Google’s Helpful Content Update: All You Need to Know
  • 6-minute read
  • 14th July 2023

Google’s Helpful Content Update: All You Need to Know

Users know quality content when they see it – and search engines are capitalizing on that knowledge. Google’s new algorithm update, called the helpful content update, aims to improve search results and provide users with more useful, relevant content. In this post, we’ll take you through the main takeaways of this major update and how it could impact where your website lands on search engine results pages. We’ll discuss the following Google search essentials:

  1. What is the helpful content update?
  2. What are Google’s content quality guidelines?
  3. How can you optimize your SEO practices and apply the helpful content guidelines?
  4. How you can create people-first content.
  5. Why proofreading and editing your content matters.

What Is the Helpful Content Update?

The goal of search engines is to connect users with content that meets their search intent, and one way to determine a website’s relevance is its keyword usage. However, too much emphasis on keywords and phrases resulted in “keyword stuffing” in an attempt to manipulate the algorithm and appear higher on SERPs. While this was a relatively effective SEO strategy in the early days of search engines, websites are now penalized for obvious keyword stuffing and content is judged on other factors besides keywords and phrases.

The helpful content update does not invalidate SEO strategies such as E-A-T; instead, it aims to shift the focus of content from search engines to people. Content should be focused on satisfying user queries, not ranking first on results pages. This means that “people-first content” will be more successful and, ultimately, result in higher-quality matches for users. Google will prioritize content that:

  • Is well-written and error-free
  • Is easy to follow and is organized using relevant headings and subheadings
  • Provides a unique perspective
  • Is trustworthy
  • Adds value to the larger conversation
  • Is informative and authoritative

Google’s helpful content update applies to all forms of content that display in search results, and search results are classified using automated, machine-learning technology. Be sure to review all your website’s current content – the new search algorithm will rank a website with any “unhelpful” content lower, regardless of the quality of the rest of the site. This means that removing or revising poorly performing content and emphasizing quality content that meets the new search guidelines could lead to an overall better performance on Google results pages.

How Can You Optimize Your SEO Practices and Apply the Helpful Content Guidelines?

What does the helpful content update mean for your website and SEO practices? Overall, your objectives should be first-rate content and people-first marketing – putting the needs of your target audience first. High-quality content organically results in both improved SEO and increased word-of-mouth recommendations. An effective strategy is to create quality content that readers want to discuss and share with others to generate interest in your website or products. But how do you create quality content? To meet Google’s content quality guidelines, focus on:

  • Incorporating keywords naturally and ensuring they fit with the surrounding text
  • Frequently revising website and blog content with fresh, relevant information
  • Ensuring content is accurate and up to date
  • Organizing your content into easily digestible, mobile-friendly chunks
  • Providing an expert or specialist perspective
  • Delivering a positive user experience
  • Researching frequent search queries to understand what users want to see from your content


  • Confusing, awkwardly written content
  • Large blocks of text
  • Excessive keyword usage
  • Off-topic or extraneous content
  • Misspellings and incorrect grammar/punctuation
  • Spammy and insincere language
  • Clickbait titles and headings

And remember that longer content doesn’t always equal better content. Don’t make your readers scroll through irrelevant fluff to get to the meat of the article. If your content is comprehensive and matches users’ queries, it’s more likely to show up in searches, regardless of its length.

How You Can Create People-First Content

Of course, people create the best people-first content. While AI-generated content can be useful for your business, use real, human writers whenever possible to create unique content for your website. AI content can be effective at conveying basic information, but it lacks personality and can misrepresent facts. The best strategy is to get the best from both. Use tools like ChatGPT to generate your frameworks and drafts, then have a writer or editor give them a human touch. Google’s new search algorithm prioritizes content written from a first-person account or which offers practical knowledge or advice.

Evaluate your content frequently for relevance and update it to include the most recent facts, statistics, and other data. Try not to just paraphrase existing information found on competitor sites – the more original and valuable your content, the higher it will rank, which drives website traffic and sales.

Google’s helpful content update also considers the accuracy of information provided when determining ranking. Factually accurate, reliable content is more likely to appear first on a Google search. Misinformation and misleading statistics will be penalized and appear lower. While internal and external linking can boost SEO, make sure that you’re linking to credible sources and the anchor text makes sense in context. And thoroughly verify the accuracy of all AI-generated content, as it doesn’t always provide factually accurate responses.

Why Proofreading and Editing Your Content Matters

According to the new content guidelines, well-written content takes priority over sloppy, poorly constructed content. This means that you should incorporate proofreading and editing into your content production process if you want your website to rank higher on SERPs.

Edit your content after it’s completely written but before proofreading. When editing, check for overarching issues, such as awkward phrasing, repetition, and disorganization/structural issues. The editing stage is also where you verify factual claims and ensure your chosen dialect is consistently applied. This is especially important if you use AI tools for content production. AI content won’t match your business’s tone or voice and will need to be edited to meet your content goals, such as persuading readers to take a specific action or click on a specific area of your website.

Proofreading is the final step before publication. When proofreading, check your content for surface issues such as grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, typos, and inconsistencies. Users are more likely to trust businesses with content that reads well and is free of distracting errors, so don’t skip the proofreading stage in favor of a faster release date. Refer to your business’s style guide to ensure proper usage of things like acronyms, jargon, spellings, and titles.

If your content team is small or maxed out on tasks, outsourcing proofreading and editing can help you reap the benefits of these services without diverting your team’s resources.

In Summary

To summarize, the helpful content update means that Google’s search engine now prioritizes user-friendly, relevant content, so yours needs to be first-rate and stand out among the competition. Proofed for Business can help polish your business’s content, boost your SEO, and drive traffic to your site. Schedule a call with our team to find out more today.

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