December 1, 2022

Google search just got updated: what you need to know in 2023 about the Helpful Content Update

If you thought you saw a rise or drop in your Search ranking you are not just imagining things. There is yet another change to Google’s algorithm. This time impacts the entire Google search journey, including local search rankings.

Google just released an update to its algorithm. Called the Helpful Content Update, this update started being rolled out in August 2022 and businesses have already experienced its effects. And just before the Helpful Content Update, The May 2022 Core Update rollout was confirmed on June 9, 2022 to have been completed. They do Core Updates several times per year and it often takes up to 2 weeks to rollout.

Simply put, it's designed to improve the results of Google Search and make good content more easily accessible. In this article, we'll discuss what this update means for SEO professionals and businesses.

What Has Changed?

With the Helpful Content Update, the Google algorithm is rewarding people-first content and has been devaluing content solely written for SEO purposes.

In a not-so-surprising move, Google has been iterating on implementing neural matching to its search rankings for years now. With neural matching, the meaning behind queries is considered instead of just the keywords entered. This is significant because it changes the way results will be displayed to users, and is combined with the overarching initiative to provide searchers with quality, helpful content.

When someone searches for your business, the user intent is factored in, along with how helpful the content is to people. It is no longer a matter of searching for a business name and then finding the business. Now, users can type in their query (example: website redesign services) and be matched with, for example, top web design agencies near them that have a 4.8-star review.

What This Means for Content Creators

Google Search wants to provide helpful information. They released the Helpful Content Update to focus on content written by people for people. Content should meet the expectations of the visitors to rank better. This means better ranking for quality content and more helpful product reviews written by experts.

Examples of non-Helpful content written for Google-first is those written by robots or overseas writers with high keyword density, or re-use of search terms over and over, without adding value to people, hence "people-first" content being deemed as Helpful Content.

Gone are the days of stuffing keywords or writing content for robots like the Googlebot.

What This Means For Local Search Marketing

As always, updates are always being tweaked with ongoing experiments. Therefore, rankings are not set in stone. While it is too early to tell how businesses are being impacted, the update could make local SEO easier for businesses as the focus shifts from keywords to user intent, and from content written for robots to helpful content and expert reviews, written by people for people.

If your business does not contain a keyword and helpful content that answers important user questions along the search journey, the Helpful Content Update may drop your rankings, making it much harder for both informational and local users to find it. This is particularly useful for devaluing older businesses that were named before SEO was a factor or those that valued branding more than a keyword-heavy name or content written solely for Google.

While the full impact of this update is not yet known, it is possible that practices like keyword stuffing Google My Business listings or setting up multiple keyword-heavy business names under different phone numbers will be penalized.

How Businesses and Content Creators Can Adapt

According to Google’s official word on the Helpful Content Update, businesses do not have to change anything in response to the update.

However, there are ways to take action if you are seeing a decrease in local rankings or a devalued or de-ranked page. Or if you are trying to push ahead of the competition in an ever-increasingly competitive market where it's "winner take all."

Here are a few local SEO tips you can use to work with the algorithm change:

  • Complete your Google My Business profile beyond your NAP (name, address, phone number)
  • Upload high-quality pictures and videos (include exterior and interior shots)
  • Respond to reviews
  • Update your Yelp profile
  • Consider creating or updating your Twitter as Google experiments with pulling in this content
  • Clean up your link profile (make sure only quality sites are linking back to your site)
  • Keep information accurate
  • List your products and services
  • Choose the right business categories and subcategories
  • Avoid keyword stuffing
  • Verify your location
  • Learn how to write for SEO
  • Use on-shore, English writers and editors for your content
  • Make content helpful and answer your prospective customers' questions

It is possible that efforts to properly optimize your local search will be rewarded (while blackhat techniques result in punishment) with this new update.

Although it might sound like common sense, the Helpful Content Update is not something to worry about. Stick to tried and true SEO techniques and avoid shortcuts.

You Have an Ally in SEO

At Running SEO, we stay informed on the latest changes with Google. You can rely on us to optimize accordingly whenever a new update rolls out. Get in touch for a free SEO quote over at Key Medium (our parent company).

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