasting about features rather than the benefits to the potential customer.

These don't help the reader or add value and have clearly been 'written' to try and boost keywords and search rankings rather than be helpful and informative.

Do you see where I'm coming from?

Rant over, now, onto Google's latest update.

So what is the Google's New Helpful Content Update about?

According to Google

"it's part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results."

Google has several things it warns against doing when writing for your website:

• Creating content primarily for search engines, which includes writing a specific word count that you think search engines prefer.

• Writing on different topics, hoping some of it might do well in search results.

• Using content automation (AI) to produce content on lots of topics

• Summarising content from other websites but without adding anything of value for the reader

• Writing on trends that aren't relevant to your audience or on niche topics without any expertise in the hope that you will gain search traffic.

• Writing generic, weak content, so the reader has to find other sources for better information.

• Writing content for a specific question when there isn't actually an answer to the question.

What does this mean for website content?

Google suggests that you should remove any content that you think is unhelpful, but for well written websites that focus on the human reader, relax; this update could be a massive benefit without you having to change anything. If your content is people-first, informative, and authentic, then Google will reward you with better search rankings.

Now, this doesn't mean the end of SEO. You will be fine if you follow SEO best practices that add value to searchers. It does, however, hopefully, mean the end of bad SEO as Google will focus on sites where the content that's created is of little or no help to the reader but ranks well because of the SEO. In other words, SEO that's applied purely for search engines and not to people-first content.

Yellow Green and Blue coloured blocks hanging from thread spelling S E O

Google explains that

"SEO is a helpful activity when it's applied to people-first content."

The new algorithm will look at your website sitewide, which means all web pages will be affected if Google sees your domain as having pages that searchers find unhelpful. So, if your website has been written mainly or even purely for search engines, the update will probably penalise your whole site as Google will view it as containing unhelpful content. It doesn't matter if you have some helpful pages.

If you've used an AI content generation tool to create content for your website, it's best to review this. By all means, use AI to generate ideas for a page outline, but don't use it to write the entire content.

Google has been very open about how it views AI-generated content. Google's Search Advocate, John Mueller, has said that AI-generated content is considered spam as it violates Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

In other words, quality over quantity

As I said at the beginning, the new update is great for the PR, content and copywriting community, who have always believed in writing good content that is engaging, helpful and informative and written for the audience, not search engines.

But not everyone can write, so if you need to create content for your site, Google has some tips to help you check your content is of value and to produce content that won't be penalised by its new update.

Ask yourself:

• Will your existing or intended audience find the content useful? In other words, are you writing about topics you have experience with that your audience will find helpful? If your main business is CX and digital transformation, writing about the latest must-have cuddly toy because it's coming up to Christmas is clearly a tactic to get traffic to your site.

• Does your site have a central purpose or focus? You can't be a jack of all trades, so Google is looking for evidence that you have a niche. It doesn't want a site with content written on different topics in the hope that some of it will do well in search results.

• Will a visitor leave your site feeling satisfied that they've learned enough about a topic after they've read your content? Think about whether your content is teaching readers something. Does it answer their search question, or are you just writing loads of content without saying anything of value, which means the reader has to search again for more information?

• And finally, will a reader leave your site feeling that they've had a satisfying experience?

Cuddly brown teddy bear with a Christmas hat on laying in an open suitcase

So write helpful content for your audience

Google's new Helpful Content Update is designed to penalise a site that publishes a lot of content that's of little value, is unhelpful to searches or written purely for search engines. So before you start writing, think about your target audience, what they need, what problems they have and how you can help them. And then, write unique, high-quality content that is of value to your readers.

If you write for your audience, you have nothing to worry about.

If you're concerned that your website content lacks human-first content or want help creating engaging content for your audience, let's talk. Get in touch - I'm here to help you.



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