4 Unexpected Ways Google Helpful Content Update Enhances SEO

Do you remember when every meeting had to be on Zoom?  For some, navigating a virtual world was daunting and defeating. 

Many believed that so much virtual interaction signaled the end of reasonable social skills. 

For others, online meetings were informative and helpful.  Especially, paradoxically, regarding social skills.  

One leader, in particular, shared how seeing his face on the screen in meetings allowed him to observe and improve his non-verbal communication.  This was an opportunity he never had before.  

There are times when great challenges can be leveraged for an even greater benefit. 

If you look at it rightly, you can see how Google’s recent Helpful Content Update (GHC) can fall into this category for SEO.  

Google Helpful Content has had a noticeable impact across multiple categories and countries.  When GHC initially rolled out, some thought it was a death sentence for SEO. 

Turns out, the opposite was true.  Read on to learn how you can leverage GHC to maximize your SEO efforts in the best possible way. 

But first, a few quick definitions.  

What is SEO and GHC?

The experts at Search Engine Land define SEO as:

“the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines.”

SEO work is crafting content that will help users find you when they search online for what you offer. 

This created a gold rush of sorts.  People learned how to exploit the algorithms to improve rankings without improving the user experience. 

Search engines responded.  Google Helpful Content is more of a continuation of Google’s longstanding goals than a revolution. 

Google defined GHC this way:

”The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.”

They explicitly warn people to “Avoid creating content for search engines first.” 

Conflict Between SEO and Google Helpful Content?

If you read the definitions of GHC and SEO, on the surface, it may appear as though GHC drove a steak through the heart of SEO. 

What place can SEO have in a digital marketing strategy if content creators are told explicitly not to create content for search engines first? 

Answer?  Second place.  As it should. 

Google Helpful Content empowers you to leverage SEO in the best possible ways – by serving human beings, not computers, rankings, platforms, or profits.    

The Google Helpful Content Update rewards SEO that improves the lives of human beings.  Here are four ways you can lean into this with your SEO efforts. 

1. GHC Rewards Patience in SEO

Quality SEO is a complicated proposition.  It requires research, skill, and attentiveness.  Keywords, backlinks, inbound traffic, SERP ranking, page authority – and more – are part of the equation. 

Learning how to navigate the world of search engine rankings is not easy and cannot happen overnight.  And that’s just the technical skill.   

There is one overlooked ingredient to an effective SEO strategy that GHC brought to the forefront.  This skill is a virtue that cannot be taught in any university.  


In a world where technology increases at a breakneck speed and social media provides a constant dopamine drip, putting in the work doesn’t get as much publicity. 

Google Helpful Content, though, just made patience an essential skill for SEO that can provide a meaningful ROI.

Consider how GHC helps these two common SEO skills: keywords and link building. 

Google Helpful Content and Keywords 

Overusing keywords or utilizing them in an unnatural way may cause a page to be penalized now. 

And yet, we all use keywords every day with every search.  When you search for “the best coffee shop near me,” you don’t want to be directed toward a grocery store because they sell Foldgers. 

GHC requires content creators to not only do the hard work of uncovering the best keywords but also to utilize them in a way that would feel natural in a conversation.  

This cannot happen quickly.  

It requires much studying, planning, and publishing.  Research shows that websites with over 400 blog posts get more than double the traffic of websites with fewer posts.

Further, longer content, even if posted less frequently, produces far greater ROI than short-form content.  This trend is consistent across all platforms and mediums. 

Content expert Julia McCoy said it well:

“Follower and subscriber count. Likes and comments.  NONE of these things put income in your pocket.”

The Google Helpful Content update will only amplify these trends.  Articles must provide sound value for human beings and not be cluttered with SEO hacks. 

Organic Link Building and Google Helpful Content 

Search algorithms have long punished black hat SEO tactics like link farms.  Pages are penalized for having unnatural connections promoting them. 

How can a brand build backlinks that will improve rankings?

There are several tips and tricks that can be utilized.  But in the end, there is no replacement for quality content that provides value for a user. 

Brands must discover their target audience and create solutions to their problems and answers to their questions. 

When that happens, people will share the remedies you created for them.

Other brands may want to feature your work on their platforms because of the value you bring to the table. 

Organic link-building happens over the long haul.  You must produce quality content and build trust with consumers and other brands. 

Patience is essential.  But don’t let that discourage you.  Patience is one of your greatest allies as you build your brand. 

A star shooting across the night sky may catch your attention.  But it fades quickly.  GHC directs you to adopt an SEO strategy that will be sustainable for the long haul. 

2. GHC Helps SEO Develop its Potential

Speaking of keywords, one highly competitive keyword is “storage.”

keyword research storage

“Storage” carries an overall monthly search volume of 44 million!


People need organization.  We need a place for our keys, pen, and socks.  Without it, we wander around, growing in frustration, unable to find what we need to do what we must. 

That’s why we want high-quality SEO.  Not only for our brand and potential users but also for our everyday lives. 

Google’s stated reason for existence is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

At its best, SEO is a means of helping users find the solutions they are looking for. 

At its worst, SEO is a cheap way of exploiting technological loopholes and objectifying human beings, using both to increase platform and profit. 

Gross.  (gif of guy puking)

Google agrees.  That’s where GHC comes in.  It’s like a spam detector that filters out the junk so that you can efficiently find what you need without sorting through exploitive and unhelpful content.

And they aren’t done yet. 

The developers at Google recently added “Experience” to their Google E-A-T algorithm.  Now, for pages to rank well, they must demonstrate the following:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

If you love what your brand offers, this is excellent news!  Brands that are in the business because they know firsthand how they will improve the lives of others – just got a boost!

Yes, these algorithm adjustments may create more work for some.  But that ultimately ought to create a better experience for human beings. 

And that’s when SEO is at its best. 

3. Google’s Helpful Content Update Rewards Generosity

GHC penalizes pages filled with distracting pop-ups and ads.  Spammy, keyword-littered content that doesn’t benefit people also takes a hit. 

How does this impact your SEO efforts? 

The more helpful content you produce to serve people, the more SEO benefit you will receive.  Make it easy for people to freely share the content you have freely provided.

This will come at a cost.  Few small-to-medium-sized business owners have the margin or skill set to produce various forms of content and implement strategic SEO work – while running their own business!

You will either need to hire people to help or carve out the time to do it yourself.  Either way, implementing an SEO strategy within the evolving GHC algorithm will cost you something. 

How generous do you want to be?   How much can you afford to give away freely?

The best marketing does not feel like marketing.  It feels like building a relationship that positions your business to help another person reach their fullest potential. 

Building trust in relationships takes time.  GHC rewards patient, generous brands.   

4. Google Helpful Content Rewards Hard Work over Paid Short Cuts

Google earns revenue from ads.  The paid results are first for a reason.  However, study after study has shown that there is no more effective marketing than that which produces organic search results. 

People trust them.  80% of users skip the paid ads and go straight to the organic results. 

Getting to the first page of a search result is attainable.  But it’s not easy.  There is an iceberg of work underneath the tip of the results page. 

A comprehensive SEO strategy only happens after a period of time.  Search Engine Land highlights these four pillars of an effective SEO strategy. 

  1. technical SEO: How well your content can be crawled and indexed.
  2. content: Having the most relevant and best answers to a prospect’s question.
  3. on-site SEO: The optimization of your content and HTML.
  4. off-site SEO: Building authority to ensure Google stacks the deck in your favor.

More can – and should – be incorporated into a successful SEO strategy.  It requires work. 

Some of that work can be hired out.  Much of it can be implemented by a third-party provider like JS-Interactive. 

But you need to own it.  You need to know whom you are serving – who you are not – and why.  Your unique voice must be amplified. 

The goodness that only you can provide this world needs to be digitally disseminated. 

We can help.  But only insofar as you are willing to go.  We can help amplify your voice – but you first need to own it. 

GHC Improves Your SEO in the Best Ways

The internet is no longer the “Wild West.”  There’s a new Sherriff in town.  The name?  Google Helpful Content. 

You can still publish just about anything you’d like, of course.  But you’ll have to play by their rules to stand out from the 30 trillion other pages on Google. 

Thankfully, many of their rules are designed to be helpful for people. 

JS-Interactive has been walking down this path long before Google required it.  We love helping awesome brands flourish. 

If you’re ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level, reach out for a free 30-minute consultation.  Your best days can be ahead.  We can help you get there. 


Justin Staples

For 15 years, Justin has guided businesses on a transformative journey through strategic marketing and design to craft their unique online identity.