Google’s Helpful Content Update, in a nutshell
The Google search engine is the most popular internet search engine in the world, and Google improves its algorithm frequently through updates.
The primary aims of these updates are to improve users’ experiences with the search engine and ensure that they show users the most relevant results for each query.
The Google Helpful Content Update tackles content quality and enforces the “content for people, by people” principle.
This way Google strives to de-rank useless content and give more visibility to content that adds value to its reader.
How the Google Helpful Content Update affects SaaS SEO strategy
Let’s go through these important Google guidelines and address every part of this update one by one.
To make sure that content on your website don’t get hit by the Helpful Content Update, you must ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if it came directly to you?
Focus your content effort on your ICPs and customer personas. What would they learn from your articles or posts? What is the value you are adding by publishing a particular content piece?
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)?
Engage your product and executive team into content production efforts. They are first-hand experts readily available for an interview or commenting on the most recent product updates and new features.
Although it might not be so easy to establish an interview or content production participation cadence, this initiative will pay off for both your audience and your SaaS product SEO strategy in the longer run.
Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
Avoid publishing content for the sake of publishing content. Generic articles with low added value will start harming your SaaS content strategy with this update.
Think about relevancy first and collect ideas from sales and marketing team members about what they will see as relevant topics to their day-to-day work.
A good criterion of relevancy is a loud YES to the question “Would you share this article with a prospect you are talking to now?”
After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
This recommendation is actually telling you to avoid thin content. The worst signal that you can send to Google is to make people come back to search results after they went to your website and didn’t quite find the answer to their question.
A good SaaS SEO practice will be to fully answer the user question or address their intent in a way that they got enough information and they don’t need to spend any more time searching for further guidance.
In SEO words this will mean “less is more” – try to publish lengthier posts, even if they take considerably more time in production.
Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Although this recommendation can seem a bit vague, the best way to address it is to keep your content right to the point. Don’t inflate your articles or posts with lengthy intros or less relevant sections just for the sake of word count.
Save your audience some brain fuel by applying good structure to your posts (keep them skimmable), use charts and graphs to illustrate your key points, and offer a quick way to save this content for later, either by sending a quick link to it via email or via a free PDF download.
Maria, Rampiq’s Head of SEO, further comments:
When talking to my team about the content I ask them if they would still leave this content on the websites if there were no SEO and no keywords. Will this content still be helpful for the audience? Thus we put value and expertise first and then optimize it for SEO.
7 tips for recovering from the Helpful Content Update
This update is very new, but here are the steps to take if you notice your content is losing rankings and traffic:
- Be sure that the traffic drop is from the Google update: Your SaaS website can lose traffic for various reasons.
Before you begin efforts to recover traffic, you have to be sure of the reason for the traffic drop.
- Determine the pages that lost traffic: Using Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you can easily pinpoint the exact pages that lost traffic due to the update.
- To delete or update? The Helpful Content Update devalues pages merely created to rank in search engines without providing value to the reader.
If you have these kinds of pages on your SaaS website, you should either delete them or update them to provide value.
- Consider a robust content consolidation strategy: You may want to merge thin content into one bigger article and set 301 redirects from thinner pages to the new one.
- Enrich your content with media elements: add custom illustrations, infographics, and videos to the pages that started declining.
- Reconsider your content planning efforts: plan more valuable content in advance and start engaging your product team in the content creation process as soon as you can, as they are your go-to resource for adding more value to your readers.
- Observe your SERP competitors: If your website loses traffic, it means that some other website has gained traffic.
To recover from the Helpful Content Update, research your competitors that didn’t get hit and see what they do differently or what they’ve changed.
If they didn’t get hit, Google probably approves of their content. This gives you a good basis for your content updating. Perform manual SERP analysis and study movements in ranking places for keywords your pages no longer rank for.
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