What Is Google’s Helpful Content Update and How to Adjust Your Content Strategy Going Forward?


  • Google’s Helpful Content Update prioritizes unique, user-focused content over quantity.
  • Penalizes sites with low-quality, unhelpful information to improve search relevance.
  • Encourages content that provides real value and satisfies user queries.
  • Adjust your strategy by focusing on creating original, engaging, and informative material.
  • Review and optimize existing content to align with a people-first approach, enhancing user experience.

Google’s Helpful Content Update is your signal to refocus your digital strategy on creating content that truly benefits your audience.

Launched in August 2022 and updated in September 2023 and March 2024, this update prioritizes unique, information-rich content. To align with these changes, you or your content editor should make sure to be putting a people-first approach when creating content.

Make sure your pages offer real value, cutting the fluff to favor quality over quantity. Review your existing content for usefulness, leaning into the areas where you can build authority and trust (E-A-T).

And remember, optimizing for user satisfaction isn’t just about pleasing algorithms; it’s about connecting with your audience in meaningful ways. Stick with this strategy, and you’re poised to unearth a wealth of insights that can enhance your content game.

So, in this article, you are going to learn basically two things:

  1. What Is Google’s Helpful Content Update
  2. How to Adjust Your Content Strategy Going Forward

Use the table of contents below to quickly navigate this article.

What is the Google Helpful Content Update?

Google’s Helpful Content Update, first introduced in August 2022, is a noteworthy modification to its algorithm that you should be mindful of.

It’s intended to incentivize websites that provide unique, information-rich content and penalize those filled with unnecessary information.

Let’s go through the updates, including the ones in September 2023 and March 2024, to get a better understanding on what each update entails.

August 2022: The Initial Launch

In August 2022, the digital landscape saw a significant shift with the launch of the Helpful Content Update, aimed at elevating the standard for search result relevance by prioritizing original, user-focused content.

This pivotal change targeted websites adopting low-quality, unsatisfying content, pushing them down the search ranks.

As Webology’s CEO Blake Akers said: “Google’s helpful content update has rolled out like a red carpet, inviting content creators to the SEO Oscars—where the prize is better visibility and user satisfaction”.

To stay ahead, you’ll need to pivot your content strategy towards creating material that’s genuinely useful and engaging for your audience.

Think about what questions they’ve and how you can address them in a unique, insightful way.

Websites that welcomed this approach saw their rankings and traffic improve, proving that quality truly trumps quantity.

It’s a clear message: prioritize your audience’s needs, and the algorithms will favor you.

September 2023 Update: A Content Makeover

In September 2023, a significant update was implemented that had a notable impact on third-party content and machine-generated content. 

One key change involved third-party content – a.ka “Guest Posts”.

In the past, some websites included articles or videos from other sources (think guest posts or listicles) on their main domain or subdomain (like a subfolder on your website).

The idea was that the popularity of the main site would boost the ranking of the third-party content in search results.

However, Google’s update made it clear that this might not be the best strategy anymore – although, personally, I’m not so sure about that.

Here’s why: If the third-party content doesn’t directly relate to your website’s main topic or you have no control over its quality, it could actually hurt your ranking.

Think of it like having a friend bring a bunch of random books to your history project presentation. It might clutter things up and make it harder for the teacher to see your actual work.

So, what should you do?

Google advises blocking third-party content from search engines if it’s not relevant to your website’s purpose or you don’t have editorial oversight on it.

This basically tells search engines to ignore that content when ranking your website.

The September update also took a closer look at machine-generated content (AI content).

While AI has become quite sophisticated and numerous AI writing tools becoming better and better everyday (hey, wherever there is action, there’s a reaction – right?), Google wants to ensure the content you see is genuinely created by humans with expertise.

The update doesn’t necessarily penalize AI content entirely, but it emphasizes the importance of human review and editing.

BOTTOM LINE: Google wants to see content created by people who are passionate about a topic and can provide valuable information to readers. So, ditch the robotic writing and focus on crafting content that’s informative, engaging, and truly helpful to your audience.

March 2024: Google Search Gets a Major Upgrade

Remember the Helpful Content Update from last year? Well, in March 2024 (this month), Google took things a step further.

They basically rolled the Helpful Content Update into their main search engine ranking system, kind of like merging two important tests into one final exam.

Here’s what that means for you:

Before March, Google had separate systems for evaluating content. One system focused on the Helpful Content Update principles, while another considered other factors like website popularity and technical aspects.

Now, the Helpful Content Update ideas are baked right into the core ranking system.

What does this mean for your content strategy?

In short, it means that creating high-quality, informative content that people find genuinely useful is more important than ever.

Google wants to see content written by experts who are passionate about their field, not just articles crammed with keywords to trick search engines.

TIP: Imagine you’re explaining something to a friend of yours. You want to give him the full details of your experience or show-off how well you know the topic. That’s how you should write eac topic. You are not trying to make an impression to a robot (Search Engines).

This update also means there’s less room for websites that relied on tricks to game the system. Remember those websites filled with generic articles on every topic under the sun?

Google’s getting smarter at weeding those out and promoting content that actually adds value for searchers.

BOTTOM LINE: Treat your content like a valuable resource, not just a way to climb the search rankings. Focus on user-friendliness, expertise, and clear explanations, and you’ll be well on your way to Google’s good graces in the post-March 2024 update world.

How to Adjust Your Content Strategy From Now On?

To stay ahead with Google’s latest update, you’ll need to shift your focus towards creating content that puts people first.

Here’s how to align your content strategy with Google’s helpful content update:

Focus on People-First ContentCreate content that resonates with your audience’s needs and interests, not just search engine algorithms.Builds trust and showcases your expertise.
Audit Existing ContentAnalyze content performance using metrics like bounce rate, time spent on page, and user feedback. Identify and remove content that doesn’t engage users.Improves content quality and relevance to your audience.
Build E-A-T for Specific AreasFocus on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness in your niche. Provide insightful content backed by reliable sources.Establishes your site as a go-to resource for high-quality information.
Optimize for User SatisfactionPrioritize clarity, conciseness, and visual appeal in your content.Keeps users engaged and satisfied, aligning with Google’s focus on user experience.

Focus on People-First Content

Shift your content strategy to prioritize people-first content, focusing on what truly benefits your audience to align with Google’s Helpful Content Update. This means diving deep into creating materials that resonate with human interests and needs rather than what you think might rank well on search engines.

Here are some tips to put the “people” back in “people-first content”:

  • Think “Problem-Solution.” What are your readers struggling with? Focus on creating content that solves their problems or answers their questions.
  • Ditch the Jargon. Avoid technical terms or overly complicated language. Explain things clearly and simply, like you’re talking to a classmate.
  • Embrace the “Why.” Don’t just tell people what, tell them why it matters. Help them understand the bigger picture and how your content benefits them.
  • Speak Their Language. Use the kind of language your audience understands. Think about the words and phrases they might use when searching for information.
  • Focus on Value, Not Tricks. Don’t try to stuff your content with keywords to trick search engines. Instead, focus on providing real value to your readers.
  • Get Interactive. Encourage comments, questions, and discussions. People-first content is a two-way street!

By following these tips, you can create content that resonates with your audience and positions you as a trusted resource.

Remember, Google wants to see content that people find useful, so focusing on “people-first” is a win-win for both you and your readers.

Audit Your Existing Content for Helpfulness

Start your content strategy adjustment by examining your existing content for its helpfulness, focusing on engagement metrics, user feedback, and its relevance to audience needs.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to audit your existing content for helpfulness:

  • Step 1: Inventory Your Content: Start by making a list of all your content. This usually entails all your blog posts and pages published on your website.
  • Step 2: Define What ‘Helpful’ Means: What does “helpful” mean to your audience? It could be content that solves a problem, answers a question, or provides valuable information. Define this clearly and write it down.
  • Step 3: Evaluate Each Piece of Content: Go through each piece of content and ask yourself: Is this helpful? Does it meet the definition you set in Step 2? How can it become better? Be honest in your assessment.
  • Step 4: Check your competition: Go through your competition in the SERPs and actually skim their content. Ask yourself. What info-gains can I add to my content to make it better than theirs?
  • Step 5: Make a Plan: Based on your audit, make a plan to improve your content. This could involve updating old content, removing unhelpful content (yes, deleting them), or creating new, helpful content.

TIP: Look at Engagement Metrics. Check how your audience is interacting with your content. Are they commenting, sharing, or liking it? High engagement often indicates helpful content.

Also, you can ask your audience directly. Use surveys, feedback forms, or social media polls and ask them if they found it useful and what you can do to improve it. This can provide valuable insights into what your audience finds helpful.

Remember, content audits should be done regularly to ensure your content remains helpful and relevant to your audience.

Build E-A-T for Specific Content Areas

Have you ever looked up a health question online and ended up on a website that seemed…sketchy? That’s where E-A-T comes in. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s basically Google’s way of saying they want to see content created by people (or websites) who really know their stuff and can be trusted.

Here’s how you can build E-A-T for your specific content areas:


  • Show off your knowledge: Focus on topics you’re genuinely passionate about and where you have a strong understanding.
  • Back it up with proof: Include links to relevant sources, studies, or certifications that support your claims.
  • Go beyond the basics: Don’t just repeat what everyone else is saying. Offer unique insights and analysis that demonstrate your deep understanding of the subject.


  • Get recognized by others: Encourage guest posts on established websites in your niche.
  • Win awards (if applicable): Industry awards or recognition can add weight to your authority.
  • Collaborate with experts: Partner with other knowledgeable people in your field for content creation.

Wow there buddy.. Did you just say, Guest posts? Yes, but not the way you think of it. If I publish a genuine article on SEO or Affiliate Marketing on Forbes, WITHOUT me even getting a backlink back to my website isn’t this going to add to my E-A-T? Yes, it will. That’s the kind of Guest post you should be accepting OR publishing.


  • Be reliable and accurate: Double-check your facts and cite credible sources.
  • Be transparent: Disclose any potential conflicts of interest and be clear about your qualifications.
  • Maintain a good reputation: Avoid misleading information or clickbait tactics.

Remember, building E-A-T takes time and effort. But by consistently creating high-quality, informative content and establishing yourself as an expert, you can become a trusted resource in your niche. And that’s exactly what Google’s looking for!

Optimize Content for User Satisfaction

Imagine spending ages writing an awesome blog post, only for people to click away after a few seconds. That’s where optimizing for user satisfaction comes in. It’s all about making your content clear, engaging, and enjoyable to read, just like Google’s Helpful Content Update wants.

Here are some tips to keep your readers happy:

  • Give them the answer ready from the start: Key takeaways in bullet point format and giving the answer to the query right from the start is a great way to satisfy searchers.
  • Clarity is King: Use simple language and explain complex topics in an easy-to-understand way. Think “teaching a friend” rather than “sounding fancy.”
  • Break it Up: Break down long walls of text with headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists. This makes your content easier to scan and digest.
  • Visually Appealing: Include relevant images, infographics, or videos to break up the text and keep your readers engaged.
  • Keep it Concise: Focus on delivering the most important information without unnecessary fluff. Forget the skyscraper technique. It doesn’t work anymore.

Frequently Asked Questions

Google’s helpful content strategy is about creating valuable, user-focused content that genuinely aids your audience. Prioritize originality, relevance, and usefulness to elevate your site’s ranking and enrich user satisfaction.

Google’s Relevant Content Update rewards sites with useful, original content. To keep up, you’ll need to focus on creating valuable, user-first content that stands out. Guarantee your work is accessible and follows Google’s guidelines.

Website owners can optimize their content for the Google Helpful Content Update by focusing on creating high-quality, user-focused content that is genuinely helpful and valuable to the audience. Here are some actionable techniques based on the provided sources:

  1. Understanding User Intent and Queries:
    • Conduct keyword research to identify user queries and intent behind searches.
    • Target long-tail keywords that reflect specific user needs or questions.
    • Incorporate related terms and concepts to provide comprehensive coverage of a topic.
  2. Showcasing Expertise and Authority:
    • Conduct original research within your niche to provide unique insights.
    • Highlight author credentials, expertise, and industry experience.
    • Share real-life case studies or success stories that illustrate expertise.
  3. Content Quality and Relevance:
    • Ensure content offers genuine value, addresses user queries comprehensively, and provides actionable insights or solutions.
    • Back content with expertise, evidence, and authoritative sources to foster trust among users.
    • Create content that aligns with user intent and remains pertinent to the topic or query at hand.
  4. Regularly Update Evergreen Content:
    • Focus on creating evergreen content that is always relevant and useful to the audience.
    • Update evergreen content on a regular basis to keep it fresh and up-to-date, showing Google that the content is always relevant.
  5. Optimize Site Structure and Readability:
    • Use clear and consistent structure with header tags and subheadings to make content easy to read.
    • Include internal and external links to provide additional context and information for users.
    • Ensure content is engaging, provides a clear purpose, and is formatted for easy readability.

Some examples of thin or unhelpful content that website owners should avoid include:

  1. Short Articles or Blog Posts:
    • Content that lacks depth or detail, providing only a surface-level overview of a topic without valuable insights.
    • Articles with a low word count that fail to provide substantial information or depth on a subject.
  2. Duplicate or Paraphrased Content:
    • Content that is copied or paraphrased from other sources without adding original insights or value.
    • Spinner content that is rephrased to appear original but lacks genuine uniqueness.
  3. Poor Quality Content:
    • Content that is poorly written, containing grammar and spelling errors, making it difficult to understand.
    • Content that lacks coherence, structure, or readability, diminishing its overall quality.
  4. Keyword-Stuffed Content:
    • Articles overloaded with keywords or phrases that do not make contextual sense, aiming to manipulate search engine rankings.
    • Content that focuses more on keyword density than providing valuable information to users.
  5. Automatically Generated Content:
    • Content generated automatically without human review, leading to low-quality, uninformative material.
    • Examples include pages with minimal content or irrelevant information due to automated processes.
  6. Deceptive Affiliate Pages:
    • Pages where content is copied directly from affiliates without adding original insights or value.
    • Content that disguises affiliate relationships, presenting information as original when it is not.
  7. Content Scraped from Other Sources:
    • Pages that scrape or copy content from other websites, lacking originality and value.
    • Low-quality guest blog posts created solely for link-building purposes, offering little value to users.
  8. Doorway Pages:
    • Pages created solely to manipulate search engine rankings, offering little value to users.
    • Pages designed to drive traffic to the main website without providing substantial information or value.

Bottom Line

In short, Google’s Helpful Content Update is a call to action for creating valuable, user-centric content. Moving forward, focus on being genuine and informative in your approach.

Adopt SEO best practices, optimize for mobile, and dive deep into your topics to showcase your expertise. Remember, it’s all about adding real value for your audience.

Stay ahead by adjusting to new trends and always putting the user first. By doing so, you’ll not only improve your rankings but also build trust with your audience.


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