As a publisher, it’s essential to understand what kind of content is helpful to users and what you should avoid to maintain a high-quality website, especially when it comes to Google Search. In April 2023, Google made some changes to its Helpful Content Guidance.
This blog dives into what is Google’s helpful content guidance, how it works, and the latest update from Google.
What is Google’s Helpful Content Guidance?
Google’s Helpful Content Guidance is a set of guidelines provided by Google to help website owners and creators understand what type of content is considered beneficial to users and what they should avoid to maintain a high-quality website. The guidance includes recommendations on creating informative, functional, and relevant content for users and avoiding misleading, offensive, or low-quality content.
According to Google, helpful content should be:
- Relevant: Content should provide helpful and relevant information to the user’s needs and interests
- Comprehensive: Content should provide complete and thorough coverage of the topic rather than just scratching the surface
- Clear: Content should be easy to understand and read, with clear and concise language and formatting
- Accurate: Content should be factual and based on reliable sources
- Trustworthy: Content should be reliable and written by experts or authorities
- Engaging: Content should be engaging and exciting to the user, with images, videos, or other multimedia to help illustrate the point
In addition, Google also recommends that websites avoid content that is considered harmful or deceptive, such as false or misleading information, malicious software, or inappropriate content. Following these guidelines can help website owners create high-quality content that is useful and valuable to users and improve their website’s visibility in Google Search results.
How does Google’s Helpful Content Update work?
Google’s Helpful Content Guidance is a set of guidelines for Google Search’s Helpful Content System, which generates a signal used by their automated ranking systems to ensure people see original, valuable content written by people, for people, in search results.
According to Google, the Helpful Content System works by “generating a site-wide signal that we consider among many other signals for use in Google Search (which includes Discover). The system automatically identifies content that seems to have little value, low-added value, or is otherwise not particularly helpful to people.”
“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, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content.”
In April 2023, Google changed its Helpful Content Guidance related to the Pages Experience. The update aims to improve website user experience by considering factors such as page load speed, mobile-friendliness, and security.
The changes to the Helpful Content Guidance include a new emphasis on the importance of these factors in creating high-quality content that is helpful to users. Specifically, Google has updated its guidance to include the following:
- Page Experience: Google has announced that Page Experience signals will play a more significant role in the search ranking algorithm, so website owners and creators should ensure that their pages provide a good page experience.
- Best Practices:To improve page experience, website owners and creators can use various tools and techniques, such as optimizing for site speed, making their website mobile-friendly, ensuring website security, minimizing visual instability, and improving website interactivity. By following best practices for page experience, website owners and creators can provide a better user experience, ultimately leading to better website traffic and engagement.
- Search Console Reports: According to Google’s update, “In the coming months, the Page Experience report within Search Console will transform into a new page that links to our general guidance about page experience, along with a dashboard-view of the individual Core Web Vitals and HTTPS reports that will remain in Search Console.”
- Mobile Usability Changes: As of December 1, 2023, Google will also be retiring Search Console’s “Mobile Usability” report, the Mobile-Friendly Test tool, and Mobile-Friendly Test API to promote using other resources like Lighthouse. Mobile usability is still essential for success with Google Search.
- FAQ Highlights:
- Google has removed the following from their documented search ranking systems: page experience, mobile-friendly, page speed (including CWV), and SSL. Publishers should pay attention to these standards because they impact traffic and UX
- Core Web Vitals remain essential for search success and excellent user experience
- Good page experience is not an eligibility requirement to appear in the “Top Stories” carousel on mobile
- Page experience is generally evaluated on a page-specific basis, although some site-wide assessments do exist
- The helpful content system primarily focuses on content-related signals, but page experience factors contribute somewhat
Overall, the Helpful Content Guidance changes reflect Google’s ongoing commitment to providing users with high-quality content and a positive user experience. By following these guidelines, website owners can improve their website’s ranking and visibility in Google Search results and ultimately attract more traffic and engagement from users.
If you have any questions about this update or how to improve your content, contact our Audience Development team to learn more.