Google is the most commonly used search engine on the planet today, processing approximately 8.5 billion daily searches. In an effort to maintain its position at the top of the search engine food chain, Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm. Google’s helpful content update is its latest effort to provide superior service to millions of people around the world who trust Google Search for their surfing needs.
Unfortunately for law firms like yours, each algorithm update results in a few days, weeks, or even months of hair-pulling and nail-biting as you wait to see how this latest Google algorithm change will impact your firm’s page ranking. If your site has content that is no longer relevant to your audience or contains outdated information, as in information that has been negated due to new laws), the helpful content update may have a negative impact on your site.
Each rollout has the potential to affect your site negatively, and the helpful content update promises to cause quite a bit of upheaval as it seeks to eliminate unhelpful content while promoting high-quality content. To make matters worse, Google is being slightly less than specific about what, exactly, it is looking for when identifying quality content for this current update. Google has, however, provided a hint about what it seeks, though, by placing a heavy emphasis on education. The good news for law firms is that legal content regularly falls within this category, offering you an opportunity to capitalize on this algorithm update while continuing to meet your content marketing needs.
The helpful content update Google rolled out a few months ago places a heavy emphasis on prioritizing human-centered content, which is content that is written to help potential law firm clients rather than swaying search engine algorithms. That doesn’t necessarily mean your website will be affected by this update in a negative way at all. Array Digital is here to help clear the air and provide some guidance as you navigate this most recent Google algorithm update. Keep reading to see how this update may affect your law firm’s SEO, page rankings, and legal marketing efforts. Perhaps it can serve as a guide as you formulate a plan for digital marketing in the future.
How does Google define helpful content?
Google didn’t come out and give website owners a strict guide to follow to navigate this algorithm update. It did, however, provide some direction about how it would process and assess content by providing questions users should consider when creating content. While it isn’t exactly a road map for the helpful content update, it does provide general directions for those who are willing to put in the effort.
- Will your target audience find your website’s content useful if they came directly to your site?
- Is your content high-quality content that displays a depth of knowledge and/or first-hand expertise?
- Does your content provide visitors with sufficient information that they will leave feeling that they’ve learned enough about the topic to accomplish their goals?
These questions provide hints about what Google seeks from attorney websites with the helpful content update. More importantly, Google has provided some guidance about what they do not want to see in content with this update. These are characteristics of the unhelpful content Google aims to eliminate with this update.
- Keyword stuffing
- Large-scale content automation
- Unhelpful content
- Lack of expertise
- Content made for search engines rather than humans
- Websites that lack a central theme (don’t throw spaghetti at the wall hoping something will stick)
- Clickbait headlines promising information the content does not provide
The best thing you can do is to provide people-first content that is designed for searchers rather than generating higher search engine results. In the end, Google will reward websites that focus on high-quality content with better performance metrics and the SERP results you seek. Their goal, after all, is to provide an exceptional user experience to people who use their product. By focusing on quality content creation and ideation, your law firm will enjoy greater favor from Google with this and future algorithm updates.
How does this helpful content update affect your law firm?
The entire purpose of the helpful content update is to eliminate certain types of content from highly-ranked web pages. Google specifically seeks to purge unoriginal, low-quality, and unhelpful content from websites that rank well in SERPs. Below are three key ways the helpful content update will affect your law firm.
1. Improved visibility
Google values content that is helpful and useful to searchers more than it values content created to appeal to algorithms. This means that law firms that focus on quality content rather than large quantities of content will often enjoy improved visibility in SERPs. Don’t overlook the opportunity to include client feedback as part of your content, as this is original content and information other searchers will find useful.
2. Increased engagement
Engagement from users is one of the most important things law firms seek when attracting new visitors. Helpful content attracts and retains visitors to your site, which leads to increased engagement and possible conversions or customers for your law firm.
3. Improved user experience
An improved user experience makes your site more enjoyable to visitors. People enjoy finding content that is helpful, timely, and relevant to their queries. Delivering this content on page after page of your website ensures a better experience for users and greater love from the search engines. It is an essential component of any successful SEO strategy.
Google’s stance on AI-generated content
Google’s primary focus when assessing content is E-E-A-T (expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). These are the essential qualities Google seeks in content. The rise of AI-generated content has led to many questions for website owners, content creators, and web searchers alike. Originally, Google was opposed to the use of AI-generated content in general. Some of that opposition was part of Google’s overall commitment to quality content. The idea that mass-produced content could be generated by artificial intelligence in an effort to manipulate search engine algorithms is in direct opposition to Google’s goals.
At the same time, AI-generated content is not necessarily inferior content. All AI-generated content does not constitute spam. The reality, though, is that AI-generated content doesn’t meet the high-quality standards that Google desires. AI platforms often plagiarize content and doesn’t live up to Google’s E-E-A-T standards. If you must use AI-generated content as a starting point, you should do so while planning to heavily edit the content created. The key is to make sure that your law firm’s AI-generated content is accurate, helpful, and beneficial so that Google has no reason to identify it as spam. Read more about AI-generated content and how you can use it to benefit your law firm on our blog.
How this new March 2023 Google Core update will affect you
The helpful content update to Google’s algorithm was announced in March of 2023. If this core update has had a negative impact on your law firm’s page rank, consider asking yourself a few key questions.
- Does your content offer original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
- Does your content invite bookmarking for later review or offering information people will want to share with others?
- Are your headlines consistent with the information in the content?
- Does your content offer a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does your content offer insightful analysis and information that goes beyond the obvious?
- Does your content draw from multiple sources without copying or rewriting these other sources — instead, offering added value and originality?
For better or worse, your law firm needs to pay attention to every new update, like the helpful content update. The reason is simple; they can help your site rank better or worse. How your specific law firm website is affected depends on the type and quality of content your website contains. Understanding what Google seeks from the update will help you create content that will improve your search ranking while making your website a more user-friendly experience for searchers.
Effective law firm marketing requires a winning marketing strategy designed to withstand the helpful content update as well as future ranking updates. Working with an SEO agency that specializes in law firm marketing, like Array Digital, is a great way to shift your focus from quantity to quality for your legal content marketing efforts.
Array Digital is here to help with all aspects of digital marketing for law firms. Contact Array Digital today to learn more about the helpful content update, how it might affect your law firm’s website, and how we can help you build a digital and content marketing strategy designed to withstand the test of time and countless algorithm updates along the way.