If you’re a small business owner, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on all the latest Google updates—after all, Google is the most popular search engine in the world.
That’s why we’re here to tell you about Google’s recent Helpful Content Update and how it can help your business.
This latest update, being implemented as I type, is designed to connect people with helpful information better.
After all, that’s the primary goal of any search engine; matching up searches with the most helpful answers. If you can focus your content creation on providing the most helpful answer to a query, you are more likely to win the search engine game.
The Helpful Content Update is part of Google’s broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.
But what do you need to know about this Helpful Content Update? Read on!
1 – Know your target audience
What topics and subjects do you want your target audience to know you for?
Google says: “Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?”
When we work with small businesses to transform their content marketing results, we often discuss the importance of knowing a target audience.
Until you know to whom you are speaking with your marketing messages, it’s virtually impossible to craft relevant, valuable content.
In this Helpful Content Update, Google appears to be confirming the importance of serving a target audience.
Don’t stray too far from that target audience when creating your content.
There’s no harm in deviating (occasionally) with content that is different but still relevant, but most of what you add to your site and socials should remain in your niche.
Where Google sees your site chasing other topics, perhaps because they are trending or have high search volume, it might start to think you are writing for search engines rather than humans. That won’t end well.
2 – Be the expert
The most helpful content will likely come from those with genuine expertise and experience in that niche.
Google says: “Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?”
Content is more helpful where the author or creator has this first-hand expertise.
If they are writing reviews to simply link to an affiliate site and earn a commission, for example, that lessens the helpfulness of said content dramatically.
Make sure you demonstrate your authority when creating content.
If you are the world’s leading expert on a particular widget, make that clear in or with your content.
Do you have a bio box under each blog post that lists your credentials?
3 – Provide comprehensive answers to the questions
Google asks: “After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?”
In other words, how complete is your answer to a particular question?
There’s a temptation when creating content to tease your target audience or provide only part of the answer, hoping they will come to you for a paid service to learn the rest. Don’t do that.
It’s an irrational fear among small business owners that we are devaluing our services or reducing demand for what we do by giving away the answers.
In my experience, giving away your knowledge for free will have the opposite result.
Our customers lack the time, inclination or knowledge to do it themselves. They aren’t an ideal fit for our business if they don’t.
Giving away lots of knowledge for free demonstrates your expertise and (most importantly) helpfulness.
Given a choice, would you use the small business that told you what you needed to know or the one that acted a little cagey about the answers to your burning questions?
4 – Write for the reader
There’s a temptation in content creation to write for the search engine first and human second.
Because we know how important it is to rank highly in a Google search, we think more about our keywords, tags and optimisation than we do about the overall reader experience.
Google asks: “Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?”
We might think about customer experience when they visit our store or use our service in person, but how often do we consider it when browsing our website?
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and consider how satisfied you might feel if you read what you have to offer.
5 – Keep it factual
One of the most frustrating search results on stumble across is the no-answer result.
For example, when you want to find out the UK release date for the new season of your favourite TV series, and you find an article that promises that critical answer – and then, nothing.
In its Helpful Content Update, Google is warning content creators about making claims that aren’t factual or providing unconfirmed information.
With fake news now endemic, it’s great to hear Google is placing more weight on search results that offer facts instead of fiction.
6 – Keep up with Google updates
Google asks: “Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?”
Search engine optimisation is a moving feast.
You can work hard to understand the SEO landscape and perfectly comply with best practices on your website, only for the world to change overnight.
Keep a watch on core updates and guidance from Google, including further changes to this Helpful Content Update.
What works well today might not continue performing tomorrow.
Some final thoughts
If you’re a small business owner, you must stay up-to-date on all the latest Google updates, including the recent Helpful Content Update.
This update provides two main benefits for small businesses: more opportunities for your content to be seen and a new way for users to interact with your content.
So take advantage of these changes so your business can benefit!