Helpful Content Update: What SMEs Need To Know
In September 2023 we saw a big Google update roll out. This ‘Helpful Content Update’ was designed to crack down on SEO-only content - content that puts search engines before the needs of the users.
Search results need to offer the most relevant information to its users and too often, SEO-focused content is more about writing for Google bots than real human beings. This update takes steps to once again make the users of search engines the priority.
Google’s Helpful Content Update
Google’s business goal is to be the go-to search engine for users and it can only hold that title if it puts the needs of its users first. This means serving them the content they are looking for in the fastest and easiest way possible.
With the new Google Helpful Content Update, the parameters for how to achieve that top spot have shifted.
Content that has only been written to squeeze in keywords and rank highly in search engine results often forgets about the user's needs. However, with a gradual shift towards user intent and ‘helpful’ content, it’s more important than ever to ensure the content you publish on your website is aimed directly at your website users' requirements.
How Has The Helpful Content Update Impacted Visibility?
The more your website is seen in search engine results, the more traffic you will get to your website. That’s why the first page of Google results is such a coveted spot for any business.
With the new Google Helpful Content Update, the parameters for how to achieve that top spot have shifted. It’s no longer about how many keywords and phrases you can get into your content. Now it’s all about whether the user finds what they were looking on Google for, on your website.
For SMEs, a great content marketing strategy can not only help them overtake larger competitors, but it can also help to nurture existing users and build a loyal audience.
This also means that there is a new checklist for those writing content for a web page or blog. Now, we need to ensure that the copy we write has a clear intention to provide information to its users. The more ‘helpful’ Google deems your content, the more likely your web pages will appear in the top results.
Many businesses that have used content marketing as a simple ranking strategy have seen big hits with this new update. Those that have managed a good balance between content for SEO and content for users have seen less of an impact and any drop in visibility online has recovered much quicker.
SME Digital Marketing & Creating ‘Helpful Content’
As we move forward from the helpful content update, it’s worth focusing on how content marketing strategies need to change.
For SMEs, a great content marketing strategy can not only help them overtake larger competitors, but it can also help to nurture existing users and build a loyal audience. Both of which can have a positive impact on conversions and leads.
From now on:
- Focus on writing blog content that answers highly searched-for queries. Mining your FAQs is ideal for this as it tells you exactly what information your audience needs the most.
- Start with your website user's needs and work backwards. Think about what they need from you and the best ways you can provide it.
- Focus on user intent when doing keyword research. Most keyword research tools will offer information about what the most common user intent is for different keywords.
What is ‘user intent’?
User intent is a way to categorise your website users based on why they are searching for a certain keyword on search engines, or on a website. The following are the types of user intents you will see listed on most keyword research tools.
- Informational - A user is looking for information or an answer
- Navigational - A user is looking for a specific website, page or online tool. These keywords tend to be branded, service-specific or tools like calculators and comparison sites.
- Commercial - The user is looking for a service or product from a brand or website e.g. jobs, agencies, courses.
- Transactional - Most often seen on keywords related to e-commerce websites, these users want to complete some sort of transaction.
Tips From The Team:
This shift towards ‘helpful content’ is all about putting the user back into the driver's seat. Instead of carefully SEO-designed content taking up the top search results, we’ll now see much more relevant and user-focused content gracing the top positions.
Not only does this help users and the search engines themselves, but it also benefits your marketing long-term. The more helpful you are to your audience, the more trust you build and the greater the chance of those users turning into paying customers.
To find out how FireCask can help you with creating helpful content for your audience, get in touch with our team.