Google’s ‘Helpful Content Algorithm Update: How do you write content for humans? 

Google has just announced a new 'helpful content' algorithm update that will focus on and rank content that is written for humans and devalue content that is written specifically for SEO. This means you'll need to make sure you're creating content that is helpful to your audience and answers their questions or solves their problems.

Last week, Google announced that it is rolling out a sitewide algorithm update; the helpful content update. This update aims to rank content that is written for people and devalue content that is written purely for SEO purposes. 

The helpful content update is sitewide which means it can impact pages across your website, not just individual pages. So, if you write your content for humans anyway, the update won’t affect you too much. 

Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant and helpful content that is written to help them solve a problem or answer their questions. Many users have flagged that Google doesn’t always deliver content that helps them and this update is part of Google’s efforts to improve user experience. 

This update will change how SEOs tackle their content strategies going forwards, in the same way the Panda and Penguin updates changed the way SEOs looked at their content and link strategies. 

So, what does the update do? 

The helpful content update will introduce a new ranking signal to the Google algorithm that will negatively impact websites that publish high amounts of content with little value, are low-added value, or are unhelpful to searchers. 

The algorithm will determines whether a high amount of your content is unhelpful to your readers and the effects can last for a number of months once the update has been rolled out. 

Will the update impact your site? 

The update will only impact you if your content is considered to be unhelpful or written primarily to rank in the search engines. 

If you find you’re impacted by the update, Google advices that you remove any unhelpful content from your site. 

How do you know if your content is focused on people? Google advises answering the following questions. If your answer is yes, you’re on the right track with your content:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you? 
  • 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)? 
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus? 
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal? 
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling they’ve had a satisfying experience? 

How to write for humans first 

So, if you want to know more about making sure your content is written for humans but you want your site to rank well in the search engines, we’ve got a few top tips to help you. 

1. Think about your ideal reader 

To make sure your content strategy is focused on humans (specifically the people who are most likely to buy from you) you will need to think about what your target audience wants and needs. What will they get from the content you’re providing? 

How do you know who your target audience is and what they want to know? 

Make a list of your customer’s pain points and think about the content that is most likely to provide a solution to their problems. Writing this list will provide you with a list of relevant topics for your audience. You can then use these topics to create your content strategy and target your ideal audience. 

2. Include keywords naturally 

Keyword phrases are a key element of SEO and should help you to define your content strategy. Using tools such as Moz, SEMrush and even looking on Google can help you find the specific keywords that your audience is typing into the search engines to find answers to their problems. 

Whilst it’s important to make sure these keywords are included in your content so Google understands what you’re writing about and so it can ensure your content appears in the search results, it’s also important to ensure that you don’t force the keywords into your content either. 

Write your content first to make sure it’s easy to read by your audience and then go back and see where you can fit the keywords in. If you’re writing the content properly, they should fit in naturally anyway. 

3. Provide detailed answers 

It can be tempting to use content to sell your products or services but if you want your content to rank well, especially after the new update has rolled out, you will need to make sure your content is educational, not salesy. 

If someone is reading a piece of content that solves their problem and provides them with real answers, it will feel as though the content is personalised to them. This will increase the amount of time they spend reading it and improve user engagement across your website which will have a positive impact on your SEO strategy. 

Always put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and think about how you can help them to solve their problem. 

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Blog written by

Amy Ward