Google’s August 2022 Core Algorithm Updates
Google has recently announced two major updates to its algorithm; the helpful content update and the product review update. These updates plan to improve the user experience for searchers and website owners, removing unhelpful content to push valuable, people-first content that will benefit the user and improve traffic to worthy sites.
As SEO experts, we understand the importance of Google’s regular updates and the impact they have on users, such as business owners who have spent time on valuable, SEO-friendly, and people-centric content for their websites.
In this article, we’re taking an in-depth look into the helpful content update and product review updates, how they work, and how they might benefit you as a user.
What Is the Helpful Content Update?
Google announced the helpful content update on the 18th of August 2022 when they Tweeted:
“We’re improving Search, so you’re less likely to find content made for search engines and more likely to find helpful, authentic information – particularly for education, entertainment, shopping and tech content.”
The tweet was followed up with an article detailing what the update does. It was designed to help original, helpful content rank higher on Search and negatively impact search-engine-driven content that is often unhelpful for the user. For example, if a user comes across a website that claims to have details of a movie’s release date, even if it hasn’t been announced, this will be negatively impacted by the helpful content update as it is unhelpful, misleading, and only exists to drive traffic to the site.
How Does the Helpful Content Update Work?
The helpful content update works automatically, meaning the system is triggered by low-value content and content deemed unhelpful for those searching.
It is important to note that site pages are not affected individually. So, if one page of a website is deemed to have unhelpful content, the entire website is less likely to perform well. This means that by removing unhelpful content from individual pages, you are helping your website perform well overall. But how do you know if your website content is helpful? And what does helpful content look like?
What Is Helpful Content?
Helpful content, or people-first content, is content that is deemed to be rewarding for searches, providing them with a satisfying experience and giving them everything they came to a website for. This is the opposite of search engine-driven content, created to bring traffic to a website and is usually unhelpful and worthless to a user.
If you’re concerned about your website being negatively affected by the helpful content update, there are several steps to ensure your website’s content has a people-first approach; let’s take a look.
- Have an existing intended audience
- Demonstrate a depth of knowledge and first-hand expertise
- Ensure the user has a satisfying experience when consuming your content and leaves happy
- Focus on your expertise, don’t produce content on a wide range of topics
- Avoid using extensive automation; human-made content is often much more valuable
- Produce content on trending topics if they are relevant to your website’s focus, not just because something is trending
- Ensure users are getting everything they need from your website, and avoid forcing them to search again to find answers to their questions
- Avoid ‘click baiting’, for example, promising to give answers to questions and then not following through in the content
If you follow these steps, your content should be reviewed as valuable, and you should see improvements to your rankings.
Will the Helpful Content Update Affect Me?
If you do not follow the above advice, you could find that your rankings may decline following the update’s rollout. Therefore, it’s imperative to remove your unhelpful content and focus on refining and improving your website until it is people-focused.
The helpful content update is weighted, which means that websites with large amounts of unhelpful content will be affected the most. People-focused content will still rank, even if it is on a page with unhelpful content, but it is best to remove the latter to avoid the risk.
Google’s Product Review Update: Everything You Need to Know
The second of Google’s announcements was the product review update. This update aims to improve rankings on thorough reviews that are much more than the standard reviews that take up a lot of space on review search results. These insightful reviews will rank higher above shorter reviews that don’t provide as much information about a product to provide users with valuable reviews straight away. Much like the helpful content update, the product review update focuses on improving user experience and providing people-focused content that is valuable and created for humans by humans.
Reviews are imperative when selling a product, as they allow users to gain trust through the advice and recommendations of other like-minded people. In addition, it has been proven repeatedly that helpful reviews directly correlate to the success of a product’s purchase rate, as people value the opinion of others, especially when purchasing a product online.
But how do you know what is considered a helpful review and what will be pushed down the rankings? Let’s take a look.
Advice for Website Owners
The new product review mark-up available to add pros and cons to your pages’ snippets in Google search, is only available for editorial product reviews, not merchant product pages. However, as a website owner with product review content on product pages, we would advise that you follow the same steps advised by Google as they make these recommendations based on data they have found helpful to a user. In time, we may find that these rich snippets are rolled out to merchant product pages, but you can also know that by doing this you are improving the user experience of your product pages.
There are several steps to take to ensure that your reviews add value to your target audience:
- Expressing expert knowledge on the product
- Provide unique content beyond what is on the product description
- Explain what sets the product apart and directly compare it to competitors
- Base the information given on research and experience using the product
- Provide the pros and cons of the product
If your reviews follow this format, they have a much better chance of ranking highly due to the product review update.
If you need assistance with your SEO marketing or help understanding how these and other Google updates will affect your website, please get in touch. We also recommend that you submit your website to our FREE SEO website audit and find out how SQ Digital could help you.