Does your website feature genuinely helpful content for your audience or is it likely to leave visitors feeling dissatisfied?
This is a question that Google wants us all to focus on.
Last summer (August 2022), the search engine announced the launch of its Helpful Content Update – an algorithm change that finished rolling out globally in January 2023.
The aim of the update – or “Helpful Content System” as Google calls it – is “to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well”.
In particular, Google wants to see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results (although help from AI tools is probably fine if you add your own spin).
What it doesn’t want to see is content created for search engines, with the human audience an afterthought.
So, how can you create genuinely helpful content that your human audience will love?
Here are 15 ideas:
1. Understand the purpose of your website
To create helpful content, you need to understand why your website exists (its purpose) and who it exists to serve (its audience).
Do you want to help people cook healthy meals on a budget? Or maybe give them the knowledge to shop more sustainably, plan their travel, learn about interior design? Only you know what works for your business.
A clear purpose will help you to decide what content to create, e.g. recipes for the cooking website, travel destination guides for a travel site, design hints and tips for the interior design site, and so on.
2. Know your audience
Of course, you can only truly define your website’s purpose once you know what audience you want to reach, what they’re looking for and how your business can help them.
This is why I always recommend identifying your ideal customer, i.e. the type of person who loves what you sell, keeps buying from you and is happy to shout from the rooftops about why they love your products or services.
Think about what they’re looking for and give them it via your content.
3. Address your audience’s pain points
Following on from point two above, the easiest way to give your ideal customers genuinely helpful content is to identify their current problems, challenges, and pain points, and then create content that provides practical solutions to those issues.
It might be that they’re not struggling, as such, but that they’re aspiring to achieve a specific goal.
Your content should provide real value to your audience by addressing their specific needs and offering helpful tips, tricks, and advice, either to move on from a problem or move towards a longed-for outcome.
Try brainstorming a list of customer pain points and then thinking about content ideas that would help.
If you’re stuck, download my free guide for 10 super easy ideas to get you started
4. Use unambiguous language
Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your audience may not understand. It’s a trap a lot of businesses fall into, especially if they’re in quite a jargon-filled industry! Instead, aim for clear and concise language that’s easy to read and understand.
People don’t want to wade through reams of information to find what they need, so clear language helps to signpost the easiest path to a solution.
5. Incorporate multimedia
While some people love written content, others prefer strong, engaging visuals. Including images, infographics, and videos in your content can enhance the readability and make the point of your content clearer.
Numerous studies now show that reading from a screen is far more mentally and physically taxing than reading something on paper. For this reason, using multimedia is a helpful way to break up long blocks of text and guide the audience through a page, making it easier to skim read and understand the key takeaways at a glance.
6. Focus on readability
While we’re on the topic of making your content easy to skim read, always keep readability front of mind.
Use short sentences and paragraphs, bullet points, and white space to make your content more scannable and readable. This will help your audience digest the information and then act on it.
7. Organise your content
How organised and logical is your website? If people are looking for specific information or content, would they be able to find it easily?
When I think about the organisation of content on a website, I think about:
- Clear, logical navigation
- Easily guessable URLs (because the site has a well-thought-out structure)
- Important or frequently requested information being immediately accessible
- Logical tags and categories that reflect the core topics covered by the site
- Headings that reflect what people can expect on each page
- Content being easy to skim read and signposted with headings and subheadings
- An easy-to-find and use search facility
With all of the points in this article, the key is to think about user experience. You want people to come to your site and experience it in a way that feels effortless and designed to meet them wherever they are at that moment.
8. Provide examples
People love content that’s flavoured with first-hand experiences and insights.
There’s something so reassuring about knowing that someone has walked a path before us, and real-life examples will make your content far more relatable to your audience, even if you talk about a time when things went wrong, or you had to do things differently than what you had originally planned.
First-hand examples can also help to walk people through complex topics and concepts. This is where video tutorials, step-by-step guides, cheat sheets, or examples of workarounds to provide a solution can all come into their own.
9. Encourage interaction
Look for opportunities to encourage your audience to leave comments and feedback on your content and respond to their questions and comments promptly. This will help you to build a community around your business and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
Also, the more people choose to engage with your content, the more you will understand about what matters to them – the issues they care about, the things they want to know, the challenges they face, the solutions they need. This information will help you to create content that’s ever more targeted to your audience, which is exactly what Google’s Helpful Content System is looking for.
10. Conduct keyword research
It’s easy to get bogged down by keywords when you think about SEO. Many people still think that ranking well in searches comes down to a magic keyword formula, i.e. use keyword X this many times in these places and page one of Google will be yours for the taking.
I think this approach can quickly lose sight of the human audience.
Personally, I believe that if you focus on providing genuine value to your audience, you will naturally produce content that’s keyword-rich.
Yes, keyword research can still help you. View it as a tool to identify the topics your audience wants to know about and the words they use to describe their search intent.
Because search intent is what really matters.
Search intent is the reason someone picks up their phone or logs on to their computer and starts looking for information. It’s the thing that’s going to bring people to your website.
Understanding search intent and how people encapsulate it in a short search term will enable you to you create content that is both helpful to your audience and optimised for search engines.
11. Provide actionable advice
Rather than just offering generic advice, your content is the ideal vehicle to provide actionable steps that your audience can take to solve their problems or achieve their goals.
If people follow the actionable advice in your content and see positive results, they’ll be much more likely to become a repeat customer and tell others about your business by sharing your content that has helped them.
12. Update and repurpose old content
According to Neil Patel, several big hitters in the digital marketing industry experienced a drop in rankings after Google rolled out its Helpful Content Update. These companies (specifically Moz, Search Engine Journal, HubSpot and Backlinko) all provide respected, high-quality content.
The likelihood is that their rankings dropped because their websites feature old content in need of a refresh. It’s possible that Google looks at a blog about marketing trends in 2019, for example, and thinks, “This blog may be popular, but how relevant is the content when the world has changed so much since 2019?”
For this reason, it’s worth regularly reviewing your old content.
- Does it need updating or refreshing in some way?
- Do you have several blog articles that would be better combined into a single article?
- Is there content that you should delete because it no longer serves your audience?
- Can you repurpose your old content?
Doing a regular content audit will keep your content fresh and relevant and give you opportunities to target new keywords and reach new audiences.
Updating and repurposing old content can also help boost your SEO by improving the quality and relevance of your content over time.
13. Make it evergreen
I think a sensible approach is to create as much ‘evergreen’ content as possible, i.e., stuff that will stay current for a long time. This will help your audience to find helpful content on your website at any time, without you having to worry that it’s gone out of date (something that can be very frustrating for website visitors).
14. Show why readers should trust your content
Anyone can post content that appears to be helpful. We’ve all seen and heard people in life who talk complete nonsense with absolute confidence!
But your audience deserves to know that what you say is trustworthy.
There are many ways that you can help to build the know-like-trust factor into your content. For example, you could include a short author bio on your blog posts highlighting what qualifies you to talk about a particular topic or (see point 8) share your first-hand experiences.
15. Use reliable sources
Following on from the point above, I think a powerful way to build trust in your content is to always use reliable sources and link to them without hesitation.
This shows your audience (and Google) that your content is well-researched and that you’re willing to help people who’d like to learn more about the topic in question.
Transparency is key here.
You should always make it clear if you’re linking to something as an affiliate because this might change your motivation for including the link, even if it’s something you really love and feel deserves to be shared. Your audience has the right to the full picture.
Create with the intention to give
Of course, we create content as business owners because we want to grow our audience and build better businesses. However, we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Our businesses can only thrive if we have a thriving audience.
While there are people who successfully game Google and scale the rankings with low-quality content, I’d like to think their days are numbered. Yes, content written for search engines may bring more traffic to your site (initially, at least), but will that traffic turn into satisfied, repeat customers? It’s unlikely.
A better approach is to create with the intention to give, be it to give value, support, confidence, reassurance, empowerment, or opportunity. If we can create content thinking not, “What’s in it for our business?” but “What’s value does it give our customers?” everyone benefits.
Want some support?
My self-study course, The Website Sales Booster, teaches you how to create genuinely helpful content that your audience will love and that also performs well in Google searches.
This online course is perfect for all types of solo and small businesses who dream of attracting a multitude of ideal customers to their websites via Google searches and turning them into paying customers.
Want to create the right content with SEO that *actually* works so that your website does all the heavy lifting when it comes to consistently attracting ideal customers?
Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
Want to follow Hazel on social media? You’ll find her via the icons below.