Google Helpful Content Updates: What Changed?

Google helpful content updates, what changed

On September 14, 2023, Google rolled out its helpful content update that changes how it ranks webpage content.

As Google has always done, and will continue to do, they put “people-first” content at the forefront. You can find the Google SEO fundamentals documentation titled: Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content on the Google Search Central website. 

Here are the most notable changes in the documentation outlining how to ensure your content is deemed “legit” by Google: 

New Section Added About Third-Party Hosted Content 

Content hosted on the same domain (including subdomains and subfolders) is included in site-wide signals that Google picks up, so it needs to be helpful and related to the main content. If you are storing content that is not helpful on the same host, make sure it is blocked from being indexed.

Why: The Google Search team has noticed that some sites were “renting out” their subdomains without reviewing content. These created low-quality microsites that have nothing to do with the parent site and are questionable. The microsites were an attempt at manipulating search results.

Read more about policing shady sites from Google Search’s Analyst, Gary Illyes on LinkedIn.

A Nod to AI Writing Tools

Google also edited some of its wording in the documentation to be more inclusive to those who utilize AI as a tool for writing content. So instead of specifying that helpful content must be “written by people” they change it to “helpful content created for people in search results.”

Content Audits Recommended

If you notice a change in your site visibility and traffic after this latest update, Google says you should self-assess the content to check if it aligns with their guidelines. As you’ve read in our new blog post Craft Credible Content, we highly recommend site audits and maintenance to keep in line with the latest E-E-A-T guidelines. 

Expert Reviews Suggested

Google changed the wording in the helpful content doc to “Is this content written or reviewed by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well?” The “or reviewed” wording has been added. So you don’t have to be an expert but can have one review and verify the accuracy of your content.

This topic is also covered in more detail at Search Engine Land

portrait of Rachel Eager, Marketing Strategist at Top of the List LLC

Rachel Eager

Marketing Strategist, Top Of The List

Rachel, armed with a BFA in Graphic Design from Grand Valley State University, is a seasoned marketing professional known for her expertise in both traditional and digital strategies. Her technical prowess extends to web design and content creation, and she’s driven by a passion for helping businesses reach their target audiences. In her leisure time, you’ll find her enjoying outdoor activities like kayaking and motorcycle riding.

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