Ever felt frustrated when you’re trying to Google something? You’re not alone.

Several major publishers including The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Guardian have shared critiques of Google in recent months. 

These articles breeze through some of the most common criticisms of the search engine – ‘there are too many ads now,’ ‘Google is collecting data about you!’

They also cite another concern. That Google just isn’t that good at answering search queries any more.

All too often, search results are not original, not relevant or the bury the information you’re looking for underneath paragraphs and paragraphs of dead-space filler content (recipe websites anyone?).

For Google’s critics, the source of the problem is clear. Search results have been corrupted by people that want to game the system.

People who care more about clicks than answering questions.

People that produce content for Google’s algorithm, not other people.

This is what Google is trying to solve with its latest update. And while the changes should benefit the average internet user, it could be a nasty wake up call for your business.

So what’s actually changed?

Google’s mission is to make the world’s information as accessible and useful as possible.

It wants to be the oracle on the hill that can answer any question posed.

The problem is that, when it’s trying to answer some questions, Google’s ranking system currently prioritises spammy, duplicated or irrelevant content.

Google’s solution is to create a new ranking signal. Ranking signals are things like keywords and backlinks that the search engine uses to rank websites for each individual search query.

Google uses hundreds of these signals to rank information, and most of them are closely guarded secrets. But thankfully it is telling us about this latest one.

The aim is the promote ‘helpful content’ and penalise ‘unhelpful content’.

Importantly, the ranking signal will be applied site-wide. This means that if your website has a mix of helpful content and unhelpful content, then your whole website could suffer.

Essentially, a few bits of unhelpful content could undermine the very best bits of your website.

What is helpful content?

Helpful content helps Google fulfil its mission, providing clear answers to users’ search queries.

In other words, it’s content that’s designed for people – not content designed to fool search engines rankings. Below, we’ve detailed some typical hallmarks of helpful and unhelpful content, as well as five top tips to bear in mind when you’re creating content.

Helpful content will typically:

  • Be original and comprehensive
  • Start with a specific audience and answer their questions
  • Offer first-hand knowledge and expertise
  • Be related to a site’s primary purpose
  • Leave users feeling satisfied

Content that’s not helpful will typically:

  • Be written to rank, rather than help people
  • Not have a target audience in mind
  • Summarise what other people say without adding anything new
  • Be written to a specific word count
  • Be clickbait

Our top tips for creating helpful content

  • Think customer first – plan your content based on the needs of your customers
  • Stay in your lane – only post content that related to your business
  • Be original – publish something that people won’t find elsewhere
  • Write with an eraser – only make your content as longs as it needs to be to answer a question
  • Expect better – produce the kind of content you’d expect to find in a book, magazine or encyclopaedia

Book your content audit

We are currently carrying out in depth content audits for our clients.

  1. We review the traffic data for all pages (or just the blog pages if need be). This is usually done analysing a 2 – 3 year period and looks at both Overall Traffic and Organic search engine traffic.
  2. We then compile the link data for the listed pages and factor that in to give us a ‘score’ for each page.
  3. Once we can see how each has performed, we can decide (based on a predetermined benchmark) what we should do with each page:
  • Delete the page – if it has very little traffic and no backlinks.
  • Update the page – it has links and the content is OK, but could be brought up to date.
  • 301 – it has links but the content isn’t worth keeping
  • Review – has a decent amount of visits but they don’t appear to be from Google etc.
  • Leave alone – great content, good link profile etc

If you would like us to carry out this analysis for you, please get in touch.