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How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO Globally

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How Google's Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO Globally

This post was sponsored by Trisolute News Dashboard. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Wondering why some of your articles’ visibility seemed to suddenly dip this year?

Could this be part of a larger trend?

On August 25, 2022, Google started rolling out an update that could be quite interesting for news publishers and their visibility. On September 12, they rolled out yet another core update.

These core updates were named “Helpful Content Update(s)”.

Today, we’ll be showing you how news publishers around the world were impacted by them.

What Is The Helpful Content Update?

Google’s Helpful Content Update is an algorithm update that focuses on:

  • Weeding out content that is written for the sole purpose of getting a good ranking.
  • Deprioritizing articles that don’t contain any informational or helpful content for the reader.
  • Rewarding content that is helpful to readers.

Google frequently updates its algorithm in order to better match content to searchers, and sometimes, publishers’ visibility is heavily impacted.

Which Google Categories Has The Helpful Content Update Impacted?

In this article, we’ll be showcasing which publishers around the world were impacted by the Helpful Content Update.

We examined each of Google’s categories to see whether we would find something extraordinary around the time the updates were executed and picked out one or two countries per category where the changes were especially obvious.

Those categories were:

  • Top Stories.
  • Country-Specific News.
  • World News.
  • Business News.
  • Science & Technology News.
  • Entertainment News.
  • Sports News.
  • Health News.
  • COVID-19 News.

All of the data shown in this article is taken from Trisolute’s News Dashboard.

How We Discovered The Impact Of The Helpful Content Update

We wanted to make sure to look at the most visible publishers for the generally freshest, most newsworthy keywords based on Google News and Trends to get the most impactful results for the publisher landscape.

All rankings are based on a near real-time 15-minute crawling interval, so, we used the following filter settings on the KPI Dashboard → Mobile News Box:

  • Date Range: July 25, 2022 – September 25, 2022 (Week 30 – Week 38).
  • Top 10 Competitors.
  • All Ranking Types.
  • General Keyword Set.

With those filter settings, we took a look at different countries from all over the world individually.

Let’s have a look:

Top Stories

Mexico

Here, we can observe that the two publishers, El Financiero and Infobae, have obviously been affected by the updates:

While El Financiero showed a rise in its visibility following the August update, Infobae dropped in visibility afterward.

After the September update, El Financiero then showed a visible drop as well.

Screenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The two vertical dashed lines mark the two updates respectively.

The Verdict:

Publishers seem to have been affected slightly more by the August update than by the September update, both positively and negatively.

Country-Specific News

Switzerland

20 Minutes and Blick both rose in visibility after the August update.

Then, in week 36 (September 5 – September 11), 20 Minutes had its peak in visibility, while Blick had already started to drop.

From week 36 to week 37, the week when the second update happened, both publishers displayed an extreme drop.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

While publishers seemed to have benefitted from the August update in this category, the September update led to a drop in their visibility.

World News

Colombia

For Columbia, there was an increase in visibility after the August update, especially for El Tiempo and Semana, while the visibility of El Espectador nearly stagnated.

However, the visibility dropped for all three publishers before the September update and remained at an almost constant level after it.

Only El Espectador was able to regain visibility after the second update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

Both updates have caused a lot of turbulence in visibility for publishers.

Business News

Peru

Here, we can observe that between the two updates, CNN saw losses in visibility, but these evened out again towards the September update.

RPP was also able to build up visibility at first, but lost it leading up to and after the September update.

For El Comercio, there was a short-term upswing after the August update, but it flattened out again.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

The first update seems to have had a stronger and more negative effect on publishers in Peru than the second one.

Science & Technology News

France

In the Science & Technology category, publishers in France have largely been able to maintain or even build their visibility after the August update.

However, both Jeuxvideo and Gamekult lost visibility after the September update – only Le Monde increased its visibility after both updates.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

For most of the French publishers, the two Google updates in the Science & Technology category resulted in a loss in visibility.

Entertainment News

Australia

In the Australian Entertainment category, News.com.au’s visibility increased leading up to the August update, only to then show an extreme drop that lasted until the week of the September update.

This led to the visibility curve flattening again.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

The first update in August seems to have had a significantly negative impact on Australian publishers in the Entertainment category, while the second update in September had a more positive impact.

United Kingdom

For publishers in the U.K., the two updates showed significant influences on visibility, as can be seen below for the Daily Mail and the Mirror.

Both publishers showed an increase in their visibility leading up to Week 34.

Then, when the August update took place, both of their visibilities dropped significantly.

For the Daily Mail, the graph drops continuously, even through the September update, but for the Mirror, this second update made them drop even more in terms of visibility.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

Here, the first update in August had a significant effect on the publishers’ visibility; the second one only had a moderate effect.

Sports News

Canada

In the Canadian Sports category, TSN held visibility during the August update, but lost it slightly in the week before and during the September update. However, they gained it back after the update.

CBC’s visibility, on the other hand, went the other way: Before the August update, their visibility increased significantly, and then dropped off slightly at the time of the September update and in the following week.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

The August update had a larger impact on publishers’ visibility in the Sports category, for some immediately at the time of the update, and for others in the following weeks.

Health News

Austria

In the Health category, Austrian publishers Der Standard and ORF were able to significantly increase visibility after the August update and also brought this increase through the September update with slight fluctuations.

In contrast, both Kurier and Vienna.at lost visibility after the August update, but were also able to make up for this after the September update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

For publishers in Austria, the August update seems to have had the largest impact on their visibility in the Health category, with it being negative for some publishers and positive for others.

United States

In the U.S. Health category, the progressions seem to have been identical between NPR and The New York Times, because initially, both lost visibility after the August update.

However, NPR continued to lose visibility until the September update and after that, their visibility increased slightly again.

For The New York Times, on the other hand, things got a bit more turbulent: First, they regained visibility between the two updates, only to lose it significantly in the week of the September update, and regain it in the week after the update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

The August update seems to have had a negative impact on the publishers’ visibility in the Health category, while the second update in September had a positive effect.

COVID-19 News

Brazil

In the COVID-19 category in Brazil, the three publishers Globo, Abril, and UOL showed little to no changes in their visibility in the week of the August update.

In week 36 though, which marks the week immediately before the September update, both Abril and Globo dropped in their visibility, while UOL rose.

For Globo, this drop continued throughout the September update as UOL continued to rise; only Abril was able to catch itself again and flatten the curve.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

Brazil’s top publishers seem to have been significantly more impacted by the September update than by the August update.

Germany

In the German COVID-19 category, DER SPIEGEL particularly gained visibility in the week leading up to the August update and then slowly lost it again throughout it.

Through the September update, the trend for DER SPIEGEL then went up again.

The picture is different for Die Zeit: Here, the publisher lost visibility in the week before the August update and regained it throughout. They were also able to maintain this visibility with slight reductions in the time between the updates.

However, they then lost visibility dramatically through the September update.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different CountriesScreenshot from Trisolute News Dashboard, October 2022How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected News SEO In 12 Different Countries

The Verdict:

Here, both updates seem to have had an impact on visibility simultaneously.

Key Findings For How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affected Publishers

For top publishers in most countries, the first Helpful Content Update in August seems to have had a more significant impact on their visibility than the second one in September. It cannot be clearly said that publishers’ visibility was only negatively impacted by the updates, since some clearly benefitted from them.

Here are some other interesting takeaways we noticed:

  • Publishers from Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Germany showed noticeable changes in visibility around the updates in all of Google’s categories.
  • The Country-Specific News category was the only category where publishers from all countries showed anomalies in some way.
  • In the Business News category, Brazil was the only country that showed no noticeable changes in top publishers’ visibility.
  • The categories Country-Specific News, Business News, Science & Technology News, Entertainment News, and Health News were most affected by the update.
  • The BBC was affected by the top 10 rankings of the World category in four countries (Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Peru) and was therefore the most affected publisher in this analysis.

Want to learn more about your visibility in Google News? Schedule a free demo.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Trisolute News Dashboard. Used with permission.

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AI Content In Search Results

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AI Content In Search Results

Google has released a statement regarding its approach to AI-generated content in search results.

The company has a long-standing policy of rewarding high-quality content, regardless of whether humans or machines produce it.

Above all, Google’s ranking systems aim to identify content that demonstrates expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

Google advises creators looking to succeed in search results to produce original, high-quality, people-first content that demonstrates E-E-A-T.

The company has updated its “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page with guidance on evaluating content in terms of “Who, How, and Why.”

Here’s how AI-generated content fits into Google’s approach to ranking high-quality content in search results.

Quality Over Production Method

Focusing on the quality of content rather than the production method has been a cornerstone of Google’s approach to ranking search results for many years.

A decade ago, there were concerns about the rise in mass-produced human-generated content.

Rather than banning all human-generated content, Google improved its systems to reward quality content.

Google’s focus on rewarding quality content, regardless of production method, continues to this day through its ranking systems and helpful content system introduced last year.

Automation & AI-Generated Content

Using automation, including AI, to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results violates Google’s spam policies.

Google’s spam-fighting efforts, including its SpamBrain system, will continue to combat such practices.

However, Google realizes not all use of automation and AI-generated content is spam.

For example, publishers automate helpful content such as sports scores, weather forecasts, and transcripts.

Google says it will continue to take a responsible approach toward AI-generated content while maintaining a high bar for information quality and helpfulness in search results.

Google’s Advice For Publishers

For creators considering AI-generated content, here’s what Google advises.

Google’s concept of E-E-A-T is outlined in the “Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content” help page, which has been updated with additional guidance.

The updated help page asks publishers to think about “Who, How, and Why” concerning how content is produced.

“Who” refers to the person who created the content, and it’s important to make this clear by providing a byline or background information about the author.

“How” relates to the method used to create the content, and it’s helpful to readers to know if automation or AI was involved. If AI was involved in the content production process, Google wants you to be transparent and explain why it was used.

“Why” refers to the purpose of creating content, which should be to help people rather than to manipulate search rankings.

Evaluating your content in this way, regardless of whether AI-generated or not, will help you stay in line with what Google’s systems reward.


Featured Image: Alejandro Corral Mena/Shutterstock



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Seven tips to optimize page speed in 2023

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Tips-to-optimize-page-speed-in-2023

30-second summary:

  • There has been a gradual increase in Google’s impact of page load time on website rankings
  • Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics as ranking factors to measure user experience
  • The following steps can help you get a better idea of the performance of your website through multiple tests

A fast website not only delivers a better experience but can also increase conversion rates and improve your search engine rankings. Google has introduced the three Core Web Vitals metrics to measure user experience and is using them as a ranking factor.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to test and optimize the performance of your website.

Start in Google Search Console

Want to know if optimizing Core Web Vitals is something you should be thinking about? Use the page experience report in Google Search Console to check if any of the pages on your website are loading too slowly.

Search Console shows data that Google collects from real users in Chrome, and this is also the data that’s used as a ranking signal. You can see exactly what page URLs need to be optimized.

Optimize-to-Start-in-Google-Search-Console

Run a website speed test

Google’s real user data will tell you how fast your website is, but it won’t provide an analysis that explains why your website is slow.

Run a free website speed test to find out. Simply enter the URL of the page you want to test. You’ll get a detailed performance report for your website, including recommendations on how to optimize it.

Run-a-website-speed-test-for-optimization

Use priority hints to optimize the Largest Contentful Paint

Priority Hints are a new browser feature that came out in 2022. It allows website owners to indicate how important an image or other resource is on the page.

This is especially important when optimizing the Largest Contentful Paint, one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics. It measures how long it takes for the main page content to appear after opening the page.

By default, browsers assume that all images are low priority until the page starts rendering and the browser knows which images are visible to the user. That way bandwidth isn’t wasted on low-priority images near the bottom of the page or in the footer. But it also slows down important images at the top of the page.

Adding a fetchpriority=”high” attribute to the img element that’s responsible for the Largest Contentful Paint ensures that it’s downloaded quickly.

Use native image lazy loading for optimization

Image lazy loading means only loading images when they become visible to the user. It’s a great way to help the browser focus on the most important content first.

However, image lazy loading can also slow cause images to take longer to load, especially when using a JavaScript lazy loading library. In that case, the browser first needs to load the JavaScript library before starting to load images. This long request chain means that it takes a while for the browser to load the image.

Use-native-image-lazy-loading-for-optimization

Today browsers support native lazy loading with the loading=”lazy” attribute for images. That way you can get the benefits of lazy loading without incurring the cost of having to download a JavaScript library first.

Remove and optimize render-blocking resources

Render-blocking resources are network requests that the browser needs to make before it can show any page content to the user. They include the HTML document, CSS stylesheets, as well as some JavaScript files.

Since these resources have such a big impact on page load time you should check each one to see if it’s truly necessary. The async keyword on the HTML script tag lets you load JavaScript code without blocking rendering.

If a resource has to block rendering check if you can optimize the request to load the resource more quickly, for example by improving compression or loading the file from your main web server instead of from a third party.

Remove-and-optimize-render-blocking-resources

Optimize with the new interaction to Next Paint metric

Google has announced a new metric called Interaction to Next Paint. This metric measures how quickly your site responds to user input and is likely to become one of the Core Web Vitals in the future.

You can already see how your website is doing on this metric using tools like PageSpeed Insights.

Optimize-with-new-Interaction-to-Next-Paint-metric

Continuously monitor your site performance

One-off site speed tests can identify performance issues on your website, but they don’t make it easy to keep track of your test results and confirm that your optimizations are working.

DebugBear continuously monitors your website to check and alerts you when there’s a problem. The tool also makes it easy to show off the impact of your work to clients and share test results with your team.

Try DebugBear with a free 14-day trial.

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What Is User Experience? How Design Matters To SEO

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What Is User Experience? How Design Matters To SEO

User experience is the foundation of a site’s usability, and it’s an aspect of on-page SEO that many people overlook.

If your site lacks the positive user experience and ease of use that end users require to navigate your site, you’ll push visitors to your competitors.

In this guide, you’ll learn what user experience (UX) entails, the types of experiences, the difference between UI and UX, and why it matters to SEO.

What Is User Experience (UX)?

UX is how people interact with your website.

You’ll also find this term used for products, but we’re focusing strictly on websites at the moment.

If you have a, intuitive user interface design, users will have an easier time navigating your site and finding the information they want.

If you do have a digital product, such as a SaaS solution, this interaction will also occur on your digital product.

User experience elicits a couple of things:

In short, user experience can provide a positive experience with your website – or it can lead to frustration among users.

Note: Usability is not UX design. It’s a component of UX that works with design to create the experience your users desire.

What Are The Types Of User Experience?

User experience evaluation must look at the three types of UX design to best understand the needs of the end user.

The three types of UX include:

  • Information: One aspect of a content strategy that goes overlooked is information architecture. Time must be spent on how information on a site is organized and presented. User flows and navigation must be considered for all forms of information you present.
  • Interaction: Your site has an interaction design pattern – or a certain way that users interact with the site. Components of a site that fall under the interaction UX type include buttons, interfaces, and menus.
  • Visual design: Look and feel matter for the end user. You want your website to have cohesion between its color, typography, and images. User interface (UI) will fall under this type of UX, but it’s important to note that UI is not interchangeable with UX.

What Is The Difference Between UI & UX?

Speaking of UX and UI, it’s important to have a firm understanding of the difference between the two to better understand user experience.

User Interface

UI design is your site’s visual elements, including:

Visual elements on your site are part of the user interface.

UI definitely overlaps with UX to an extent, but they’re not the same.

Steve Krug also has a great book on usability, titled “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.” It was first published in 2000, and the book is a #1 bestseller today.

Steve’s insight from over 20 years ago (although we’re now on the 3rd edition of the book) provides guidelines on usability that include:

  • Desktop.
  • Mobile.
  • Ease of use.
  • Layouts.
  • Everything UX.

If there’s one thing this book will teach you about usability, it’s to focus on intuitive navigation. Frustrating website users is the exact opposite of a good user experience.

User Experience

UX works on UI and how the user will:

  • Interact with your site.
  • Feel during the interaction.

Think of Google for a moment.

A simple landing page that is visually appealing, but Spartan in nature, is the face of the Internet. In terms of UX, Google is one of the best sites in the world, although it lacks a spectacular UI.

In fact, the UI needs to be functional and appealing, but the UX is what will stand out the most.

Imagine if you tried performing a search on Google and it displayed the wrong results or took one minute for a query to run. In this case, even the nicest UI would not compensate for the poor UX.

Peter Morville’s user experience honeycomb is one of the prime examples of how to move beyond simple usability and focus on UX in new, exciting ways.

The honeycomb includes multiple points that are all combined to maximize the user experience. These facets are:

  • Accessible.
  • Credible.
  • Desirable.
  • Findable.
  • Usable.
  • Useful.
  • Valuable.

When you focus on all of these elements, you’ll improve the user experience dramatically.

Why User Experience Matters To SEO

By this point, you understand that UX is very important to your site’s visitors and audience.

A lot of time, analysis, and refinement must go into UX design. However, there’s another reason to redirect your attention to user experience: SEO.

Google Page Experience Update

When Google’s Page Experience Update was fully rolled out, it had an impact on websites that offered a poor user experience.

The page experience update is now slowly rolling out for desktop. It will be complete by the end of March 2022. Learn more about the update: https://t.co/FQvMx3Ymaf

— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) February 22, 2022

Multiple aspects of UX are part of the ranking factors of the update, including:

  • Intrusive adverts.
  • Core Web Vitals.
  • HTTPS Security.

You can run a Core Web Vitals report here and make corrections to meet these requirements. Additionally, you should know whether your site has intrusive ads that irritate users, and if your site lacks HTTPS.

Page performance works to improve your SEO. Google’s research shows that focusing on UX can:

  • Reduce site abandonment by as much as 24%.
  • Improve web conversions.
  • Increase the average page views per session by as much as 15%.
  • Boost advertising revenue by 18% or more.

When you spend time improving your site’s UX, you benefit from higher rankings, lower page abandonment, improved conversions, and even more revenue.

Plus, many of the practices to improve UX are also crucial components of a site’s on-page SEO, such as:

  • Proper header usage.
  • Adding lists to your content.
  • Making use of images.
  • Optimizing images for faster loading times.
  • Filling content gaps with useful information.
  • Reducing “content fluff.”
  • Using graphs.
  • Testing usability across devices.

When you improve UX, you create a positive experience for users, while also improving many of the on-page SEO foundations of your website.

Final Comments

Customer experience must go beyond simple responsive web design.

Hick’s law dictates that when you present more choices to users, it takes longer to reach a decision. You’ve likely seen this yourself when shopping online and finding hundreds of options.

When people land on your site, they’re looking for answers or knowledge – not confusion.

User research, usability testing, and revisiting user experience design often will help you inch closer to satisfying the SEO requirements of design while keeping your visitors (or customers) happier.

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