Helpful Content – Every Sole Trader and Small Business that has a website should be aware of the new Google helpful content update that is being rolled out across all websites NOW.
Ever since Google was first created they have stayed by far the market leader in search engines by making sure that when a user types something into the search bar the results they get back are relevant to what they’re looking for. This has meant that from the start if somebody is writing content or producing helpful content on their website that is very useful to the person that’s searching, that website is more likely to be shown higher up in Google rankings (and more often). There are also many items of what’s called technical SEO (SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation) which people wrongly believe can be a ‘quick fix’ to bump yourself up the rankings without having to do too much writing or producing content. While adjusting technical SEO certainly does help, Google looks at over 200 different metrics for every single web page (that it knows about) on the internet. Each one of those will just give you a small bump up the rankings, so you there useful to keep on top of. But they are not the most important thing that you should be looking after if you want your website to bring you more business. As I have been saying for many years, the #1 thing (that I would say is probably over 80% of what matters when it comes to organic, not ADs, SEO is your content (words, images, videos etc). Especially what you write and whether it is actually genuinely useful to the reader
What’s Happening Now With Google?
Google’s new ‘Helpful Content’ update concentrates on this fact more than ever before. They are now actively looking at people’s websites for content that is not useful (within the context of the website). That content will likely drop in rankings. On the plus side, people who have been writing and creating genuinely useful content for their readers will likely see an increase in their rankings. So Google is saying that they going to focus now on people first and not on anything that appears to have been written specifically for search engines. They want to ensure that your users have a satisfying experience from visiting your website. With that in mind and, taking information directly from Google’s own blog on this update, here is the advice for what you need to look at on your website in order to help rank higher.
- Have a clear idea of who it is aimed at. You may have heard people talk about ‘ideal client’ or ‘customer avatar’ or similar. This is vital more than ever before for anybody who is using the internet to sell their products and services. Whether that is on their own website, on directories or on social media (such as Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter etc). If we take what’s happened in the past into account we can safely assume that whilst Google leads the way everybody else follows and so this advice is going to be important across any of your digital marketing efforts. Do you have a target audience that should they come across your website they will find the information on it useful?
- Does the information come directly from you, and you’re not just simply rehashing or quoting other people’s advice and writing?
- When somebody reads your website have you put in efforts to make it obvious that you are an expert or adequately knowledgeable in your field of expertise? Do you know what you’re talking about? Do you have experience and/or qualifications listed that will help a user decide if you are a trustworthy source of information?
- Does your website have a primary purpose? Is it clear from the beginning what you do, how you do it and why it’s beneficial? Will somebody who comes across your website easily be able to tell what it is that you are offering and why?
- If somebody is looking at your website and they have a specific goal in mind will your website leave them feeling satisfied that they have the information and the knowledge they need in order to be able to achieve that goal whether it’s buying a product, solving a problem or seeking a service?
- In the same vein, will somebody who reads helpful content on your website end up feeling like their experience was satisfying?
- Do you know where to find information on Google’s best practices and do you keep yourself up to date with that information?
- If you sell products (or productised services) are you encouraging your users to write reviews and all those reviews following googles guidelines and best practices?
Things you should avoid doing
- Avoid writing contact primarily to attract search engines rather than being made for humans.
- Avoid producing lots of different types of content just in the hopes that some of it might attract attention from search engines.
- Avoid using extensive automation and AI to write a majority of your content on many different topics.
- Avoid using summarisation of what other people write about other people’s opinions and by doing so you are able to add a large amount of extra value to the conversation or discussion.
- Avoid writing about things just because it seems too on-trend at the moment.
- Avoid clickbait.
- Avoid writing things that are incomplete or might leave users looking for more information that they have to find elsewhere on a website that is better sourced
- Avoid writing in areas for which you do not have the expertise or a niche topic you don’t know much about because you think it will get you more search engine traffic.
- Ensure if your content is intended to answer a question that the question is answered succinctly and truthfully and that you’re not trying to answer questions that cannot be yet answered for example the release date of the movie when the movie is still in production.
Your Content in Context:
Another note of importance here is that Google will take into consideration a small amount of unhelpful content where it’s surrounded by mostly helpful content and vice versa so if you have just a little bit, it will look at your website in the context. However, if that content is better described elsewhere on the internet it will put that in priority over yours (and always has done). If you do have information on your website that’s not relevant to your target audience or niche, following these guidelines, it’s best practice to remove it or rewrite it in a more helpful way.
When will Google notice the changes I make?
The amount of time it takes for changes on your website to be picked up by Google and positive changes to show usually takes a few months. You can possibly help boost this time after making your changes by submitting your new site index to Google. This lets them know you want them to look at your site, but it’s not a guarantee of faster service. If you don’t know how to do this or you can’t do this for any reason (and you don’t know someone who can, like me) then the next best thing is to go through your website and make sure that your content has links to other useful content in other places on your website. This can be:
- Suggestions of other articles of yours people might like to read.
- Clear navigation menus.
- Hyperlinks within your text.
- Explanations or glossary of technical terms.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Calls to Action
What if you don’t have time and are worried?
This can seem like a daunting task especially if you are a sole trader and don’t have a lot of time to spend on marketing and SEO. However, Google will continue to re-look at your website as time passes so even making small changes now and continuing to update it regularly will make a big change in the long run. Your business website should change regularly anyway. It will fluctuate and change according to your business. As you grow and evolve your business practices, so will your website grow with it. A website should never be a static thing that is ‘done and then you leave it’. It is not like a business card that you design only once. If you would like some more help please feel free to drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org