SEO / What Google’s helpful content update means for ecommerce marketing

What Google’s helpful content update means for ecommerce marketing

Andy Thorne
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Google periodically rolls out updates to meet the ever-evolving needs and demands of its users, most recently, the Helpful Content Update.

We’ve reflected on the update, and what it means to digital marketers and content creators, and compiled our findings so you are empowered to create content that adheres to Google’s new guidelines.

What is the Helpful Content Update and what does it mean?

Google Analytics 4 Dashboard

Google’s Helpful Content Update has marketers checking their Google Analytics dashboards even more frequently!

Google’s Helpful Content Update is potentially the biggest update to the algorithm since 2011 when the Panda update was rolled out.

Like the Panda update, this update aims to face the unethical issue of black hat SEO, by targeting bad content.

More specifically, the Helpful Content Update wants to establish whether content is actually relevant and helpful to the user, or has been written simply to perform well in the search results.

Any content that doesn’t meet Google’s expectations will send a negative signal to the algorithm that will in turn affect your rankings.

AI-generated content will be considered spam according to Google’s machine learning algorithm.

It’s important to note that this happens automatically; you won’t hear anything from Google Search Console so you’ll need to keep an eye on the rankings yourself. Whilst there are no ‘penalties’ you may notice your site loses organic visibility.

What does this mean for content creators and digital marketers?

Checklist of how the helpful content update affects content creators and digital marketers.
Key things the Helpful Content update means for content creators and digital marketers.

The update will affect every piece of content on a website, so for content creators, this is hugely important.

Content transparency

Avoid clickbait-y titles and content at all costs. Don’t write an article claiming you know the launch date of the biggest film of the year when it hasn’t been announced by the production company yet, as you’ll lure users onto your site, only to disappoint them with a piece full of stuffed keywords.

Stick to your area of expertise

Don’t try and get ahead of yourself by producing content you have little knowledge of. You won’t bring value to your users and you may end up confusing them if the content has no relevance to your industry.

Focus on great UX

Your number 1 priority should be to give your users a positive and memorable experience on your site so they return in the future.

Great ecommerce UX plays a vital role in your website’s success, and a key way to achieve this is through providing helpful content for your users.

Answer your users questions quickly, give them useful advice and place focus on creating high quality content rather than meeting a word count.

How will the update affect AI writing?

Speculations in the SEO community thought that Google was against AI on the whole, but the Helpful Content Update has shown instead that it’s against poor quality content.

Helpful content written by AI or a real person is always better than unhelpful, clickbait-y content.

As long as you don’t replace human writing completely in favour of AI, then you shouldn’t be affected. AI can still be a great tool to support creative writing, rather than replacing the human writer altogether.

What next?

Whilst the Helpful Content Update has sent marketers into a frenzy over what to do next, focus your time and energy on improving existing content on your site, as this will still be picked up by Google’s algorithm.

Our top tips for making sure your content stands up to the algorithm include:

  • Write content that aims to attract people
  • Make sure your content is written by a human, not AI
  • Space keywords out naturally throughout the content and optimise heading and title tags

Find out more about Google’s updates

The Helpful Content Update isn’t the only change happening to Google. GA4 is currently being rolled out and the sunset date for Universal Analytics is set for October 1st, 2023.

Google recommends switching from UA to GA4 as soon as possible to ensure you have the maximum amount of historical data available once the systems switch.

You can find out more about the transition from UA to GA4.