by Brittany McSorley
Breaking social media marketing news! In the coming days and weeks, the only search engine anyone ever uses will be launching an update that has the potential to transform the internet landscape.
Google will soon be implementing what they’re calling a “helpful content update.” Helpful? A major corporation? Can you imagine?! (Not the time, Brittany. Not the time.) The update has to do with how SEO (search engine optimization) affects search results. Essentially, Google has noticed that a lot of the time, content that strongly emphasizes SEO is also, to put it delicately, useless trash.
You know what I’m talking about: those times when you’re like, “Hmm. I wonder when the next season of Bridgerton is coming out. They’re probably filming it as we speak, those charming British creatives! I’d simply love to know more.” So you hop over to Google and search for something like “Bridgerton season 3 release date” and click on the first or second promising link on the results page. But then you end up reading a weirdly long article that like, describes what Bridgerton is? Even though you definitely know the deal with Bridgerton because you’re trying to find out when you can watch more Bridgerton? But the article is like, insisting on reminding you who stars in Bridgerton and even what some of the major plot points of last season were? And you’re like, “Dude, I know all this! If I needed info on the cast and/or plot of Bridgerton I would have Googled ‘Bridgerton summary’ or ‘Please provide me with the street address of this handsome Bridgerton actor because wow, that jawline.’” (This is a joke; please don’t stalk people.) But you know what the article does not do? TELL YOU WHEN SEASON 3 OF BRIDGERTON COMES OUT. It ends by telling you that the release date is not yet available but to rest assured that when it does become available, they will write another rambling piece all about it! And you’re like, “UGHHH! OUR TIME ON EARTH IS A FINITE RESOURCE!”
Anyway, that’s the kind of article Google will be targeting with this new update — as they describe it, “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.” In other words, content written purely to rank high in search results will not be rewarded anymore. Google will be prioritizing content written for people, not search engines.
Google is able to do this thanks to machine learning (Ah, the robot uprising. Won’t be long now! Just kidding, technology is very helpful for the most part.) that will be able to differentiate between insulting Bridgerton nothingburgers and the legitimate content of your small business!
Some of the content that may be the most impacted by this change includes educational (such as tutorials), shopping (like the one that tricked me into buying an $11 bathing suit that was never delivered), tech (basically the Bridgerton issue but with the latest iPhone), and entertainment (BRIDGERTON!).
According to Search Engine Land, Google says this will deliver more useful and meaningful search engine results, vastly improving the user experience:
“If you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously encountered articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere on the web. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.”
We love to hear it, Googs. We love to hear it.
So, in light of this shakeup, what should we do as small business marketers? Ignore SEO altogether, forgetting we ever cared about it as we peacefully drift away across the sea? Sadly, no, but that time will come. For now, Google says we should focus on building “human-first content,” which hopefully you’ve already been doing.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t write about things just because they’re trending – your content needs to be valuable to your audience and have a primary focus.
- If you promise to answer a question in an article of blog post, be sure to actually answer it. (BRIDGERTON!)
- Don’t spread your content out across too many topics; focus on meaningful content in your areas of expertise.
- Add value of your own to a topic rather than just repeating what other sources have already said.
- Don’t use any kind of automation to produce content. Use writers, like me! I’m a wild card! AI would never lean this hard on a joke about a Netflix series that premiered several years ago!
- There’s no need to meet a specific word count with your content. Google doesn’t care about your word count. It never has! Isn’t that liberating?
- If, after learning all this, anything on your website seems like “unhelpful content,” get rid of it before this big change happens.
It’s not clear just how different search results will look on the other side of this, but we’ll keep you in the loop regarding this update.