Are You Ready for Google’s Latest Update? — People First Content

If you’ve been publishing content to please algorithms instead of people, your website is about to be rocked.

On the flip side, if your content prioritizes being useful for your audience, you might see your content rise to the top of search results soon.

Google has announced a new update coming out sometime in the next few weeks. They’re calling it the “helpful content update” or the “people-first content” update.

What to Know about the People First Content Update

At its core, Google wants to rank content that helps people.

Of course, there are arguments about Google wanting to display ads, make money, blah blah blah.

Sure, that’s all probably true.

But when it comes to organic search results, Google’s primary goal is to show users the article that is most relevant to their search query.

If you do a Google search for “how to peel an orange,” you don’t want to see results about peeling bananas.

So, this new algorithm update is intended to reward content created for humans to read. Not algorithms.

That doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your content for search results using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

It just means you need to consider what is helpful for your human readers before optimizing your content for Google.

>>Related 6 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Content for SEO

Wait, Haven’t We Been Here Before?

If you’re feeling deja vu Panda vibes, you’re not going crazy.

Over a decade ago, way back in 2011, Google rolled out the Panda update in an attempt to lower rankings for websites that were using black-hat SEO tactics (i.e., keyword stuffing, spammy content).

Many websites saw their rankings tank as a result. Many of these were content farms, websites with tons of content aggregated from other sites. It had all the “right” SEO signals but made zero sense to a human audience.

The Panda update came along to prioritize content that was written to be helpful, not to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search Engine Journal has a great article on the history of the Panda Algo update if you want to learn more.

For now, though, all you need to know is that the people-first content update is just another take on what Google has been trying to do for over a decade — prioritize content that is actually helpful.

What’s in This New Helpful Content Rollout

As with every significant Google algorithm change, we won’t know the full details of how it will work or what it will impact until it happens.

But, we can make some educated guesses based on what Google has told us.

1. Content that isn’t helpful isn’t going to rank

The most important thing is that unhelpful content isn’t going to rank high in SERPs with this new update.

How do you know what’s helpful?

Here’s a simple test.

If someone reads your article and walks away feeling like they have to do another search for the same topic, you haven’t succeeded in providing them with helpful content.

It is honestly that simple.

2. It’s about UX

According to Google, “The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”

So, when we consider what type of content is helpful, we need to consider what leaves users with a good experience.

What are some things that create a good user experience?

  • Adding value for users by creating quality content
  • Demonstrating your (or your website’s) expertise on a subject
  • Showing that your website has a primary purpose/audience
  • Providing actionable information users can use after engaging with your content
  • Developing content with accessibility in mind, including adding alt-text

>>Related 7 Basic Tips to Improve User Experience

3. It will consider the entire site

According to Google, “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.”

So, if you have one helpful article but the rest of your site is considered unhelpful overall, that page might still see a drop in rankings.

Of course, the opposite could happen.

Google also says that “some people-first content on sites classified as having unhelpful content could still rank well if there are other signals identifying that people-first content as helpful and relevant to a query.”

4. The focus will be on English sites

For now, the algorithm update is focusing on English searches globally. Google says they intend to expand to other languages at a later time.

5. This is just the beginning

The rollout of this specific update should be done within a few weeks. However, that won’t end Google’s mission to prioritize people-first content.

Instead, Google says that it plans to “continue refining how the classifier detects unhelpful content and launch further efforts to better reward people-first content” over the next several months.

Bottom Line: People > Algorithms

Fortunately for our clients, that’s always been our formula. It’s in our name — People First Content.

From the beginning, we have prioritized creating content that benefits those who read it. So, if you’re a PFC customer, you shouldn’t be too concerned about this update. You might see your rankings increase as a result.

Of course, we can’t predict the future, and there could be signals we haven’t anticipated that are impacting your site’s overall content performance.

In addition, content needs to be updated regularly to ensure it is still relevant to your audience. So, even high-quality content written for people can use an update to improve its ranking in search results.

Doing a content audit is the best way to figure out what is and isn’t ranking.

We have recently released this service to all new and existing clients. If you want to know how your content is ranking and what can be done to improve it, we’d love to talk!

The People First Content team can run an audit and develop a strategy to improve your website and blog content, making it even more helpful and valuable to readers.

Get in touch with us to learn more!

Originally published at on August 23, 2022.



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