5 min read

How Google updates are ruining my life

My web publishing business is taking a huge hit by Google updates that are changing how we search online.
How Google updates are ruining my life

I had it easy. My life was on autopilot. I was raising my family and enjoying life with Google’s money. Google was paying me every month for running a website. A website that sometimes I didn’t check for weeks!

20 hours a month of work was enough to keep the website operational and profitable. For the remaining 700 hours a month, life was good.

Until Google came up with an update that turned my life upside down. A Google algorithm update that took half of my traffic and 70% of my revenue away. Until a Google update ruined my life. The so-called Helpful Content Update. So…

What is a Google update?

To answer what’s a Google algorithm update we have to see their business model. What’s their offering? What’s their product, and how they are making money? Because, after all, Google is a for-profit business.

Google is a free search engine.

They offer a service to society by letting people search the whole internet. For free.

Their goal? To create the best free search engine. And I think they managed that, ever since they launched back in 1998. Back then, we used to search the internet using other services, such as Yahoo, Altavista, and Lycos.

Have you used any of those lately? Right, the majority of people online search the internet using Google. There’s no doubt Google has achieved its goal of creating the best search engine.

But their free product, their lead magnet, wasn’t a hit right from the start. It evolved. It advanced. It was UPDATED!

Google updates its algorithm several times a year. Their goal remains the same with each update. To maintain the top place among search engines. To serve people online who are looking for anything in the best way possible.

Once they have their audience, once they have people using their free tool, they need to make money. Google is making money with advertisements. Companies spend money on ads to buy attention from people using Google’s search engine. And of course, Google also sells ads to various websites that have partnered with them using their dedicated advertising platform, AdSense.

So, in a nutshell:

Google’s model is to become the best search engine so that people keep using Google for searching online, so that companies, business owners and professionals buy ads from them.

That’s it.

A Google update now is simply an update on how their search engine works. Much like we update our computers or the apps on our mobile phones. But these updates aren’t all the same.

The different types of Google updates

There are spam updates, reviews updates, page experience updates. As their name suggests, these take care of different things. And then there are two key updates that are changing the search engine results in a big way. These are called core updates. And recently they are known as the Helpful Content Updates.

Why are these core updates by Google called Helpful Content Updates, or HCU for short?

Because Google’s algorithm has had enough of content that wasn’t helpful for their users. Of content that was written exclusively for ranking on Google’s search engine.

Let’s see a personal example.

Say I found that people are searching for sports trading. It’s a niche that I am involved in, as I happened to be a professional gambler who used to make a living by trading sports betting odds. I have personal experience to share. By blogging about that since 2005, I’ve built trust. I built an audience that learned what worked for me in sports trading. I provide value, I try to create helpful content.

But my blog isn’t ranked in first position for sports trading.

Perhaps it’s because my English sucks and people don’t read past the first paragraph. Maybe it’s because I’m not an expert in SEO (although I’m quickly becoming one). Or it could be that my content doesn’t actually help the people who are looking for a quick buck.

But it could be that other websites have seen that people are searching for sports trading and made blogs targeting that keyword. Then they created tens of posts about everything about sports trading for the sake of ranking. They have no personal experience; they are not trusted. But they know how SEO works, which made their websites rank higher than me. Note, I’m not trying to offend anyone here. I haven’t looked into the search results for sports trading. It is just an example that came up from my head. And by the time you are watching this it’s probable that my blog ranks first for sports trading!

Anyhow, Google now sees that these websites outrank mine.

They introduce the Google E-E-A-T update, which stands for Expertise, Experience, Authority, Trust.

I have all these when it comes to sports trading. But others outranking me may not have. And that’s why my personal blog is doing well during these updates, as Google identifies that its users

  • spend more time on my blog,
  • don’t leave my blog once they click a result leading them to one of my articles and
  • follow me on social media

Remember their business model? Their users, their core audience, are of paramount importance to them. If they lose their audience, their business model will collapse. Like one of my websites is collapsing as it has lost its audience. And when the audience leaves for a competitor or alternative solution, you are in trouble.

How has the Helpful Content Update affected me

Ok, since my blog is doing well, why am I worried of Google algorithm updates?

Because, you see, I have another website, that I have no experience, expertise, or trust. I do have authority as very big websites have linked to that website. Why did they link, if I’m not an expert there? Well, it’s because I hired writers to create content for me, which would rank on Google search engine!

We are going full circle now!

15 years ago, the internet was a different place. Google was also different. You found the domain name pizza.com available and you were golden. Throw in a few posts about pizza, and you dominated the number one spots for super popular evergreen keywords. Sit back and enjoy life. Your job is done.

Fast forward to today, Google realized that people have specific needs when they are searching for pizza. And usually websites operating on domains that don’t have pizza in their name actually provide far more helpful content, giving better answers.

People evolved. Nowadays they get better answers by Artificial Intelligence. It’s time to provide helpful content to users. And that content rarely comes from websites that were built with the sole intention of ranking.

Now, Google favors user-generated content. Content that is written by actual people that want to help. They don’t know anything of SEO or rankings. That’s why Reddit and Quora have taken top spots in several search queries. And Google uses that websites to train their AI so that it provides answers itself to simple questions by its users.

“What is gambling?” a user asks. Google spits out a simple paragraph on top of their search result. It won’t be difficult for a robot to answer that with so much info online.

What will happen? AI will steal all the traffic for websites that have tried to rank for “what is gambling”. The trick for the future will be to create detailed articles, to answer people’s questions in a unique way, by providing useful data and info, by being a real person with personal experience, expertise and trust in front of and behind a camera.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s take a pause.

We’ll talk more about how I predict Google will change in the coming years. I’ll discuss how Google identifies helpful content in future videos.

And how these core algorithm updates are changing industries and threatening people’s life savings. How they make people quit their entrepreneurial goals and begin looking for a job, returning to the rat race after years or working solo. How Google updates have led to skyrocketing anxiety and very, very dark thoughts.

Because I am one of those people. But I don’t plan to give up so easily.