Google's Helpful Content Update: Should You Be Worried?

Google's Helpful Content Update: Should You Be Worried?

 On August 25th, 2022, Google officially launched its SEO update: The Helpful Content Update.

As you might have guessed, some SEOs have gone madly worried about the update, because it kind of reminds them of the old Penguin update and, well, the "collateral damage" it caused.

Should you be worried about this update? Will it affect your rankings?

Let's find out!

google's helpful content update

Google's Helpful Content Update Overview

On Thursday, August 18, 2022, Google announced an SEO update called "helpful content update".

The update starts with a very interesting statement: ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.

We can understand that this update is targeting three matters:

  1. Helpful content
  2. Human-generated content 
  3. Human-focused content
Let's understand what each of these terms means:

1. Helpful Content

What is helpful content? (for Google).

Helpful content includes anything that answers a question, solves a problem, or directs someone to a solution.

Does long content mean it's helpful? 

Absolutely not.

Many believe that writing a 7000-word article, filling it with images and low KD keywords is guaranteed SEO success.

But that's just wrong!

In the past, this might have worked, but today's search engines are much more intelligent.

You can publish the longest piece of content, with 1 or 2 keyword difficulty, and rank on the first page easily. But if the content of that very long article is NOT HELPFUL, you won't stay on that page past the weekend.

How does Google decide if your content is helpful?

There are mainly two metrics that decide whether your new blog is generated to help your audience, or just to rank on a search engine:

  • CTR: the number of clicks received by your website/page divided by the number of impressions. A high CTR indicates that people find your content to be useful and relevant.

But people clicking your URL isn't the strongest evidence that the page helped them and answered their questions.

It happens all the time: you click an attractive headline accompanied by a curious meta description, only to find it doesn't relate to your search?

Happens to me all the time!

What do you do when that happens? 

You simply leave that page (and probably curse the publisher).

Since Google can't hear your thoughts, the only thing it can measure is that you left that website. 
  • Bounce rate is another metric to consider: the number of visitors who leave a page without taking any action, such as clicking a link or making a purchase. 

According to Google:
If the success of your site depends on users viewing more than one page, then, yes, a high bounce rate is bad. 

Takeaway: Google is targeting content that is misleading, low-quality, or irrelevant.

2. Human-Generated Content

 It's 2022.

The chances of a content writer, marketer, or business owner seeing an ad about an AI writing tool are almost 100%.

There is this Jasper video ad that keeps popping up everywhere I go, even though I skip it every time!

AI generates content by finding and reading the content of the most popular item on the internet. 

It compares those articles to see which are popular and which are not, evaluates whether or not they are relevant, then creates its own article that is similar to the "popular" ones but distinct enough not to be recognized as plagiarism.

In one of our reviews, we spoke about the AI features offered by some SEO tools like H-Supertools.

The main reason people are using AI is a not-so-bad quality and efficient time factor.

There are websites that publish more than 30 articles per month with AI content. These websites rank on the first page of almost any search engine.

I'm not saying that all of this content is "rubbish", but most of it is. Unless, of course, it's polished after the first AI draft is generated. 

The problem is that writers started abusing AI, and literally posting content that they haven't even READ!

This content is so bad that it makes me want to block some websites (for real).

Although Google hasn't stated how its algorithm will be able to spot such content, according to the update, they might have developed a tool to do so.

Takeaway: Google is targeting AI-generated content.

3. Human-Focused Content

Old or new, everyone in the SEO industry understands the importance of writing targeted content.

Write for your audience first, they are the ones who will read, not search engines.

They're the ones who will pay to get your product/service, not search engines.

Pro Tip: Write for people, then optimize for search engines.

How do you know if your content is people-first content?
According to Google:

People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.

In the update, they listed 6 questions you can ask yourself to see how human-focused your content is. If the answer is yes for most of them, then you have nothing to worry about.

  1. Is there an audience for your business or website that would benefit from the information if it was sent directly to them?
  2. Is your content clear in demonstrating first-hand expertise and depth of understanding 
  3. Is there a primary goal or focus for your website?
  4. Will a reader feel they have learned enough about a topic after reading your content?
  5. Will someone who reads your article feel satisfied with their experience?
  6. Are you following Google's recommendations for core updates and product reviews?
Takeaway: Google is targeting content generated primarily for search engines.

Should You Be Worried About This Update?

The update doesn't affect websites written in languages other than English (but it might in the future).

According to Google:
Any content — not just unhelpful content — on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search

In other words, if you do not check the three boxes above, your rankings will suffer.

Even though most genuine SEO content writers have 0 worries about this update since they already write and publish helpful content, some have been worried that the update will leave collateral damage, and cause losses to websites even if the boxes are checked.

This has happened before, and it is still happening with SEO penalties, so why shouldn't we expect it to occur? 

Takeaway: Hoping no "innocent" is accused, this update will not likely affect you.


If you doubt your content may be affected by this update, brew your coffee or tea, and start working already.
  • Optimize any AI-generated content you've published without rewriting.
  • Optimize the keywords so that your page is relevant to search queries.
  • Make sure what you post is helpful to your target audience. If you feel like some titles you've written are misleading, update them, or the content.
  • And finally, stay up-to-date.

Yasmine Jedidi

If I'm not writing, I'm drinking tea! Apart from being an introverted tea lover, I am also an SEO content writer✍️, a freelancer, and a BBA student. It is my humble intention to use this blog to share my knowledge and experience in the field of marketing and SEO. Ever since I started The Marketing Recipe, it has turned into my secret addiction. Without skipping a beat, I continually think of ways to enhance your knowledge and benefit you. Your feedback on our content is greatly appreciated, so don't be shy, drop a comment and I'll make sure to answer you.

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