Deep Diving Helpful Content Update SERP Results [What Changed]

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“Best Stainable Wood Filler,” from a DM to some research to some rabbit trailing, I came on this query. Let’s take a look at the #1 result…

And, an interesting tidbit, it’s the SAME result as before the HCU… What can we learn? 👀👇

So, the #1 result is a DR 39 site. At first glance, I would call it a “niche site” But more on that later. Let’s look at the URL that’s got the top ranking spot

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Using an Experience Article Title

The title is “An Experiment to Find the BEST Stainable Wood Filler.” A twist on the classic “Best X” title, clearly showcases experience by using the word “Experiment.” Strongly implies testing went into the article.

Screencap of a blog article title for "An Experiment to Find the Best Stainable Wood Filler"

Using Unique Images

Next, we see a big, unique image. Full of various products, stacked and sorted. Simple photo but nicely done. Good lighting, blurred background Would have preferred to see some hands in the pic, to further imply using. But compelling nonetheless.

Various kind of wood filler laid out on a table

Unique Article Content Structure

Next, the article does NOT get straight into the best product. Does NOT put a big affiliate link and buy button. It answers the question, “Is Wood Filler Stainable?” The answer is quick, helpful, and to the point.

“The short answer is yes. You’ll need to check your particular wood filler packaging to see if it says it’s stainable, but 99% of wood fillers are stainable.”

Next, we get a brief disclaimer about how they came to determine the best filler:

“We decided to put 7 popular wood fillers to the test to determine which was the best. Best overall and in terms of how well the wood filler stains on both oak and pine lumber. “

Before moving on, noticed that they have a CTA for their free guide… pushing people to an email list.

Sample of a free guide for choosing wood types for a DIY project inserted in between an article

Product Recommendation Presentation

Now, finally, we get into the best option. It’s presented with a clear paragraph. Text affiliate link, no product box.

And then on the article goes to break the best options down by category. Certainly not what we’ve come to expect when presenting affiliate links…

Sample of a buying guide article with a product affiliate link

Attaching Informative Data and Images

Deeping into the article, it becomes SO clear that they have tested all 7 different wood fillers. They show us before and after pictures. All told, I count 22 unique images in the article…

Overhead view of various wood fillers and wood pieces on the table

They clearly explain how they tested.

Screencap of an article that explains how they tested out wood fillers for their buying guide

This URL seems to be a clear example of what Google wants from the HCU.

Courses and Downloadable Guides

Let’s look at the website overall 👇

A lot has been made of having a “Brand” rather than a Niche Site. The Pine and Poplar home page has clear indications that it is a “business.” The site sells courses and provides free downloadable guides.

Section that lists a website's courses and free guides

Navigating their Site Menu

Navigationally, their menu has:

🔸Log in

Pine + Poplar's website menu buttons

The About page is easy to find. First off, features a big image of the site owner.

Sample of an about page for a website

Beyond that, it reads as just an origin story and “get to know the founder.”No SEO focus on building EEAT. No mentions of big features in publications.

Sample of an about page section of a website

Establishing a Strong Social Media Presence

When it comes to socials, they have almost 400k followers on Instagram. Only 317 posts too…

Instagram profile for Pine and Poplar DIY


Alright, I’ll stop there.

So, some thoughts on the buying guide:

🔸Buying Guide clearly doesn’t follow standard “SEO” approach
🔸Clearly showcases experience on the topic, from title to imagery to process explained

And some thoughts on the overall site:

🔸Site is a business, selling courses and downloadables
🔸Active and popular on social media
🔸Clearly displayed an active owner on About page

Now, let’s be clear about a few things I see as negative:

🔸Heavy display ads
🔸Scripty font can be hard to read
🔸Copyright out of date
🔸Barely passing CWV

And don’t get me started on the redirected domains. And, this site DID see drops from the HCU!

Almost 25%, according to Ahrefs. But this article did just fine.

Organic traffic from Ahrefs for a website

This tweet is only to share an example of a site and URL that WAS ranking #1 for an affiliate keyword before the HCU. And is STILL ranking #1 after the HCU for the affiliate keyword. This example does not express any opinions on my part.

I’m not telling you what you should do now. Just sharing observations from what I’m seeing. What would you take from this example, as it relates to niche sites, and websites trying to rank content?

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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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