Google's Helpful Content Update

September 12, 2022 by AACD Executive Office

Most of you probably haven't heard about the latest update from Google called the "Helpful Content" update. It launched a few days ago, and there was quite a bit of online chatter about what it would do to search rankings.

Now that it's launched, most dental marketing experts say it was a bit of a dud.

But that doesn't mean that it will be a dud forever. In a tweet Danny Sullivan from Google said,

"Update isn't done. It's also part of a continuing effort…. We'll keep refining how it works. Directionally, the guidance we've given is what SEOs and creators should be considering."

Let's discuss the Helpful Content update, how it will affect your search rankings over time, and what you can do as a dental practice owner to put your best foot forward.

What Is Google's Helpful Content Update?

Google has been receiving feedback that the content in the search results is not valuable for consumers and appears to be written for SEO only.

Let's unpack what SEO copywriting looks like when it's written for search results and not for consumers.

“Are you looking for teeth whitening in Miami, Florida? If you need teeth whitening trays or a one-stop teeth whitening service in Miami, call us. Our teeth whitening treatments in Miami are the best. Schedule a teeth whitening treatment today and feel better about yourself.”

Sounds ridiculous, right?

You've probably run across copywriting like this before. The reason that some dental copywriting sounds like this is because up until now it has worked to help websites rank higher in search results. On the other hand, it's not great information for consumers, hence the Helpful Content update.

As the name indicates, the Helpful Content update's purpose is to make online content more helpful to consumers.

Here is what Google said about the purpose of the update:

...the "helpful content update" that's part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.

Quick Facts About The Helpful Content Update:

  1. It launched August 22nd.
  2. The update will be an ongoing process.
  3. SEO rankings will likely be updated
  4. The update will only affect search rankings.
  5. Focuses on decreasing content that intends to rank highly in search rather than being helpful.
  6. High-quality content will continue to rank well.
  7. If your dental site is affected, you should update your content according to Google's content creation recommendations.

How Will The Helpful Content Update Affect Search Rankings?

Google has and likely will not reveal the metrics they will use to measure website content quality. Still, one thing is for sure your dental website design, quality of copywriting, and visitor engagement will play a big part.

When a visitor lands on your website and engages with your content by scrolling, clicking, watching, and reading, Google may use these metrics in its algorithm.

If your site is clear, concise, and the copy is to the point and answers the query of the visitor. If you have easy calls to action and a great website design, you'll probably have hit Google's mark for quality content.

In the update, Google said,

Any content — not just unhelpful content — on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that's better to display. For this reason, removing unhelpful content could help the rankings of your other content."

Many dental SEO experts have asked, "Will the update affect all pages of a website or just those with lower quality content?"

In a related tweet, Danny Sullivan from Google said,

We tend to see subdomains apart from root domains, but it also depends on many factors.

Let me translate….

Danny is saying that the rankings for all the pages of a site may not be damaged if a few pages have low-quality content. In other words, one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch.

What You Can Do To Optimize For The Helpful Content Update

Focus on custom content that answers the query of your website visitor. Think about what your potential patient is considering when they come to your site and write to that end.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when writing,

  • Does a patient leave your website feeling like they've got an answer to their question?
  • Is it evident that the content writer is knowledgeable and an expert?
  • Do you have a blog and are the articles written well?
  • If you landed on the page, would you trust the information? And why?
  • Has there been attention to detail, or does the page look sloppy?
  • Is there any writing that sounds redundant?
  • Does the position of the writer argue both sides of the issue?
  • Are your Bio and team member pages current and up to date?
  • Does the content sound like it's written with a patient-first perspective?
  • Are there any additional page assets to help round out the topic? Ideas would be videos, downloads, or links to additional information.
  • Does your writing sound better than your competition's copy on the same topic?

These questions are recommendations from Google on writing excellent copy. You can see that their goal is to encourage creators to write helpful content.


Far too much of the dental SEO and copywriting industry is based on rankings rather than quality content. Your best course of action is to always create content with your patient in mind, not search rankings.

In the end, you'll find that your website visitor experience will improve as well as your rankings. Isn't that what you want anyway?

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