FutureProof Shorts

What is Helpful Content… and what does Google say ?

Google’s March 2024 core update has been a big one; many websites won, many websites lost… big !! One of the standout features of this update has been the inclusion of the Helpful Content Update (from September 2023) permanently into Google’s ranking criteria. So, what is “helpful content” and do we all improve our content to better help our readers.

What is the Helpful Content Update?

The Helpful Content Update represents a significant shift in how Google assesses the value of your content. In this short post, we’ll take a good look at what helpful content is, and we’ll use Google’s own documentation to do it. 

Google produces pretty detailed documentation (believe it or not). Many SEO professionals say that it can be misleading, but it’s a good place to start. There are two key areas to focus on; is the content created for people? Is the content created for search engines?

Google Search Central Documentation… 

What Google says about helpful content… 

The update rewards content that gives visitors a satisfying experience, while also reducing the performance of content that fails to provide this. Creators are advised to create content for people rather than solely for search engines. This “people-first” approach focuses on the helpfulness of the content, whilst also incorporating SEO best practices. Key indicators that you have this approach already include; 

  1. Having a target audience for the content.
  2. Demonstrating first-hand expertise and depth of knowledge.
  3. Maintaining a clear primary purpose or focus for your site.
  4. Ensuring that readers leave feeling informed.
  5. Ensuring that readers leave with a sense of satisfaction.   


Don’t write for Google… 

The Google advice stresses the importance of writing for people. To avoid writing for search engines, website owners should reassess their strategies; 

  1. Mass production of content across various topics.
  2. Heavy reliance on automation.
  3. Content lacking substantial value.
  4. Trending topics solely for search traffic.
  5. Leaving readers looking for better information.
  6. Adhering to word counts or other misconceptions.
  7. Entering niche topics without expertise. 
  8. Making promises about uncertain topics.


E-E-A-T & Other Ranking Factors


Content should be authored by knowledgeable individuals with first-hand experience or a deep understanding of the subject matter.

Value Addition

The content should offer unique insight, analysis, or originality, avoiding mere summarization or replication of existing content.


Emphasis is placed on credible sourcing, factual accuracy, and overall presentation that instil trust in the content.


Content should exhibit clear sourcing, author expertise, and factual accuracy, fostering trust among users.

Comprehensive Information 

It should provide complete and substantial coverage of the topic, avoiding exaggeration, misinformation, or stylistic issues.

User Experience

Factors such as mobile compatibility, ad interference, and overall content presentation influence perceived trustworthiness.

Featured Snippets

Though Google’s documentation seldom mentions “helpful content” specifically, the concept is indirectly associated with featured snippets. These snippets, at the top of informational search results, provide concise and informative descriptions to help users find relevant information more quickly. Click here to learn more about featured snippets… 

Now look at your content… 

The Helpful Content Update underscores the importance of user-focused, expertly written content that prioritises relevance, credibility, and the satisfaction of reader’s wants and needs. Stick to the principles outlined above, and your website will improve its search rankings and also build trust and loyalty with your audience.


What is Helpful Content


About Adam Bermingham

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