Google said it is rolling out a new algorithm known as “helpful content update” next week. This new update, likely an improvement to its Panda and Penguin algorithms, will impact how sites are ranked in search engine result pages (SERP). It will push sites with more helpful content to the top of search result pages and punish those with content designed to attract clicks to the back burner.
Google’s Danny Sullivan said the search update became necessary to discourage clickbait and content written for search engines alone – rather than for real human users. He said it is unhelpful to visit a site and find rehashed content that doesn’t live up to expectations; he noted that henceforth, only helpful content with helpful insights will rise to the top of search results, while those with the inferior worth will be relegated to the background.
“We know people don’t find the content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers,” Sullivan said. “Many of us have experienced the frustration of visiting a webpage that seems like it has what we’re looking for, but doesn’t live up to our expectations. The content might not have the insights you want, or it may not even seem like it was created for, or even by, a person.”
The helpful content update will weed out SEO spam and reward content created primarily to inform human readers. Sullivan said it is not sensible to write for search engines and not write for people – and that search results will now be human-focused and not SEO-focused. He revealed that websites covering online education, arts, entertainment, shopping, and technology have been found to perform well when tested in the new algorithm update.
Google stated that people searching for specific content will now be able to “see more results with unique, authentic information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before”. Most websites will be impacted by this update, meaning that some websites will lose and others will benefit in the long run. The algorithm update will not only affect a few pages with unhelpful content, but it will also affect the ranking potential of the entire website.
To this end, updating a particular page through on-page SEO will not be helpful, since an entire website will be downgraded if unhelpful content is found on one or more pages. Google said improving the content value on the entire site will be helpful – but ranking improvements will only be noticeable after a few months. The content value will not be upgraded today and ranking improved tomorrow, it will take months, and it might be more meaningful to remove inferior content than to update it – since “removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”