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Google Update on crappy content.

Hey Rankers. I knocked this video out on a Saturday as I wanted to follow up last week’s video after seeing a new Google update. They are calling it the “Helpful Content” update and it basically covers everything I spoke about last week. I know, I’m an oracle! No one’s sure how it will affect sites moving forward, but it reinforces my opinion about putting your customers first.

What I learned

  • What is the Helpful Content update?
  • Why you shouldn’t write content for search engines.
  • It’s a site-wide update for once.
  • Why are you creating content?
  • Focus on your customers as always.


Hey, welcome back Rankers, how’re you going? You know how I did that show last week about why you shouldn’t be writing content for the search engines? Google’s brought out an update called the Helpful Content Update yesterday, it wasn’t me, and I’ve got a good mind to approach Google about plagiarising my content, because basically everything I was saying last week, they’re saying right now!

Helpful Content Update

This week there is going to be a major update, and it looks like it’s going to be the biggest update for the year, and I haven’t been talking about Google updates because, quite frankly, I don’t want to be a Google echo chamber, and you shouldn’t be either. You shouldn’t be worried about Google updates, our clients certainly aren’t, there are a couple of clients who have done things in the past that I might have to go and have a look at given this update. We haven’t fixed it because it hasn’t been a problem up until now, but given this update, it very well might be.

Interestingly, it is a site-wide update, if you like, and what does that mean? Well, Google has always said to us that content isn’t based on a site or a domain, or the rankings aren’t based on a site, it’s based on an individual page. It was all about individual pages, not about sites, and that’s why when certain parts of the industry came out with inventing metrics like domain authority, Google has come out and said there’s no such thing as domain authority. And you might think, this update is going to be applied to the whole site, so it won’t be a case of if you’ve just got a couple of blog posts that are a bit spammy, it’s not going to be that, they’re going to look at the whole site.

You could say, “Is this domain authority actually becoming a thing?” Well, no, because it’s still not in the domain, it’s the site, because subdomains will also be hit by this, you can’t take your content off one domain and then go and put it on a subdomain or something like that. That question’s already been asked by Joe Youngblood and answered by John Mueller, go and have a look at the Twitter conversation there.

I want you to start thinking about the bigger picture though, because longer term, what does this mean for you? Everyone’s been racing around over the last 20 years, creating content for Google because they said to, they said if you want to rank, you need to have authoritative content. But when we look at, say, specifically the e-commerce industry, it doesn’t need to be authoritative content. It just needs to be the strongest brand, and does content help do that, it can do, yes, but content can also be an ad.

Dollar Shave Club, who I’ve talked about many times on this show, did not do a lot of content initially, they did one video, and it went viral, and they went through the roof. You might say lots of people linked to that video, they did, but that video was not necessarily linked on their site, it was on YouTube, it was embedded.

The idea about creating content so you can get great backlinks and all that sort of stuff, that’s probably still okay if you want to do that, but I would ask the question of myself, if I was you in your shoes, and we do this regularly, “What are you creating the content for, and what is your business, what is your core business?” If the core business doesn’t have to do with creating content, as I said last week, who goes shopping to read a book?

Content dethroned

What this update means is that if you’ve been just generating bucket loads and gob loads of content and you’ve been paying for that, and it’s been so you can get better rankings, you might get hurt by this update. You might see some rankings slowly start to drop, we don’t know how it’s going to actually manifest, we just know it’s starting to be rolled out this week. Which is why I’m recording this on a Saturday, because this was announced yesterday, and I’m looking at it now and I’m thinking, this could be really good for a lot of our clients. But in the longer term, what does it mean for search results, because there’s been this whole push to create content. If you’re e-commerce, you might have a blog that’s not converting well and whatever, and we had a couple of comments on the YouTube channel about that last week. But you can still create great content, there’s still great blogs out there, and that, as I said last week, and people sell stuff.

But they come at it from a different direction or a different angle, so I’m thinking about the people in the Thermomix communities, there’s lots of those Thermomix maidens out there. We’ve got Nikalene Riddle, we’ve got Debbie Wuoti, we’ve got Alyce Alexandra, there’s so many of those content creators out there, but they are e-commerce businesses because they sell books and they sell kitchenware, essentially, some of them, not all. But they are doing content. Some of them, they are actually publishers with a reason to publish, they’re not doing it for Google. It actually helps them with Google because they’re publishing the content for humans, which is what Google has said here in this update.

Now, if you want to find out more about this update, if you want to find out, go and have a read of it and read what you should be doing. Should you go and retroactively start removing content? I wouldn’t, I’d probably wait. Have a read of this article, though, Google’s saying that yeah, you might get crawled, and then your rankings might go down until you improve the content, and then you’re going to have to get re-crawled for the content to go up.

But there is such a thing, and I’m just going to leave this one thought with you, there is such a thing as a zero click search result, and what are they? They sound horrible for business, they are, and a lot of people have complained about this over the years when it came to things like featured answers or Google taking content off someone’s site and just displaying it as an answer and then not accrediting the site or even providing a link back to the source of the content. We saw that with lyrics, where Google got caught actually stealing lyrics off someone else’s site and not giving the accreditation.

But Google does a lot of these sorts of things like calculation, like weather, they’ve got their own speed test now, all of these things happen in Google. The other is sort of zero click results, which we’ve all done, we Google something, we immediately find the answer, we don’t go through to the site that provided that answer. For Google to get better at providing those sorts of results, it needs better content, so it doesn’t need your crappy, shitty blog. It wants content that it can display so people can stay within the Google ecosystem, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the AI has developed to the point now where it realises someone is on a purchasing journey, and Google will maybe only provide them zero click results until they’re ready to click on an ad and then it will let them go and make a purchase.

Google Shopping is becoming the marketplace for Google; Google doesn’t want you to leave their ecosystem. What do you have to do? You have to build that list, you have to build your biggest asset, so yeah, use the Google products. Don’t go overboard on content unless it’s generating sales for you, because it does, it can, if you do it properly. Don’t do it for Google, as we’ve been saying for years and years and years, and incidentally, I was reminded, I thought writing blogs for a car park was possibly our lowest point, but I was reminded last week by Heath, who was writing the blogs back then, that no, we did actually write blogs for toilet paper, so there you go.

So we’ve come a long way, so has Google, just be aware, focus on the customer, it’s always about the customer. You’re going to make far more sales looking at the customer experience than you are being worried about Google rankings. Hopefully that’s helpful, if you want to find out if you’re going to be hit by this, just email me,, I’ll let you know. But chances are, if you’ve got a lot of content and it doesn’t convert very well, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unhelpful content, it might be helpful for the people that are reading it, but they’re just not your customers. Please like, share, and subscribe, and tell your friends, keep an eye out for this, it’s only English language countries at the moment, but it will be rolling out to other languages as well. Like, share, and subscribe, and we’ll see you next week, thanks very much, bye.

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