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Will Google’s ‘Helpful Content Update’ Help or Hurt Your Rankings?

Sites that gamed their way to the top of Google SERPs instead of investing in useful content stand to lose their footing. The search giant’s newly announced ‘helpful content update’ promises to elevate content created to help people find answers. What does that mean for sites that use content mainly to appeal to search engines? Well, they may go tumbling to the bottom of the heap.

Can you avoid falling afoul of the new review?  You can – if you do what any good content marketing program should, Robert Rose says.

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Aired: August 26, 2022

Read the transcript

Hello there, and welcome. It seems Google is ready to shake up its search engine results with a major update to the ranking algorithm. It’s like it finally realized that what consumers need now isn’t something that searches content but something that finds what people are looking for. Is your site built to help people know or do something? Or is it built to help Google rank it high in search?

This is the news you need to lead in content marketing.

Hello everybody, Robert Rose here with the news. It’s what’s new but, more importantly, what’s important in the world of content marketing. For the best in best practices, you can always go to

So. The mothership that is Google is ready to shake up your search engine rankings by rolling out another major Google search algorithm update.

This update, called the “helpful content update,” is considered one of the more significant changes of the last few years. You might remember some of the other major updates Google initiated by their old naming system, which included Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

All of these significantly changed how search engine results behaved and had a considerable impact on rankings. For some, good. For others, not so good.

Such is the way with Google Search and optimizing your content against it.

According to Google, the company is always looking to better connect people to helpful information. The translation is that they’re looking to optimize your experience so that you can see (and click on) more advertising.

Related: Why Google Shouldn’t Drive Your SEO Strategy

Unfortunately for Google, over the last few years, many companies have figured out ways to game the system and rank high with content that doesn’t provide much in the way of helpfulness.

Think of those pages you visit where you might have searched for “best content marketing software,” and you get an article where the first five hundred words are something like, “Content marketing software is important for content marketing. And the Content Marketing Institute says that if you want to achieve a content marketing purpose, you need to retain customers, you should probably get content marketing software.”

And on and on and on. About 75% down the page, you get a chart that doesn’t really help you and (truth be told) is probably sponsored by somebody in the chart.

This is exactly the kind of content the Google new update is supposed to start to target. Google says it’s focused on “people-first content,” so it will start deprecating content that is clearly created for search engines first.

Google says this isn’t a set of penalties, and many sites may see no change at all. But this becomes an important ranking signal, just as links and other elements of content emphasis, keywords, and the factors that go into domain authority are all signals now.

Our take:  With any major update like this from Google, treat it kinda like that once-a-year event where you check all the batteries in your fire alarm. It’s a good time to review your content search strategy.

Treat any major Google algorithm update like that once-a-year event where you check the batteries in your fire alarm, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent Share on X

Ask if the content you’re creating is meant to help someone solve a “job to be done?” Or are you really just trying to create something that fills a hole in a search query?

And if you’re trying to fill a hole in a search query, are you creating content that tries to solve the real job to be done?

Related: Keep Your Audience Top of Mind With the Simple Jobs-To-Be-Done Formula

This is the latest major update from Google on this topic. But know that it’s definitely not the last. By my count, there were at least 28 different updates to the Panda update spanning from 2011 to 2018.

Just remember that with this SEO thing, you’re never really done.

The question is (as it always is and always has been) what are you optimizing content for? Search? Or what people will find?

And that’s it. That’s three minutes of news you need to lead in content marketing. I’m Robert Rose. Remember, it’s your story. Tell it well. I’ll see you next week.

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