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How To Produce ‘’Helpful Content’’ For SEO And Reader Experience

Helpful content is when an article effectively assists users in finding answers to their questions or solving their problems.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on creating content that satisfies the reader’s intent and provides a great user experience rather than just trying to rank for keywords.
  • Ensure your content demonstrates experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) to build credibility with readers and search engines.
  • Organize your content logically using headings, subheadings, and lists to make it easy for readers to navigate and find the necessary information.
  • Provide unique insights, personal experiences, and original research in your content to offer value that readers can’t find elsewhere.
  • Regularly update and improve your existing content to maintain relevance, accuracy, and usefulness for readers.

A satisfied user is a prospective customer to a brand and to Google (the algorithm), where a problem has been resolved and a search journey has ended. This, in turn, improves rankings.

A search journey is when a user performs a search and ends it without clicking on another article or going back to rephrase the question. 

If an article ends a search journey (e.g., someone was asking how much water to drink a day and got their answer), then Google would value the article as the final point of contact for the reader and be labeled as ”helpful”.

The benefit of helpful content for SEOs is that your content is labeled as useful by engines and readers. You are potentially getting leads for your business as well.

Helpful content benefits readers by allowing them to spend less time ping-ponging around the SERPs until they find their answer.

Elements of Helpful Content

Helpful content may sound like a mysterious beast, but there’s a way to approach it for SEO.

1. The article satisfies the Search Intent.

The ”search intent” is the goal of the readers for searching. 

If they are searching for ”how to clean orange juice from carpet”, then they are looking for a step-by-step guide on how they can do it.

Sometimes, search intent is more complex than in the example above.

For example, if someone is searching for ”winter perfumes”, would you instead say they want to look at a category page and buy a perfume for winter, or would they be looking to explore perfume trends in winter?

As SEOs and writers, we cannot know for sure, which is why we need to Google the target keyword to know that.

After Googling the main keyword, we see that the #1 result in the UK is a listicle page. 

This is the ”dominant content format” – Google has calculated via trial and error that when people look for ”winter perfumes”, they want to see the trends.

Bonus: What do we do if both content formats (e.g., category page and listicle) rank? We choose the one that is easier for us and that we can improve. 

Either way, it will be the right search intent for only half of the readers.

2. The article comprehensively answers the question.

The article should cover the topic or question from A to Z and then answer any subsequent questions that people may have.

Otherwise, if you have missing points, readers must go back to Google and search for something else related to the topic.

For example, if you search for ”how much caffeine I should take in a day” and you give the answer straight up without considering the following:

  • Recommended caffeine intake for older people
  • Recommended caffeine intake for people with various diseases

These people would then go back to Google and refine their query. Therefore, Google will treat the article as needing to be more satisfactory.

3. The article contains unique and highly accurate information.

Information accuracy should be a top priority when writing articles about medicine, finance, or the law.

However, in such fields, you can only say something unique if it’s your opinion.

In other fields, such as marketing or e-commerce, there is more room for writing unique angles, strategies, and opinions.

Information accuracy is still prevalent in fields such as marketing and e-commerce; it just has to be backed up by proof or external sources.

4. The article is easy to read and navigate and is not intrusive.

An easy-to-read article combines visual elements and a user interface (UI) to create a proper reading experience.

Professional articles have so much imagery, tables, and infographics because they are easy to consume.

The article should also not be intrusive with ads. If there are ads (necessary for the brand), they should be minified as much as possible.

Long paragraphs and sentences are also a no-no. Articles should explain concepts with as few words as possible and be spaced out neatly.

5. The article showcases real-world experience and industry knowledge.

The keyword “experience” has been used frequently in the SEO writing community for some time now, and with good reason.

Real-life experience with the topic has become essential for both readers and Google.

It is a way to build trust and provide unique examples, which would also qualify as exceptional information.

Readers can often tell if a writer has experience with a topic based on how they write on it. 

Imagine reading a guide to Japan. It’d be evident if the author gave specific advice rather than general tips.

Experience is usually established at the beginning of the article or in the first H2 section, so you can gain readers’ trust that you are knowledgeable on the topic.

But what happens if you need to write an article in which you have no real-world experience?

In this case, you can ”hack authority” by tapping into the knowledge of someone with the experience to share some of their expertise with you.

6. The article has a logical flow – from above the fold to the footer, called Information Prioritisation

Information Prioritisation is when an article is structured to allow readers to find what they need in a prioritized way.

In e-commerce SEO, you outline the products and then provide information about them instead of vice versa.

In SEO content writing, you first educate the readers on the topic and then provide some tips.

You can zoom out and look at how I have prioritized the information in the piece you are reading right now:

  • I first introduced what Helpful Content is and why it’s important
  • I’m then giving you the elements of Helpful Content
  • And then finishing up with a Helpful Content Checklist that you can use

But explaining what something is and its benefits is not a ”framework” by itself.

If we return to the example of ”how much caffeine to take in a day”, people want the answer immediately.

You should not write ”what is caffeine” and ”benefits of caffeine” as sections before you answer that question first. 

Otherwise, people must scroll down too much to get what they need.

7. The article has a conversion goal that you want the readers to convert to

It’s important to note that any selling or positioning should occur after you have established expertise on the topic and personal experience.

Back to the Japan example, you’d be more willing to listen to restaurant recommendations after you’ve ensured the writer has been there and knows their stuff.

8. The questions are answered as soon as possible without fluff

Answering the questions without fluff can earn Featured Snippets in Google because of how fast and accurate the information is given.

When creating content, keep these 8 principles in mind. It might be challenging in the beginning to be good at all of them, but people learn with time.

Helpful Content Checklist

We at PATTRNS’s SEO team have created this checklist template you can use during your content creation process.

RESEARCH PHASE

Step #1: Google the main keyword and make sure you match the content to what people need, the ”dominant content format”.

Step #2: Read the top 3 ranking articles and see what information they cover, how they position their solutions, and what kind of flow they have.

Step 3: Structure the content logically based on what the readers need to know or see first.

Step 4: Have a clear idea of how you will solve the user’s problem and how you will position yourself as the solution.

Step 5: During the research phase, note only accurate information and double-check with different sources if needed.

WRITING PHASE

Step #1: Establish yourself as an expert in the field during the introduction and throughout the content; continuously showcase your experience on the topic and prove it.

Step #2: Answer the questions immediately without fluff, preferably in the first sentence.

Step #3: Write a unique angle on the problem; if that’s not possible, at least deliver the solution more comprehensively than the others.

Step #4: Position the product or solution you are offering as the obvious solution and showcase why they should use your solution.

Step 5: See if you can create anything (e.g., imagery or a table) to improve the users’ learning or comparison experience.

POST-WRITING PHASE

Step #1: Ensure that the content reads well and that there is no fluff, long paragraphs, or long segments

Step #2: Re-read the article to ensure it flows well and has no grammatical and informational errors.

Crafting Content That Engages Readers and Boosts SEO

Creating helpful, engaging content is essential for providing an excellent reader experience and improving your search engine rankings. To achieve this, focus on understanding your audience’s needs and intent, then deliver content that meets those needs in a clear, trustworthy manner.

Demonstrating experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) in your content is crucial for building credibility with both readers and search engines. Incorporate unique insights, personal experiences, and original research to provide value that readers can’t find elsewhere. Organize your content logically using headings, subheadings, and lists to make it easy for readers to navigate and find the information they need.

To maintain the relevance and usefulness of your content over time, regularly update and improve your existing articles and blog posts. This not only provides a better experience for your readers but also signals to search engines that your content is up-to-date and valuable.

Summary

By focusing on creating content that prioritizes the reader’s experience and demonstrates E-E-A-T, you can build a loyal audience and improve your search engine rankings. Use simple language, organize your content logically, and provide unique insights to make your content stand out. Regularly updating your existing content will ensure that it remains relevant and useful for your readers over time.

To get started, evaluate your existing content and identify areas where you can improve the reader experience. Consider conducting keyword research to better understand your audience’s needs and intent, then create new content or update existing articles to better meet those needs. By consistently delivering high-quality, helpful content, you’ll be well on your way to success in both engaging your readers and boosting your SEO.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Helpful Content Update from Google?
The Helpful Content Update is a change to Google’s search algorithm that prioritizes content created to help readers, rather than content designed primarily to rank well in search engines. It aims to surface high-quality, reader-centric content in search results.

How can I ensure my content is considered helpful by Google?
To create helpful content, focus on providing value to your readers. Write in-depth, well-researched articles that address your audience’s needs and questions. Use clear, concise language and organize your content in a logical, easy-to-follow manner.

What are some characteristics of helpful content?
Helpful content is typically original, comprehensive, and well-written. It covers a topic thoroughly, providing insights and information that readers may not find elsewhere. Helpful content is also easy to read and understand, with a clear structure and relevant headings.

How does the Helpful Content Update affect my website’s search rankings?
If your website consistently publishes helpful, reader-centric content, you may see an improvement in your search rankings following the update. However, if your content is deemed unhelpful or primarily designed for search engines, your rankings may decline.

What is the difference between writing for readers and writing for search engines?
Writing for readers means creating content that genuinely helps and informs your audience. It focuses on providing value and addressing readers’ needs. In contrast, writing for search engines prioritizes keyword optimization and other tactics designed to improve search rankings, often at the expense of content quality.

How can I balance SEO and reader-centric content creation?
To balance SEO and reader-centric content, focus on creating high-quality, informative content that naturally incorporates relevant keywords. Use keywords strategically in your headings, meta descriptions, and throughout your content, but avoid overusing them. Prioritize your readers’ experience and aim to provide genuine value.

What should I avoid when creating helpful content?
When creating helpful content, avoid keyword stuffing, copying content from other sources, and writing thin or superficial articles. Also, steer clear of creating content on topics you lack expertise in, as this can lead to inaccurate or unhelpful information.

How long should my content be to be considered helpful?
There is no specific word count that guarantees content will be considered helpful. However, aim to create comprehensive, in-depth articles that thoroughly cover your chosen topic. The length of your content should be determined by the complexity of the subject and the amount of information needed to provide value to your readers.

Can I still optimize my content for search engines while focusing on reader experience?
Yes, you can still optimize your content for search engines while prioritizing reader experience. Use relevant keywords naturally throughout your content, optimize your meta descriptions and page titles, and ensure your website has a clear structure and navigation. However, always put your readers’ needs first and avoid sacrificing content quality for search engine optimization.

How often should I update my content to ensure it remains helpful?
The frequency of content updates depends on your industry and the nature of your content. However, it’s a good practice to regularly review and update your content to ensure it remains accurate, relevant, and helpful to your readers. Consider updating your content whenever there are significant changes or developments in your industry, or when you identify areas where your content could be improved or expanded upon.

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