What Website Managers Need to Know About Latest Google Updates

Learn how the latest updates to Google's search algorithm can impact your content.

Google continually intends to improve the quality of the search results by making them more relevant to users’ search queries. A substantial change in Google’s methods of ranking processes is known as a ‘core update’ and it may affect a lot of websites, usually belonging to a certain niche or serving a similar purpose. Google sometimes names these updates and documents what they seek to do. The latest in the series of core updates is the Helpful Content Update that rolled out in September.

Helpful Content Update

The Helpful Content Update seeks to serve more original content written by people, for people, in search results. The increasing use of AI for content creation, and website owners’ reliance on the SEO-first approach for creating content, seems to have triggered this core update from Google.

Some key points that Google wants website owners to address:

  • Content should demonstrate first-hand expertise and in-depth knowledge
  • Writing or talking to an existing or intended audience, not producing content about different topics in hopes that something performs well on search results
  • Content on a website shouldn’t leave readers feeling that they need to search again to seek answers

One thing that also was also made clear in the documentation  was that Google doesn’t have a preferred word count on webpages as long as the content is helpful.

Google’s algorithm plans to assign a ‘classifier’ to websites that have disproportionately large content deemed as ‘unhelpful content.’ The classification will be sitewide, which means that even a small portion of unhelpful content can make it difficult for the rest of your webpages to rank in search results. For example, if you have 10 blog posts on your website and two of them are deemed unhelpful, then the other eight would have a tough time to rank.

So what can content creators do to avoid being hit negatively with this update?

In addition to the guidelines from Google, website managers should audit their content to find trails of thin, unhelpful content on their websites.

  • Archive some such content or update it to showcase your expertise and depth of knowledge
  • Minimize use of auto-generated content on your webpages, especially about generic topics
  • You don’t want visitors landing on your pages to go back and search again on Google. Time spent on your webpages could be key in your content not being classified as unhelpful
  • Bring in experts, use rich media, embed videos to ensure you are being detailed enough about a topic, and keeping viewers on your pages
  • Structure your content with headings, subheadings and use links to contextualize information. Importantly, align your page titles, meta descriptions and tags to the content on that page

Product Review Update

A couple of months ago, Google finished rolling out the Product Review Update. This update aims to reward websites with meaty, first-hand reviews of products, and demoting websites producing thin-content that simply summarize a bunch of products.

As with the Helpful Content Update, Google wants content creators to bring originality and in-depth expertise with respect to the Product Reviews. Use of rich media such as images, infographics, videos showing first-hand use of the products should certainly boost your website’s stature in Google’s eyes.

This update will affect only those websites that Google classifies as Product Review websites.

Google has been documenting its major algorithm updates since early 2020. It could be a useful resource to review from time to time.