defines helpful content

Google’s new helpful content update aims to reward content written for humans.

How does Googe define “helpful Content”?

According to Google, useful content is:

  • It is targeted at a particular audience.
  • Features expertise.
  • Credible and trustworthy
  • It fulfills the need or desire of the searcher.

This is important because Google’s definition of “helpful material” may be different from yours.

This is all we know about Google’s helpful content.

What is helpful content?

Here are the questions and guidance Google provides to help you assess whether your content is useful. These include the helpful content (HCU), product reviews (PRU), core content (CU), and Panda updates (PU).

Google’s guidelines for helpful content are generally broken down into four areas. Helpful content

1. It is targeted at a particular audience

  • Are there people who are already interested in your content? (HCU)
  • Is there a primary purpose for your site? (HCU)
  • Is the content intended to be viewed by search engines and not for humans? (HCU)
  • Do you produce lots of content on different topics so that it may rank well in search results? (HCU)
  • Are you using automation to produce content on multiple topics? (HCU)
  • Is the content serving the genuine needs of visitors to the site, or is it created by someone trying to figure out what search engines might rank. (CU)
  • Are you simply writing about things because they are trending? Or because you would write about them for your existing audience? (HCU)
  • Do you feel pressured to write to a certain word count because Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t. (HCU)
  • Consider the user’s perspective when evaluating the product. (PRU)

2. Features expertise

  • Is the content written by an expert, or an enthusiast who clearly knows the topic? (CU)
  • Does your content clearly show first-hand knowledge and depth of understanding (for example, from having used a product, service, or visited a place) (HCU)
  • Is the content providing interesting analysis or information that is not obvious? (CU)
  • Does the content draw from other sources? If so, does it not merely copy or rewrite those sources but instead add substantial value and originality to them? (CU)
  • Is the content produced by a large number or outsourced to many creators or spread across a large web of sites so that individual pages don’t get as much attention? (CU)
  • Is the content of the page significantly more valuable than other pages in search results? (CU)
  • Do you summarize the opinions of others and not add much value? (HCU)
  • Did you enter a niche area because you didn’t have any expertise but because you thought you would get search traffic? (HCU)
  • Demonstrate your knowledge about the products being reviewed. (PRU)
  • Based on your research, discuss the benefits and drawbacks associated with a particular product. (PRU)
  • Describe the product’s evolution from previous models and releases in order to provide improvements, address problems, or help users make a purchase decision. (PRU)
  • Identify the key decision-making elements for the product’s category. Also, evaluate how the product performs within those areas. For example, a car review might reveal that fuel economy, safety and handling are key decision making factors. (PRU)
  • Describe the key design decisions made in a product’s creation and how they affect the users. (PRU)
  • If you recommend a product as the best overall, or for a specific purpose, be sure to include reasons why. (PRU)

3. Credible and trustworthy

  • Would you trust the information in this article? (PU)
  • Is the content trustworthy? Does it have clear sourcing, evidence that the author is competent, background information about the author or site that published it, such links to author pages or site’s About pages? (CU)
  • Would you feel confident in the authority of the site that produces the content if you did a thorough research on it?
  • Are there any factual errors that can be easily verified? (CU)
  • Would you feel confident trusting this content with money-related issues or your personal life? (CU)
  • Is the content original in reporting, research, or analysis? (CU)
  • Is the content comprehensive, complete, or substantial? (CU)
  • Is the page title and/or headline a descriptive, helpful summary? (CU)
  • Is the headline or page title not exaggerating? (CU)
  • Is this the page you would want to bookmark, recommend, or share with a friend? (CU)
  • Would you expect to find this content in a book, encyclopedia, or printed magazine? (CU)
  • Is the content correct in spelling and style? (CU)
  • Did the content appear well-produced or rushed? (CU)
  • Are there too many ads that distract from the main content or interfere with it? (CU)
  • To support your expertise and strengthen the authenticity of your review, provide evidence (audio, visuals, etc.) of your personal experience with the product. (PRU)
  • Please share quantitative measures of how a product performs in different categories. (PRU)
  • Describe what sets a product apart among its competitors. (PRU)
  • Discuss similar products and explain which products might work best for you. (PRU)
  • To help the reader make a decision, include links to other useful resources (from your site or from other sites). (PRU)
  • To give the reader the option of purchasing from their preferred merchant, you might consider including links to multiple sellers. (PRU)

4. It fulfills the need or desire of the searcher

  • Will someone feel that they have learned enough about a topic in order to help them achieve their goal after reading your content? (HCU)
  • Is it possible for someone to leave your content feeling satisfied? (HCU)
  • Is your content leaving readers feeling that they have to search again for better information? (HCU)
  • Is your content promising to answer a question that isn’t actually answered? (HCU)
  • Is content optimized for mobile devices? (CU)
  • Make sure there is enough content in your ranked list to allow them to stand alone, even if each product review is a separate product review. (PRU)
  • Are users likely to complain about pages on this site? (PU)

Digging deeper into intent

There are the traditional search intents that you probably know (informational navigational, transactional, etc.), but there are also many micro-intents that you should consider when creating content.

Google has divided search behavior into four “moments”, in the past.

  • I want information. People looking for inspiration or information.
  • I want go. People looking for a product or a service in their area.
  • What I want to do. People looking for how-tos.
  • I want a purchase. People who are willing to make a purchase.

These are the categories that the QRG breaks down user intention:

  • query To find information about a topic. Some of these are Knowledge Simple queries, which are queries that provide a specific answer such as a fact, diagram, or other information.
  • Do query – When the user is trying achieve a goal or engages in an activity.
  • Website query When the user is searching for a particular website or webpage.
  • Visit-in person query: Some are looking for specific businesses or organizations, while others are looking to find a particular category of businesses.

According to a 2019 Think With Google article, search behavior is also driven by six needs.

  • Surprise me: Search can be fun and entertaining. It’s extensive and has many unique iterations.
  • Thrill me: search is a quick adventure to discover new things. It is short and requires only a few words.
  • Impress me: Search is all about winning and influencing others. It is laser-focused and uses specific phrases.
  • Educate me: Search is all about control and competence. It’s thorough: ratings, comparisons, and so on.
  • Reassure me: Search is all about simplicity, comfort, trust, and ease. It is simple and likely to include questions.
  • Help me: Search focuses on practicality and connecting. It is concise and will often mention family or place.

Avinash Kaushik’s See, Think, Do, Care framework is a final way to think about audience intention. Although it isn’t “official” Google advice for an algorithm update, Kaushik was Google Digital Marketing Evangelist at the time he wrote this.

Google’s documentation rarely mentions the term “helpful contents”. It does appear on Google’s How Search Works page in reference to Featured Shortcuts.

“Featured snippets” are pages that prominently display the page’s description. We call this a snippet. This format is used when our systems believe it may help people find what they are looking for, both from the description and by clicking on the link to the page. It’s especially useful for people who search by voice or on mobile.

Google wants searchers to find the information or answer they need as quickly and easily as possible. Sometimes, this is done without leaving the search results page.

Your content should provide the best answer to what someone is looking for.

In short, helpful content should be the best solution – and it should be provided as soon as possible.

Search Engine Land’s first article was entitled What is helpful content according to Google.