At the annual Google I/O developer conference, the tech giant announced upcoming changes to its helpful content system.
The goal of this update is to improve the search engine’s ability to identify content created from a personal or expert perspective, thereby improving the search experience for users.
Improving search results with unique expertise
The helpful content system is an important part of Google’s automated ranking systems, designed to ensure users see original, high-quality content in search results.
It uses a site-wide signal to evaluate content and differentiates between content that provides visitors with a satisfactory experience and content that falls short of user expectations.
In this way, the system encourages the creation of content written by people for people, rather than content designed primarily to attract clicks.
According to Google’s announcement, the upcoming update aims to improve the system’s understanding of content created from a personal or expert perspective.
This implies a more sophisticated ability to assess the expertise and authenticity of content, allowing more of this useful information to be ranked in search.
Google’s announcement states:
“Not only are we making it easier to find authentic perspectives, but we’re also improving the overall ranking of results in search by focusing more on content with unique expertise and experience.
Last year we introduced the helpful content system to show more content made for people and less content designed to attract clicks. In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out an update to this system that better understands content created from a personal or expert perspective and allows us to rank more of this useful information in search.
Helpful information can often be found in unexpected or hard-to-find places: in a comment on a forum thread, a post on a little-known blog, or an article with unique expertise on a topic.”
Key insights for content creators
Updates to Google’s helpful content system updates have significant implications for publishers.
To avoid negative impact, websites are advised to remove unhelpful content and focus on creating helpful, reliable, and people-centric content.
Google’s classifier, which identifies unhelpful content, runs continuously, monitoring newly launched and existing websites.
If, over time, it is determined that unhelpful content has not returned, a previously made classification may no longer apply.
In practice, this means that content creators should follow several key principles to ensure their content is considered “helpful” by the Google system:
- Stick to your area of expertise: Content should be created with the audience in mind and focus on topics within the subject matter of the site. Content designed to attract search traffic or capitalize on trending topics outside of the site’s niche is less likely to be found helpful.
- Demonstrate first-hand experience: Your content should demonstrate first-hand expertise and depth. Content about products or services should be based on personal experience and make this clear through original photos or insights.
- Focus on one topic: Websites should have a primary purpose or focus. Trying to cover multiple unrelated topics can confuse visitors and search engines.
- Give enough answers: The content should aim to educate or help the user by addressing their concerns or questions in detail. Content that makes readers feel like they need to search again for better information will not be considered helpful.
- Bring you a satisfying reading experience: Content creators should aim to provide the reader with a holistic solution. Even if the content meets all of the above criteria, it can still be deemed unhelpful if it does not provide a satisfactory experience.
- Avoid unrealistic claims: Websites should avoid making claims that are not factual, such as giving a release date for a product or service, when it has not yet been verified.
- Follow Google’s guidelines: Adhering to Google’s policy on core updates and product ratings also benefits ranking in the helpful content system.
The upcoming update to Google’s helpful content system reflects its ongoing commitment to improving users’ search experience by prioritizing high-quality, authentic content.
The company will announce more details about the update at the official launch.
Featured image created by the author using Midjourney.