What’s Next? A Guide to Google’s New Content Update

Similar to Penguin’s introduction 10 years ago, SEOs may face another shakeup. How brands utilize their website and content marketing plans will also be affected. Read on for more details on Google’s recent update.

Google has provided us with a set of questions to evaluate if our sites are geared to benefit humans or search engines. If you’ve favored search engines over humans, you may get a sitewide signal that makes ranking harder.

It’s important to note that Google is not against search engine optimization, but they believe the practice should be applied afterwards to optimize content that is created to help people, and not used as the starting point to create the content itself. 

As a result, this new change from Google will target sites that have gamed the system by providing unhelpful material that ranks well due to SEO rather than the site’s worth to users.

How will it work? 

Content will be assessed by a helpful content classifier – a machine learning algorithm will assess content for its usefulness and classify it. If the results find that a large amount of your content is unhelpful it will lead to a sitewide effect on rankings.   

The helpful content classifier will run in real-time, so it can continuously assess websites. The benefit is that new websites can’t create content for SEO purposes only and avoid detection for a period of time early on to gain traffic and revenue. It also means that sites that add more unhelpful content and reach a certain threshold will be penalized.  

People-focused content 

In its release notes Google makes it clear that the content we make needs to have a purpose that is centered around the audience. It lists a number of questions we should be asking when creating content. 

“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?”

“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)?”

“Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?”

“After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?”

“Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?”

As we can see all of the questions relate to the end user and how well the content answers their needs. Google aspires to provide users with information that completely satisfies their needs.

How to recover from helpful content penalties?

If your site was designed primarily for search engines, you will most likely experience a large drop in search traffic in the coming few months.

According to Google, impacted sites will have the opportunity to get the classification removed and try to regain their ranking. To do so websites will need to assess which information on the site may be seen as being written for search engines rather than humans and decide whether that content can be modified to Google’s satisfaction or should be deleted from the site. 


Clarify the objective or emphasis of each page on your website, and make certain that this purpose is first and foremost intended to serve people. Find ways to develop material that goes above and above in terms of being useful to searchers while upgrading existing content or establishing new articles or pages. This might contain more user-generated content, first-person photographs, or video content.

If you would like help with your digital marketing and analytics, brand messaging, advertising, and digital marketing in Charlotte, North Carolina to Seattle, Washington, and everywhere in between, get in touch with Visual Caffeine to learn how we can help you.

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