In August 2022, Google started rolling out its “helpful content” update, which represented a change to its core search algorithm. The update aims to improve users’ ability to find the most helpful and well-presented information, instead of content from sites that prioritize search engine results page (SERP) rankings over quality.
And while some content creators and search engine optimization (SEO) experts expressed concern over a possible negative impact on organic traffic, Media Logic’s Content Marketing Team and Interactive Services Team were glad to see the update. In fact, since it strengthens Google’s search capabilities, we weren’t surprised by it. Google has provided long-standing advice and guidelines for creating quality content “optimized for people, not for search engines.”
Media Logic has followed these best practices from the beginning. Our approach has always been to produce well-optimized quality content that answers important questions for our clients’ customers and prospects. For this reason, we expected Google’s “helpful content” update to be beneficial, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing. In fact, since the update rolled out, we’ve seen a 22.7% YOY bump* in organic traffic for medialogic.com. Client sites we manage are showing gains, as well.
In December 2022, Google released some improvements to the original update, and we will likely continue to see refinements as the company seeks to “elevate content that adds unique value to the web, above and beyond what’s broadly available from other publishers.”
So how can you start 2023 on strong footing with organic content? Here are some tips:
Prioritize quality content.
Focus on what Google calls “people-first” content. The company says it wants “visitors [to] feel they’ve had a satisfying experience” and notes that “content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.” Meeting audience expectations means your content delivers on the phrase it’s targeting. It’s designed for a particular audience and is aligned with your site’s purpose.
Find the sweet spots where your expertise answers questions people ask.
The best content, in Google’s eyes, adds value for visitors. It not only goes deep but also reflects your unique expertise. Understand what people want to know and why you’re the right source for that information – and express that in the content.
Pay attention to content structure.
This is two-fold. First, ensure that content on your post/page is easily-to-read or scan visually by using subheadings, bulleted lists, short paragraphs, etc. Second, work behind-the-scenes with fundamentals – like heading tags (i.e. H1, H2), descriptive alt-text for images and schema markup – to highlight for Google how your content is helpful. This includes following best practices for images, videos and other media on the page.
Know what to avoid.
Don’t throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, er, performs well in search. Don’t chase terms just because they’re trending. And don’t leave readers disappointed by regurgitating what they can find elsewhere or by failing to deliver what you promised.
*Based on data for the period of September 1 – December 31, 2022