How to write blog posts for Google’s Helpful Content Update
Google has dropped big news. On the 22nd of August, it released a blog post outlining changes to how it ranks content in search results. It's called Google's Helpful Content Update blog, and it's essential reading for content creators involved in digital marketing, SEO, Google analytics, and blog writing services. And that's not an understatement. Because unless you know what the update involves and the latest content marketing tips, you will start disappearing from Google search queries.
What is Google's Helpful Content Update?
The updates will drive Google's people-first content policy by promoting content that is relevant and useful.
The people-first approach means producing content for people, not search engines. For example, you might craft a click-bait 'how-to...' title to grab some eyeballs and rank higher. But that's not going to cut it anymore. The new update means 'how-to' articles will have to explain, in detail, how to actually do something... By the end of the content, readers should have enough knowledge to answer a question or solve a problem. The content must 'help' readers, not 'trick' them into clicking links to web pages to boost organic traffic.
Why is Google's helpful content update important?
Google's update is about raising the quality of content people want and improving their online experience.
"The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they've had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn't meet a visitor's expectations won't perform as well," reads the blog post published by Google. The word that really stands out is 'expectations.'
There's an intent behind every Google search. We want to learn, find a crucial piece of information or data, or simply be entertained with new ideas or fresh takes on old topics. Google's helpful content will ensure users find the information they're looking for. It's an anti-click bait approach that ranks content on what people expect to find, rather than what search engines are programmed to 'spot.'
Alan Davies, Director at AXD, thinks the new content update is exactly what users (and the internet) have needed for years:
"The helpful content update is excellent news for users. I hope we see a big drop in click-bait content and fluff that's more concerned with generating meaningless clicks than providing content that matters."
How to write articles for the new content
The update is already live. So unless you're creating content that matches the new algorithm, you will see a drop in search traffic and your competition will start ranking higher.
Here's a few tips on writing content Google wants:
Stay on topic:
Write about what you know, then stick to it. For example, a food nutrition company should write blogs and content on (you guessed it!) food nutrition. It sounds simple, but plenty of content veers off into related (and even unrelated) subjects because it's chasing high-ranking keywords. Keep your keyword research laser-focused on your area of expertise.
"It comes back to expectations," says Alan. "Customers searching for information want to find the content they're searching for."
Write for your audience
"When planning content strategies, I focus on this golden rule of writing: amateurs write for themselves, professionals write for an audience. From product reviews to online educational material, it applies to every piece of content we create. Good content - the type of content Google loves -is always customer and user-focused."
- AXD marketing consultant Katie Andrews.
Focus on quality
Who wants to scroll through paragraphs of dense text to find one piece of information? So don’t use a thousand words when a few hundred will do. Don't force your customers to 'read' your content. Craft content they can absorb.
Construction giant Caterpillar knows how to build great content. Its popular industry blog breaks down complex manufacturing processes into a few hundred words, sometimes less. Blogs include bullet points, short paragraphs, and concise question and answer sections, all accompanied by images and video. It’s perfect content for industry 'newbies' or experienced professionals that need fast and accurate information.
What not to do
Avoid clickbait, at all costs.
If you promise your readers 10 recipes for a vegan barbecue, don't slip in irrelevant content or stuffed keywords that will leave people unsatisfied and still scrolling for answers.
Don't answer a question that has no answer.
"Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there's a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn't confirmed?" asks Google's Helpful Content blog. This is Google's way of discouraging speculation and misinformation. Well-researched, factual content will help you rank higher and build trust with your customers and clients.
Don't ignore the update
Ignoring the update and hoping your content will continue to appear high in a Google search is (metaphorical) suicide for any business that relies on a strong online presence. Tweaking a few pages or meta descriptions won't be enough. You need every post to rank. It's time for a full-on content review and rebrand.
Making the most of this opportunity
"The new update caught a lot of people off-guard," says Alan Davies. "And while it's definitely a challenge to rise to, it's also a rare opportunity for firms looking to grow fast. Those who adapt first will rank higher and generate more leads."
We know how to help your company reach that all-important 1st page of Google. Our team of SEO and content experts have helped 1,000+ pages get there already. And yours could be next.
Google is changing, your business needs to change with it. Contact us for a free Google content update consultation.