What Google’s “helpful content update” means for your dealership

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Here at Driverseat, we place a big focus on delivering the best experience to car shoppers – so we were excited to hear that Google is rolling out a new search ranking algorithm change that will reward this intent.

Last week, Google announced what they're calling "the helpful content update," which will begin rolling out today, August 22. The latest algorithm change will focus on recognizing and boosting content written for people, while at the same time devaluing content written primarily for SEO.

The update also introduces a new ranking signal that will negatively impact sites (not just pages) that publish high amounts of content with no or little-added value.

Let’s take a look under the hood, and learn how you can benefit from this change at your dealership. Here’s what we know:

What is helpful content?

In short, Google defines helpful content as follows– it’s created for a specific audience, it features expertise, it’s trustworthy and credible, and finally – it meets the wants and needs of the searcher.

Effectively, all 4 of these factors boil down to 1 thing – a big focus on people, as opposed to search engines. This new classifier process is entirely automated using a machine-learning model, meaning that you need to act fast in order to avoid being hit with a penalty.

How to create helpful content?

When creating pages or writing blog posts, ask yourself these questions to help determine whether your content is helpful or just fluff:

  • Do you have an intended audience for your dealership that would find the content useful if they came directly to your website?
  • Are you just throwing out lots and lots of content with the hopes that some of it might stick preform well in SERPs?
  • Are you relying solely on automation to produce content?
  • Is your content written by someone who knows the topic well? / Does your content demonstrate a depth of knowledge?
  • Does your content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Do you abuse clickbait? / Does the headline avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature?
  • Do you evaluate your content from the perspective of a potential reader? Will someone leave feeling that they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?

What should you do?

While this is a massive ranking change, Google did not give much time to prepare. Not to worry, there are a few things you can do right now to make sure you remain in good standing with Google. It’s important to act fast, however, as Google warns that sites impacted by this update may continue to suffer the negative consequences up to a few months after removing the unhelpful content.

For starters, it’s important to complete a content audit to make sure that all of your existing content can be considered helpful by running it through the list of questions above. If any of your pages or blog posts only exist to please the search engines, it’s best to delete them entirely to avoid being penalized.

The new ranking signal is weighted – meaning that websites with lots of unhelpful content might notice a stronger effect.

Moving forward, it’s imperative to keep the people-focused approach in mind, instead of trying to hit arbitrary word counts, or stuff your copy with irrelevant keywords. Sometimes, less is more, and in this case it’s better to produce fewer content pieces, as long as they tackle a topic in greater depth and with a demonstrable level of expertise.

The good news is that if you do produce high quality, “helpful content,” it is now much more likely to be highlighted in featured snippets in search, as well as rank higher organically across all local search markets.

We can help!

Driverseat can help your dealership navigate this update in a number of ways – starting with better copy. Our copywriters can help you generate helpful and unique content tailored specifically for your dealership.

Additionally, all dealerships on the Driverseat platform will soon be receiving a new report monitoring their website SERP rankings and keywords.

If you’re not yet a Driverseat customer, schedule a no-commitment demo, and we’ll provide you with a free content audit regardless of your current website provider.

Ready to improve your customer experience?

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