If you follow the world of SEO closely, you have heard there is a huge change coming to the Google algorithm. It has been called the “Helpful Content Update”.  Some industry experts expect it to change the face of SEO on the level of some of the biggest updates ever like “Panda” eleven years ago. So the big questions are “What is helpful content?” and should you worry as a small business owner?

What is Helpful Content

This seems like it should be obvious, but in the world of SEO maybe not so much. Since SEO became important for business, there have been companies out there that try to find loopholes in the Google algorithm and take advantage. Often searching for a quick fix or easy path.  As Google has gotten better and more refined with their algorithm, they are able to weed out the cheaters. This latest change is meant to weed out the content that is written just for keywords and doesn’t actually provide any “help” or “usefulness”. In your searches around the internet you may have found that you see a lot of the same content rephrased slightly showing up in search results.  Often writers will take something that is ranking highly and reproduce it for the most part with a few words changes to keep it from being a direct copy. Google now wants to focus on unique and useful content,

I talked about “Information Gain” being the future of SEO back in 2020. As a business owner, you want to provide useful and helpful information about your products and services and the problems that they may solve. You have a unique voice in y0ur industry and sometimes your location that can provide a helpful and unique perspective on questions that people are asking. In Google and even directly.  This is the type of content you should be providing. Some time ago, I began recommending clients that were struggling with new content take a look at the most commonly “People Also Ask” questions in Google around their services. If they can provide good answers to this through blog posts or FAQ pages, they are providing useful and helpful content. If you are just churning out canned content that every other site has, you may not be providing useful content.  If you look at what you are offering, you should know if it is useful and helpful.

Will this Update Hurt You as a Small Business Owner?

The unsatisfying answer is it depends but often in SEO that is the answer. One of the scariest parts of this update is that, unlike most updates in recent years, this update is sitewide.  We had been working toward every page of your site being looked at more individually with updates, but the early discussion is that this may paint entire sites as “unhelpful” and pull them down across the board.  If your site is hit by the update, you will want to take a look at your content and decide what should be kept and lost to help shape the overall site into being more “helpful” in general.

Punishing Good Content

Content Audit for SEO MigrationsWe have seen Google make dramatic adjustments in other updates, only to pull back on them a month or so later. Sometimes they don’t quite get it right. The good news is they do usually recognize that. If you get hit and you feel you do have good content, it may not be the end of the world.  Sometimes the innocent get hit in the crossfire with these because algorithms aren’t perfect and at times things they are programmed to flag actually have some good uses.  We have seen small businesses get hit wit this in the past.  Hopefully this won’t happen to you.  If it does, these are the times having a good SEO is most useful. They can help you navigate your way back up the rankings.

Content Pruning

You will hear a lot about content pruning if you are paying close attention in the coming weeks. Cutting out the unhelpful content on your site. I will have a post later with general directions on how to do this. It is essentially taking a look at the pages on your site that fit the following criteria:

  • Nobody visits
  • Don’t rank for anything
  • Don’t have any inbound links

You will want to get rid of these pages and redirect users (if anyone were to go there) to a surviving and more useful page. This will help your overall site be viewed as having a higher percentage of useful content. Then, of course, follow up with a plan to continue to add helpful and useful content going forward.  Some businesses need less than others. It is all relative. However, I have not seen a website that wasn’t helped by regularly adding good and useful content for your audience. They will always have questions and hurdles for hiring you or using your service or products. Provide content that helps them through that. It seems quite simple, but if you do it, you will be ahead of the vast majority of your competition.

If you need help putting a plan together, give us a call.