It’s no secret that your content’s success hinges on how well it ranks and performs on search engines, and with Google still the main player (sorry Bing), understanding their guidance and expectations is important. If you want to appear high in Google’s search results, your website’s content must meet a multitude of criteria, but ultimately, needs to be helpful to your audience and written for people first – not for the bots.
Google loves content when it is both helpful and reliable, and their algorithms are continuously striving to present users with content that not only meets this but is also created with genuine people in mind, not just to rank well. From the Helpful Content Update to the addition of an extra E for Experience added to E-A-T – now E-E-A-T – you can be forgiven for feeling confused that the virtual goalposts have been moved again when it comes to content creation.
However, the good news is once you’ve got your head around the guidelines, you’ll find that creating content that Google loves as much as your audience isn’t too taxing. If you’ve already been creating helpful content that is genuinely for your users, you’re already doing the right thing. If you are unsure, here we’ll provide some tips on creating content that is both helpful and people-first so that you can give it the best chance to perform well.
Google wants to ensure that the content users find when searching is both valuable and relevant to their needs. Ultimately this is to ensure it continues to provide the best user experience amongst other search engines. In their words, they are “always working to better connect people to helpful information”, so continually assess the quality of online content. Understanding these preferences is the first step towards creating content that Google loves.
At the heart of Google’s evaluation lies the concept of E-E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. While it’s vital to establish your expertise and authority in your content, the addition of the extra E for ‘Experience’ back in December 2022 meant it was also crucial to demonstrate what first-hand experience you have in the topic you are writing about.
Google wants to present content that genuinely benefits its users, rather than merely aiming to manipulate positions in the SERPs. This means your content should be created primarily for people’s needs, not just to appease their algorithms, otherwise you may struggle to rank well.
Keywords are very much the connecting threads between your content and the users searching for information. Effective keyword use in your content is important, but to ensure that it remains helpful and primarily people-first, you’ll want to avoid overdoing it.
Keyword stuffing is when there are too many mentions of a particular keyword throughout your text and it reads unnaturally, where it becomes very obvious they are added to try and help rankings. Google mentions this in its spam policies. If the content reads clumsily and too keyword-dense, it will come across as unhelpful and spammy. Google loves quality content, so if it reads poorly due to ineffective keyword use, it will stick out. It’s best to ensure that keywords are used as naturally as possible and not forced in like a square peg in a circular hole.
Think about the language your potential readers are using when they seek information too, and identify long-tail keywords, which are longer and more specific phrases, often indicating user intent. These can be used for question-based headings, for example, so that you are directly answering a relevant query they want answering.
If you’re creating content that Google loves, it will be high-quality content that resonates with your audience. High-quality content is all about providing valuable information to your readers that answers their burning questions on any given subject.
The focus should be on producing content that is informative, engaging, and unique – not something they can easily find elsewhere. Your articles should be well-researched and comprehensive, delving deep into the subject matter. Content that exhibits expertise and a depth of knowledge will stand out in the eyes of both users and Google’s algorithms.
Being able to offer insightful analysis or present interesting information that goes beyond the obvious is ideal as originality is an aspect of E-E-A-T. More importantly, users value content that provides them with fresh perspectives and knowledge. While drawing inspiration from other sources is perfectly fine and all part of research, it’s vital to avoid merely copying or rewriting content if you want it to be helpful.
You’ll also want to ensure your content’s structure is thought through, using headings and other visual ways to break up the text rather than a wall of words. If it’s easy to follow, not only does this improve the user experience, but also enhances the content’s perceived value.
Mobile-friendliness is non-negotiable when it comes to how you present your content. Google has acknowledged the significance of catering to mobile users and has incorporated mobile friendliness as part of its quality ratings.
Creating content that’s responsive and optimised for mobile devices is not just about SEO but also UX. Ensuring your content is easily readable and accessible on smartphones and tablets is key to enhancing user satisfaction. Google recognises this and favours content that provides a great page experience, making it helpful for users to access and read.
Google appreciates fresh and updated content. Regular content updates, such as blog posts, not only showcase your expertise but also demonstrate your commitment to keeping your audience informed. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to update daily or even remove old content, but there needs to be a regular uptake of fresh, original content.
Consistent updates signal that you care about UX. When readers find that your website frequently offers new insights or updated information, they’re more likely to return for more. If it drops off, they’ll soon go elsewhere for competitors who do. This not only enhances user satisfaction but also supports the principles of E-E-A-T.
Google has long upheld the importance of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). These principles are designed to guide the evaluation of content to ensure that Google users receive reliable and valuable information in the SERPs. The addition of ‘Experience’ to this, making it E-E-A-T (or Double E-A-T, whichever sounds better to you), underlines Google’s commitment to providing content that not only demonstrates expertise and authority but also a real-world understanding of the topic being discussed.
As Google says on E-E-A-T guidelines, “If you’re looking for information on how to correctly fill out your tax returns, that’s probably a situation where you want to see content produced by an expert in the field of accounting. But if you’re looking for reviews of a tax preparation software, you might be looking for a different kind of information—maybe it’s a forum discussion from people who have experience with different services.”
If users search for advice on an important or complex subject, they expect content from experts in that field. In contrast, when they search for things like product reviews, they may seek experiences from those who have used the products. Google now recognises the diversity of quality information that can come from various sources and formats, so wants to present that to its users.
It’s ultimately all about trust, so if users can trust your content because it shows expertise and relevancy to your business or niche, you will be more of an authority on this than another site that doesn’t specialise in this. Google will then be able to see this when crawling your site. It’s a chance for your business to showcase its expertise, which really, you should be doing anyway.
In its never-ending quest to connect users with helpful, reliable information, Google introduced the Helpful Content Update. In line with E-E-A-T, it places a premium on content that leaves visitors satisfied with their search experience, all part of the search giant’s commitment to rewarding content that genuinely addresses users’ needs and expectations.
This is all about taking a people-first approach and not just developing content to please the algorithm. If the content you want to create genuinely serves your intended audience and showcases your firsthand expertise and in-depth knowledge, you’re taking the right approach. By keeping your content focused on a primary purpose or theme, you’re more likely to meet your users’ needs and help them achieve their goals.
The helpful content update serves as a reminder that quality content is not solely about search engine rankings but, more importantly, about providing valuable information to users. In this sense, nothing has changed, as you should be doing this anyway, and the importance of good content for Google has always been about adding value. If you were already creating truly helpful content, carry on doing so, but for sites that weren’t, it’s time to look at how you can add value.
It’s very clear that Google loves content that is written for people first, not solely to please the bots. Creating content solely to attract search engine traffic is a red flag in Google’s eyes and will be seen as unhelpful for users. Content that lacks genuine value for users often means an unsatisfying search experience – something Google definitely does not want its service to be known for.
To avoid falling into this trap, content creators should focus on delivering content crafted for their target audience’s benefit. This approach combines expertise and SEO best practices to provide real value to searchers. Google published a list of questions for creators to ask themselves to give an indication of what they see as search-engine-first content. One that stands out is:
“Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?”
This one sums it up, as you don’t want to be creating content that sends people away to your competitors because it wasn’t helpful to them. Keep it people-first and with plenty of value and you’ll avoid being deemed unhelpful by your audience, and Google.
Your content is an important part of your marketing strategy, so remember creating content that Google loves isn’t the main priority – it’s what your audience loves that you need to focus on. Yes, you need to keep in mind E-E-A-T guidelines and what the Helpful Content Update is all about, but as long as you are placing your audience’s needs at the centre of the content you create, you’ll be as helpful as possible.
If you want to learn more about how to take a strategic approach to your content creation and SEO efforts, whether you’re an e-commerce brand or specialise in another industry sector please reach out to the team at Absolute today. Discover further industry insights and information in our blog.