Google says it’s doing more to downrank low-quality content that’s designed primarily to generate traffic through search engine optimization. Over the coming months, it will roll out several updates to Search aimed at making it easier for people to find helpful content created primarily for humans rather than the attention of algorithms.
Starting next week, Google will unleash what it’s calling the Helpful Content Update. This is designed to downgrade unoriginal content deemed to be of low quality. In particular, it will try to surface better-quality educational materials, along with more useful entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.
As an example, the company notes that folks searching for info about a new movie will be more likely to see results for feature authentic and fresh information, rather than ones that offer aggregated reviews with no unique perspectives or details. In general, the aim is to surface more results with in-depth insights and better quality content. Google says that, as with its other systems, it plans to refine this approach over time.
The company has offered some guidance to content creators in terms of what its search engine prioritizes. Google has long urged them to publish content designed for people while still using SEO best practices. Among the factors the company suggests they keep in mind is whether their intended audience would find the content useful and showing first-hand expertise and in-depth knowledge of a subject.
It suggests avoiding “extensive automation” to churn out content on a broad range of topics or writing something with a specific word count in mind after hearing that’s what Google looks for. Removing unhelpful content from elsewhere on a website will help too.
In addition, Google is planning another update for Search with the goal of surfacing original and high-quality product reviews (such as the ones you’ll find on Engadget). This measure, which the company will roll out in the coming weeks, follows a series of updates Google rolled out last year to bubble up more useful and in-depth reviews in results.
Improving Search is an ongoing mission for Google. The company notes that it made thousands of changes to its Search systems last year. It said those were based on the results of hundreds of thousands of quality tests, some of which incorporated feedback from human reviewers.