088 - How to write Helpful Content with Katrina McKinnon


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When creating content, you need to consider putting out visuals, those with elaborated images, perhaps including tables and the writer’s profile, as well. You also need a caption that says something about the picture, and if you’re selling something, what’s the benefit of buying it, right? 

As Katrina McKinnon said in this conversation with Gert, there is power in creative story-telling and enhancing the reader's experience through interesting visual elements. She truly believes that you've got more chances of keeping your readers on the website if your article looks beautiful if it looks visually attractive. Content is King, but creativity is Queen.

Podcast Highlights: 

00:01 Prologue

01:02 Podcast Intro

01:12 Introduction of the topic and guest, Katrina McKinnon

02:08 How Katrina came into the niche of content creation and was she able to create her company CopySmiths?

07:54 How does Katrina feel about Google's Helpful Content Update?

11:51 Why are visual images very helpful in content creation? (...What are some of the things you can do to make your content more helpful for user experience?)

17:29 What course of action did Katrina do in order to get a higher click through rate percentage for a client? (...Why is it that  people are also clicking on links?)

21:56 Why is it important to include testimonials in your articles? 

24:07 Gert's opinion on AI in terms of user friendly experience and what Google is missing on, but ranks them anyway. 

28:25 What will give more chances to readers reading your article? (...Why is it important to add the writer profile on the article?)

30:31 Especially on mobile phones, what would make users read your article instead of swiping back to search for another article?

32:39 Why is it important to summarize in the first 25 words of an article and add a qualifying statement for the article and repeat that in the sub headings?

35:02 What is the reason Gert believes Google was better off not announcing Helpful Content Update at all?

36:07 Katrina's own reservations on how Google is able to tolerate bad and junky websites. 

39:00 Gert recaps the conversation with Katrina.

41:11 Katrina's final statement on the conversation.

42:00 Where to connect with Katrina McKinnon?

42:17 End

Connect with Katrina McKinnon:

Website - https://copysmiths.com/

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrinamckinnon/?originalSubdomain=au

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CopySmiths

Connect with Gert Mellak:

Email: [email protected]

How to Write Helpful Content - with Katrina McKinnon

Do you ever feel like you’re just writing to write? That your blog posts, articles, or social media updates fall on deaf ears because there’s nothing helpful about them?

Sadly, this is a common occurrence on the internet. People are inundated with content all day. So it’s no surprise that they ignore anything that doesn’t add value.

Katrina McKinnon believes you need to focus on delivering helpful content to break through the noise. This means using story-telling and visual elements to engage your audience.

How Google’s Helpful Content Update Affects Websites

Google has recently announced a new update to its algorithm. This time around, the focus is on “helpful content.” So what is it, and how will this update impact website owners, content creators, and SEO strategies?

As Katrina mentioned in a conversation with Gert, she believes the changes will be minimal. However, it’s not what other people think; they mostly get noisy and make a big fuss.

On a side note, 95% are just not going to see much at all because of two reasons:

  1. Google literally hasn’t crawled them, especially for smaller sites, and won’t crawl them for three or four months.
  2. With bigger sites, they won’t think of making a fuss since they already have helpful content.

So, what is really helpful content?

Google hasn’t quantified exactly what helpful content is. But in simplest terms, the update aims to reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience.

“Google Helpful Content Update aims to reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience.”

Gert also added that Google throws results at people because they just have so many fantasies and what comes back. Then, all the time, some updates address to pick up those signals for applying them in their algorithm.

What to Put in Your Content to Make it More Helpful for User Experience?

In a world where we are bombarded with content from all sides, it’s essential to have something that will capture attention and hold it long enough to deliver your message. And what better way to do that than with visual elements?

Let’s go through a bunch of things that Katrina’s team put into their content. 

Visual Images

Images are super important; they tell stories and capture your audience’s attention, but not stock photography images.

Here’s how Katrina’s team optimized content with images:

  • Get the client’s product images or a lifestyle image
  • Instead of putting just a photo of the product, add a little bit of text in Helvetica
  • Overlay text on it to talk about the benefit of a product


Tables are a useful way to compare data and ideas. You could also use them for comparing products or characteristics of different things!

People don’t like reading long blocks or even scrolling through them all at once. That’s why Katrina literally put tables in every single one of their articles. Breaking up text with tables and other visuals attached makes everything easier for readers and writers alike. 


This is a good way to ensure that your content remains relevant and interesting. You must have an effective checklist in place so people don’t slip through the cracks!

For example, the listeners to this podcast can just think about it as if they created a checklist with the points that are being made.

Bullets, bullet points, and ordered lists

This is a key part of a helpful content strategy which is to summarize what people can learn in three to five bullet points. This helps with engagement because it’s not just one long paragraph. But some quick insights keep readers engaged while waiting for more information.

How to Get a Higher Click-Through Rate Percentage?

If users can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they will likely leave and go to a competitor’s site. That’s why you need to ensure that your landing page is effective.

Two ways to increase your click-through rate:

Call-to-Action Buttons

People usually disregard it even if you have the best layout, content, and topic. Do you know what those people clicked on?

People clicked on the word “click here” in the text in the blog. Make it easy to find what they need by using Calls-To-Action (CTAs) to make your content irresistible.


The other thing that Katrina learned is that people click on text links inside tables. Because tables are seen as an authority piece, people tend to trust the data more when presented in a table. 

So again, it’s all about putting the links in areas that are helpful to the reader and just not trying to trick them with anything. 

Does it Necessary to Include Testimonials in Your Articles? 

We all know that optimizing your content for a certain keyword is essential. Even Katrina’s team used Surfer SEO, a search engine or keyword management tool for articles.

Remember, you can get the right seed and related keywords to optimize your content. However, it’s not only the basis. The best thing is to focus on creating a good user.

One of the other things that they do, and something to add to people’s checklist, is to include testimonials. For example, if you’re writing an article about fountain pens, they will grab testimonials or product reviews from clients out of their own store and place them into the article.

In terms of AI, does it improve the user-friendly experience?

Here’s Gert on point answer: AI will not move the experience right out of the equation. It’s not also about getting your content up, and you don’t have to worry about blog writing anymore.

Every tool is different, not created equal. So, what is Google missing on but ranks articles anyway?

  • Internet service provider. They ranked because you eventually figured it out when talking about an internet connection. And Google was missing this term’s “internet connection.” Sometimes, you get so stuck in your technical, industry-specific mind that you don’t take a step back.
  • Machine learning tools. This helps analyze your article, plus paste it into the text. You can quickly check what’s missing, whether it’s a subtopic or element.

“Google isn’t half as smart as they pretend to be. You could expect Google knows this is a synonym and still ranks it for the other term as well.”

What Will Give More Chances to Readers Reading Your Article?

Katrina can tell this is a pattern now. So when an email comes in with badly laid out text, it’s usually not worth reading because the information might be wrong or misleading somewhere along the line!

The same thing happens on blogs - you get away with things sometimes if your site doesn’t look beautiful. But that will usually be because its reputation precedes it, you know. 

Why is it important to add the writer’s profile to the article?

There have been tests that adding an author profile doesn’t really move the needle in terms of Google. But, Katrina still thinks to the reader that it might have engagement aspects such as a lower bounce rate.

Just as a checklist, whenever someone has a writer, always get a little profile. Then, ensure that that profile is skewed towards the content on the website.

In Mobile Phones, What Makes Users Read Your Article?

One phrase Gert saw in the description of the helpful content update caught his attention. This says, ‘Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again, to get better information from other sources?’,

The general rule is not to find what they’re looking for but instead to search for something else. Google will pick up any signal that’s easy for them, like the most basic thing someone might do in their web browser--search! 

Now, Google also ties in. They used to be called Search-to-task-accomplishment. But ultimately, they are consistent with serving the user.

Remember, the top section is just so important because people need to know at the top. Plus, remove the one that got severely penalized with the core update.

“Add an SEO-optimized intro that led to 15 to 25% performance.”

Why Summarize the First 25 Words of an Article?

You must hook your readers with the first 25 words when writing an article. Additionally, summarizing the first 25 words is one of the main tactics Gert uses to get a featured snippet.

You can do as follows:

  • reiterate whatever the subheading is in the affirmative or negative
  • summarize the promise that’s made in the article title
  • add in a qualifying statement, such as a fact

Why does Gert believe Google was better off not announcing Helpful Content Update?

Google’s updates are happening daily, but if they didn’t announce the core changes or major up-to-dates to stay out, there would be a ranking drop. It took some figuring things out and trying Gert’s own version of what Google wants to see for him to come up with conclusions about it all.

Additionally, Google is so smart and cool. It’s now mobile optimized, which means that the site will load faster. Plus, it’ll be more accessible for people who don’t want to scroll through pages of text when they’re looking at your content online. 

Lastly, Google saves a lot of money. They can call those websites now in a faster way. Also, they don’t have to spend so much processing time to process faster sites, which is not really good for them. Or, often, updates just need to be taken with a grain of salt.

How Google can Tolerate Bad and Junky Websites

Google is trying to scare everyone with this HTTPS thing, but it isn’t anything major. They’re making sure their search engine can crawl the internet easily.

With that, Katrina agreed that Google should cope and crawl with a huge amount of junk on the internet. If Google couldn’t crawl billions of billions of pages of slow-loading junky website sites with broken HTML, it wouldn’t have a business. 

Compared to SEO, it has changed very often, and its competitive landscape that changed. Before, you can rank whatever you write about. But now, you have more than competitors for the keyword you rank.

That means Google changed, SEO changed, and SEO doesn’t work anymore. It’s just a different landscape. You just need to pick different battles and still work out again. And always have some fun.

In a Nutshell

If the article is relevant, it will also improve the user experience. The best part is that a piece of content or an idea just takes off like a rocket because you get creative with it.

If you’re hoping to up your content game and start writing truly helpful pieces, head over to SEOLeverage™️. Remember, content is king, but creativity is queen.

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