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Google Helpful Content Update is Coming

Google Helpful Content Update is Coming

Another Google update is rolling out but it's not technically a broad-core update.

Google has announced the "Helpful Content Update" which is basically out to catch useless, misleading, and possibly bot-written content.

In their announcement, Google said "This ranking update will help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search, and our testing has found it will especially improve results related to online education, as well as arts and entertainment, shopping and tech-related content."

Google is promising more unique content after this update rolls out and specifically seems to be targeting content that doesn't seem like it was written by or for humans.

What Does the Google Helpful Content Update Mean for Law Firms?

Law firms fall under the "Your Money or Your Life" (YMYL) category of websites which is not specifically targeted in this update. However, to see if you might be affected by the "Helpful Content" update, Google provided a list of questions. If you answer "yes" to any of these, your content might be impacted:

  1. Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  2. Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  3. Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  4. Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  5. Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  6. Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  7. Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  8. Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  9. Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

Numbers 1 and 2 are interesting. While sitemaps for your SEO plan are clearly based on what people are searching for, your law firm SEO agency should still be writing for your readers; the real humans that will enter your site and hopefully contact your firm. Producing content that speaks to the questions being asked by your key demographic is just good marketing. The problem for law firms may be for situations where you try to step outside of your lane.

For example, if you're an intellectual property law firm and you producing a ton of clickbait content like "what you could see in the next iPhone," you're just trying to create content around trends... your firm is not really sharing your expertise.

What does a sitewide Google update mean?

This particular update is a "sitewide update" meaning Google will be evaluating your site as a whole rather than demoting just individual pages.

As with any major update, you may notice ranking fluctuations during and after the rollout even if you're not directly affected. The update is expected to start the week of August 22nd and will take about two weeks to complete.

As always, we'll be watching our clients closely during and after the rollout and will be ready to react if any negative trends are detected.