Great, Helpful Content? You’ll Like Google’s SEO Update

Google’s new Helpful Content Update allows the search giant to help marketers create a meaningful customer experience that starts through search.

Google announcing its search engine algorithm updates has become less of a major news story over the years. Updates to its popular search are very frequent, so any news can feel like a blur generating only minor interest. 

But this latest change from Google is indeed bold, introduced with a user-friendly name and a significant user-friendly signal that marketers and consumers can equally embrace.

Google is introducing Helpful Content Update in its search engine. It evaluates how well content satisfies the user. It provides Google a tremendous opportunity to help marketers create a meaningful customer experience that starts through search.

How Helpful Content Update Works

Helpful Content Update (HCU) is an algorithmic ranking signal. It checks how closely a given site page follows Google’s core search guidelines, such as providing substantial descriptions, clear source attributions and original research and analysis within the content. It is meant to devalue content that is overly optimized to influence search engines.

At first blush, this signal does not feel new. The guidelines for search date back 2019; so much of the recommendations for HCU sounds like those long shared to prevent black hat SEO tactics, a perspective familiar to SEO and marketing experts. Black hat SEO are tactics that overly optimize page elements to influence search engine query results.

But well-intended content tips to prevent deceptive tactics have jumped the shark, with content creators from various backgrounds gaming various search engine optimization techniques that straddle close to Black SEO tactics. They create searchable content, but much of the content was not a neutral Wikipedia-style tone. This type of content alludes to a response that may not be a great answer for the reader, even though keywords appear in the metadata and H1 tags without stuffing. 

Moreover some publishers became too fixated in following algorithmic changes, although an announced change would be one of hundreds of algorithmic improvements. Panda, for example, was just one of roughly 500 search improvement according to Google.

Bringing Balance to SEO tactics

The HCU signal is part of a larger effort by Google to balance what people see in the content they discover in its search engine. Google added a suggestion this year that marketers can include pros and cons of products and services in their structured data. Adding these will appear in the rich snippets query results. Goggle offers a Rich Results Test to verify its recognition in its search engine.

In fact, the name Helpful Content Update is an interesting play to rebalance expectations. It is a label in layperson’s language. In years past, Google’s search engine algorithm changes have been well-known by their code word, such as Pigeon, Hummingbird and Panda. But while the shift to choose a phrase that speaks to the common users looks minor on the surface, it represents the endgame of a series of algorithm changes that reflect technical aspects of a query.   

The idea behind Google’s best known algorithm changes was to address how HTML elements in website pages are arranged relative to a query. Now the search algorithm can distinguish intent among webpage elements with sophistication. Moreover, SEO techniques have evolved in identifying where keywords can be better placed and in regarding links as a signal of interest.

Related Article: How to Use Keyword Density in a Modern SEO Strategy

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