Google’s Helpful Content Update: Where To Go From Here

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If there’s one thing that’s consistent in our little world, it’s change. And with the recent Google “Helpful Content Update”, it’s clear that adaptability is the name of the game.

I recently took to Twitter (X) “Spaces” with Gareth Boyd and Tony Hill to chat about the HCU.

Over 1k of you joined my first Spaces! We spent 70+ minutes together and delved deep into strategies that niche site owners like you and I should consider in light of this game-changing update.

Here’s the recap! (You can catch the entire discussion here). And, make sure you’re following me on Twitter for future Spaces about SEO!

Boosting User Experience (UX) & Interface (UI)

  • Tame Ad Density: Gareth hit the nail on the head by noting that sites heavy with Display Ads often get a bit ad-crazy. If your site’s looking more like a billboard than a valuable resource, it’s time to re-evaluate. His recommendation? Reduce the ad count, especially above the fold.
  • Crafting User-Centric Sites: Tony’s thoughts were all about designing sites with readers in mind. After all, it’s not just about SEO algorithms, but real people (it’s always been that way, but the HCU seems to be enforcing this better). He suggested studying high-performing sites post-update. What’s their secret sauce? Emulate that.
  • Redefining the Homepage: Remember those blogroll-styled homepages that we all thought were SEO gold? Tony believes they’re passé. He emphasized making homepages more navigational, guiding users effectively based on their intent.

I put the finishing touches of my presentation for the entirely FREE Niche Site Summit. Make sure you’re signed up for this – 25 different presentations, all for free!

Elevating Your Brand

To quote Gareth “it’s not that you aren’t a brand — perhaps you aren’t using the signals that a brand would give to Google by default”

  • Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit: Gareth pointed out an interesting trend. Google seems to be side-eyeing sites that churn out content that only targets a slew of easy keywords (think those low competition, long tail ones). Check out my video on Topical Authority for more on this one. 
  • Deep Dives Over Quick Splashes: Gareth made a strong case for exhaustive content on your site’s central themes.
  • Keep Your Content Fresh: As you could predict, Tony recommended regularly revisiting content, especially if it’s ever-evolving. Whether it’s a yearly or bi-yearly revision, keep it current.

Prioritizing Content Quality

  • Branch Out: Gareth strongly recommended against putting all of your eggs in one basket. He’s a big advocate for amplifying presence on other platforms, notably YouTube. For example, if you’re in the food or travel niche, he believes video content isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential.
  • The Branding Playbook: From a snazzy custom logo to a cohesive message across all platforms, Gareth urged the importance of being perceived as a bona fide brand.
  • Consistent Identity Across the Board: Tony discussed making sure Google knows you’re the real deal across all platforms. Link out clearly to your YouTube and other social channels, along with other places you’re mentioned.

Engaging Through User-Generated Content (UGC)

  • Comments, Comments, Comments: Both Tony and Gareth were keen on comments on your site. Gareth sees it as a trust-building exercise, while Tony feels it’s about genuinely engaging with readers’ queries.
  • Maximizing Platforms like Quora & Reddit: Both Gareth and Tony feel these platforms are goldmines. Answer questions, establish your expertise, and boost your brand.

You can listen to the entire discussion here.

Look… it’s worth pointing out. A lot of this isn’t new. We’ve all KNOWN these things are good for the reader, and good for the long term growth of our site.

With the HCU, it puts more of an onus on doing it.

I’ve tried to pull the highlights of this discussion, but if you’ve got any burning questions about the insights Gareth, Tony, and I shared, hit me up. Always here to help you navigate these ever-changing waters.

Until next time, keep optimizing and adapting!

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Jared Bauman

Jared Bauman is the Co-Founder of 201 Creative, and is a 20+ year entrepreneur who has started and sold several companies. He is the host of the popular Niche Pursuits podcast and a contributing author to Search Engine Land.

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