On August 18, 2022, Google announced a new update to its algorithm called the “Helpful Content Update.” We’ll discuss how the new rules turn Amazon SEO on its head, and what brand owners can do to capitalize on it.
The update is a part of a larger effort by Google to bring helpful content created by people, for people, to the forefront of search results. The idea behind it is not only to focus on and catalyze more original content, but to generate results that actually solve problems for the consumer, and promote an overall more satisfying search experience.
Google isn’t the first tech giant to think of this. Amazon is decidedly set on the customer-first content approach; review crackdowns have been driven in large part by Amazon’s focus on building customer trust through providing them with intentional results and content.
For Amazon sellers who run their own blog, the Helpful Content Update is a potential crisis that can be turned into an opportunity.
How does the update work?
Google’s Helpful Content Update values person-created content first, while still valuing SEO practices as a secondary measure of search rank success.
Using a machine-learning model, this is the newest of Google’s long-standing signals that help to rank search content. Content on sites will now be deemed “helpful” or “unhelpful” based on all of its content, not just certain aspects, keywords, or varying topics. The latter label will certainly affect rank and audience engagement.
To help understand the ins and outs of this new update, we’ve compiled some do’s and don’ts to help ensure you’re making the most of the content that you produce on your site, and boost your search ranking.
3 “Helpful Content” SEO Principles
1) Create Content for People, Not Bots
Focus on people-first content and meeting the demands of searcher intent. Helpful content should include personalized (and non-generic) elements like:
- Expert insights in the form of quotes, interviews, or unique data points
- Photos or visuals that help better explain an answer
- Backlinks that add value to the research process, providing more information to users without them having to start a new query
This goes for ads, articles, and blog posts for your business, but also goes for Amazon listing optimization, including keywords. Make sure when you are creating listings for your ASINs, your keywords are accurate to your product and category.
If someone Googles “sporting equipment Amazon,” they’re going to expect the top results to meet their needs.
2) Stay on Topic
If you’ve ever Googled a recipe and had to scroll through a dissertation on someone’s experience of learning how to cook pasta in college, then you know how frustrating it is to weed through unfocused content.
Writing about too many unrelated topics will inevitably kill your SEO authority. Instead of casting a wide net, Google is looking for targeted effort. Stick to your industry and focus on being a trusted source of insight for that subject.
3) Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
The most value will be given to the piece of content that best gives people what they’re looking for. Write a piece of content that people will read more than once because it is so full of useful information. Make it so good that people share it as a valuable knowledge resource.
The more time people spend reading from top to bottom (in marketing-speak, time spent on page or click through rate), the better you are rewarded.
Invest in the time and effort needed to write one perfect article instead of several smaller articles about the same subject.
How Can “Helpful Content” Benefit Amazon Sellers?
When curious shoppers are researching products, the brands that look the most competent and knowledgeable will be better trusted. Many great brands also maintain great blogs that show off their industry knowledge and expertise.
So while some sellers may be concerned about how the update will affect their brand, the “helpfulness” of the new algorithm can be seen as either a crisis or an opportunity.
Crisis: Your Entire Approach to Rankable Content Must Change
The new rules favor the searchers. All the SEO tactics that work on Google’s spider bots are basically irrelevant. If you’ve had ranking success through regular uploads, rehashing popular topics, you could see a sharp drop in your visibility, and then your traffic.
Opportunity: Reach the Top of Search Results Just by Being Helpful
The new algorithm is appropriately named, because the pages that reach the top of search results will actually provide helpful content. Focus your marketing strategy on actually becoming an expert in your industry. Provide content that gives the news in detail, or explains a subject deeply and thoroughly enough to keep readers engaged and satisfied.
If you want to gain consumer trust by looking like an expert, then share your expertise in a way that people want to consume.
Keep these key points in mind as you continue to develop your content:
- Maintain primary topical focus (i.e. inventory management)
- Use keywords that accurately describe your product and category
- Demonstrate first-hand expertise (or get direct information from someone who has it).
- Help the audience achieve a goal or obtain value with every post.
- Avoid writing about too many topics, or summarizing topics without adding to the conversation.
Note: Currently, this update only impacts English searches, but searches made in other languages may be added down the line.