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Helpful Content Update: How to Stay in Google’s Good Books

Free Content

In August 2022, Google rolled out the helpful content update to ensure searchers see more original, helpful content written for people, by people. It’s a new algorithm update that is intended to demonstrate how they’re going to help deliver more valuable content to searchers in the SERP when they are looking for answers to questions and specific content assets. 

The priority message that Google wanted to deliver was simple: 

Focus on People first Content. 

This means Google will reward content that satisfies search intent—puts the readers’ needs over the search engine’s algorithm. If your B2B or SaaS blog already has people-first content, you have nothing to worry about. But that doesn’t mean you’re fully in the clear yet. 

In our analysis of 420+ technology, SaaS, and cloud companies, we found that leading brands such as Salesforce, Slack, MongoDB, and Atlassian have not experienced any drop in ranking since the update was fully rolled out. Maintaining organic search traffic shows how valuable people and search engines find their content. 

The best way to successfully ride the Helpful Content algorithm update is to find and update old, light, and mediocre content. You should maintain the articles on your website to ensure they are still valuable to readers and driving business growth. 

Here are some things you should do every quarter to ensure your content is always helpful:

Let’s explore each one in detail.

9 Ways to Ensure Your Content Is Always Helpful

1. Include New Takeaways

Are there new things for people to understand about the topic? Are there new strategies or techniques worth noting? Include them in the updated piece as new takeaways for the readers. 

2. Add Third Party Quotes

Do you have an expert on your team that can be quoted here? Or can you get a third-party quote from someone with authority in the industry? Email them and get their thoughts to incorporate here.

3. Include New Industry Research

Things change over time. Your content should reflect any new changes, referencing the most relevant and timely research. 

4. Embed Video Content + Podcasts

This is a distribution strategy but also an SEO strategy. Google loves YouTube (surprise) so embed videos in old content. It can give you new viewers and subscribers as they’ll find your content more helpful. 

5. Incorporate Downloadable Templates

Utility is at the heart of B2B content marketing. If you arm readers with free tools, templates, checklists, and resources, they will thank you for improving their lives and careers. This is how you help your audience. Make things easy for them. 

6. Add New Sections That Are Valuable

Go above and beyond by creating new sections in your blog that are highly actionable and insightful. Replace AI copywriter or content farm fluffy content with valuable expert insights. 

7. Add a Table of Contents

A table of contents makes it easy for readers to navigate your content pieces. It’s super helpful if the table of content is sticky so readers can move through different sections easily and read through faster, especially if they only want to consume a section of the piece.

8. Update Old Data and the Date of the Piece

This is pretty straightforward but also very important. Update your blog with new data, and always update the ‘date’ of the piece to maximize your freshness. 

9. Improve the Visuals That Originally Were Published

Design taste change. Make sure you’re creating and using visuals that don’t show screenshots from 2008. Keep it fresh and up to date. 

A Brand Example to Inspire Your Content Update Strategy

Hootsuite originally published this Instagram Hashtags Guide in 2016: 

However, when the piece was published, it saw less than 3K organic visits. In 2020, the traffic was still less than 10K. However, after a content update in 2021, the post now generates almost 200K organic visits monthly. 

Well, what changed?

First, the team added a table of contents and embedded a corresponding YouTube video:

Each H2 and H3 heading are long-tail keywords with higher search intent and conversion potential as they address specific questions readers have or issues they need to resolve. Here are the top keywords that are used in the table of contents and throughout the piece:

The team also included a downloadable checklist leaders will find valuable:

Also when you read further down, you’ll notice Hootsuite also embedded corresponding Instagram reels  and posts to the piece. Adding these relevant details increases the article’s value for readers, making the piece stronger. 

A piece that once generated less than 10K monthly visits two years ago now attracts almost 200K organic visits. Talk about the power of a content refresh.

Apart from a content update, you also want to review your content strategy to ensure you create content on niche topics your audience actually cares about. 

You can start by interviewing new and existing audiences to measure your content’s impact and identify ways to improve them. Ask questions like:

  • What are you struggling with today?
  • What content/newsletters do you read?
  • What type of information do you wish you had?

You also want to put yourself in your audience’s shoes to identify their search intent. Find out what questions, keywords, or phrases they type into Google during their buying process. That’s how you get a more accurate understanding to serve them better. 

Create Helpful, People-first Content 

These are some helpful ways to spice up existing content, increase your organic traffic, and stay in Google’s good books.

Here are some key takeaways: 

  1. Update the key takeaway section (or add one if there isn’t one right now). 
  2. Add a table of contents to make it easy for readers to navigate the piece. 
  3. Include quotes from subject matter experts. 
  4. Update old data and reference new, relevant industry data to boost credibility. 
  5. Embed related videos and podcasts to give readers more helpful information. 
  6. Arm your audience with free tools, downloadable templates, checklists, ebooks, and other useful resources. 
  7. Create more catchy, informative visuals. 
  8. Consider turning blocks of text into visuals where possible. 
  9. Add new H2 or H3 sections where necessary. 
  10. Expand existing key points by adding relevant examples to walk readers through how they can solve problems. 
  11. Keep the language simple and compelling, and ensure your content solves the reader’s pain points. 
  12. Update the date of your piece to show readers they’re reading something fresh. 

Overall, prioritize the helpful content. It will pay dividends for years to come.

Do these things every week, and you will have a blog that is always viewed as helpful. This is the key to winning in content marketing and SEO today. It’s also how you thrive amidst the latest algorithm change and reap the ROI of content marketing

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