What is good SEO content in the coming years? Well, WordPress SEO has evolved significantly over the years. The Google Helpful Content Update in September 2023 proved to be another major game-changer in how you set up WordPress with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.
As a website owner and/or content creator, it’s crucial to remain relevant to Google and attract visitors to your site. In this article, you’ll discover the key WordPress SEO trends and I’ll give you 30 tips to improve your WordPress website.
Survived the Google Helpful Content Update? 30 tips to attract more visitors to your website
How do you create helpful content for your website(s)? Were you also shocked by the drop in your website traffic after the Google Helpful Content Update in September 2023? You’re not alone. It’s a lot of work to review all the pages and blogs of your WordPress site for the Google principles of helpful content and update them to be original and current. Additionally, the time has passed when Google would index all content indiscriminately. You’ll need to demonstrate your expertise and entrepreneurship on various platforms, and in the ‘real world’ as well.
Marketing and SEO cannot exist without each other. You really have to hit the ground running; with your real knowledge. And after all, SEO techniques come into play.
Let me therefore start with the WordPress SEO trends and then read the 30 tips from Webredactie blog to improve your website as quickly as possible. Despite the unfortunate loss that many websites have dropped a few positions in the Google search engine results. Unfortunately, Google is becoming more and more commercial…
A new era for SEO, trends:
Google SEO was always known to have about 200 ranking factors. Getting good backlinks, was a very important one. But as of 2023, two very important SEO factors have been added. These are the two SEO trends:
1. Quality and authentic content is a must
The Google Helpful Content Update particularly values authentic, quality content. To rank high in Google, it is therefore crucial to provide in-depth, relevant content that directly meets the needs of your website visitors. As an author, you must know who your target audience is and what their questions are. It’s no longer just about using the right SEO keywords (in titles, headings, and paragraphs), but also about providing the most appropriate answer to someone’s search query in Google. Authenticity is also crucial; speak in a way that suits you (or your company) and choose topics that you are knowledgeable about and have practical experience with. All this makes your voice and your story relevant.
2. The importance of trustworthiness (E-A-T-E)
The second important trend is the increased importance of E-A-T-E, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness, and Experience. How convincing is your website from these principles? Expertise refers to the knowledge and skills of the author, Authoritativeness to the authority of the creator and the website, and Trustworthiness to the reliability of both the source and the content. The E for Experience was added later (2022). Google checks whether the content breathes experience. Is your content written with knowledge? It’s about real experiences (not promises). Reading someone’s direct, personal experience is often highly appreciated. See the E-A-T-E guidelines or principles of trustworthiness of websites for developers.
The Core and Spam Updates of Google (fall 2023) have strongly focused on this. It’s about more than just providing information; it’s about presenting content that demonstrates thorough knowledge, is recognized as authoritative, and can be trusted by readers. Google is also extra critical of web pages that can have a major (negative) impact on someone’s life, finances, and/or health. The so-called ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) content. Strict requirements apply to health-related, financial, and legal (advice) websites.
How does the Google Helpful Content update affect WordPress SEO strategy?
The impact of the Google Helpful Content update on your WordPress SEO strategy is the realization that SEO techniques alone are no longer sufficient. The process of content creation begins even more with the user: what is useful and valuable to them? Keep in mind that different content types can help users. Be strongly aware that you as a sender must be recognizable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable.
Consequences of the Google Helpful Content update for business websites
As a result of the Google Helpful Content update, business websites must work harder to create content that is SEO-optimized, but also substantively valuable to the consumer. In addition, business websites must develop content that radiates the expertise of the company, strengthens authority, and builds trust.
Consequences of the Google Helpful Content update for bloggers
The Google Helpful Content Update also has consequences for bloggers. Authors of (WordPress) blogs must do more than just keyword research and content optimization. They need to write more in-depth articles that are complete and answer all questions to provide real value. This means that best practices of SEO play a role, but only get the most attention in the final phase of the writing process.
Consequences of the Google Helpful Content update for webshops
Finally, the Google Helpful Content update also has consequences for the setup of webshops. They must focus more on building trust (E-A-T). This means not only promoting products but also paying attention to the brand and showing that this brand is reliable. What helps are detailed product descriptions, reliable reviews, and informative explanations or blog posts.
In short, with Google’s recent ‘helpful content’ update, it’s clear that the future of SEO lies in the hands of authentic, valuable content. Websites that adapt to these trends and create content that respects Google’s E-A-T principles will perform better in search results and build a stronger bond with their audience.
What is helpful content according to Google?
In August 2022, Google first announced the Helpful Content Update. With this, they want helpful content to come to the fore in Google’s search results.
According to Google, helpful content is primarily created to genuinely help people. The content is or does not appear to be specifically made to manipulate search engines. Helpful content is reliable, original, and in-depth. It should also provide readers with a good page experience.
In September 2023, unhelpful or ‘unhelpful content’ had a harder time in the Netherlands and Belgium. At the same time, social platforms were given more priority in the search results. This meant that many web pages, especially personal blogs, received less traffic from Google. This effect could be 60% or more for pages that did not meet Google’s Helpful Content Update requirements.
See the official guidelines for what Google means by Helpful content. I will explain what helpful content according to Google exactly is, through this practical example:
Which how-to content ranks higher in Google since September 2023?
What helpful or “content written for people” means in practice, according to Google, I will explain using this practical example. Now this example from October 2023, so shortly after the implemented Google Helpful content update.
- Search term: “how to sharpen footage adobe premiere pro”
- URL: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/premiere-pro-effect-sharpen-ben-kemp/
- Content result: see this screenshot example of this article posted on LinkedIn dated March 12, 2023 (7 months fresh):
How to recover your website traffic from Google’s Helpful Content Update 2023?
The impact of Google’s Helpful Content Update can be significant: content must be useful and relevant to people. The time of static content is really over. Even more effort is needed to keep content very current. If you have seen a traffic decline in Google Analytics, it’s time, according to Google, for a critical content evaluation.
In this article, I give 25 tips to adjust your website and content to the new Helpful content update guidelines from Google. These 30 quick fixes may well help you on your way. :-)
30 tips for your website after Google’s Helpful content update 2023
If your website has less traffic, that’s an unpleasant discovery. Yet, you can take long-term actions to recover the loss of traffic. By following these 25 steps, you can better adapt your website to the new Google guidelines and (try to) regain your lost organic traffic.
Since there is less room for organic results on the Google homepage, you cannot simply expect to achieve the same positions in Google as before September 2023.
1. Answer search queries posed to Google!
It’s important to create content that answers questions and engages your website visitors. To create content that directly answers questions, you must understand who your audience is, how they search, and what they hope to find. Therefore, empathize well. Identify the problems, questions, and interests of your audience. What do they want to know and how can you help? What search terms do they use? You can try to determine this with the Google keyword tool.
Expert tip: Use the 4-eyes principle and pair writing to increase the quality of your content and test your content with your target audience for the best results.
Keywords are concepts, words, or phrases that people use to find your information in Google Search. When evaluating your content, focus on high-quality, relevant information that should answer combinations of keywords. It’s also important that SEO keywords are related to your organization or business, your products and services, and your location.
What you don’t want is for website visitors to drop off and visit other sites (this is also called pogo-sticking). Clear titles, containing both important search terms and being attractive, are essential here. Try to prevent this by writing catchy introductions, offering a clear structure. Answer both the questions and the logical follow-up questions that come after. This not only ensures that your readers find the answers they are looking for, but also that they stay on your site longer (dwell time) and therefore do not go back to Google. Google rewards time-on-site. Users reward a ‘nice flow’ in your way of answering. A text must meet your reader’s needs, the length can be short or long.
It is essential to continuously confirm and expand your authority within your niche. Do this by constantly updating and sharing your knowledge. Even if things are going well, it’s important to stay active on your website. Regularly show that you are an expert by conducting thorough research and sharing detailed, well-substantiated information. This way you win the trust of your target audience and gradually improve your visibility in search engines. And if managing a website takes more time than you’d like, also sharing your contributions on various social media has become a necessity in the world of SEO. Because only if you move, you live for Google. And otherwise, your website will quickly be forgotten…
Conclusion Google Helpful Content Update (definition)
Being empathetic to your target audience and the content they are looking for has become more essential than ever to still appear in the higher positions in the Google Search Results as a WordPress website or blog. Re-read Google’s Helpful Content Guidelines to understand the requirements Google sets for helpful content.
2. Renew your WordPress theme
If it improves the user experience (UX), consider renewing your WordPress theme. A fresh look can do wonders. I usually choose a paid theme from the library of Generate Press for WordPress websites. But there are more wp-themes.
3. Business appearance
Ensure the highest possible quality across your entire website. A business and professional appearance is essential. Think of a sleek website with a clear offer. Use the homepage to make your offer clear and do not place a blogroll on it; your latest posts. Show your expertise and link to reliable sources. Also put your business activities on Google My Business. Pay close attention to the user experience and site navigation. Evenif you are a sole proprietor or blogger; present your website as a company (with multiple people) would. Speak in the plural form, even if your reader immediately realizes that this is just for show.
4. Use unique and real photos
Place clear and visible photos of you as the owner and/or your team. This immediately reinforces trust. Photos with real people increase the engagement of your website visitors. Therefore, avoid stock photos on your website. Real photos, of employees, usually do very well. The fact remains that people “always want to do business with people”. So by sharing photos of employees, via your website and LinkedIn, you are authentic and credible.
Create anchor links within your page to improve the user experience. Also adding social media icons to web pages to share the URL increases interaction on the page. And engagement is what Google especially wants to reward.
Set via your SEO plugins (such as Rank Math) that some domains get a no-follow link when it comes to commercial links.
Clearly show on your site a text that tells you have affiliate links on the page if this is the case. Provide those links with the attribute sponsored, to be transparent about your own position and goals with the site. Give high-quality links to other websites the attribute “Do follow”.
6. Load time under 2 seconds
Via GT Metrix, go to that website, you can test load times per URL, do this for the most important web pages. This tool is free. It is important that your website is visible (and preferably also usable) within 2 seconds. Follow the instructions that GT Metrix gives you. Pictures on the page that are too large can be reduced via the tool tinypng.com. In some cases, too large pictures cause your website to load too slowly.
7. Clear ‘About us’ page
Provide a clear About page with contact details and also links to your social media. Pay attention to texts by reading them aloud. Especially the About Us page is so important that it should read nicely for your target groups or users and that they understand your offer and benefits very well and can easily translate them to their situations. Also mention the core values of your company, your blog, website, or webshop.
Also ensure a complete Google My Business page. Your Google business profile helps you become findable in Google and Google Maps. You tell new customers what services you provide. And especially local searchers may quickly come to you. You can strengthen this profile by asking satisfied customers for reviews. And also by always responding to reviews. Especially if they are negative.
Use an email address that carries your website extension. So no longer use a Hotmail or Gmail email address as a correspondence address on your website. This seems less business-like or more anonymous, and therefore it inspires less trust. Whatever website or blog you have, always think: would a (different) company profile itself like this?
9. Naming emotions
Naming emotions can give your content more depth. Try to imagine how your readers interpret your content and take this into account in how you write. For example: “As an entrepreneur, you have to go the extra mile, which demands scarce time and attention, but this can be the right way to persuade hesitant customers. You can initiate this as follows….”
10. Title and SEO search intent
Make sure the title of your page directly answers the visitor’s search intent. Look in Google Search Console to see which keyword generates the most clicks. Include that keyword at the beginning of your title to get more traffic.
Do keyword research to find relevant keywords. Incorporate these naturally into your content. This helps your content rank higher in search engine results, especially in Google because it is by far the largest search engine in the Netherlands and Belgium. It no longer helps to rank higher in Google to deliberately create articles with thousands of words. The key is to look at what your target audience is looking for and to see how you can answer that question as well as possible on a web page.
Tip: For example, ask ChatGPT to sharpen your title and meta description based on that specific search term. Whereby you include in your prompt that UX and readability should be paramount. You can copy a search result of your page (SERP) from the Google Search Results and paste it into ChatGPT to improve it.
12. Fact-check your web content via counter-reader(s)
Consider a second author for fact-checking to make your content more reliable. You can then mention on the page who has reviewed and approved the information. Of course, this must also be evident from the content, that this is credible and plausible.
Strive for a balance where ads are present, without dominating the reading experience. Use affiliate links and ads sparingly and make sure they are relevant to your audience. Excessive use can be distracting and potentially damage the credibility of your website. Another tip here is to always be transparent about your use of affiliate links, for example, clearly state this at the top of the page(s) containing affiliate links. In a clearly visible place.
14. Readability, despite the use of AI
Avoid spamming with links and keep everything readable. Ask ChatGPT to write texts in active form. And rewrite everything and supplement where possible with expertise and facts so that your source adds more value than for those who generally Google on your topics. So you can use ChatGPT as a tool, but AI alone is not enough. Adding your own expertise remains crucial.
15. Diversify traffic sources
Don’t just focus on Google SEO; consider other traffic sources. Be present on 3 online platforms, such as X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and possibly a professional website (guest author). So be active on multiple social media platforms and other websites where your target audience likes to come.
16. Write for people
If you want to write ideally in a way that Google rewards, you must put the active reader or user at the center of your writing style. That is the way of writing that is forpeople, as Google appreciates and also ranks higher in the search results.
You must keep in mind that people have always shared stories with each other. People have not changed in this regard due to the internet. Therefore, create engaging stories that resonate with your audience. People want to emotionally connect, with you as the writer, or with others in a similar situation. Discuss the pain points that the reader recognizes. Set against this good solutions and insights.
Also ask questions, hold (short) polls, and respond to comments. Lower barriers by using active spoken language. Avoid writing jargon and thus also convert technical terms into clear language that everyone (in your target group) can understand.
17. Keep your target audience active and engaged
Send out a newsletter regularly to keep your audience engaged. This way, in addition to Google SEO or WordPress SEO, you have another way to drive traffic to your website or blog. Create content that is shareable on social media.
Also in your website design, you can include an option to share content, where the user or reader shares the link to the web page on a social media platform such as X, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
It is important that the user can add their own commentary, so that the nature of the social engagement with the content is well expressed. This increases your reach and keeps your audience active and connected.
18. Check content
Check your pages, links, and posts for accuracy and spelling. There are also tools for this, of course. See the list of online marketing tools.
19. Off-topic content
Set off-topic topics for your target audience to no-index. Think more strategically about the goals of your website and the topics that really belong there. Choose those topics and make especially that content worthwhile.
20. Unvisited pages
Set pages without significant traffic to no-index. Do not do this on the “Contact” page, as Google should be able to find it.
21. Remove outdated content
Remove outdated content and redirect the URL to your homepage. Or make these pages current again. Also check for broken links. If you have deliberately made content long, by using many words, evaluate whether this is necessary for the search intent (search query).
22. Merge short pages
Increase quality by merging short pages. This prevents duplicate content. For search engines, it is easier if there is only one URL for each topic, or for each approach, so that there is no “confusion” about which page the search engine should show.
23. Long-term strategy
Think long-term. Although this requires investments in the website, UX, and rich content. Make sure your website or platform is easy to navigate. A seamless user experience keeps visitors engaged.
It costs not only money but also effort. Because these additional, visual means must reinforce the core message. It cannot just be a technique, but all the means used together must be of high quality. So look carefully at what is possible.
Try to obtain more relevant backlinks from other websites. In the future, this will be less important than in the past, but you will certainly need links from other websites. More importantly, your website adds value to what is already on the internet.
25. Show trust-inspiring elements
Use elements such as 5-star reviews and partner logos to win the trust of your visitors. Take good photos of yourself, your company, or your employees. This gives the website a better appearance and contributes to trust and recognition among your website visitors.
26. No reader experience interrupting ads
When it comes to ads, Google Adsense is a well-known one. But it can also be other affiliate partners with whom you advertise on your WordPress website or blog. Only place (subtly) an ad ‘above the fold’ and thereby ensure a good mobile experience. Remove all Google Adsense ads that interrupt the reading experience. So do not place ads between paragraphs anymore if the story is not finished yet. Google no longer finds that good UX. Logical places for ads are: after the h1 title (so before the content) and under the post (so immediately after the content). Of course, a moving sidebar can also contain an ad. You can achieve this with a Fixed widget plugin for WordPress. See my list of useful wp-plugins.
Clearly show on which social media platforms you are active. Not only in the footer but also within content sections of your homepage. And show your social media icons from your contact page. Also use the icon of your Google My Business account, so that Google understands that you are also present on the Google My Business platform.
28. Suggest that your business location is physically visited
Share on your website, so on the contact page, a route description and Google Maps map (and link to Google Maps route description) on your site. Help your visitors find their way to you. Inspire trust with a visiting address and, for example, an invoice address. Explain to visitors how they can travel to your location or establishment.
Especially create the mandatory pages for privacy and cookies. And make sure the content is legally sound. You may be able to adjust the text after you have found good texts from similar websites.
30. Bring consistency in brand style use
Show you are a brand by having a clear brand style. Use separate fonts for headings and running texts. Perfect your brand style, and use of fixed colors, in your website design. And check if header photos of your social media, etc., are also in that style. You behave like a brand (‘brand’) by really paying attention to this.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions Google Helpful content update 2023
Website owners are looking for answers to the Helpful Content update. A number of questions and answers.
What is Google’s Helpful Content Update?
Google’s Helpful Content Update is an adjustment of the Google Algorithm. ThisAlgorithm now looks more closely at the user-friendliness of website content. Unlike before, the entire website is examined, and Google may decide to drastically limit traffic to this site.
This can feel like a Google penalty, but it has to do with how the website and content are set up. This update is a result of how Google ranks websites in the natural Google results (the unpaid links within the overview of the Google Search Results).
Why is Google now implementing such major updates?
If I interpret this movement by Google, I come up with a number of trends and considerations.
- Google gives even more priority to ads and businesses, and reduces traffic from sites that reproduce knowledge, compare, or only want to link (affiliate).
- Google may be protecting itself against the rapid rise of AI. Google is less likely to fail if it can piggyback on good use of AI by (indirect) competitors such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora. The relevance of the best results in Google must be good if their algorithms also contribute to serving the right content. Note: this is my personal assumption.
- Authority, credibility, and UX now form the explicit measure for quality of content according to Google. Quality that must be proven on many different levels. A). On a personal level by having to show expertise in a convincing way, on website level (quality, UX, currency, best websites practices, WCAG and load time). B). On content level: others must read, share, and also appreciate your content. And finally, on C). local level, you as a website owner must ensure that you are locally relevant, visible, and convincing.
- Finally, Google sets more requirements for currency. Content must be correct and repairing broken links is extremely necessary.
What does the Helpful content update from Google mean for new websites?
All these requirements together make it necessary for individuals and companies to be professionally and continuously engaged in a high-quality, online presence. The consequence is that online visibility costs much more knowledge, time, and effort than ever before.
Many business models are not calculated for this; if you look at what a website may cost and should yield. So in the future, it may be unattractive to have to maintain a lot of web content. It is better to calculate on an annual basis how much time there is for the website. There should not be more web pages than there are workable half-days for.
For example, it may be more attractive to primarily obtain new leads and website visitors via LinkedIn, because you can participate in discussions that are already very relevant to your products and/or services. Your site only needs to further convince these visitors to make them loyal customers.
What is the impact of Google’s Helpful content update?
The impact of Google’s Helpful content update varies from site to site. The Helpful content update from Google has led to a significant decline in website traffic for many sites.
Google Analytics shows a loss of traffic that in some cases can be more than 50%. This is a wake-up call for websites that have focused primarily on (technical) SEO rather than the user.
From a UX and user standpoint, this content is not optimal, or the website does not provide enough confidence that the content is correct and expertly made.
Should I stop with my how-to blog or website after the Helpful content update from Google?
The feeling of having to stop with an affiliate or how-to blog or other (niche) website because it now gets much less traffic is a very logical reaction to the adverse consequences for some website owners of this Google Helpful content update.
The significant loss of traffic in Google can be quite disappointing, but don’t take it personally. As an online marketer, website owner, or web editor, you always had to be patient and give SEO time. The road to ranking higher in Google has become even more of a marathon, now that your content always has to be correct.
Weigh in the long term what effort you want to put into your website. It seems wise to also tap into other traffic sources than Google; focus on newsletters and on (five forms of) social media to be less dependent on Google.
Ultimately, Google is a monopolist that you cannot compete with. What you can also do is further narrow down your niche and target audience for more SEO impact there.
How do I take readers step-by-step through a how-to blog?
How can you take readers step-by-step? I give an example text that I develop into two different writing styles. I want to show you that you should not start from the subject (which you know so much about), but that you should start from the reader. That gives different texts:
Subject-oriented content; written from content. Fragment:
“Custom Instructions in ChatGPT-4 offers you various possibilities for personalization. It allows you as a paid user to generate articles using AI ChatGPT. And from your own role and tone-of-voice.”
Reader-oriented content; written with an eye for the reader. Fragment rewritten:
“With Custom Instructions in ChatGPT you give fixed instructions that ChatGPT always applies. So you can give your own tone of voice and grammatical rules as standard, making your AI content always personalized. Convenient and time-saving, but you will still have to check the output. Even with Custom Instructions, ChatGPT can hallucinate etc….”
Which content scores higher after Helpful Content Update from Google?
The Helpful Content Update lets forums with high authority score better after September 2023. Google gives the high positions in Google to platforms such as LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit. Helpful blogs now score lower on the first page of the Google search results.
This Google update is therefore especially disadvantageous for niche websites that are highly dependent on organic traffic via Google. In Google’s battle to be relevant and user-friendly, Google sets higher demands on content quality.
Only step-by-step, precise, and accurate content is seen by Google as helpful. In this practical example, you see this LinkedIn URL scoring high in Google:
Result after your content audit
By following these 30 steps, you are effectively conducting a content audit. This way, you can optimize your website for the new Google guidelines. Although success is not guaranteed, making your (WordPress) website and your content more user-friendly does increase the chance of some recovery of your organic traffic.
But it is also a difficult battle.
The homepage of Google offers less and less space to appear in the unpaid search results, causing many websites to accept lower positions in Google than before.
Adjusting your website after Google’s Helpful Content Update is certainly not an easy task, but it is necessary. By putting the user at the center, optimizing your website, and utilizing email newsletters and social media, you can continue to attract organic traffic to your website.
This requires continuous commitment at a professional level.
Good luck with that!
- Google’s official documentation on the Helpful Content Update
- Podcast about the impact of the Google update.
I hope this blog from Webredactie blog helps and supports you in adapting your WordPress website to the new Google guidelines. If you have any questions, comments, or your own discoveries, please let me know!
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