What Google’s Helpful Content update means for charities

SEO and UX shake hands

What is the Helpful Content Update?

Google’s search algorithm decides what websites come up highest in its search results. 

Google updates this algorithm all the time. They have been rolling out their latest update, called the Helpful Content update. 

It’s a particularly big update, because it could impact a lot of websites at once.

Why is it called the Helpful Content Update?

This update aims to devalue web pages and websites that have content that is not considered to be “helpful”. Easy!

But what does ‘helpful’ mean here?

The update will most likely cover things like increasingly popular AI-written content. That’s broadly content that humans didn’t write.

It could also devalue: 

  • websites that stray too far from their niche
  • websites with plagiarised content
  • websites with thin content
  • content that re-hashes the contents of other webpages. 

Why Google is updating their algorithm

The aim of every Google algorithm update is to improve the quality of results shown to the user. That keeps people coming back to Google, as their trusted search engine.

Some websites exist solely to generate money from adverts and so they might pump out tonnes of content that generate the traffic by scraping other websites, having AI write content, or simply rewording content on other websites.

Websites like that might not care about authenticity or accuracy of content if that saves them time and ultimately improves their bottom line. 

Why would they do that? Well, it makes them money.

These websites are the biggest target of the Helpful Content update since they might not necessarily represent a good user experience, only one that serves to generate traffic

What does it mean for charities?

As we know, charities are different from most organisations. They’re there to help people. They aren’t usually concerned with traffic for traffic’s sake in the same way – they don’t usually make advertising revenue from that traffic.

Charities prefer to attract qualified traffic. That means people who have a demonstrable interest in their work or who are likely to take an action on their website e.g. get support, sign up or donate. 

Charities are also home to a lot of genuine research or service delivery expertise. That means they are often the original source of information that gets reproduced by lower quality websites. Their backlinks from other authoritative sources can help to vindicate that. 

Charities have very little incentive to stray from their niche and write content that does not serve its target audience. 

All this means that charities are much less likely to suffer from the Helpful Content update. 

What your charity should do

We always urge clients and training course attendees to provide a positive user experience for people reading your content above everything else.

Our SEO training sessions we have a whole section dedicated to outlining how SEO and user experience go hand in hand – it’s just super important.

So if you structure individual pages and your website content as a whole around user experience best practice, you shouldn’t go too far wrong. 

Long story short – charities are less likely to be impacted by the “Helpful Content”  update.

Anything is possible of course. 

So whether you’re worried about being impacted by the update, or if this post has simply inspired you to get your content in tiptop shape, look out for any content that:

  • might be considered too thin to be useful to the user
  • content that is not comprehensive

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