Google is always working to better connect people to helpful information. The latest update is being referred to as the ‘helpful content update’. It is part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content. Content that is written by people for people in search results.
Google announced some key updates to their search algorithms that will put more emphasis on content depth and highlight more valuable results. The updates have been created with humans in mind, as opposed to web pages that have been created purely to rank high on the SERPs known as SEO-first content.
Google’s main target with these updates is low-quality aggregator sites. Aggregator sites aim to match up with common search terms in order to suck in more Search traffic. The update, as Google says, is aimed at low-quality sites. Sites that have been constructed purely to game the algorithm, by that including specific keyword matches and data notes that align with key Google search trends. Therefore, the new updates work to downrank ‘SEO first content’ in favour of human-first content.
In other words, if you are creating shallow content based purely on keyword matching, in order to rank in Google Search you may very well see a dip in your SERP rankings.
For example, if you search for information about a new movie, you might have previously seen articles that aggregated reviews from other sites without adding perspectives beyond what’s available elsewhere. This isn’t very helpful if you’re expecting to read something new. With this update, you’ll see more results with unique, authentic information, so you’re more likely to read something you haven’t seen before.Danny Sullivan , Public Liaison for Search – Google
Google’s testing has revealed the update will improve results related to online education. As well as arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.
Google says that it will shift the focus on content quality and depth. This approach could spark a change in broader SEO strategies.
Google is also working on an update that will make it easier to find high-quality and original reviews.
These updates are in fitting with other search improvements following the recent launch of MUM (‘Multitask Unified Model’). An AI model which equips the search ranking system to check its own work. It does this by cross-referencing the top bolded text portion of a search snippet result against established high-quality search results to see if they are saying the same thing, even if uses different phrasing.
The company shared its work to enhance featured snippets. The bite-sized results that the search engine displays on the top of the page for many searches.
These updates will be rolled out over the coming weeks. It’s not always this straightforward. However, these updates emphasise Google’s attention to providing more in-depth responses and original content to combat summarised aggregated content and answers.
Google Helpful Content Update Quick Facts
Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:
- Name: Google helpful content update.
- Launch Date: It began to rollout on August 25th.
- Rollout: It will take about two weeks to fully roll out.
- Targets: It looks at content that was created to rank well in search over help humans.
- Search Only: This currently only impacts Google Search, not Google Discover or other Google surfaces. But Google may expand this to Discover and more in the future.
- Penalty: Google did not mention penalty but this update does seem to feel like a penalty for sites that will be hit by it.
- Sitewide: This is a sitewide algorithm, so the whole site will be impacted by this update.
- Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.
- English Language but will expand: This is only looking at English-language content globally now but likely will expand to other languages.
- Impact: Google hasn’t said what percentage of queries or searches will be impacted by this update but Google did say it would be “meaningful.” Also, Google said this will be felt more for online-educational materials, entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.
- Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google’s advice.
- Refreshes: Google updates the scores constantly here but there is a timeout period, and a validation period and it can take several months to recover from this update.
If you need Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services, or if you would like help with recovering from this most recent update, then please don’t hesitate to contact our team for more information.