The Leap Content Guidelines

Last Updated: February 9, 2024

At Thinkific, we are fanatical about your success.  In an age where artificial intelligence (AI) generates a significant portion of online content, course creators like you hold a distinct advantage. Course creator’s possess experience and a deep understanding of their subject matter positioning them to offer original, engaging, and valuable educational experiences that AI-generated content cannot replicate. This document aims to contextualize Google’s “Helpful Content Update” within the realm of course creation and provides guidance on aligning content strategies with the evolving landscape of online education.

Unique Position of Course Creators Amidst AI-Generated Content

Course creators are in a unique position to stand out in an internet increasingly flooded with AI-generated content for several reasons:

  • Originality and Authenticity: Course creators offer original content based on personal expertise and real-world experience, which AI-generated content cannot authentically replicate.
  • Depth of Knowledge: Courses usually delve deeply into subjects, offering comprehensive insights and learning experiences, as opposed to the often surface-level information provided by AI-generated content.
  • Engagement and Interaction: Courses often include interactive elements like quizzes, assignments, and forums, which provide a more engaging and valuable experience than static AI-generated articles.
  • Continuous Improvement: Course creators frequently update their material to reflect the latest trends and information, ensuring that the content remains relevant and valuable.
  • Trust and Credibility: Learners tend to trust content created by real experts, which is something that AI-generated content lacks.

In summary, Google’s Helpful Content Update is a positive development for course creators. It aligns with the inherent qualities of educational content, such as depth, expertise, and a learner-first focus. This update provides an opportunity for course creators to distinguish themselves from the proliferation of AI-generated content, emphasizing the value of authentic, educational material powered by experts and not AI.

Contextualizing Google’s Helpful Content Update for Course Creators

Google’s “Helpful Content Update” is a significant algorithm change aimed at promoting content that provides a satisfying experience to users, while demoting content that doesn’t meet their expectations. This update is particularly relevant for course creators in the online education sector. Here’s how it impacts and benefits course creators:

1. Emphasis on People-First Content

  • This update rewards content that genuinely educates and engages learners. As a course creator, your content naturally aligns with this goal. Your courses are likely to be rich in original, insightful information that caters to specific learning objectives, which is exactly what Google’s update prioritizes.

2. Discouraging Search-Engine-First Content

  • Unlike AI-generated or superficial content that targets search engine algorithms, your courses are designed to provide in-depth knowledge and skills. This means your content is less likely to be flagged as unhelpful under the new update, giving you an edge over low-quality, keyword-stuffed content.

3. Rewarding Expertise and Depth of Knowledge

  • Google’s update values content that demonstrates expertise and a deep understanding of the subject. As a course creator, your content is typically grounded in your expertise and experience, making it more likely to be favored by the algorithm.

4. Impact on Site-Wide Rankings

  • The update considers the overall helpfulness of content on your site. Since your website likely focuses on educational material and courses, it’s inherently aligned with providing value and helpfulness, which should positively influence your site’s overall ranking.

5. Continuous Monitoring and Long-Term Benefits

  • The update’s classifier runs continuously, meaning that consistently providing high-quality, helpful content will be recognized and rewarded over time. This encourages ongoing content quality, which is a natural fit for course creators who update and refine their courses regularly.

Do’s for Succeeding with Helpful Content and Algorithm Guidance

  • Focus on Creating People-First Content: Prioritize real value for your audience with engaging, educational content.
  • Demonstrate Your Expertise: Show your knowledge and experience in your field through in-depth content.
  • Ensure Relevance of Your Content: Align your content closely with your audience’s interests and your site’s focus.
  • Provide Comprehensive Information: Offer detailed, well-researched content that fully explores the topic.
  • Update Your Content Regularly: Keep your content fresh and relevant with ongoing updates and insights.
  • Apply SEO Best Practices Judiciously: Use SEO to enhance, not dominate, your content strategy.
  • Encourage User Engagement: Design interactive content that invites participation and feedback.

Don’ts for Avoiding Penalties

  • Avoid Over-Optimizing for SEO: Don’t prioritize search engine ranking over user value in your content creation.
  • Steer Clear of Keyword Stuffing: Refrain from excessive keyword use that detracts from content quality.
  • Resist Producing Low-Quality Content: Avoid creating large volumes of superficial content on unrelated topics.
  • Refrain from Duplicating Content: Focus on originality and avoid copying or slightly altering existing content.
  • Avoid Misleading Headlines: Ensure your titles accurately reflect the content and avoid clickbait.
  • Prioritize User Experience: Avoid creating a poor user experience with intrusive ads or difficult navigation.
  • Use AI-Generated Content Sparingly: Be cautious with AI-generated content and don’t let it replace human expertise.
  • Avoid Publishing Thin Content: Don’t publish superficial content that lacks depth or fails to adequately cover the topic.

By actively following these do’s and avoiding the don’ts, you can align your content strategy with Google’s Helpful Content guidelines, thereby enhancing your search rankings and providing genuine value to your audience.

Summary of Violations That Could Lead to Removal or ‘Noindex’ Tags

Here’s a comprehensive non-exhaustive list of violations that would warrant content removal or the application of a ‘noindex’ tag, ensuring such content is not indexed by search engines:

  1. Plagiarism: Content that infringes on intellectual property rights or involves the copying of someone else’s work without permission or proper attribution.
  2. Misinformation and False Claims: Spreading false information, unfounded claims, or content that could be misleading or harmful.
  3. Hate Speech and Discrimination: Any content promoting hate, discrimination, or violence against individuals or groups based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disabilities, or diseases.
  4. Harassment and Bullying: Content that harasses, bullies, or threatens other individuals or groups.
  5. Explicit and Inappropriate Content: Material that includes explicit, obscene, or pornographic content.
  6. Illegal Activities or Content: Promoting illegal activities, or sharing content that involves or encourages criminal actions.
  7. Spam and Malware: Content that is spammy in nature, including excessive linking to external sites, or content that contains or promotes malware or harmful software.
  8. Manipulative or Deceptive Practices: Content that involves deceptive practices, like clickbait, misleading headlines, or manipulative content aimed at artificially boosting SEO.
  9. Low-Quality or Irrelevant Content: Material that lacks substantial value, is off-topic, or does not meet the platform’s quality standards.
  10. Excessive Use of AI-Generated Content: Over-reliance on AI-generated content without human oversight or contribution, especially if it leads to low-quality or irrelevant material.
  11. Violations of User Privacy: Content that violates user privacy, such as sharing personal data without consent.
  12. Impersonation: Content that involves impersonating another person or organization.
  13. Promotion of Dangerous Activities: Content that promotes dangerous or harmful activities, including self-harm or substance abuse.
  14. Conflict of Interest: Content created with a conflict of interest, particularly undisclosed promotional or commercial interests.
  15. Violations of Specific Platform Rules: Any content that specifically violates the unique rules or guidelines set by the platform.
  16. Excessive Advertising or Commercial Content: Content where the primary purpose is to sell products or services, especially if it’s intrusive or detracts from the user experience.
  17. Manipulation of Ranking Algorithms: Content that is clearly designed to manipulate search engine algorithms rather than provide value to users.

By enforcing these community violations, a third-party content provider can ensure a safe, trustworthy, and valuable experience for all users, while also maintaining good standing with search engine guidelines.

Do’s for Users Uploading Content on Third-Party Platforms

  • Create Original Content: Always produce and share original work to avoid plagiarism.
  • Fact-Check Your Information: Ensure all information is accurate and reliable to avoid spreading misinformation or false claims.
  • Respect Diversity and Inclusivity: Avoid content that could be construed as hate speech, discriminatory, or promoting violence.
  • Maintain Professional Conduct: Steer clear of harassment, bullying, or any form of threatening behavior.
  • Keep Content Appropriate: Avoid posting explicit, obscene, or pornographic material.
  • Abide by Legal Standards: Ensure your content does not promote or engage in illegal activities.
  • Avoid Spammy Practices: Refrain from creating content that could be considered spam, such as excessive linking or promotional material.
  • Be Honest and Transparent: Avoid deceptive practices like clickbait or misleading headlines.
  • Prioritize Quality and Relevance: Focus on creating content that is valuable, relevant, and of high quality.
  • Respect User Privacy: Never share personal data of others without consent.
  • Avoid Impersonation: Be authentic and don’t pretend to be someone else or represent an organization falsely.
  • Steer Clear of Dangerous Content: Don’t promote harmful or dangerous activities.
  • Disclose Conflicts of Interest: Be transparent about any commercial interests or conflicts of interest in your content.
  • Adhere to Platform-Specific Rules: Familiarize yourself with and follow the specific rules and guidelines of the platform.
  • Limit Commercial Content: Ensure that any commercial content is appropriate and not excessive.
  • Avoid SEO Manipulation: Don’t create content solely for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings.

Don’ts for Users Uploading Content on Third-Party Platforms

  • Don’t Copy Others’ Work: Never plagiarize or use someone else’s content without permission and proper attribution.
  • Don’t Spread False Information: Avoid sharing unverified or false information.
  • Don’t Engage in Hate Speech: Refrain from any content that could be seen as promoting hate or discrimination.
  • Don’t Harass or Bully: Avoid any form of harassment, bullying, or threatening behavior towards others.
  • Don’t Post Inappropriate Material: Refrain from sharing explicit, obscene, or pornographic content.
  • Don’t Promote Illegal Activities: Avoid creating or sharing content that involves or encourages illegal actions.
  • Don’t Create Spam: Avoid spam-like behavior, such as excessive self-promotion or irrelevant linking.
  • Don’t Use Deceptive Practices: Steer clear of misleading headlines, clickbait, or content that misrepresents the truth.
  • Don’t Produce Low-Quality Content: Avoid creating content that lacks substance, relevance, or value.
  • Don’t Violate Privacy: Never share personal or sensitive information about others without consent.
  • Don’t Impersonate: Avoid pretending to be someone else or misrepresenting your affiliation with an organization.
  • Don’t Promote Harmful Activities: Refrain from content that encourages dangerous or harmful behavior.
  • Don’t Hide Conflicts of Interest: Be transparent about any potential biases or commercial interests in your content.
  • Don’t Disregard Platform Rules: Avoid breaking the specific rules and guidelines set by the platform.
  • Don’t Overwhelm with Ads: Avoid creating content that is primarily focused on selling or advertising products or services.
  • Don’t Manipulate SEO: Avoid tactics aimed solely at improving search engine rankings rather than providing value to the audience.

By following these do’s and don’ts, users will ensure their content remains accessible and indexed, and avoid removal of their content or site.