SEO News Highlights - Sept. 2023
Helpful Content System Update Rolling Out
On Sept. 14th at about 4:20 pm ET, Google began to roll out an update to the Helpful content system - the Google September 2023 Helpful Content Update. This update is expected to take 2 weeks to roll out.
As a reminder, the Google helpful content system looks to weed out content written for the purpose of ranking in search engines that do not help or inform people. Google said this update will "tackle content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines." The update will "help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn't rank highly in Search," Google added.
So if you are writing content to drive search engine visibility and traffic, you might be hit by this type of update, and non-English sites are no longer safe from this update.
The last Helpful content update we had was the December 2022 helpful content update - which hit our member sites and the sales site the hardest.
Several SEOs have reported that Google updates the Helpful Content Score constantly, but there is a timeout period and a validation period. It can take several months to recover from this update.
Updates to the Helpful Content Document
Google made a few changes to its official helpful content page including:
- 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.
What To Do - Self Assess:
Google also added these lines, "If you're producing helpful content, then you don't need to do anything; in fact this system may be good for your site, as it is designed to reward helpful content." And this one too, "If you've noticed a change in traffic you suspect may be related to this system (after a publicly-posted ranking update to the system), then you should self-assess your content and fix or remove any that seems unhelpful." This self-assess advice was from earlier this week, as an FYI.
Reviewed by Expert:
Google updated the creating helpful content document to add "or reviewed" to this line of text "Is this content written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?" under the experise questions section.
Google added this line "Are you changing the date of pages to make them seem fresh when the content has not substantially changed?" under the avoid creating search engine-first content section.
Google also added this line to that section "Are you adding a lot of new content or removing a lot of older content primarily because you believe it will help your search rankings overall by somehow making your site seem "fresh?" (No, it won't)"
So far the volatility in rankings has not been impacted by the update. But if members have not made changes to their ACL posts since the last Helpful Content System update in December of 2022, they will probably be hit hard again in the coming days.