What is the new ‘helpful content’ update and how will it affect me?

Google have recently announced that they will be launching a new algorithm called the helpful content update. Many of you will be wondering what yet another update is and whether it will affect you. In our latest blog post, we will attempt to answer both of those questions.

What is the update about in a few words?

The aim of the update is to find content that has been written for search engines and seek to penalise it.

In greater detail.

Google is all about excellent content, and the push for webmasters to achieve and deliver this over recent years has only increased. This new update is seen as another step to fostering that principle further, and ensure that content is only written for audiences, rather than for the benefit of trying to cheat the search engines to get better results.

The thing that people need to take specific note about this new update, is that it will apply to all of their site, not just certain types or amounts of pages, like a similar update which was released before. This does therefore have the potential to cause big changes to a domain’s ranking, and if you know that some of your content is on shaky ground, now would be a good time to address it.

The change is happening quite quickly – whilst it has begun to take effect now, only a weeks’ notice of the intention was given. Some would argue that this gives little time to address any changes. Google would and have simply argued that all content should be written for ‘people’ anyway, and appears to offer little sympathy if you are caught out by it. This signifies even more its commitment to sound and ethical content.

The update is a machined, artificial intelligence update, so there will be a complicated process and procedure behind it which is never really fully understood. If 9 out of your 10 pages are deemed unsuitable, but you have 1 fantastic page, that good page can still rank favourably. On reflection however, losing 9 out of 10 pages to poor rankings in this example, is going to lead to some big falls in audience and consequential activity. At first, only sites in English will be impacted, though it is thought that this will apply to content in other languages also soon. Some sites will get affected more than others (the so called ‘weighting’ principle,) though the details behind this are unclear.

What are the circumstances where I could be affected?

If any pages on your website procedures low value content, or does not seek to provide helpful or useful information to the audience in any way, chances are you are likely to see a potential impact in rankings. We are advising all webmasters to monitor their rankings carefully over the next few weeks, and it is highly likely that significant and sudden changes will be directly attributable to this update.

What can and should I do?

Stop producing low value content and remove it from your pages – that is essentially the short, sharp and blunt answer from Google. There is an indication that any penalty associated with this update could last for many months, so webmasters need to act as soon as possible to ensure they are not in that position – before it may be too late.

Are you interested in learning more on topics associated with digital marketing? Why not have a look at our learn articles while you are browsing on our site.

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