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Content created for people, by people (not AI)

Chris Bardsley / 04 August 2023

A Novel Approach: People First, SEO Later

I bang on about how content should be written for people first, and we can sort the SEO out after.

That’s probably a different approach to a lot of SEO agencies that, quite rightly, want to focus on keywords and the technical makeup of their content or stick to a ‘process’.

Neither is the wrong approach, but by writing purely for SEO, you’re pushing what might be deemed acceptable by Google. Let me explain…

Google’s ‘Helpful Content System’: A Game-Changer

Google has a ‘Helpful Content System’:

Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.

Essentially, it’s a system put in place to make sure sites that write great content that answers the questions of searchers are rewarded.

The words to take note of in the quote above is “helpful content written by people, for people.”

NOT “by people, for SEO.”

or even…

NOT “by AI, for SEO”

…and there are a lot of guilty parties of that currently.

The Danger of Writing for SEO Alone

The issue with writing for SEO specifically is that if Google determines your site doesn’t fit the criteria of the helpful content system, your entire website is affected.

And once you don’t fit the criteria, it can be a while before you get the chance to right that wrong. Marie Haynes mentions in her (brilliant) weekly newsletter that it can be around 3 months before Google gives you a second chance.

Creating ‘Helpful’ Content: Answering Human Queries

So how can you create ‘helpful’ content?

Write like you’re trying to answer a question that a human has asked…

Google specifically penalises “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.”

So, ironically, as unhelpful as this might be, do the opposite. Speak from a place of authority in your business / niche and go into detail about the topic you’re covering.

There’s a tonne of useful info on this blog from Search Engine Land too.

Now, there’s still some technical optimisation to consider to make sure Google finds your content, but by starting with content you’ve written for a real person, you’re already on the path to success.