Google reminds everyone that the useful content upgrade is currently going out in response to allegations that it has had little effect on search results. A week after the release of the helpful content upgrade, there is a growing consensus that it is not producing any significant changes.
SEO professionals worldwide have taken notice of the upgrade after hearing reports of its silence. They claim rankings should be OK for websites generating solid material, reiterating a point made last week that the upgrade is part of a continuing effort. Reading on will reveal the rest of the explanation in seven easy parts.
Demonstration of First-Hand Experience
Let’s take a look at what Google said about this requirement.
“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)?”
Google encourages its users to only write on topics they are knowledgeable about. When writing with search engines in mind, discussing offerings, you haven’t tried yourself is not uncommon. Affiliate links provide a commission to the writer and are common in such posts.
Due to the lack of expertise in the field, the information presented is less useful than it could be. Make it evident that you have first-hand experience with the product, service, or location you are writing about by including images or insightful commentary of your own.
Google also recommends that you consider this related query: Are you only restating the arguments of others without providing your own?
Close alignment with the main topic
Google’s perspective on this part is apparent.
“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?”
Google may intend to convey that one should specialize in one field. When writing for search engines, publishing articles outside your usual subject area is not uncommon. Imagine you own a website dedicated to sharing recipes and notice a high-volume term associated with skin care.
While the article could be informative for some readers, those who frequent the site specifically for recipes will probably not find it particularly useful.
On top of that, Google recommends you consider the following companion queries: Is the information optimized for search engines or intended for human readers?
Are you blogging about topics that you wouldn’t usually write about for your current readership just because they’re popular at the moment? Did you venture into a specialized field where you lacked knowledge in the hopes of attracting web users via keyword searches?
Answer with adequate information
“After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?”
According to Google’s guidelines, content is applicable if it provides readers with the information they can use. When writing for search engines, it’s easy to put in many words without adding much substance.
People read online information with the expectation that it will solve a problem or answer a query they have. On top of that, Google recommends you consider the following companion queries:
Do people who read what you’ve written feel like they need to look elsewhere for more complete or more up-to-date information? How did you come to know that Google has a recommended word count? (Not at all.)
Don’t answer anything if it’s not there
If you are unsure what this means, let me share exactly what Google said about it.
“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?”
Google is warning websites not to make false claims with this recommendation. If you write about anything unproven or speculative, say so.
This is sound advice for gaining and keeping your readers’ confidence, and it also happens to be in line with the latest helpful content update.
Keep an eye on UX
“Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?”
This tip comes from Google and is meant to get readers to consider the content as a whole. Even if all the conditions mentioned above are met, the user experience may fall short of expectations.
Think about it like this: you’re reading a review written by someone who has used the product in question, but the review doesn’t contain any visuals.
Searchers may enjoy the textual information, but they would benefit even more from seeing the product in action. Don’t keep people searching if you can’t provide what they seek.
Avoid mixing too many topics at a time
Google is suggesting that all websites need a specific focus with this remark. The expectations that visitors bring to a website are unrealistic. In addition to being useless to site users, this practice makes it difficult for search engines to index a website properly.
Focus your site’s content on a single topic. You may always launch new domains if you want to write articles for various audiences on different topics.
Google also recommends that you consider this related query: Is the goal of your content creation to have some of it rank highly in search results?
“Over the coming months, we will also continue refining how the classifier detects unhelpful content and launch further efforts to better reward people-first content.”
The change to Google’s helpful content will be live for all users over the following two weeks. You shouldn’t judge the update’s effectiveness until it has been fully implemented. The upgrade initially only applies to searches in English but will roll out to other languages shortly.
Google promises this isn’t the last time we see a useful upgrade to their content. In its original release, Google promised to keep improving its ability to identify non-essential material.