Google has begun to push out an update to its helpful content system, the last helpful content system update was the December 2022 helpful content update. The update started on September 14 and should take about two weeks to fully roll out.
What is new. Google said, “The September 2023 helpful content update is rolling out with an improved classifier. It will take about two weeks to complete. We’ll update our ranking release history page when the rollout is complete.”
Google added new details about helpful content, specifically:
- Added new guidance about hosting third-party content and more explanation on what to do after a helpful content system update (perhaps you don’t need to do anything, or perhaps self-assess your content).
- Added new points about removing content or changing dates to the help page on how to create helpful, reliable people-first content.
- Google also removed the words “written by people” and just wrote “helpful content created for people in search results.” I suspect this is to say AI-generated content is fine when it is helpful. Here is a screenshot of the before and after.
In May, Google told us a helpful content system update would be coming this year. Google said this update would enable the helpful content system to “more deeply understands content created from a personal or expert point of view.” “We’re also improving how we rank results in Search overall, with a greater focus on content with unique expertise and experience,” Google also said a few months ago.
Google said this is not today’s update. Google wrote, “This work is still continuing and is not part of this particular update. We’ll share more about our work in this area in the future.”
What to do if you are hit. Google has provided a list of questions you can ask yourself about your content. Read through those questions as we posted over here, and in an unbiased manner, ask yourself if your content is in sync with this update.
Please note if this update has hit you, it can take several months to recover if you do everything right and make changes to your content over time.
More on the helpful content update. Google’s helpful content update specifically targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.”
This algorithm update aims to help searchers find “high-quality content,” Google told us. Google wants to reward better and more useful content that was written for humans and to help users.
Searchers get frustrated when they land on unhelpful webpages that rank well in search because they were written for the purpose of ranking in search engines. This is the type of content you might call “search engine-first content” or “SEO content.”
Google’s helpful content algorithm aims to downgrade those types of websites while promoting more helpful websites, designed for humans, above search engines.
Google said this is an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.”
Why we care. If you notice any ranking and visibility changes in Google search over the next two weeks or so, especially if those were big changes, you can likely attribute it to this update. Read Google’s advice, make the necessary changes, and hope for a recovery in the upcoming months.
We hope you all will see a positive trend with your ranking and visibility in Google Search from this update.