Google’s Helpful Content Update: Everything Will Be Fine–Until its NOT

by | Aug 24, 2022

Google's helpful content update what you need to know.

Another day in search, another Google Algorithm update. Google’s Helpful Content Update.

Google’s Helpful Content Update promises to limit the exposure of low-quality content that wants for authority and does not put users first.

A quick rundown of the update: 

  1. Rollout—the update is promoted to start impacting sites starting the week of August 22, 2022.
  2. Impacted search users – English users globally
  3. Objective – simplify the process of finding helpful content for search users
  4. Signals – a site-wide automated process that is entirely automated
  5. Announced – August 18, 2022

What is “Unhelpful Content”

Unhelpful content according to Google's webmaster guidelines.

Unhelpful content covers everything from a bright-eyed agency intern cranking out 1500-word articles on new vaccine innovations to blog posts generated purely by AI.

If you doubt the quality of your site’s content, ask yourself: what would be more helpful to a user?  

  1. A machine that generates a synchronism of aggregated data points, mimicking the expertise of an actual human without any real understanding of the topic?
  2. An actual expert made of flesh and blood, able to communicate all the intercedes and experiences that have made them an expert?

Option two seems far more appealing to me. Don’ you think so?

Helpful Content—According to Google

Just like with other core updates, the benevolent overlords of search have deemed it acceptable to tell us, the plebeians of SEO, what they expect to see from the content we vomit into its almighty algorithm.

Here are a few key Points

  1. Don’t make content to appease the musings of search engines.
  2. Make people-first content that solves problems and provides original insights.

Okay cool. What does that mean? SEOs have been saying this stuff for what feels like an eternity now. Anything too specific seems beyond the bounds of anything acceptable—according to Google.

But this is the game we play, and let’s face it, you kind of love it. SEO’s might harbor some monostatic tendencies, but that is far beyond my area of expertise– I won’t speculate any further.

Admit it, the cat and mouse game makes SEO worthwhile, don’t get mad it’s okay to like it.

What’s an SEO to do? I cherish the hair I have left after getting rocked by the Penguin and Panda updates.

Will this be the one? The straw that breaks your will to optimize, shoving you into algorithmic-fueled catatonia requiring years of usage before ever returning to the greener pastures of Google nirvana?

Don’t freak out, or do, but not yet. Finish reading this before making a decision.

I know what you are thinking. is there anything I can do to hold onto my precious rankings?

Yes, we are getting there. First I need to cover what will be impacted most intensely by the helpful content update.

The Searches And Keywords That Will Get Hammered

I can’t believe that the statement is now considered controversial.

Facts are facts.

This core pillar of reality now applies to the SERPS! People looking for simple answers will be shown snippets and the first meta descriptions to find their fix. And they will be satisfied.

However, other topics require longer in-depth explanations.

For example:

Someone searching for

“what is golf”

will most likely be happy with the quickest answer they can find.

On the other hand, if a user searches:

“How to under 100 in golf”

The results change, and so does the prediction of the user to dig a bit further into the topic.

Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s this second category of queries that will bear the brunt of the new update.

Answers that require experience: where hard work and effort matter for credibility, will find harsher scrutiny.

Pay attention to searches where users must dive into content to get a satisfactory answer.

What content and sites will get axed?

Content that will get the axe from Google's Helpful Content Update.

Sites that focus on wide-ranging topics and exist only to monetize search traffic are the first two prime candidates for the search gulag.

Also, websites that over-leverage AI generated content will take their place among the condemned denizens of search hell—page 2.

What Should You Do?

Stop All The Search Hacking

First, I would recommend that you, first and foremost, focus on giving the reader the best answer for the query they entered.

Write for users, not search engines. Instead of writing x number of words hoping to satisfy Google, write to answer searcher’s questions.

If the question can be answered with fewer words than what the top results are currently sporting–answer it in fewer words.

There is a feature of good writing that SEO’s often overlook: the fewer words used to communicate an idea, the better.


This might be worth remembering very, very soon.

How you can get over this Google update unscathed.

Write about what you know

Does your business sell racquetball equipment? Cool. Stop writing content about soccer. Known as football for everyone who is not an American.

What does writing about what you know look like? Glad you asked.

  1. What is the purpose of your website?
  2. Are you knowledgeable about the subject? What first-hand experience do you have with the topic?
  3. Would the people who read your website or the people you want to read your site find your content valuable?

Ask yourself these questions before publishing content.

You Too Can Answer Searchers Questions

Simple enough, you might say. But if you don’t consider the criteria, you have not done a good job at “answering the searchers question” according to Google.

  1. Will the reader leave your site feeling they have gained new insights or knowledge that can help them achieve their goal?
  2. Will the reader feel like they had a satisfying experience?

I believe that this will impact sites that utilize cheap content. And those that rely heavily on AI generated content.

The primary focus of your site should be to provide valuable information to your users. If you focus on creating the best content possible, you should not be affected too much by this new update.

More On How the Update Will Work

The update is slated to start next week, and you can follow Google’s Ranking update page for more info about full implementation and rollout.

It’s important to remember that this update adds a new sight-wide signal, considered along with other ranking factors.

The system will automatically find the content of “low value” and is not helpful to searchers.

This update applies to any content, not unhelpful content alone. If your site has poor-quality material mixed in with high-quality content, the low-quality stuff will drag down the performance of the high-quality.

This process is automated to the max. There is no manual action or review required for this process to occur.

Summing it up

As of now, my feelings are a bit mixed about the new update. I want to believe that if sites keep on producing quality material, they won’t be impacted too harshly. This is not very likely. Just like everything else tech, it never seems to go that way.

There will be bugs that need ironing out, and your rankings could suffer for a short time as the update gets implemented.

For now, keep putting out the good stuff, and see where the chips fall.

Best of luck to ya!

Written By dhardt20

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