SEOs smell content before Google’s useful content update

We expect Google’s Helpful Content Update to roll out this week.

Does the announcement worry you? Aleyda Solis posted a Twitter poll ask the SEOs. The final results:

  • Nope! My content is useful: 44.1%
  • I am not sure ! Let’s see: 46.6%
  • Yes! Will prune/improve: 9.3%

I’m surprised so many people think their own content is useful. But we all tend to think our content is great. After all, we produce it! This is exactly why it is important to have an objective, data-based way to evaluate content (i.e. metrics).

Remember: Google’s new algorithm uses machine learning to detect the “usefulness” of content. So much content is being produced today – and a lot without – so it will be interesting to see if Google can really tell the difference between useful and useless content.

So be sure to review all the questions and tips Google has shared regarding Panda, Core, Product Review, and helpful content updates. I’ve compiled all of this for you in What Google Says Useful Content Is.

I’m solidly in the “uncertain” camp right now. There are definitely a few sites I’ll be monitoring in the days following the rollout to see if Google can detect the true depth and usefulness of the content.

Will the useful content update be as important as Panda, Penguin or Florida?

We don’t yet know how big Google’s helpful content update will be. But we know it will have a ‘significant’ impact when it hits.

Marie Haynes shared some thoughts on what to expect earlier today, comparing it to Penguin in 2012.

Our own Barry Schwartz compared it to Panda from 2011. And Panda was probably the biggest update after Florida in 2003, which was one of the oldest and most impactful changes in Google and SEO.

But just for a quick refresher – or in case you weren’t working in SEO a decade or more ago – these updates have done a lot of damage.

For the losers, the traffic disappeared overnight. People have lost their jobs. Businesses have closed. It was serious. Panda has been estimated to have an impact of $1 billion.

On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that the useful content update will be more like pre-announced updates (think: Mobilegeddon, which was anything but apocalyptic for most websites, or the update page experience update, which got a lot of hype but was basically a meaningless update).

What to do now?

For now, we wait.

After the launch of the Helpful Content Update, as with any Google algorithm update, the first rule is not to panic.

Google said it would take two weeks for the update to fully roll out. Be sure to collect enough data to know if your traffic changes are only temporary or persistent.

You want to respond, not react, to an update. If you react too quickly, you can end up doing more damage, whereas if you collect and analyze your data, read and learn everything you can about the update, you can react more deliberately and intelligently.

Are you already considering improving or removing content from your site? If so, it’s probably because that content isn’t good or is outdated. So go ahead – update it or delete it. This update should not change your plans.

Here are some articles that might help you:

Remember that updating useful content is a site-wide signal. This means that if you have too much useless content on one part of your website, it could hurt your ability to rank, even if you have useful content.

This is where some people in the “My content is helpful” crowd need to be careful.

East everything of your useful content? Or just a part?


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About the Author

Danny Goodwin is editor of Search Engine Land & SMX. In addition to writing daily about SEO, PPC, and more for Search Engine Land, Goodwin also manages Search Engine Land’s roster of subject matter experts. He also participates in the programming of our conference series, SMX – Search Marketing Expo. Prior to joining Search Engine Land, Goodwin was editor-in-chief of Search Engine Journal, where he led the brand’s editorial initiatives. He was also an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many major research conferences and virtual events, and has been sought out for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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