This recent update to Google’s search algorithm focuses on helpful content in your website design and content creation. (April, 2023)

Search Ranking Update

In a nutshell, this update identifies "content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help, educate or inform people."

Yes, in case you didn’t know it, that is the power of AI (artificial intelligence), since that is what Google Search is: AI.

People using search engines get easily frustrated when clicking organic links, but then the page they are taken to turns out to be meaningless or not helpful to finding a solution to their content search.

Thus, this algorithm update is dubbed the Helpful Content Update (HCU).

Helpful Content

What we have today are people who know how to accomplish website development: design content and website architecture to achieve superior organic listing rankings, but unfortunately, that content is not always educational or helpful to readers.

One characteristic of that type of page content is the display of clickbait. You know, those pages with the pop-up screens and never-ending visual ads mixed in with varying degrees of content related to the topic title on the webpage, all to buy this product or that service?

I am excited about this algorithm modification as it means the "clickbait" artists will sink lower in search engine ratings and the authentic content pages will rise to the top of the search engine result page organically, which means no paid ads.

If your website is deemed to have unhelpful content, even on a minority of the pages, your entire site will be negatively impacted. Unfortunately, Google won’t say exactly what percentage of the pages on your site need to be helpful versus unhelpful to trigger this "unhelpful" classification.

Impact To Websites

The four areas significantly impacted by this update will be online education material, arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related sites.

Generally speaking, the theme of this update, helpful content, is a giant clue as to what the search bots will favor. It’s time to review your website's content and organization to see how you can optimize the content so that your presentation is more educational and less of a sales pitch.

What Can Website Owners Do?

The four essential questions below provide perspective and a broader look at your website content. Your answers will guide your understanding of how a website visitor will benefit from visiting it.

  1. Does your website articulate your first-hand experience in your field of endeavor?

  2. What is the primary focus of your website's content?

  3. After someone reads your content, will they have a better understanding of how it will benefit them?

  4. How are you protecting their privacy - what is your website visitor privacy policy?

A few years ago, Google published an algorithm update known as "Core." That one deals with website content in terms of your principal objectives, which is the foundation upon which the HCU is expanding. Below are five questions from that Core update published on the Google Developers blog.

A. Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?

B. Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious?

C. Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content?

D. Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerated or shocking?

E. Is this the sort of page you'd want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

The Core update also included the presentation of content. Below, I have included five relevant items, specific to service contractors, regarding website presentation. So many people think they can just throw up a site, but as the questions below point out, a sloppy, maybe even unprofessional, presentation is pretty much a waste of effort.

  1. Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?

  2. Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

  3. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don't get as much attention or care?

  4. Does the content have an excessive number of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

  5. Does content display well on mobile devices when viewed on them?

Design Quality Content

Quality content does not require a research or writing degree. However, it does require a professional presentation in a thoughtful manner that is authentically educational.

The best tip, I believe, and what I have used with clients, is to provide website content that is helpful within the scope of your business.

That content is easy to accomplish when you can answer specific questions, make your presentation readable and stable on different devices, provide a takeaway understanding using questions and answers (showing how readers benefit) in an educational method versus a sales pitch, and lastly, make it easy to contact you.

One way to build better content is to learn how to use search engines to research your competition. Another way is discovering what content is already finding businesses like your services and products.

Provide Trust Factor Potential

Google does have a matrix to identify the trust factor. This factor arises from the convergence of three components: expertise, experience, and authoritativeness.

This does not mean you have to be a superperson or have a million-dollar business. Simply put, creating content using the guidelines above is a start to naturally unfolding the three components within your website. This is an ongoing effort, just like maintaining a car requires constant effort.

No doubt, it's a tricky process to achieve convergence; you cannot make it happen.

However placing educational content in a professional presentation is a proven method; it’s up to your website visitors to arrive at the trust factor, which will be demonstrated by their engagement with your business.

That engagement can manifest as a contact, viewing a video, sending an email, subscribing, or buying. Other means of demonstrating this are bookmarking your website, telling their friends and associates about our services, or downloading your brochure to save for later.

Summary

Your website is a living document that needs maintenance and attention. As we can see with this HCU, Google is always refreshing the search algorithm by which your organic search rankings will be achieved. Keep your website tuned in and take advantage of the free Google tools. One is the Search Console, which helps you understand the activity on your website by making intelligent choices for streamlining content or tweaking your sales funnel (also referred to as content marketing).

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