Power to People First Content Marketing

Has a salesperson ever talked you out of making a purchase? It’s like seeing a celebrity at a café.  You can’t believe what you’re experiencing. 


When a business values you more than your money, something paradoxical happens.  

You want to give them your money!

Well, maybe not exactly.  But you feel inclined to trust them.  When the time comes to make that purchase, you will most likely consider going back to that place.  

Nobody wants to feel objectified.  Used.  Not for cash, clicks, or anything else.  

That’s why Google’s Helpful Content Update is good news for marketers who care more about people than pennies or platforms.  

Google’s latest update isn’t so much a revolution as it is a continuation.  It advances Google’s goal of “Organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.”  

Much has already been written to explain Google’s Helpful Content Update and its impact on websites and blogs.  

What we want to consider, though, is how the update will benefit the best kind of marketing.  People-first content marketing.  

Plugging Loopholes With Google’s Helpful Content Update 

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Or so claimed Isaac Newton.   

This principle regularly shows up in areas of life beyond physics.

Rethinking Your Link Building Strategy

Take backlinks as an example.  Google generally counts quality backlinks to a site as “votes”, for that site.  Theoretically speaking, the more often a site is referred to, the stronger its Domain Authority (DA), and the better its ranking strength.

While I see DA as more of a comparative metric, rather than an absolute metric, it’s still an SEO tactic that is often abused. To exploit Link Building, people created link farms as a means to superficially inflate SEO results by posting links to other random sites to boost ranking.  

Google has already been hammering away to shut that down.  

Content Marketing by Humans for Humans

AI writing is another example.  Brilliant author and social observer Seth Godin said that content marketing is the only true marketing left.  


People literally pay for ad blockers.  Social media can be a hamster wheel.  Organic search results are more trusted and clicked on than paid ads.  

When searching online for products or information, don’t you instinctively skip over the first four or so results because of the big, bold AD preceding the link?

For most small business owners, continuing to pump out meaningful content is no easy task.  

According to Hubspot, B2C companies that post 11 blogs per month receive four times as many leads as companies that blog four to five times per month.  

Posting a blog weekly is a massive undertaking for many small businesses!  

Can you take time out of running your business, living your life, and trying to sleep on occasion – to write a high-quality, 1,200+ word article with images, backlinks, internal links – and more – every week? 

How about three a week? 

Very few can.  This opened an opportunity for AI writing.  But much of the content generated through AI proved to be low quality.  And another attempt to game the system.  

Google now flags AI-generated content as spam.  

These examples demonstrate how Google Helpful Content is an effort by Google to double down on the direction they are already going.  

What’s the good news here?  If you aim to create helpful, meaningful content to serve your clients, you just got a boost.  

And people taking a shortcut just got busted.  

What is Helpful Content?

Don’t think too hard about this one!  Helpful content is just that – content that’s helpful.  

For people.  

When creating content, ask a few simple questions:

  • Would I want to read, watch, or listen to this?  
  • Are there real people that will benefit from this content? 
  • Am I creating to rank in search – or – benefit people 
  • Am I creating to benefit people – or – am I using people to benefit my business? 

As you start clicking the keys, keep in mind that Google says that Helpful Content is “written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well.”  

Don’t worry; this isn’t a digital death sentence.  

Putting People First Can Take the Pressure off of Creating Helpful Content

Anyone with a shred of humility knows they can’t be THE expert on every topic.  But you can do the research necessary to communicate more than conjecture, opinion, or fake news.  

With a sprinkle of creativity, you can address familiar topics from a provocative viewpoint.   

As for being enthusiastic, you can’t have uncontainable passion for every topic you address or every aspect of your business.  

But do you know someone who will?  

Create content for them.  They matter.  Their interests are valuable.  Creating engaging content they will enjoy is worth your time, effort, and energy.   

Does Google Helpful Content Eliminate SEO Copywriting?

Of course not!  The best SEO marketing leverages search engines to serve people.  

We all want high-quality SEO and search engine algorithms. 

If you search for brown sandals, you don’t want to sift through piles of cowboy boots and clogs. 

When you’re craving the best coffee shop near me, you don’t want to be sent to an underperforming dinner just because they have a “world’s best cup of coffee” sign in the window. 


This is what SEO content marketing is intended for.  To provide real people with the best results for their search.

That’s not going away.  And it shouldn’t.  

Who is Going to Get Penalized by Google’s Helpful Content Update?

Well, here’s a report from one unlucky Reddit user.

helpful content penalty

Some pages have already been impacted by Google’s Helpful Content Update. Often, this is due to people having utilized shortcuts instead of doing the required work of creating helpful content.  

Webpages trying to game the system will get hit the hardest. We’ve already seen how Google is addressing link farms and unedited AI content.

Here are a few more loopholes Google is looking to plug.  

Using Keywords in Unnatural and Distracting Ways

If you’re writing a keyword-filled article on the importance of filling your content with keywords so that you fill the keyword quotas of certain SEO keyword requirements…

You may want to take it easy on the key word: keywords.  

See what I did there?   😉

Ad-heavy Pages  

Pop-ups can serve a purpose.  Generating revenue through ads has some value.  But websites with ads popping up on the left, videos on the right, and an ad bar on the bottom – are obnoxious.  

You’ve no doubt seen pages like this.  

And been frustrated by them.  

Thankfully, Google will penalize them.  

Affiliate Sites 

According to ReferralRock, affiliate marketing is “when a business enlists the help of partners (aka, affiliates) to sell their products or services in exchange for a commission.”

Have you ever clicked on an article because you wanted to see the “best sales at Amazon right now”?

Did you notice if the article started by clarifying that the site may receive a commission if you make a purchase through their site? 

That’s an affiliate site or program.  

How does it make you feel when you read that disclaimer?  There’s something about knowing people are trying to make money off you that makes the experience feel sleazy.  

What’s even worse?  Not every affiliate site discloses that information.  Yuck. 

At the same time, a referral from a trusted friend goes a long way.  

Google wants to bury the sleazy car salesperson and elevate the trusted friend.  

Don’t be sleazy.  You – and others – are worth more.  

Sponsored Sites 

Connor Lahey with Semrush says that links need to be earned.  When pages are loaded with paid/sponsored links, it creates a lousy user experience.  

Especially when the paid links have no or little relevance to the content being addressed.  It’s only included to falsely prop up SEO.  

The Helpful Content Update should push those sites further down the results page.   

Guest Posting Sites 

One great way to earn backlinks is through relevant guest posting.  When done well, it’s a great way to help build your brand.  

For Link Builders

You share your area of expertise adding value to the website owner’s audience.  The website owner gives you a spotlight on their platform for you to shine. 

In most scenarios, the website owner will point people to your website by way of link insertion where online users can see, hear, or read more about what you offer.  

For Website Owners

In return, the website owner gets fresh, new content (we hope), and expanded reach and engagement, when guest bloggers share their posts across multiple social platforms.

Everyone wins.

Well…sort of.

With Helpful Content, Google recognizes that users won’t want to sift through websites filled with unhelpful and irrelevant content. Websites bloated by guest posts that don’t offer real value won’t get promoted.

And if using people to gain clicks is a primary goal instead of a helpful, ancillary benefit – Google will flag it.   

What Pages Google’s Helpful Content Update Benefit Most? 

Pages that aren’t taking shortcuts.  Websites that generously, and expertly add value to people’s lives.  Content creators who use SEO strategies to enthusiastically serve people better.  




Google explicitly says, “we suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.” 

Pages you want to read, watch, or listen to will be rewarded.  

Websites that communicate with expertise and enthusiasm will benefit.  

Original content created for the benefit of human beings will receive a boost.  

It’s Good to EAT 

For some time now, Google’s algorithms have prioritized content that is created with Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.  Or EAT.  

Google has a system to determine these qualities on a page.  We dove into that here.  It’s crucial for SEO.  

EAT is another example that demonstrates how Google’s Helpful Content Update furthers the efforts already in place.  

This is why it’s critical to have an SEO expert in your corner.  There’s a lot to keep up with – and you have a business to run! 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy 

This is good news.  For everyone.  

It’s good for users.  And it’s good for content creators, marketers, and SEO strategists.  

No decent content creator is motivated to write keyword-filled fluff to improve someone’s SEO.  

Any marketer with integrity only wants to sell what will actually benefit people.  

This is the path JS-Interactive has taken from our beginning.  We provide human-first digital marketing to awesome brands.  

We believe that the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.  For anyone involved.  Including the content creators.  

Quality marketing ought to feel like a conversation. It is developing a relationship between people.  Marketing should offer people value that will support the common good of all involved.  

We’re Here to Help You Create Helpful Content 

Our content marketing services focus on helping you position yourself as a trusted authority, a guide in someone else’s story.  

We play the long game of relationship development.  Plenty of gimmicks out there can give you a false, inflated boost.  

But as you’ve seen, Google will shut many of them down.  

You have something to offer the world that will make it a better place for everyone to live in.  Don’t shortchange yourself.  Or the world.  

Take the long road.  Create meaningful, valuable, helpful content that only you can.  

Let us help you clarify that message and communicate it to the people who need to hear the good news you have to share.  

Reach out today for a free 30-minute consultation.  Who knows, depending on where you are, we may even talk you out of making a purchase.  

Cheers to creating helpful content!


Justin Staples

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

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