Can’t cheat anymore

Marketers have been finding newer ways to beat Google. Every time Google comes up with an update, the marketers and especially the SEO specialists have been quick to catch up and find a work around.

I remember one of the first things my first boss told me. “If there is a law, there is always a sister-in-law” so if you can’t lick the law, find the sister-in-law, the work around to a problem.

The SEO specialists and content creators have been finding this work around and writing content that will satisfy the bots and search engines enough to rank them higher. In most cases, this content is meaningless and does not have enough depth in it.

As a user / searcher you feel cheated because you were looking for a solution to a problem or finding an answer to a question and had to leave unsatiated.

Not anymore. Says Google.

Over the next 2 weeks, Google is expected to roll out what is called a “Useful Content Update”.

The useful content is being defined as a content that is

  • 1. Original
  • 2. Has insights on the search query
  • 3. Created for ‘real consumers’ and not for search engines
  • 4. Importantly created by people

In essence Google is saying, the search engine should be For the people and By the People. 2 of the 3 pillars of democracy.

Google is not giving marketers a lot of time to reorganize themselves and their content. At best, marketers have less than a week to do this. And it is expected that, this update will be bigger than the Panda update and will have widespread ramification for search ranks.

What will ‘Helpful Content Update’ do?

Google will demote content that has low usefulness and lacks insight from ranking high. This means that content which are of low value or unhelpful to users.

To quote Google

“We know people don’t find content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers. So, starting next week for English users globally, we’re rolling out a series of improvements to Search to make it easier for people to find helpful content made by, and for, people.”

Google also advises that, if your website has content specifically written to attract clicks, it should be removed. If your website gets affected and loses rank on Google search, it might stay that way for a long time. Recovering from this might take a long time.

Lastly, here are some final notes about the helpful content update:

The update is not a manual one. The process is automated and uses a machine-learning model.

People-first content can still rank even if it’s published on sites with large amounts of unhelpful content.

The signal is weighted, meaning some sites get hit harder than others.

Only English searches will be impacted, to begin with.