3 Oct, 2023

Google Rolls Out September 2023 Helpful Content Update

Helpful content update

Known for its ever-evolving search algorithm, Google has yet again redefined the rules that govern website rankings and how content is discovered online. The tech giant recently announced that it started rolling out its September 2023 Helpful Content Update, which is said to contain two significant changes reflecting the growing popularity of AI-generated materials.

Revision on Helpful Content Guidance 

Google uses the Helpful Content system to reward high-quality content that provides web users a satisfying experience. At the same time, it reduces the visibility of less useful materials in search results. This system operates in conjunction with other ranking signals and is chiefly designed to recognise indicators of quality associated with helpful content. 

Prior to the September 2023 algorithm update, the Helpful Content system prioritised web content created by humans. The original guidance stated that:

Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.

With the latest update, however, it seems that the search giant has loosened its stance on AI-generated content. Google revised its guidance by removing the “written by people” part and replacing it with “created for people”. 

Nevertheless, Google warned that websites are still likely to suffer a decrease in traffic if they continue to publish content without value, regardless of whether humans write them or not.

Google Clamps Down on Websites Hosting Third-Party Content 

The latest search algorithm update has also seen Google tightening its reins on websites hosting third-party content on their site’s main part or a subdomain. This strategy is common and widely used by many marketers. For example, a news site may host credit card affiliate content on one of its subdomains, sharing its ranking power to help the third-party content appear more prominently on Google.

Gary Illyes, an analyst for the search giant, revealed that they have received plenty of reports and complaints about websites that “rent out” their subdomains or subdirectories to other parties. Often, these sites have no oversight over the content hosted on their subdomains. As a result, the low-quality microsites have been receiving good search rankings unfairly. 

Google warns against such a practice, stressing that third-party content may be included in the site-wide signals the search giant generates, such as the helpfulness of a piece of content, and hurt one’s overall search ranking. For this reason, site owners are highly encouraged to stop Google from indexing content irrelevant to their main site.

What to Do If Your Website is Hit 

As with previous changes to Google’s search algorithm, there is no need to fear repercussions of the September 2023 Helpful Content Update as long as you publish useful, valuable, and relevant content on your website. As a matter of fact, the updated system is beneficial for you as it is designed to reward “people-first” content that provides value to its audience. 

However, if you have noticed a decline in your web traffic after the latest algorithm update, there are steps you can take to bounce back.

 1. Remove any content you deem unhelpful

Be sure to remove any piece of content that is unhelpful or irrelevant to the primary purpose of your website. Google has provided a list of questions you can use to conduct a self-assessment and verify if your content is indeed people-first. Alternatively, you may work with SEO specialists, such as our team at Springhill Marketing, to ensure your web content meets Google’s standards.

 2. Ensure experts review your content

Along with the Helpful Content Update, Google made changes to several items in its guidelines. One of these changes is the importance of having expertly reviewed web content. To receive Google’s seal of approval, have an expert or enthusiast who’s well-versed in your chosen topic review the content you will publish. This will ensure accuracy, consistency, and relevancy.

 3. Do not fake updates

Never make the mistake of changing the publication date of your old content to make it appear as if it has been recently updated. Google advises against such a practice and may result in a penalty.

 4. Removing a lot of older content won’t help with your search rankings

Do not remove a significant amount of old content from your site to make it seem “fresh”. Google confirms that it won’t improve your search rankings. The same goes for adding a lot of new content.

 5. Seek expert assistance

As a business owner, we understand that you likely don’t have enough time or energy to go through every piece of content on your site and conduct an assessment or even publish new ones to ensure compliance with the September 2023 Helpful Content Update. This is why it would be wiser to seek expert assistance from our content marketing team here at Springhill Marketing so you can rest assured that every piece of content you publish is compelling, valuable, and meets Google’s standards.

Ensure Your Website is Compliant with Google’s Latest Update 

Google’s latest algorithm update marks another significant milestone in the ever-evolving landscape of online content discovery and website rankings. With a shift towards recognising the value of AI-generated content and a crackdown on websites hosting third-party material, the digital realm is adapting once again. While these changes may raise concerns for some, website owners like you need not fear if they continue to prioritise high-quality, relevant, and user-centric content. 

If you need help developing Google-friendly web content that prioritises and provides value to your target audience, our team at Springhill Marketing is happy to assist you. Get in touch with us today, and let us offer you the expert SEO solutions you require.

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