Google helpful content system update rolling out now

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Google has begun to push out an update to its helpful content system, this is the first big update to this update since it launched in August 2022. The update started yesterday, December 5th but it is now noticeable on December 6th, which is why Google announced this update today.

What is new. Now the helpful content update (aka system) is a global update, impacting all languages and not just the English language. This will help Google’s systems detect more forms of low-quality content created for search engines and primarily not for people.

Google also told us this system was updated with additional signals to help Google identify more content created primarily for search engines versus people.

Timing. Google said this update appeared for a tiny amount of queries late on December 5th but on December 6th it became a more notable update, being more visible.

Rollout. The rollout, like most other Google updates, should take about two weeks to completely roll out.

More on the helpful content update. Google’s helpful content update specifically targets “content that seems to have been primarily created for ranking well in search engines rather than to help or inform people.”

This algorithm update aims to help searchers find “high-quality content,” Google told us. Google wants to reward better and more useful content that was written for humans and to help users.

Content written for the purpose of ranking in search engines – what you might call “search engine-first content” or “SEO content,” has been frequently written about lately and discussed across social media.

In short, searchers are getting frustrated when they land on unhelpful webpages that rank well in search because they were designed to rank well.

Google’s new algorithm aims to downgrade those types of websites while promoting more helpful websites, designed for humans, above search engines.

Google said this is an “ongoing effort to reduce low-quality content and make it easier to find content that feels authentic and useful in search.”

What to do if you are hit. Google has provided a list of questions you can ask yourself about your content. Read through those questions as we posted over here, and in an unbiased manner, ask yourself if your content is in sync with this update.

Note, if you were hit by this update, it can take several months to recover, if you do everything right and make changes to your content over time.

Google told us that if a site is no longer seen as unhelpful, it might see a positive change as soon as the current update has finished. However, a site might not see a positive change if there are other areas where it needs improvement. So always be working on making your site more helpful.

Why we care. If you notice any ranking and visibility changes in Google search over the next two weeks or so, especially if those were big changes, you can likely attribute it to this update. Read Google’s advice, make the necessary changes, and hope for a recovery in the upcoming months.

We hope you all will benefit from this update and if not, we hope you recover quickly.


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About The Author

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.