How to avoid penalties from the new Google Helpful Content Update algorithm

On August 25, 2022, Google launched the Helpful Content Update algorithm, which will combat “useless” content. How to like the new algorithm and what content to do to avoid being penalized by Google.

Google has long waged a war on user interest, and the Helpful Content Update algorithm is an addition to this larger program.

Now the search engine will analyze content on websites (including my blog about Affiliate programs and CPA Networks) according to new parameters and will lower in the search results of platforms that publish content to increase traffic, rather than to satisfy users’ requests.


HOW GOOGLE’S UPDATE WILL AFFECT A SITE’S RANKING

In the past, a site’s position in search engine rankings depended more on SEO. True, quite often these perfectly optimized texts were empty and useless to users.

Any user has encountered such SEO texts: landing pages with large texts that no one ever reads; blog articles written for search purposes rather than for meaning; product cards that look alike one-to-one. Now all sites that made content specifically for search engines are at risk.

Google promotes articles with maximum usability for users to the top, and materials created only to attract traffic (read: “meaningless SEO-texts”), penalizes and throws them down. If you want to rank high in search results, share informative and unique content.

If the system pessimizes the site, the flow of organic traffic from search will decrease, and with it the sales will fall.  


WHAT WEBSITES ARE LIKELY TO LOSE POSITIONS ON GOOGLE

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All websites will be affected by Google’s update. You should check your pages for Helpful Content Update compliance and review your content policy if you:

– are working on a landing page;

– promoting an online store, optimizing product cards;

– you only publish landing pages with SEO-texts on your services site;

– Use a blog as a SEO-booster for the resource;

– Do your brand-media.

Under the sanctions of the algorithm fall not only “useless” texts, but any resource where most of the pages do not meet the requirements of Google. In other words, a few good articles will not save the site.

Let’s say you have 10 interesting, high-quality publications and 1 thousand ordinary product cards with no added value for customers. In that case, the algorithm will likely still pessimize your platform.

At risk are platforms related to education, arts, entertainment, sales and technology products, as the Google team notes. In these areas, there’s a lot of content written specifically to improve rankings – quite often the content is a reprint of the same article.


WHAT TO DO IF GOOGLE HAS PESSIMIZED YOUR WEBSITE

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Checking sites for “useless” content will be a robot, not a human. If the algorithm finds signs of “empty” material, or detects clickbait, it will certainly pessimize the site, and you will not be able to prove or dispute anything. In any case, without the introduction of manual checks, it is impossible, and the developers insist for now – only the program will work.

If the site is pessimized, it will take a long time to return to the top positions in search results. Google points out that sanctions can last for several months, even after bad pages are removed. Experts in IT and SEO forums call the time frame from 3 to 6 months, but there is no official confirmation of this information yet.

Google’s classifier works continuously – if the system is convinced that the useless content will not return in the long term, the sanctions will be lifted.

Do not ignore the news and do not delay with the “revision” of your sites. If the algorithm “penalizes” your site, it will take several months to come out of the demotion. Just imagine how it will affect your sales and brand popularity among your target audience.


WHAT CONTENT RANKS WELL WITH GOOGLE’S ALGORITHM

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How not to get penalized by the Helpful Content Update? Google has published a checklist for authors and site owners, but some of the advice is rather vague.

We have translated the developers’ tips first from English into Russian, and then from the programmer’s to the human language, and added examples and tips to help understand the subject.


WORK TO THE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF THE USER

Write about what interests the users, not you personally. Monitor your audience’s interest, not only with the help of statistics services, but also with live feedback.

Surveys among your clients, subscribers, and employees, as well as on thematic forums, to find out what topics the audience wants to discuss and what problems they are concerned about. You can provide a choice of topics, or just ask them to pile on the questions.


FOCUS ON THE MEANING, RATHER THAN THE NUMBER OF CHARACTERS AND SEO

According to the old laws of SEO, to reach the top of search, your article has to be bigger and better optimized than the competitor’s. Forget it – push for meaning, not volume.

After reading the article, the user should not refer to other sources – you have given him all the information he needs. 


ADD PERSONAL EXPERIENCE TO YOUR TEXTS

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Your publications should not be just recycled text from other sources. Algorithm wants to see that it is you who have exclusive information and valuable experience. To show this, add your comments, stories, case studies, figures – anything that demonstrates your expertise and personal involvement in the creation of your text.

For example, if you’re writing an article reviewing a movie, you shouldn’t combine several reviews from other people in the text. You should give exactly your own assessment, add ideas, conclusions, advice.

Google’s memo says that materials that are written by a reader who has used a product or service will rank especially well in search. This means you should include more case studies, breakdowns, and unpacking in your content plan.


PUT “ADDED VALUE” AND EXPERTISE INTO YOUR TEXT

Before publishing, ask yourself: “Does my content demonstrate a depth of knowledge, does it benefit readers?” Imagine if you framed these same materials in the format of lectures, training courses, webinars. Would clients come to you for such a course or not?

The author should be an expert on his topic, not just rewrite someone else’s material. Most likely, in order to cover different topics, you will have to introduce UGC (user-generated content) and bring in outside experts. Another option is to conduct interviews with experts and use them as the basis for publications.

Right now, you should create a separate page for each author, indicating his achievements, experience and area – so Google will understand that the article was written by an expert. In your articles, cite authoritative sources and add comments from speakers.


FOCUS ON PRACTICAL CONTENT

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Bad content is a reprinting of well-known facts and “empty” texts – those that are of no practical use. The ideal situation is when a person reads an article and can immediately use the knowledge gained in practice.

Suppose you are writing about promotion in Facebook. There is no need to write an article about how wonderful this social network is. It is better to cover the practical side of the problem – tell about the features of the platform in clear and simple language, show how to run ads.

Google points out directly: user satisfaction is the main criterion for the quality of content. If the reader found everything he needed in your material and didn’t go looking for information elsewhere, the algorithm will like your article.


WRITE ACCORDING TO YOUR FOCUS

Don’t try to cover as many topics as possible to gather traffic. Determine your main purpose and mission – what will be useful to your audience.

For example, you’ll be testing products from your store yourself and doing reviews on them.


WHAT TO DO WITH PRODUCT CARDS AND LANDING PAGES

Blogs, brand media, and articles are relatively easy, but product cards and landing pages will require some work.

We advise “selling” sites (online stores, sites with services) to check their landing pages for compliance with the new algorithm. At a minimum, rewrite “blank” SEO texts, or better yet, start a blog.


HOW TO IMPROVE SEO TEXTS AND NOT GET PENALIZED BY GOOGLE

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– Invite an expert to write a product review or do it yourself. Algorithm should understand that the information is provided by a person who understands the product.

– Involve photos, video and audio content, where the author of the review is testing the product. Additional material will prove the authenticity of the review.

– Write about product features that aren’t mentioned on every website. For example, “this vacuum cleaner is quieter than the old model and won’t wake a sleeping baby.”

– Talk about the chips and features of the product, which have no analogues. If there are, on the contrary, disadvantages, it is worth mentioning a product that will make up for them. For example, “this carpet is light, it will have to be taken care of. To make it easier for you to clean it of stains, take this product.”

– Add real customer testimonials – they’ll pay attention to the pros and cons of the product. You can send some samples to bloggers or your active customers for testing.

– Post links to other reputable sources related to your product. If any well-known trainer recommends this particular model of trainer, put a link to his post or article.


STOP-LIST ON THE NEW GOOGLE ALGORITM

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– Do not split one topic into several articles.

– Do not promise in the headlines what is not in the text. Clickbait is prohibited!

– Do not use automation when creating content.

– Do not work only for search engines, focus on the user interest of your target audience.

– Do not retype someone else’s text, do not accumulate several articles in one.

– Don’t make an article just for the sake of traffic. Add value and your experience.

– Don’t produce a lot of content on completely different topics.

– Don’t write about things you don’t know. Involve experts and user-generated content.



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