On September 14, 2023, Google rolled out a new helpful content update to enhance the way content is ranked and presented to users, wrapping it up by September 28th. This change, part of the helpful content system, has tweaked several aspects of how websites should approach content creation and hosting, especially AI-generated content and third-party hosting.
What to Know about Google’s Updated Helpful Content System
Google’s helpful content system focuses on lowering the rankings of content that appears to prioritize gaining search engine rankings over genuinely helping or informing users. This recent algorithm update is all about rewarding content that is essentially “written for humans” – it’s meant to be insightful, helpful, and highly relevant to user queries.
“Search engine-first content” or what is commonly recognized as “SEO content” can be frustrating for users when it does not deliver the valuable information they seek but ranks high in search results. The new algorithm aims to demote such websites while uplifting those that provide truly beneficial, human-centered content.
Google describes this initiative as an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.”
Core Focus of the New Helpful Content Update
The September update focused on three aspects of the assessment of helpful content.
Embracing AI-Generated Content
Google has lightened up on machine-created content. Unlike in the past, where content written by humans was given priority, Google is now more welcoming toward material produced using AI, as long as it’s valuable and user-friendly.
Being Careful with Third-Party Content
Website owners often host third-party content on their primary domain or a subdomain. However, Google’s update advises blocking such content from being indexed, especially if it doesn’t align with the site’s theme or is produced without adequate oversight.
Content Self-Assessment Changes
Google has also spruced up its guidelines on how website owners should assess their own content. The new update encourages a thorough review process and warns against making updates to pages just to appear fresh in search results.
How to Recover from Traffic Dips after the Update
If you find your website adversely impacted by this update, Google has a list of questions to help you assess and align your content with the new norms. It’s crucial to approach these questions objectively and ensure your content genuinely benefits people. Here are Google’s recommendations when hit by the recent update.
Website owners are advised to conduct thorough self-assessments of their content to ensure adherence to the new guidelines.
Review by an expert
Content should be reviewed by experts to confirm accuracy and reliability.
Be cautious with updates
Only alter content dates if substantial updates are necessary. Avoid carelessly adding or removing content without strategic consideration.
If you’ve been impacted negatively by the update, recovery may take several months, even with conscientious adjustments and improvements to your content. Making calculated, thoughtful changes over time will be your ally in regaining your position in search rankings.
You can explore Google’s documentation on the Helpful Content System for more detailed insights and a roadmap for adhering to these new guidelines. Stay informed with the latest updates from Google to navigate the constantly changing world of web content optimization.