How To Recover From Google Helpful Content Update
How To Recover From Google Helpful Content Update Does it feel like the one getting punched every time Google releases an update? Well, we better have our guards up. Otherwise, we’ll be punched again because Google just dropped the “Helpful Content Update”.
We are going to talk about what this update entails, how to prevent your website from getting punched, and how to get back up if Google lands a punch on it. First and foremost, if your site contains educational materials, entertainment, product reviews, and tech-related content, you might find your site impacted by this.
What Is Google Helpful Content
Google announced the help content update in its official blog post. This is part of a broader effort by Google to ensure that users see the best content in search results. With this update, Google tries to reduce low-value content from search results. And the update is expected to be as big as Panda, which targeted low-quality content, and Penguin, which targeted web spam.
This update introduces a site-wide ranking signal that will be part of many other signals Google uses to rank pages in search results. Google’s AI system will constantly examine and identify pages that are not helpful and provide little value to searchers.
This classification works continuously, and unlike extensive core updates and product review updates, this classification does not require frequent refreshes. So if your site is affected by this update, it will take months to reduce or lift the ranking signal.
Does this affect all sites?
The update is said to affect sites that Google considers to be largely low-quality or thin content. This usually happens when a site is built for the sole purpose of getting traffic from Google, without providing any real value to users.
If your site has very low quality or thin content, you will likely be affected by this update. Not all sites will be affected though. If you have a site with high-quality, informative content, you don’t have to worry, better yet, you may see an increase in traffic with this update. Either way, it’s important to keep track of this update and see how it affects your website.
What is the first content of people?
People-first content refers to articles that are primarily put together for searchers rather than search engines. This means creating content that is original and helpful while also using SEO best practices to ensure that your content is easily found by searchers. Google’s guidelines for people creating content first are not affected by this update. Creating people-first content can be a challenge, but it’s worth it if you want to see success with this update.
What should I do if my traffic drops?
If you see a drop in traffic after an algorithm update, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate your content. There are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine if your content is still relevant and engaging to your audience.
Is the content still relevant to my audience’s needs?
Has the content been updated to reflect any changes in my industry or location?
Is the tone and style of the content still appropriate for my audience?
Is the content attractive and easy to read, or is it dry and difficult to navigate?
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- Who Shouldn’t Be Worried About the Update
- Will This Update Punish People Who Use an AI Writer?
- What Is the Helpful Content Update About?
- How does the Update work?
- Recover from Google’s Helpful Content Update
- Identify / Remove / Improve Unhelpful Content
- How to Improve the Quality of Your Content
- Use Content AI to Improve Content Quality
- Summarizing the Helpful Content Update
Who Shouldn’t Be Worried About the Update
But let’s first talk about who shouldn’t be worried about the update. Now, if you have been doing everything right, which means you are focused on creating content that satisfies a search intent, and your entire site has a clear site structure and it’s meant to serve a particular group of people.
So, if your site is about barbecue and you have been writing lots of content that are useful to people searching for barbecue knowledge and tools, or if your site is about teaching people how to play guitar, and your site is about creating content that serves the needs of your audience, then you’ll be fine, even if you’re using AI writers.
Will This Update Punish People Who Use an AI Writer?
That’s a huge debate going on about this update, and it seems that this entire update revolves around punishing people using AI writers. If you look through the document, you’ll see sentences like “part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original helpful content written by people for people in search results.” Or “Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?” Or “Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value”, which most AI writers do?
Or “Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?” Most AI content writers typically spit out this gibberish. All these seem to be targeting site owners using AI writers. So why do you say otherwise? Let me give you a scenario. Suppose you are an expert in the topic, and you are using an AI writer to assist with your writing, and you are fact-checking.
In that case, you’re editing the content spit up by the AI writer, and you’re adding your knowledge and experience in the content, and you are ensuring that the entire content is serving the search intent, well then it’s fine to use an AI writer. But the problem comes when you rely heavily on the AI writer and publish content without proper research or even fact-checking. You may have enjoyed some success if that’s you, but Google is coming after you. That’s basically the summary. And all the things mentioned in this update have been said many, many times if you have been paying attention. So if it happens that this update hits your site, we want to share with you the steps to fix it and get back into the game.
What Is the Helpful Content Update About?
Let’s dive into the details of this update. As you know, Google wants creators to write original and helpful content. It wants you to focus on people-first content, which means your content is written for people before it is optimized for search engines. The key is for people searching for something on Google to have a satisfying experience. And to do that you have to follow their long-standing advice where they will tell you what constitutes a high-quality site which they have said time and time again. So this is nothing new.
And also the webmaster guidelines which have been there for the longest time. So there’s nothing new in this update. It is just that Google is introducing this update as a ranking factor to improve the search quality they have been promising their users for a long time. If you are new to SEO and content creation, you may want to take some time to read the long-standing advice and the Webmaster guidelines to speed up your learning process. Now, to know if your site will fair well on this update is to answer this series of questions. I’m not going to go through every single line. You can do it on your own.
But let me highlight the important ones. “Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service or visiting a place)?” This is in line with the search quality-rated guidelines that deal with your money, your life topics, and your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. If you are a medical professional talking about medical topics. If you are a tech expert talking about tech topics.
If your hobby is gardening and you are giving tips on gardening. If you are a professional photographer teaching people how to use a camera. If you are reviewing a particular camera model, make sure that you own the camera so that you can give a relevant review. If you are a social media manager advising people on how to grow their businesses on social media channels, you get the idea. There’s so much content on the web already. The last thing Google wants is to rank content written by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
That’s a general idea. So if you have been hiring writers without assessing their knowledge and expertise, or using AI writers without fact-checking, they go against the guidelines. Now the rest of what I’ve covered earlier, you can go through them on your own. And Google has given a list of questions. And if you answer yes to some or all of the questions, it is a warning sign that you should reevaluate the contents across your site. But in general, it is the opposite of what I’ve said earlier about doing things right. For example, this talks about not having a focus target audience, using AI writers without care, not having the searcher’s intent in mind, do not know what you’re talking about. But two things I would like to highlight.
Number one is “Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value.” In other words, content curation. For example, topics like “Best restaurants to eat in Singapore.” Site A listed five. Site B listed three. And you wrote about eight restaurants that Site A and Site B talk about. So you are not adding more value, you are just curating. That’s unless you’ve included images of you visiting the restaurants, talking about your experience with each restaurant, how the food tasted, and if it suits a certain type of people with a distinct taste, and all that kind of stuff. The key is to provide additional value to what is already out there. That’s what Google is looking for.
And the next thing I would like to further elaborate on is this if somebody searches for something and lands on your page, spends some time reading your article, goes back to Google, and does further research, it is going to send a bad signal as it implies that your content does not meet the searcher’s intent. But in the same scenario, when somebody lands on your page, consumes your content and visits another page of your website, it’s going to send a good signal to Google. In a while, I’m going to show you how to improve the quality of your content methodologically.
How does the Update work?
But now let’s look into how the update works. So this update could take up to two weeks to complete and it is a site-wide signal, so it is not a page-specific ranking signal. The signal will identify content with little low added value or is otherwise not helpful. And if your site has a high amount of unhelpful content, your overall ranking across the entire site may be affected.
And it says here that removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content. We’ll talk more about how to tackle this in a while. And they further stated that if your site is affected, you have a chance of getting back to the game, but it may take some time. This is not a manual action nor a spam action, so you won’t see any warnings from your search console. And this currently impacts English searches and may apply to other languages in the future.
Recover from Google’s Helpful Content Update
So with a clear understanding of what this update is and how it works, let’s tackle it to either prevent your site from getting hit or fix your site to get back into the game. Now, as I’ve said earlier, if you have been following Google’s guidelines, you shouldn’t be worried about this update. But if it happens that your site is punished, here’s what you can do.
Identify / Remove / Improve Unhelpful Content
How To Recover From Google Helpful Content Update Since Google recommends removing unhelpful content, we’ve got to identify what constitutes unhelpful content. You can visit your Google Search Console for the same information. If you have installed the Rank Math Free and Pro version, make sure that you have this analytics module toggled on and that you have connected your site to Google Search Console and Analytics. If you haven’t done so, you can follow the steps through this link. Once you’ve connected your site to your Google properties, click on the Analytics module, and there you will see your Search Console and analytics data in one place.
Now, you want to expand your site’s data points to the past six months and then go to the SEO Performance tab. Here you can monitor if your site is punished or rewarded by an update. you will see the performance of the individual pages. We want to sort the data by the number of clicks in ascending order. Now, the clicks and impressions are the important columns to look at.
If there are low clicks, below 10 to 60 clicks, over six months with low search impressions, this could signal that there is either a very low search demand or the article is not ranked anywhere near page one. In that case, you may want to consider deleting those articles. Such as this. We can see that it ranks on the first page, but there are low impressions and no clicks. So to delete this article, you need to create a redirect. Copy the Page link, go to the Redirections module, add a new redirect, paste the copied URL, and select the “401 Content Deleted” option.
How To Recover From Google Helpful Content Update You do not want to redirect this page back to the homepage or any random article, as that does not serve the purpose of the user’s intent. So this is the appropriate option. You want to add that redirection. Now, in another case, for example, we see that there are impressions where you’re not getting any clicks, but you know that there is another content you have written that is very closely related to this article. In that case, you will want to do a permanent redirect to the other page. Add a new redirect, put the page link that is not fetching any clicks, and add the page that is closely related. In this case, I know that the content of this article is closely related. So I want to permanently move this page to this to enhance the quality of my site.
How to Improve the Quality of Your Content
Another scenario is there are little to no clicks, but with impressions, you will want to improve the content. Now I will show you how to improve the content. The first step is to click on this entry and it will show you all the keywords this article is ranking for. If you do this on the Google search console, it might take you a while to sort and match the keywords to the page. Now, you need to be a little analytical. Think about the search intent of each keyword here and read through your article to see if it is answering the search intent of each keyword. Most of the time it is not going to be the case, so you have to optimize the content to serve the intent of these keywords your article is ranking for. That’s one of the methods.
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Use Content AI to Improve Content Quality
The other easy method to improve your overall content quality is to use Content AI. This AI tool is available for you as long as you are a Rank Math user. So even if you use the free version, you’ll get full access. To use Content AI, on your WordPress Editor and on Rank Math’s tab. You will see the Content AI button here. If you have added your Focus keyword, you will see it automatically added as you click on the Content AI button.
As you hit the Research button, our AI system will analyze the contents that are ranked on your Focus keyword, and it would suggest to you the Word Count you should use, the number of internal and external links to add to your article, the quantity of each heading tag, the number of images and videos to add, the keywords you should use in the content, and its quantity.
This should give you an indicator of what you should add to improve your content quality and the keywords to use in the headings. The related questions are to answer in the FAQ format. And external links to add so that Google will understand your content much better.
Summarizing the Helpful Content Update
All in all, nothing is new in this update. It’s just that Google is improving its search ranking signals so that its users will see more relevant content ranking at the top. If you have followed the guidelines, you shouldn’t be worried about this update.
But if your site happened to be hit by it, it’s time for you to reassess your entire content strategy as a whole.
Does it have a good site structure?
Are your contents answering the searcher’s intent?
Are you fact-checking or showing expertise in your content?
And if your content provides added value to those already ranking at the top. If you can work on those items, you eventually see your site climbing back into the ranks in a couple of months. So hang tight and work hard on improving content that matters to your site.