Creating Helpful Content Workbook

This workbook will help you assess and improve your content in the eyes of Google's guidelines.

Who is it for? SEO professionals and site owners alike can benefit from the exercises in this ebook / Google doc.

If you have been impacted by Google's September 2023 Helpful content update, read this article on how Google's machine learning models have likely shifted to better recognize and reward real world experience. The exercises in this book will help you learn what it is that Google's systems are trying to reward and brainstorm towards creating that type of content.


There has been a seismic shift in how Google's systems rank websites since the introduction of Google's helpful content system in 2022. Many businesses, perhaps like yours, have experienced a plunge in traffic that is hard to explain. Each time I review content that performed well following a Google update, it's clear that the helpful content system is in play. This book is also what you need if you have been impacted by a Google core update. 

How the helpful content system works

Google uses an AI driven system called the helpful content system to reward content that gives users a satisfying experience and demote content that is less likely to do so. This demotion is site-wide, which means that your mediocre content may be making it difficult for Google to want to rank your great content.

If your traffic has been declining and there is no obvious reason as to why, there's a strong possibility your site has been given an unhelpful content classification. The good news is that for some sites, it can be removed and you can recover. The key is to align with the criteria their AI models are designed to consider helpful. They are outlined here and further expounded upon in the Quality Rater Guidelines. The bad news is that it is not possible for all sites to recover. Especially if your key to success in the past has primarily been SEO.

This guide contains my advice based on my experience, along with several checklists to help you improve your content. It aims to increase the likelihood of Google considering your site as the best option to show searchers.

In this guide:

  • Understanding Google's helpful content system
  • How to know if you are impacted
  • What it takes to recover
  • Thoroughly understanding user intent as described in great detail in the QRG
  • Removing content
  • Improving Page Experience
  • Demonstrating E-E-A-T, especially experience
  • The importance of popularity
  • What to expect in terms of recovery

You'll have some homework to do! I will pose several questions that will require you to delve into Google's documentation and the Quality Rater Guidelines for answers. At the end of all of this, you'll have a thorough checklist you can use to assess your content and improve its quality. We'll start by examining your most important pages, which will give you an idea of the improvements needed across your entire site.


  • Needs Met - these exercises will help you understand searcher need
  • E-E-A-T / Content Quality improvement - We'll walk through Google's criteria on creating helpful content and discuss how to improve Google's perception of your business, the people associated with it and its popularity and reputation.
  • Page Experience - It's about more than just core web vitals! A good page experience is about making it incredibly easy for users to find the answers they're looking for."
  • Ensuring you have people first content
  • Additional ideas to consider for improving quality

This is an e-book / Google document. It is designed to be used by SEO professionals, but still would be very helpful for any site owner who wants to improve content quality, even if you are not an SEO expert.

Note: The book is a PDF and Google Doc. Tommy printed it out and got it bound which is such a great idea!