What Is Google’s Helpful Content Update? & How to Match It

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

what is google helpful content

What is Google’s helpful content update?

If you’ve been paying attention to SEO news, you may already know that the search engine recently rolled out another update that will affect how well your content ranks in its results.

This is Google’s helpful content update, which started rolling out on August 25, 2022, and took two weeks to complete.

Worried? 👀

Don’t be.

This update is all about how helpful your content is for your readers.

  • Is it created for them, your audience (and NOT search engines)?
  • Does it share your expertise?
  • Is it credible? Trustworthy?
  • Does it answer your readers’ questions in a satisfying way?

If every piece of content that goes out on your site aims for this level of usefulness – if, above all, you want to help your readers – you should be okay.


In what scenario would you or other site owners be in trouble with the rollout of this update?

What exactly, does Google’s helpful content update do?

What does Google consider to be “helpful content?”

It’s all inside today’s guide.

What Google’s Helpful Content Update Means for Site Owners

In Google’s blog post about the update, there’s a repeated phrase we need to pay attention to: people-first.

As it explains, the search engine wants to make sure searchers see “more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

people helping people

This means the update rewards people-first content while docking the performance of content that is NOT people-first.

And, people-first content = helpful content. 🤝

Additionally, the helpful content update is a sitewide signal. That means the amount of helpful content on your site directly affects your rankings – as well as the amount of unhelpful content. (For example, in its blog update, Google specifically says removing unhelpful content from across your site could help improve the rankings of your other content.)

googles helpful content update - removing unhelpful content

However, if the term “helpful content” seems a little vague to you, you’re not alone.

Let’s dive into a definition of helpful content according to Google, so you know exactly how to create it, not to mention avoid unhelpful content.

What Is Helpful Content According to Google?

1. Content Created with a Specific Audience in Mind

No matter the type of content you’re creating, you should have an audience in mind that you want to reach.

These are the people who would find your content useful and relevant to their needs, whether they stumble upon it in a Google search or regularly follow and read your blog.

2. Content That Demonstrates Experience and Knowledge (Expertise)

In other words, walk your talk. 🚶‍♀️

If you have zero practical experience in a specific industry or topic area, you have no business writing content for it.

On the other hand, if you hire a writer, make sure their writing experience matches up with your industry (or take the time to train them well).

Finding, hiring, and training a writer on your expertise, brand voice, and style doesn’t have to be hard — you just need the skills to get it done. I teach you ALL of them in my Content Transformation System. New around here? Start with my free training.

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3. Content That Lives on a Website with an Overarching Focus

Is your website a hodgepodge of topics – or do you have one overarching focus that guides what you write about and what you create?

The latter is considered part of a helpful content ecosystem.

For example, Content Hacker’s focus is embedded in our mission: “We help heart-led, authentic online experts and founders get the content marketing skills and strategy and presence they need to exponentially grow online.”

Our emphasis and topic areas include content marketing skills, strategy, and presence, and this guides what we post about on every channel.

Cohesive, relevant content matters!

4. Satisfying Content (Answers Questions, Helps Readers Learn)


A searcher heads to Google to find an answer to a problem they’re having related to your industry. Your article comes up in the results. They click and read. Once they’re done, they have answers to a lot of their questions. They’ve learned something new they can apply to their life. They feel good about it. Their search is done.

Imagine, on the other hand, that the searcher clicks your article but gets frustrated when the information they’re looking for is missing. They return to the search results to find a better article.

One of these experiences is satisfying, and the other isn’t.

Google wants that satisfying experience for all searchers, so they reward satisfying content.

5. Content That Follows Google’s Other Guidelines

Google regularly tweaks and updates its algorithm to provide better search results. To create helpful content, you need to stay on top of these updates and ensure your content adheres to changing standards and guidelines for high-quality content.

I discuss some major standards to follow for content creation in this episode of my podcast on E-A-T and YMYL:

content transformation podcast with julia mccoy episode 28 google eat and ymyl

👉 Find all of my podcast episodes right here.

What’s the Opposite of Helpful Content? (What to Avoid)

Since Google has announced it’s rewarding helpful content, that also means it will be docking unhelpful content.

This is what unhelpful content looks like:

  1. Content created for search engines first, people second – Your goals while writing/creating will deeply affect the outcome of a piece. As Google says, “…content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.”
  2. Unsatisfying content – This is content that leaves a reader with questions and makes them feel the need to keep searching to find the right information.
  3. Scattershot content with no topic focus –Bouncing from one unrelated topic to the next leaves your readers confused about your purpose and your expertise.
  4. Regurgitated content – This is content that summarizes what other people have already said about a topic without adding anything new or of value.
  5. Automatically-generated content – If your content is wholly written by bots, it’s not helpful.
  6. Content written to get search traffic or to hop on a trend – If you’re writing FOR trends or to get traffic from search, unsatisfying and unhelpful content will be a natural byproduct.

What Is Google’s Helpful Content Update? An Imperative to Get Serious About Your Content

If you haven’t been prioritizing high-quality content creation until now, it’s time to wake up.

Effective content – content that’s helpful, created for your audience, and relevant to your expertise AND your readers’ problems – is the only way to market these days.

70% of all site traffic comes from search engines like Google.

SEO blogging brings in 1,000% more traffic than social media.

If you blog on your business website, you’ll see 126% more leads than those that don’t blog.

The ROI is incredible – if you do it right.

Are you ready to commit? Are you ready to go there?

Whether you’re a solopreneur looking to learn how to use content to grow your business…

Whether you’re a marketing executive or founder ready to invest in content and build your content team…

I have a FREE 30-minute class that will teach you exactly how to do each of these things. 💯

Choose your level and get instant access today.

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