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                6 min read

                Google's Latest Update: Navigating Challenges for Independent Bloggers

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                For solo bloggers, the current landscape resembles a battlefield. Just recently, Google unleashed its latest Helpful Content Update, a change that shakes up the way the search engine evaluates and ranks web pages.

                However, far from being helpful, this update has spelled trouble for website owners and independent bloggers alike. Reports are flooding in of traffic plummeting by staggering percentages, ranging from 50% to 80%, even for sites boasting meticulously crafted content.

                Who emerges victorious in this new update, and who suffers? And what lies ahead?

                1. What Does the New Helpful Content Update Entail?
                2. Why Would Google Initiate This Change?
                3. What Actions Should You Take Regarding the Helpful Content Update? 
                 

                What Does the New Helpful Content Update Entail?

                True to its name, Google's latest update prioritizes content that offers genuine value to human readers. The aim is to spotlight content that genuinely assists users, rather than content engineered solely for search engine rankings.

                While this shift has been long anticipated, the impact of the new Helpful Content Update is profound. It's widely known that many users append terms like "Reddit" to their searches to seek insights from real people, rather than relying on SEO-driven articles.

                Google has been gradually introducing features to highlight such content. The Perspectives Feature, still in development, directly aims at showcasing user-generated content. However, with the latest Helpful Content Update, Google seems to have embraced these changes in a manner that is both significant and immensely disruptive. As the update rolls out, platforms featuring user-generated content, such as Reddit, Quora, Medium, and YouTube, are experiencing a dramatic surge in traffic. As observed by SEO experts, Google is prominently featuring Quora posts dating back eight years or more, instead of prioritizing newly created, in-depth content from independent bloggers.

                Consequently, independent publishers are witnessing a steep decline in traffic. With Reddit and Quora posts usurping top-ranking positions on Google, many professional website owners are witnessing a sharp decline in their traffic. Reports abound of traffic plunging by as much as 80% overnight, leading to sudden financial strains for many.

                 

                Why Would Google Initiate This Change?

                Once again, Google's objective is to elevate more helpful, human-centric content.

                It appears that Google struggled to assess whether webpages adhered to their new guidelines regarding E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) based solely on-page content. Instead of evaluating the quality of individual pages or blogs, Google seems to have handpicked winners, such as Reddit and Quora, platforms known for consistently producing human-centered content and elevated them above others.

                It's worth noting that updates typically take around two weeks to fully deploy. There's a possibility that those experiencing significant traffic drops may see their traffic rebound as the update concludes.  However, for now, it seems that Google's technical limitations in gauging content's helpfulness are prompting them to boost platforms featuring user-generated content, opting for what appears to be an easier route.

                Winners of the Helpful Content Update Interestingly, not everyone has suffered from this update. Platforms curating user-generated content are thriving.

                Additionally, there's evidence suggesting that websites employing Semantic SEO—an approach centered around creating interconnected pages on semantically related subjects, rather than fixating on keywords—are proving more resilient. Websites showcasing clear and extensive expertise are also faring well. SEO analysts note that while their own collection of niche websites has taken a hit, sites belonging to their clients have experienced a surge in traffic. This is often attributed to the fact that SEOs develop their sites to focus on informational or affiliate content, whereas they work with clients who possess substantial expertise and experience in their respective fields. This dichotomy is apparent in my experience as well. Many of my portfolio sites have either seen traffic drops or stagnated, whereas client websites boasting over two decades of industry experience and robust backlinks have witnessed significant traffic spikes.

                YouTube has emerged as a major beneficiary of the Helpful Content Update. Users are increasingly turning to YouTube for authentic content, particularly for product reviews. Google seems to have taken note, prominently featuring YouTube videos in search results, especially for how-to guides and product reviews.

                Free SEO Website Audit | Vested 

                What Actions Should You Take Regarding the Helpful Content Update?

                If you're a publisher reeling from the impact of the helpful content update, consider these steps:

                1. Stay Calm: The update is still in progress, and rankings may fluctuate significantly until its completion. Google has a track record of reversing updates or making adjustments when search results fail to meet user expectations.

                2. Diversify Traffic Sources: The update underscores the importance of diversifying traffic streams beyond relying solely on Google. This not only enhances resilience against future updates but also signals to Google that you're a substantial brand rather than an SEO-centric publisher ripe for displacement.

                3. Embrace YouTube: Given Google's prioritization of YouTube results, leveraging the platform may prove advantageous in the long term. YouTube not only aligns with Google's goal of showcasing helpful user-generated content but also generates revenue through advertisements.

                4. Expand Platform Presence: Platforms hosting content are currently receiving preferential treatment from Google. To capitalize on this, consider publishing content on platforms like Medium or LinkedIn Publisher, which vouch for authenticity.

                5. Experiment with AI Content: Curiously, AI-generated content appears to have weathered the update relatively unscathed. While this may change over time, consider incorporating AI-generated content that has been human-edited.

                6. Maintain Course: Avoid making drastic changes to your website in response to traffic declines. Instead, focus on strategies like YouTube integration and platform diversification, which should have been implemented earlier.

                In conclusion, while the current landscape may be daunting for independent bloggers, perseverance and strategic adaptation can pave the way for sustained success.

                Contact Vested today to assess the performance of your website!

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