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Hi! I'm Sarah Moon!

Is your content helpful? 🆘

Published almost 2 years ago • 2 min read

Seriously, Reader, I'm not asking for me—I'm asking for Google:

Is your content helpful?

You see, Google—despite being a massive algorithm—actually cares whether or not you're providing helpful, useful information to actual humans. In fact, they've recently said that they want to see more content "for people, by people" in search engine results.

I see this as a massive opportunity for compassionate, ethical businesses and thought leaders. We naturally want to help, provide people with useful information, and share knowledge that will make an impact. Now, Google says, "Hey, that's actually a great thing!" and will reward you. In theory.

My worry about this change is twofold:

  1. People will see that term "helpful" and assume this means "any" content (because it's all helpful) and create content that's either effectively the same as something out there, or something too broad or generic. Most how to content fits in this bucket. (Not all, there are some clever approaches to how to for sure!)
  2. People will think they don't need to be strategic about keywords and content structure anymore. And this couldn't be further from the truth! Structure, keywords, and ensuring you're meeting your visitors' intentions are so, so critical for being helpful to humans (and being friendly to search engines). As I always say, you need a strategy.

However, I'm incredibly excited about a few knock on effects I predict will make a big difference in the search engine over time:

  1. We're seeing a huge rise in AI generated content. So, instead of using these tools as writing helpers as intended, people are using AI writing assistants to create all their content. This results in a poor user experience, full stop. My prediction is that content originating from these AI content generators will be deemed less helpful, creating space for actual human created content.
  2. People-first content should be valued more. What I mean by this is that it's pretty easy to spot content that was created because it will rank vs because it's something that will actually help people. Now, we use a content strategy that starts with the question, "What information does our audience need?" and then uses data to ensure we're using the keywords these folks are actually using in their searches, creating people-first search optimized content. But, a lot of SEO approaches ignore the audience and only care about boosting traffic. (This approach has never made much sense to me because we would have to get so many more visitors than if you just focused on what your people need. I hate hard!)
  3. I believe that fresh, unique perspectives that contain new information will be valued more as well. This is because the search-first approach has results in the first page of results being very similar. Which doesn't keep people searching—and it's in Google's best business interests to keep you in the search engine results page.
  4. As a knock-on effect, I expect that we'll need to better understand when the best time is to capture our audience's attention. For example, our audience primary initially connects when they are in the very first stages of research—they're vaguely problem aware. We have clients whose audiences are strongly solution aware, which means they're likely to make a fast decision. And there is lots of space in that problem-solution spectrum your people can reside in.

Basically, the helpful content update is a great change that I'm excited to keep an eye on in the coming year.

I envision that people who are strategic and who center their audience in their content benefitting the most, and content spam (my term for AI nonsense) finally getting penalized in the search engine. Sounds pretty great, right?

So, if you're not focused on helpful content now, it'll be even more important in 2023 and beyond.

Warmly,

Sarah

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Hi! I'm Sarah Moon!

The status quo of modern marketing isn't designed for you and me.The hard truth is that most marketing strategies are designed for massive corporations, while small businesses, consultants, coaches, and other experts are left feeling that the advice they’re given just doesn’t fit—and they’re right. We have two choices: we can struggle to force our businesses into an ill-fitting mold, or we can reinvent a system that works for us and allows us to thrive. I don’t know about you, I prefer door number two. 💌 Reach our team at hello@smco.studio. 🌟 Ready to work together? https://sarahmoon.net/get-started

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