Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan said that about 40% of young people preferred looking for places to eat on TikTok to Google Maps or Search, quoted by TechCrunch. TikTok seems to have noted this as well, as it is currently testing new features to enhance its query functions. With rising competitors like TikTok in the search market, Google is gearing up to stay the better alternative for users.
However, it is not a secret that the search engine is currently populated with ‘over-optimized’ SEO content, often with low readability and relevance to the readers.
To combat this issue, Google launched its new helpful content update and finalized its rollout last week (September 9).
The approach aims to put the users’ needs first, but SEO can still be vital to search visibility. According to experts in the field, the priority should be to produce valuable content for your audience, and SEO is only the tool that allows you to enhance its presence in search results. As of now, the new update will cover only English queries, while other languages will be available soon. This move will help Google attract more searches and not be pushed by players like TikTok.
Among the new features will be a site-wide signal to help rank web pages. This system will automatically identify content that offers little to no value. For example, even if you have 20% of good information in the text, the page will have a low rank because the unhelpful text (80%) outweighs it.
There is also a classifier process in place to tag the pages as not useful. To remove the classification, the publisher must take out the unhelpful parts in the webpage, and the signal has to ensure it remains that way for a long time. The update comes with many such signals that work together. So even if one signal categorizes people-first content as unhelpful, it can still rank well if the others identify it as helpful.
With the helpful content update, Google recommends following these steps to help your page benefit by making it more user-oriented:
Apart from these recommendations, you can also follow some standard practices for improving the readability and visibility of your content. Here is our useful guide on the topic.
Google has previously tried introducing algorithms for better user experience, like Panda in 2011. So this is an important goal that has stood the test of time. The chances of increased future initiatives in this space are high. But a key takeaway is not to ignore other emerging channels as well. As Google’s Senior Vice President pointed out, query functions within social media platforms are gaining a lot of attention. So there are options to choose from and expand to, and your approach will highly depend on your target audience’s needs and preferences.
But in the end, we would like to leave you with one question: Are you helpful enough?