How Google’s 2023 Helpful Content Update Impacts B2B Websites

    Google, the search engine, has successfully finished rolling out its highly-anticipated 2023 Helpful Content Update. With it, the company aims to enhance the quality and relevance of content in its search results. 

    The rollout of the update started on 14th September and was completed on 28th September. It brings about significant changes that can impact the performance of B2B websites in search results.

    Let’s take a quick glimpse of the main changes Google introduced in this latest update:

    • AI-generated content seems to have found acceptance, as the “written by people” clause was removed to emphasise the importance of “helpful content created for people in search results” 
    • Google warns about hosting third-party content on the main website or subdomains without close supervision. Such content may be subject to site-wide signals like the “helpfulness” of the content.

    So, what does this update mean for B2B websites? And, how do you adapt to the evolving landscape of digital marketing?

    Helpful Content: The Breakdown

    Google has a long-standing strategy to deliver users with real value. The search company has emphasised the need for high-quality content produced by humans to satisfy visitors in its recent updates. It wants to ensure that when a visitor searches for information, they get helpful content.

    That means developing an online ecosystem where user value, helpfulness of content, and user satisfaction are the key metrics of success.

    In short, the sole purpose of publishing content is not to stuff it with keywords and clog up the search engine. Rather, it should be meant for the readers and at the same time, optimised for a specific keyword.

    What’s Changing?

    In this update, Google encourages creators to prioritise people over search engine ranking with every piece of content they publish on their website. In addition, it’s evident that Google no longer considers only human-written content helpful for the readers. 

    Google, in its previous updates, expressed concerns about AI-generated content, questioning its authenticity, quality, and capability to address user queries. However, in the latest guideline, Google has accommodated AI-generated content, acknowledging the role of advanced technologies in content production.

    The terminology used in the “2023 Helpful Content” update has changed. The term “written” has been replaced with words such as “produced,” “generated,” or “created.” This subtle change highlights the significance of integrating AI with human efforts. It stresses the critical role of content editors, overseers, and quality analysts in providing readers with relevant and high-quality content.

    Impact of the Changes on Content Creation

    The “2023 Helpful Content Update” seeks to reward websites that offer valuable and useful content. All content, whether made by humans, AI, or a combination, must follow Google’s rules for quality and relevance to provide a good user experience.

    Again, websites solely designed to rank in the search engines may find it unlucky to get within the algorithm’s radar. Focusing on delivering real value to visitors instead of just search ranking can help reduce volatility in websites. 

    By “websites designed to rank higher in search engines,” we mean sites that leverage tactics like repetitive content, keyword stuffing, etc, that might trick algorithms but fail to address user queries and deliver value. 

    Websites with too many ads and no clear branding on their homepage are being the most affected. They are experiencing a significant decrease in their search rankings due to this latest content update.

    The process of ranking and presenting search results has been completely transformed by Google’s 2023 Helpful Content Update. Particularly, it prioritises “People-Also-Ask” (PAA) results that offer visitors additional questions and their answers related to the user search query. 

    Google suggests B2B websites self-assess and evaluate their content based on Google’s guidelines. “If you’re producing helpful content, then you don’t need to do anything; this system may be good for your site, as it is designed to reward helpful content.” “If you’ve noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (such as after a publicly posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful,” Google added. 

    Some of Google’s self-assessment questions are:

    • Is the content relevant, original, and well-produced?
    • Does the content include a thorough analysis and breakdown of the topic?
    • Does the content include information that is beyond the obvious?
    • Is the content taken from third-party sources? If yes, is it a mere copy or a rewrite or worth delivering real value to the readers?
    • Will someone reading the content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?

    Getting a tick on these questions means adhering to Google standards of creating helpful content. If the answer to some of these questions is “No,” you need to work on your content to make it “people-first” and get back on track.

    Impact on Third-Party Content

    Third-party content now needs to meet the same strict criteria and assessments as Google’s standards of helpfulness. The company encourages websites to monitor any third-party content to ensure it meets the requirements. If the content isn’t being assessed, then the company recommends blocking it from being indexed.

    Strategies to Make Content People-First

    Following the update, Google has offered guidance to help those affected.

    If a B2B website loses traffic or search rankings, it is likely due to poor content. Google recommends they thoroughly analyse all published content, thus identifying any that’s unhelpful. Edit and polish the unhelpful copy to improve user value and search engine ranking. To meet Google standards, it’s best to remove or replace unhelpful pieces. This way, they won’t affect the rankings of the good content.

     For those hosting third-party content, ensuring alignment with the new standards of helpfulness is essential.

    To make your B2B website stand out from competitors using AI-generated content, involve humans in the content production process. By incorporating subject-matter experts and attributing authorship to the content, a website gains increased credibility and authority. Human involvement, especially in editing and fact-checking, is essential for producing concise content and addressing gaps left by other websites.

    Google’s latest update encourages B2B websites to take the “humans first, search engines second” approach to content creation. However, it doesn’t mean website owners should abandon SEO tactics

    B2B websites can improve their online visibility and credibility with high-quality SEO and content services, like Geeky Tech. Such services help improve Google rankings and drive up targeted traffic using user-centric optimised content, competitive keywords, and backlinks. Thus, B2B websites can offer relevant information to their audience.

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