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Future-Proofing Your Digital Content Strategy

Anyone involved in digital marketing knows the importance of having a robust digital content strategy. Still, Google’s latest algorithm update, the helpful content update, is about to bring some changes to the organic search landscape.

This update is part of Google’s broader efforts to ensure people are seeing more original, helpful content in their searches. According to Google, the update launched on August 25, 2022, though it will take up to two weeks to completely roll out.

What changes will this update bring, and what should you do with your site and digital content strategy in response? Let’s dig in.

The Helpful Content Update

There are three main things this latest Google update focuses on. The helpful content update will prioritize content that fits three primary criteria.

  • Original
  • Genuinely helpful
  • Written for people, by people

But what do those things mean?

Original Content

Google will start to actively deprioritize content that doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Unfortunately, churning out content that’s merely summarizing information already published elsewhere is a common practice in content marketing. Brands using content mills or AI to put out cheap, fast, derivative content will see their organic performance drop due to this algorithm update.

The solution:

  • Perform your own research, develop original insights, and share them with your audience.
  • Interview subject matter experts to showcase expertise and generate experience-led, completely original content.
  • Think outside the box and approach topics from a different angle than how other sites cover a subject.

Genuinely Helpful Content

Google has always wanted to provide a satisfying user experience, and this update is another step toward ensuring that result. The ultimate goal of the search engine is to prioritize content that answers the questions searchers are asking — without searchers having to go to a subsequent website to find a better answer or fill an info gap.

The solution:

Publish comprehensive content that directly answers all the questions your clients — or potential audience — are asking. Several widely available SEO tools provide questions around a given topic that searchers are typing into Google (and other search engines). These tools can help you form strong, structured content to cover all the bases.

Content Written for People, by People

With this new algorithm in mind, stop and ask yourself if your content would have a purpose if it wasn’t for search engines. If the answer is no, your digital content strategy focuses too much on search engines rather than your actual readers.

If you’re writing a piece of content simply because of a trending topic, not because it benefits your audience, you’re going in the wrong direction.

SEO (search engine optimization) best practices still apply. Continue to implement SEO on all your digital content but ensure that content is people-first.

The solution:

Don’t rely on cheap content mills or AI to write your content for you. Invest in insightful, valuable, research-backed content development that comes from a strategic plan based on your audience and goals.

Additionally, review your website’s existing content. Is it clearly written by a real person, for real people to read? Does it have the three Ps —purpose, perspective, and personality?

If the answer is no, you might find that your website’s traffic is about to drop significantly. And if developing a strategic content plan and regularly producing 3P content sounds like too big of a lift, that’s where working with a strategic, research-oriented content partner like OBI can help.

Google Algorithm Update Notes

In addition to this information, there are several other details business owners (and digital marketers) should know about the new helpful content update. Most importantly, note the update is a signal, NOT a penalty.

This is a critical difference that means the update is just one of the many ranking signals Google uses to determine how to rank websites and even individual pages. The update won’t single-handedly sink your site’s performance. People-first content on your site can still rank well, even if your overall website is deemed by Google to have significant amounts of unhelpful content.

Still, if Google’s algorithm applies the signal to your site, it will feel like a penalty and make it difficult for your entire site to rank. Additionally, this signal is weighted, which means it will hit some sites harder than others. Consequently, there’s no concrete number you can apply to the signal.

But because it’s a signal rather than a penalty, you can undo its negative impact if you improve your content.

Responding to the Helpful Content Update

Like Google’s recent product reviews update, it’s essential you don’t panic. You want to respond to this update, not react. Before making any drastic changes, collect at least a few weeks of data. You want enough information to determine whether any traffic changes are temporary or if they’re here to stay.

If you react and make changes too quickly, you could further damage your site rather than improve it. When you remain calm, compile data, and learn from this information, you can respond with careful consideration and a tangible digital content strategy.

If you find the new helpful content update has applied a negative signal to your site, you will see search traffic decline during the coming months. Use the solutions above to help guide you as you improve and refresh your content. And if you need help with your content marketing strategy or responding to this Google update, contact OBI Creative today.