A new Google algorithm update is now rolling out aimed at cracking down on content written predominantly for search engines.

The so-called helpful content update is likely to be fully implemented within two weeks.

A pre-announced Google update is always big news for online marketers and this one is likely to cause particularly high levels of chat with the announcement that sites deemed to have too much in the way of unhelpful content will suffer a site-wide dip in performance.

Site-wide signal

The new site-wide signal will mean that where detected, websites hosting a high volume of search engine focussed content will suffer across the board.

As part of the announcement, Google has encouraged website owners to ‘focus on people-first content’.

Marketers unconcerned

Despite the updates, a recent Twitter poll conducted by Aleyda Solis suggests that of the 500 people who answered, over 85% were either unconcerned or willing to ‘wait and see what happens’ whilst only 9% suggested they would be taking immediate action to clean up their content.

Focus on people first

Google’s announcement of the update has encouraged marketers to focus on ‘people-first content’. This is nothing new, it’s a message Google has encouraged for many years, however the introduction of the update suggests the search engine has been battling with poor quality content.

In order to assist marketers, Google has provided questions to ask of your content. “Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?” Is one such example.

Analysis – nothing new to see here, but always worth watching

Google launches updates, some are big and some less so. Likewise, Google has consistently encouraged website owners to create content and experiences for real people – this has never not been the case.

This latest update introduces nothing new in terms of advice, it simply seems to be an opportunity for Google to flex its AI muscles in the fight against online noise.

So, most marketers are rightly unconcerned; in the mind of most marketers will be the fact that they do indeed focus on their customers first.

My biggest fear then is that Google gets this wrong. It’s not unheard of for a website to be unfairly damaged by a rogue update. If Google’s AI and methodology is untested in the wild, there are likely to be false positives.

Of course, Google (we hope) tests updates extensively, however when something ‘goes live’, there’s always a risk something could go wrong.

In summary, most marketers won’t need to worry about their content, however, do keep an eye on your performance, you never know.