Our first Google helpful content update of the year! What has Google changed this time? There’s been constant discussion about AI, hosted third-party content and more. So let’s pick apart Google’s Helpful Content Update for September 2023 and see what’s new!
What is the helpful content update?
The Google helpful content system “generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results”. It’s there to assess content and reward websites/pages where the content provides a “satisfying experience” for visitors.
This is why it’s now more important than ever to make sure your content matches searchers’ intent and is helpful to them, otherwise, your page might not perform as well.
What has changed?
Google has outlined a few changes in it’s helpful content update that began rolling out on 14th September. As well as some subtle changes to its wording that loosens Google’s guidance on AI-generated content, and extra information on hosted third-party content, it briefly mentioned an ‘improved classifier’ on its social media post. Although, it’s difficult to pin down what this actually is. Anyway — let’s explore.
Hidden in plain sight is Google’s updated wording for how content is created for humans. Previously, the guidance stated that content should be created by humans, for humans. But now, it’s changed.
Previous Guidance: “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.”
Updated Guidance: “Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.”
Has Google altered its stance on machine-generated content?
More information on hosted third-party content
The Google helpful content update for September 2023 has reiterated its guidance on hosting third-party content on your main site or subdomains, pretty much telling us that if third-party content is hosted anywhere on a website it’ll more than likely be negatively affected by this update.
“If you host third-party content on your main site or in your subdomains, understand that such content may be included in site-wide signals we generate, such as the helpfulness of content. For this reason, if that content is largely independent of the main site’s purpose or produced without close supervision or the involvement of the primary site, we recommend that it should be blocked from being indexed by Google.”– Google
Here’s what Google’s Gary Illyes had to say about third-party content:
“We’ve heard (and also noticed) that some sites “rent out” their subdomains or sometimes even subdirectories to third-parties, typically without any oversight over the content that’s hosted on those new, generally low quality micro-sites that have nothing to do with the parent site.
In fact the micro-sites are rarely ever linked from the parent sites, which don’t actually want to endorse these often questionable sites.
The only reason the owners of these shady (?) micro-sites rent the sub-spaces is to manipulate search results.”– Gary Illyes (Linkedin)
What to do next?
Seen a change in traffic following the Google helpful content update? Here’s what you should do.
Self-assess your content
Google has been nice enough to provide us all with some guidance on what to know in these circumstances, and their number one tip is to self-assess your content and make changes where necessary. But how? Well, you can take a look at the questions Google has provided to help create helpful and reliable people-first content and see how you can better align your content with the information provided.
Produce helpful content with Candidsky
Do you feel clued up on the Google helpful content update? If you need support then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Ready to discuss digital? Contact us today and we’ll get back to you in no time!
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