The latest Google algorithm update is shaping up to be one of the biggest in recent years and intends to “better connect people to helpful information” — hence the name, Helpful Content Update.
Our take? 90% of enterprise sites don’t need to worry. (You can read our point of view about the Helpful Content update to help you understand reasons why you shouldn’t sweat it.)
But not worrying about it doesn’t mean you should ignore that it’s happening!
All SEOs can benefit from a proactive approach to get them through the weeks and months ahead of this update.
The framework below is designed to equip you with everything an SEO needs to set-up, monitor, take action and report on your organic traffic as this update takes effect.
A Proactive Approach to the Helpful Content Update
1) Get Set Up for the Update
Segment Your Site By Content Types
To understand what varying sections of your site might have improved or declined due to the update, create different content types or segments of your site based on any kind of URL or keyword pattern and analyze those pages in one, easy view.
There are a few ways you can do this, and we recommend:
- Brand Terms (include all keywords that include your brand name)
- Product and/or Category Pages
- Guides or other content sections of your site
Recommended Reading: SEO Segmentation to Scale For SEO Success
All it takes is a couple of simple steps:
- Create a Content Type that you can leverage across all parts of the platform
- Include the feature from the URL that relates to a type of content on your site (use the recommendations above for some ideas).
Create a Dashboard
To start, prepare a dashboard around key content types and metrics that help you prioritize the flurry of requests that come from your team. We recommend including the following details in your dashboard.
Trended Keyword Ranking Report
Using the Rank Intelligence Trend, you can include all of your priority page types (more on that below) and filter by any metric you choose.
Here, we have the weighted average rank of 4 important page types for this site over the last 30 days. Over time, this widget will dynamically update to give us a clear picture of any ranking fluctuations.
Traffic and Conversion Report
The Site Analytics Trend widget is a great way to show a traffic and conversion trend over a set period of time. To remain consistent, we can view the trend of our content types from before the update to after the update. This will help identify any changes in traffic as a result of the algorithm update.
Additionally, users can add a variety of metrics to the Site Analytics Trend, including bounce rate and conversions to name few.
Search Performance Report
Next, you want to consider your overall search performance.
Google Search Console data can be a near real-time look at clicks that were lost from before and after the update.
seoClarity users can add a Search Analytics trend widget, which pulls Google Search Console data to view performance over time based on important content types. These widgets update automatically, making monitoring, reporting, and taking action a snap.
Recommended Readings: How to Highlight Your Wins With Customizable Dashboards
Create Rank Change Alerts
Rank change alerts are automated, customizable SEO alerts that cover areas like ranking change and sub-optimal page ranking.
To receive these alerts, navigate to the Add button in the top right corner…
… and select the type of alert you’d like to create.
Then, set up your parameters.
You can apply advanced filters as well, and even include your specific content types.
And then, you can set your alert to be delivered to various individuals as part of your reporting as the update takes place or as a way to monitor the update’s impact.
2) Monitor Your Content Performance
Now that you’re set up for the Helpful Content update, it’s time to monitor its rollout.
Keep in mind, it’s going to take up to 2 weeks for this to roll out completely. Monitoring over time will help you make big-picture decisions, instead of rash decisions based on early data.
Look for Ranking Fluctuations
If you’re noticing changes in your rankings, there are two immediate actions you can take.
- Don’t panic (deep breaths — ranking fluctuations could happen for a lot of reasons!).
- Isolate what happened as much as possible by focusing on the following areas.
In Rank Intelligence, use the Pages tab and view by Weighted Average Rank to see the highest traffic potential changes most affected by the change. The Folders view can tell you if the change hit certain folders.
Then, you want to assess how large the impact was. How many keywords were impacted?
In Rank Intelligence, click on the date the drop bottomed-out. This will focus the results on that date.
Then, sort by descending rank changes to see what keywords were most affected.
The number of keywords that declined should lead you to get curious and ask:
- Did the majority of your keywords decline? If so, then it was probably due to the algorithm update.
- Is there a common thread among what keywords saw a drop?
- Was it only your high-ranking keywords?
From here, you can conduct deeper analysis to determine what was affected and plan to take action accordingly.
Recommended Reading: 12 Ways Ranking Analysis is Better in seoClarity
Dig in to Traffic Performance
After ranking fluctuations, you want to consider traffic and other performance factors such as bounce rate or conversions (and, having a clear picture of bounce rate will help you address pages that lack stickiness; more on that below).
Site Analytics is a simple way to conduct ad hoc analysis on your organic search data, and you can filter by Content Type here, too.
I recommend looking at a two-week time period to see if you notice any patterns across your chosen metrics.
Here, we can see a couple content types dip in traffic around August 20, but then recover by August 24, so this may not be cause for concern and will be helpful to share when it comes to reporting across various teams.
Understand Search Analytics
Now that you can pinpoint where rankings and traffic are being impacted by the Helpful Content update, your next step will be to get even more granular to look at keyword data.
Pulling in from Google Search Console, you can gather great insights into your SEO efforts within Search Analytics.
Sorting by content type, you can see a variety of metrics like impressions, clicks, CTR, and average (or weighted average) position.
I prefer the trended view over a 14-day period to see if I can identify consistencies in data that can tell me whether or not I was impacted by the Helpful Content update.
3) Actions to Take To Improve Content
If, while monitoring your important page types, you notice that you were impacted by the Helpful Content update, there are some things you can do now to support your performance.
Address High-Traffic Pages that Lack Stickiness
Pages with high organic traffic and a high bounce rate (and/or low engagement) indicate that users are not finding what they’re looking for on your site. This is a clue that your content may not be helpful.
seoClarity users can easily analyze their organic search data within Site Analytics to:
- Compare organic search performance over a set period of time
- Analyze across a variety of filters (in this case bounce rate)
- Correlate analytics data with other SEO metrics
First, you need to optimize content on these pages. We recommend our clients leverage Content Fusion to create and optimize their content (more on that in the next tactic).
Here, users instantly see key content insights such as search volume, keyword intent, keyword difficulty, and traffic potential — just to name a few. The keyword list, however, reveals how to be authoritative in any topic for your users.
Recommended Reading: Should I Use Content Optimization Tools After the Helpful Content Update?
While Content Fusion won’t replace your writers, it does make them more efficient in the content creation and optimization process at scale with:
- Accelerated research time with content suggestions
- Semantic insights and in-depth content recommendations
- Suggested internal links to build topical authority
- Copywriting scores to ensure clear, concise content
- Competitive data for top ranking sites
Prioritizing optimizations on pages that drive revenue or help convert the reader not only helps you drive better traffic, it also falls in line with what is expected by the user in line with the Helpful Content update.
Recommended Reading: A Lightning-Fast Guide to the AI Content Marketing Workflow
Refresh Stale Content
Outdated content that doesn’t get any organic traffic does nothing for your site. For enterprise brands, crawl budget is wasted when Googlebot spends time on outdated content.
From a user experience perspective, refreshing stale content signals to your audience that they’re receiving the latest and greatest information.
To refresh your content, try the following:
- First, you need to choose which content to update. I recommend starting with low-hanging fruit opportunities.
To do this, look at Google Search Console or Google Analytics. seoClarity users can also look at Search Analytics, which integrates with GSC data and gives the ability to filter and pull insights.
Filter to see content that has slipped from high rankings to the second or third page of Google (positions 11 - 29).
(Google Search Console data of low-hanging fruit opportunities for a Content Refresh)
Focus on which pages have high impressions and a low CTR in order to support traffic goals. For pages that have low impressions and high CTR, do additional content and keyword research to optimize and improve relevance.
- Next, understand how terms and pages are performing on your site. You can use Google Analytics and compare two sets of data, or use seoClarity’s Site Analytics, as shown below.
- Then, sort by change in traffic to identify what terms and/or pages are not driving the traffic you intended.
- From here, optimize within Content Fusion at the keyword or page level. To do this, input the target term and URL to optimize, and Content Fusion provides a detailed analysis.
The recommendations in this analysis provide ideas to make content more helpful to your audience by including semantic terms and phrases, interlink recommendations, and more.
Recommended Reading: How to Refresh Old Content With Content Fusion
Check for Duplicate Content
There is an undeniable advantage to publishing unique content across your site: When your content stands out, it’s more likely to attract your target audience.
Many enterprise ecommerce brands that use licensed content may want to take a more scaled approach and use an advanced tool like Content Similarity Checker (or SimCheck) by seoClarity.
Recommended Reading: Duplicate Content and SEO: How to Address and Avoid
Here, users can compare content between pages on their site to check for similarities by uploading an XLS, CSV, or TXT file. This provides a quick way to get a view of similarities on your site across large numbers of pages.
(Sim Check from seoClarity)
4) Reporting the Impact of the Update
Thanks to all of the work you have done thus far to set-up, monitor, and take action, reporting across your organization should be fairly straightforward.
In the case of any algorithm update, reporting on your organic traffic, conversions, and revenue reports will be most beneficial. You can very easily do that directly from the Dashboard view in seoClarity and automate your reports to send to stakeholders and executives at whatever interval you wish.
You can drill into content performance with a custom dashboard to report on a set of pages and correlated traffic over a set period of time. We recommend looking at a year to date view so you can see the trend, and then drill in from there.
You can even add filters to view by date, time, bounce rate — just to name a few of the vast customizations offered in our reporting and dashboards.
With no artificial limitations, the possibilities to build reports are endless and will put your team at ease in light of the Helpful Content update.
Google algorithm updates are inevitable, and while we can neither control nor (often) predict how, when, or why these happen, we can get proactive in our SEO strategy.
In the case of the Helpful Content update, it’s imperative to provide authoritative and relevant information to your audience. We hope you’ll use this information here to build more helpful content.