Devan Hudson, Writer

Worried about Google’s Helpful Content Update? Here’s the TLDR.

People have credit cards.

Robots don’t. 

Robot holding credit card
Everywhere you want to be?

At least, not yet. 

That’s the mantra I’ve used to create content for over a decade now. Yes, I’ll work your keywords in where I can. Yes, I love “people also asked” for both keywords and the possibility of scoring that sweet, sweet rich snippet.

But I write for people.

Wanna watch me twitch? Tell me “nobody reads this stuff, it’s just for Google anyway.”

If nobody reads this stuff, you really have no business putting it on your website. Find something else to put on your website. Maybe, I don’t know, something people want to read.

And hey look. Google says the exact same thing. They’ve spelled it out (again) with their Helpful Content Update.

Want to be copasetic with the Google Helpful Content Update? Here’s what you need to know.

Know Your Audience

Who are they?

  • People who are scared, because they now have legal problems?
  • Fleet managers who know their business inside and out but have specific problems they need to solve?
  • Overwhelmed parents trying to stay on top of everything?

Who buys your products? What problem are you solving, and for whom? What are their common questions and concerns? 

Treat your content marketing, your blog, your learning center, whatever, as if you’re writing a magazine or a trade publication for those people. You might not be able to afford the cost of interviewing time to get cool quotes from people, but you can at least try to stay relevant and put something together that actually makes their lives better. 

It’s the business formula that professional bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers, and Podcast creators are using, and it works. 

If your product doesn’t lend itself well to this type of content, then your product might not lend itself well to actual content marketing, and you’ll need to look into using PPC or some other strategy to get customers in the door. Not all products and services are a good fit for content marketing. 

Demonstrate Experience (Get on the Phone) 

Google recommends writing content that clearly demonstrates first-hand experience and a depth of knowledge that comes from first-hand experience with the subject matter.

Well, if you’re working with a copywriter like me you may or may not get that if you leave that to the copywriter’s own research ability. Even an outstanding researcher can only fake so much. 

Instead, commit to a one hour monthly phone call with the copywriter so you can share all that knowledge and experience. You can then trust them to put it together in some sort of coherent and interesting fashion. 

Kermit the Frog on the Phone
Hi ho, here’s what customers should know about being green.

Bonus: that content will be unique, because it comes out of your own experiences. For example, I have a guy who does decks, and every other deck builder in town drives him nuts. They don’t bolt the deck to the side of the house correctly. 

His 45 minute rant on what they did vs. what was supposed to be done not only offered fantastic insight into what set him apart from all the other deck guys, but it was stuff none of those other guys were likely to be writing about, since they all did it some kind of other different way.

He’s not a writer, so writing it himself would have produced more frustration than content. I’m not a deck guy, so researching it myself would have produced more bullshit than expertise. Together, we pulled together some awesome web content.

Yes, it costs more, and yes, it takes time out of your already busy week.

It’s still an absolute must if you want the good stuff. If you don’t want the good stuff, maybe look into an alternative form of marketing (which also costs money and takes time). 

Give Your Site a Primary Purpose or Focus

This one isn’t a problem for most of the people I work with, so I won’t spend a lot of time here. 

Other than to say that if “because keyword” seems like a great reason for you to add a page to your site, reevaluate. 

Help Users Achieve Goals

When you create content, or have it created, think about:

  • Alleviating fears
  • Helping users save money
  • Helping users save time
  • Making life easier for users 
  • Helping users get more from your products or services
  • Helping users solve pressing problems 
  • Or even entertaining users and making them laugh

When I write content here, I’m usually trying to achieve the goal of “helping you make more money with your internet marketing.” 

Give Users a Satisfying Experience

Try to avoid putting barriers into a user’s path. 

Bad grammar? Barrier. Huge blocks of text? Barrier. Poor spelling? Barrier. 

Awkwardly shoe-horned exact match keywords used in ways not supported by the English language? Barrier.

Massive, obvious accessibility issues? Barrier. 

Zillions of pop up ads? Barrier.

But…But…What about keywords?

Work in some keywords. 

Go nuts. 

Emperor Palpatine saying "Do It"
It’s not the Dark Side, it’s just SEO.

I’m of the opinion that if you’re talking about something and are providing any amount of substance, you’ll usually end up working in a lot of keywords naturally, but there’s also nothing wrong with popping a keyword into your favorite keyword research tool, or looking for “also asked” and finding some natural places to work a few more of them in. In fact, you should. You still want your stuff to rank well.

Just make that step last, not step first, after you’ve sat down to think about what your readers might care about. 

Don’t forget you’ve got other places to play keyword games too, like your meta-title and meta-description, where a great deal of keyword focus is highly appropriate and worthwhile. 

Google Helpful Content Update: It’s Tuesday

Create better content. Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit said different. It was E-A-T and before that it was Penguin and there may have been a bunch more in between that I missed. 

Search Engine Journal even went so far as to call this latest update little more than a big PR campaign. This just in, Google tries to deliver more helpful results to search users.

Yet really, nothing at all has changed, other than there’s one more brick in the wall for: “really, seriously, if you’re not going to write for humans you’re wasting your time here.” 

Even if you move that needle all the way to 100 and shoot to the top of the search results by messing around with “meh” content, you’re shooting yourself in the foot because people still have to read your website. If they don’t like what they’re seeing, they might just go somewhere else. 

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